Buying a computer is a big deal for a lot of people, and understandably so. Much forethought should go into the purchase of a computer. Buying a computer is not like buying a book; the retailer must have technical experience to help you both in selecting the type of computer and diagnosing problems when they occur. One of the most important considerations when buying a computer is to determine what exactly you will use it for. Is your computer going to be used mainly for work or are you a die-hard gamer? If your computer is to be used for work and you need your information to be mobile, you may consider a laptop. On the other hand, a desktop generally has more power and more room to upgrade if you are a computer gaming fan.

The very important parts that you need to understand when buying a computer are memory, hard drive space processor type and speed, graphics card, and monitor.

Memory: This is the circuitry or device that holds information in an electrical or magnetic form. Memory is measured in Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB). Memory is also measured by its speed, which is how long it takes the processor to communicate with it. Memory or RAM is not to be confused with your hard drive; that’s permanent storage for programs and files.

Hard drives are simple: bigger is better. Hard Drives are the magnetic storage components that hold programs and information in your computer when the computer is switched off. Today, it is not uncommon to find 160 (GB) hard drives as the standard in some laptops. Hard drives have even hit the terabyte range of storage. Never believe that you will never use all the storage space on your hard drive. Many people have been proven wrong time after time.

The processor is what does the “thinking” in a computer. Processors are made up of millions of tiny transistors that can process huge numbers of instructions per second. AMD and Intel are in a constant battle to gain a share of the processor market. The best advice in the area of processors if you are not into hardcore gaming is to buy a computer with everything that meets your needs and forget about overrated processor speeds. It is possible to save some money if you buy a computer with and AMD processor as they are generally less expensive than Intel.

Nearly all new machines will come with 512 MB of RAM and a fairly good graphics card.

The graphics card allows the computer to store and use more complex graphics instructions. The specification of the graphics card will affect the resolution that can be displayed on your monitor screen and the refresh rate of the display. If you are looking for game play and video playback, make sure you buy a computer with a dedicated graphics card. If you want to play all the latest games, you will want both a fast processor, lots of memory, and a really good 3D graphics card.

Another consideration when buying a desktop computer is the monitor.

Generally speaking, computers don’t come with monitors. A monitor is an output device that allows you to see what you are doing. There are two basic types of monitors available: cathode ray tube (CRT) displays and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). CRT monitors are the big bulky things that take up a lot of desk space and are rapidly becoming obsolete and replaced with LCD monitors. Monitor selection is very important because it is the biggest factor in determining how much space your computer takes up. Take into consideration whether the monitor is included or costs extra. If you have any level of visual impairment, a larger monitor will be useful.

Buying a computer is a process not to be taken lightly. Consider what you will be using your computer for and buy from a retailer that has technical experience and you will have a pleasant and productive computer buying experience.

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