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Buying a New Computer – Specs (GHz, MHz, GB, MB, etc)

The 3 main parts to look at when buying a new computer are the Processor, Memory & Hard Drive. If you have know idea what these are take a moment to read this Computer Parts – The Basics.

As with anything you will get what you pay for when buying a computer. I have seen many people get sucked in buy the word “SALE” only to find out later that while they did pay a good price they did not get a good computer. You should generally stay away from the cheapest computers. You are either getting a computer that has parts with bad specs that will make it run slow and inefficiently or you will be getting a computer with cheap parts that will probably need to be replaced.

Processor – The specs to pay attention to for the processor are the following.

  1. Model
    • AMD Sempron & Intel Celeron are the cheap models that I always stay away from – no matter what
    • AMD Athlon & Intel Pentium are the average models. I would recommend these to average computer users who want to save some money.
    • AMD Athlon II, AMD Phenom, Intel Core 2 Duo or Quad are the high end, work horse processors. If you can afford these – then get them. They will give you the best performance. If you are a power user that users their computer all day every day then make sure you get one of these.
    • The newest model processors by Intel are the i3 (good), i5 (better) & i7 (best). All of these are faster than any of the previously mentioned ones but since they are the newest models they will be in computers with a slightly larger price tag. They are worth the money if you can afford them.
  2. Clock Speed
  3. This spec is usually something like 2.4GHz or 2.93Hz. The faster the better but the Model of the processor is much more important. I would much rather have a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo than a 3.0GHz Intel Celeron. Use the Clock Speed (GHz) as a secondary spec to look at.

New specs & parts are coming out every few months. I will do my best to keep this information current. If you have any questions about anything just email me.

Memory – The amount of memory needed to have you computer run properly is always different than the “minimum system requirements”. Memory is measured in Gigabytes (GB). I base the amount of memory I buy on the Operating System (OS) that will be used and the users usage level (average or power user). Here are the minimum guidelines I would use:

Operating System Average User Power User
Windows XP 1-2GB 2-3GB
Windows Vista 2-3GB 3-4GB
Windows 7 2-3GB 3-4GB

If you are using any OS older than the ones listed above then you need a new computer.

Hard Drive – This spec will be shown in Gigabytes (GB). It represents the amount of storage space for your programs and files on your computer. Usually whatever comes with a new system will be plenty of space for you unless you have a extraordinary amount of pictures, music or other files. I would say 80GB would be the minimum any new computer should have for hard drive space.

Minis & Netbooks

The newest type of computer is called a mini or netbook. They are like a laptop but much smaller. These machines are also known for having great battery life. The only downside to them is the screen & keyboard size. The specs discussed above for desktops & laptops do not apply top these computers. Below is some info on what to look for when buying a Mini or Netbook.

The processors in them are all very similar and the current standard is the 1.6GHz speed.

The 2 operating systems I have seen on these machines is Windows XP & Windows 7 Starter. I would definitely go with the Windows 7 Starter over XP. Not that it is that much better…it is more about the age of XP. At some point Microsoft will stop supporting XP by no longer providing updates for it.

Regarding the memory, I would not get one with less than 1GB of RAM. 2GB would be ideal or at the very least get a machine that has 1GB but can hold 2GB in case you want to upgrade it in the future.

The hard drive is the least important spec. Anything over 80GB will be fine for a normal user.

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