Purchasing a new personal computer (PC) should be a well thought out process, but all too often consumers just go out and buy what they think is good, because of the great price without doing a little homework first. A consumer’s homework should always include, knowing the specifications of the PC they want to purchase and making sure that the PC they choose suits their specific needs. Now without getting all technically technical, I would like to cover some basic specification elements and basic parts that every PC shopper should know about and learn how to recognize when shopping for a new PC and its accessories.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU)
OK, now I am going to talk about the Central Processing Unit or the CPU. But first I must warn you that I am not a computer geek (one throws amazing computers together like there’s no tomorrow). I will attempt to write and explain this in words that people like me (the average Joe) can comprehend. The CPU is considered as the PCs thinking cap or the brain of the PC. It processes the information you the user tells it to process. There are two main manufacturers that you will see when purchasing your new PC, Intel and AMD and both have had their strong points and not so strong points alike. Regardless, both CPU processor manufacturers produce awesome results for billions of PC users around the world. Today’s PCs have what you call a DUAL CORE or X2processor and if you haven’t purchased a computer in the last few years you probably have a single processor (like I still do), unless you installed one yourself. A DUAL CORE or X2 processor is like two processors in one, they process information twice as fast as the older single processors and what I hear, there awesome. My current research tells me that if you see a computer with a CPU speed of 1.6 GHz (gigahertz) DUAL CORE or X2 processor or higher, you have the most current technology on the market today. But, and I am sure a lot of people reading this will agree with me when I say, as soon you buy a new PC current technology typically goes out the window within a few months, because newer, faster and better technology is always being manufactured for PCs. The same rule applies here: The higher the GHz, the more expensive the computer will be.
The Hard Disk
The hard disk or the hard drive of a PC is the component where all information is saved and stored. Today, you will want to buy a computer with at least a 10 GB (gigabyte) hard drive or higher, the bigger the better. PC users depend on the higher capacity hard drives for picture storage, song library’s, games, programs, e books, scanned files etc. And once again, the bigger the hard drive, the more expensive the PC will be, but you will be amazed at how much a 160 GB hard drive will cost you these days.
The RAM (Random Access Memory)
The RAM or Random Access Memory contributes to the team of components within the PC by allowing the user to perform certain tasks simultaneously, like surf the web and working on a spreadsheet at the same time. The RAM saves data temporarily, so the user doesn’t have to wait a long period of time when performing multiple tasks on their PC. Chances are, if your PC is hesitating when performing various multiple tasks and loading slow when you turn it on, your memory is no longer sufficient. There is good news though; all PC’s come with additional slots inside the case where the average Joe can insert more memory to optimize the RAM of their PC. Always make sure you have sufficient memory for your specific needs. When shopping for your next PC, RAM can be identified as memory in 64 MB, 128 MB, 256 MB, and 512 MB and so on. Here the higher the number the better, but as before the higher the number the most expensive the computer will be.
CD-ROM and/or DVD
CD-ROM is the PC’s component that reads data and music from compact disks. The DVD allows for playback of favorite movies and music. Today’s PC CD-ROM’s have speeds that are 24X (times) the standard speed and some have the ability to write to a blank CD-ROM. The top DVD and CD-ROM components sold today have write and read capabilities and a new technology called LightScribe. LightScribe enables the user to burn their data onto the disk then flip the disk over and burn the label into the disk, very awesome new technology and well worth checking out.
Every PC should come with a sound card. It is the component that enables the user to play back sound through the PC’s speakers. It acts as a processor of sound and the better the quality sound card is the better quality sound it produces.
A graphics card is a team player piece of hardware which is installed inside a computer. It is this very valued piece of technology that allows the brilliant animations, movies and pictures to display on the PC’s monitor. Most PC’s come with an adequate graphics card when you purchase one, but if you are in the market to build your own PC, I have read that the most extravagant graphics cards can cost in upwards of $2,000 USD and even more for the most sophisticated systems.
A network adaptor is a hardware that enables the computer to hook up to the network of other computers. It gives the PC Ethernet capabilities to hook up to high speed Internet connections. With today’s PC bundles network adaptors are pretty much always included as an integrated part of the system.
Everyone enjoys their USB Ports at one time or another. These nifty little plugs allow the user to plug a whole number of accessories into them. For example, USB keyboards, USB printers, USB Web Cameras, USB phones and the list goes on and on. My PC’s have at least three to four on the back and a couple on the front for the user’s convenience.
The Monitor and Accessories
The monitor is the screen where all the information is viewed from the computer. I know this is a no brain er and I do not want to insult anyone’s intelligence, but it is important to know that it is a vital part of the PC’s system; after all, you wouldn’t be able to see or view anything with the PC if you didn’t have one. Most PC monitors sold today are reasonably priced, flat screen, very light and versatile LCD’s with brilliant color and some feature sound capabilities. In choosing the right monitor for you, determine which size will best suit you, perhaps a smaller 14 inch LCD or a huge 25 inch wide screen LCD monitor. Keep in mind though; with speakers integrated and the bigger the monitor is, the more it will cost. Next, most bundled PC systems come with a ball barring or an optical mouse, a 101 key keyboard, and external speakers. But some higher end PC’s do not come with these accessories. Consumers who buy high end PC’s typically prefer to buy their accessories separate, because of the wide variety of upgraded features offered on the market today.
Wow, I know! This is a lot of information to know about PC’s, who would have ever known how much goes into that little piece of precious technology that sits in every consumers home and business. Believe it or not, there is a whole lot more to know, but here we have just stuck pretty much to the basics of just about everything you should know. The point here is not to memorize all of this before you go out shopping for a new PC; it is to educate you about the different specifications of today’s PC’s, so that you can better understand what you are shopping for, so the next new PC you buy suits your needs for many years to come. And by the way, if anyone is looking for a great deal on a new or refurbished PC, let me know and I will be glad to do some research for you and point you in the right direction to your next PC purchase.