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How To Choose a New Computer

So many choices, so little… patience? That’s why we’ve cut to the chase for you.


  • Step 1: Jot down wanted features Jot down all the things you want to be able to do with your computer.
  • TIP: Different programs have different system requirements, so make sure you find out the minimum requirements for the programs you want to run. In general, working with pictures and video requires a better system.
  • Step 2: Decide on budget Figure out how much you can spend.
  • Step 3: Decide on Mac or Windows OS Decide if you want to use a Mac or a Windows operating system (known as an OS). While the newest computers from Apple can run both, most people use one or the other.
  • TIP: The Mac OS is better suited to graphic design, video processing, and other art-related applications, while a Windows OS is good for business use and gaming—and is generally cheaper.
  • Step 4: Decide on laptop or desktop Decide if you want to a laptop or a desktop.
  • TIP: The main advantage of a laptop is that it’s portable. Desktops are cheaper, plus they have the capacity to be more powerful than laptops.
  • Step 5: Price added features Visit a computer retailer or log onto one online to see what added features you might like and how they will affect the price.
  • Step 6: Determine needed CPU power Determine how powerful a CPU—central processing unit—you need. The more powerful the CPU, the faster the computer.
  • TIP: Most computers have CPUs powerful enough for basic tasks. The fastest processors will be significantly more expensive, so unless you really need the processing power, don’t bother.
  • Step 7: Decide on needed RAM Decide how much RAM, or memory, you need. Always err on the side of more.
  • TIP: You often can save money by getting the minimum amount of memory with your system and buying a memory upgrade that you install yourself.
  • Step 8: Select video chipset Select a video chipset. People who use lots of graphics-intensive applications should spring for the best they can afford. Everyone else can skimp.
  • Step 9: Choose hard drive size Choose the size of the hard drive. If you mainly just email and browse the internet, you won’t need as many gigabytes as someone who does a lot of graphic design.
  • TIP: Like with RAM, you can save money by upgrading the hard drive yourself. As there are different types of hard drives, make sure you know which one your computer can accept—almost every new computer accepts SATA hard drives.
  • Step 10: Choose your external hardware Choose the rest of your peripherals, such as your keyboard and mouse. And consider getting an extra display monitor—studies show it can increase your producti
  • FACT: Today’s personal computers have roughly 20,000 times the processing power of ENIAC, the first electronic computer, which weighed more than 30 tons and filled a room the size of a tennis court.

You Will Need

  • To know what you want your computer to do
  • Time to shop
  • Internet Access

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