Computer Checklist: Getting ready to buy that computer
Other pages of interest:
This is not a sales site!
Compare prices before you buy
online or in a local store.
Look around (newspapers, flyers/inserts, Internet) and find computer sales ads. Try to decipher the tech talk.
HP - Pavilion Slimline Desktop - AMD Athlon™ II X2 processor; 3GB memory; 640GB hard drive/Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Apple® - 21.5" iMac® - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive/Mac OS X Lion/Intel® Core™ i5 processor; 21.5" display/Built-in wireless networking and Bluetooth; wireless keyboard; webcam
Lenovo - 21.5" Touch-Screen Ideacentre All-In-One Computer/2nd Gen Intel® Core™ i3 processor; - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive/Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit/Touch screen; built-in wireless networking; Bluetooth; wireless keyboard and mouse; webcam
Dell - XPS 8300 Desktop /3rd Gen Intel® Core™ i5 processor; 6GB memory; 1TB hard drive/1GB dedicated graphics; built-in wireless networking; HDMI output/Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
(Buying a Computer)
Try writing the answers to a few basic items. The information provided is for a non-technical person (if you know this stuff, you probably wouldn't be here looking!) There are many more technical details that are omitted for simplicity. In any case, this basic information might help you decide.
Some random "Examples:" are given after the details below to help you understand. Do a search if you need additional information.
Your computer is based on your specific needs, and you may require more or less than the following information suggests. Also, a laptop, tablet or desktop may have or need different items mentioned or not mentioned, e.g., monitor, size of screen, battery, built-in camera, bluetooth, wireless, number/kind of ports.
Here we go: Just fill in what you know, then you can complete your answer later when you see what is available. Then use the list to compare the same computer at different stores. You can figure out what you get for the money, and if you need certain items.
__How will the computer be used? Family/Home, Home/Office, Gamer, Second Computer for Small Children, Digital Media, Business Presentations (circle one or two)
__Price range? What do you really need and what does your budget allow? $_________
__Bundle? This is when your computer comes ("a package deal") with items like a printer, optical mouse, wireless mouse, carry bag, special software, scanner, speakers or a digital camera already included in the discounted price. The items included vary by the outfit making the bundle or package deal. Watch for specials-sometimes you get a really good deal!
__Preconfigured or Custom-Built? Do you want to buy a computer already configured or would you like it built with items specific to your needs? Cost it out to see which one is the better deal. (circle one)
___________Brand? Examples: HP, Mac (Apple), Compaq, Dell, Acer, Sony, Toshiba, ASUS
____Desktop, Laptop (*Ultrabooks) or Tablet? Do you need the computer to be portable or are you going to keep it in one place? Do you like working on a large screen or is a laptop convenient to take from room to room? (*about 30 percent thinner than most laptops) (circle one)
__Mac or PC? The way the hardware is packaged and the software is employed is the real difference between the systems. If you want to choose from a wide range of system components, peripherals, and applications, you will probably like a PC. If you like a close integration between hardware and software, you may choose a Mac. (circle one)
__If you are buying this computer to allow you to work at home on work from the office, make sure your computer is compatible with the one at work or that you research what you might need to insure that the two systems will work with each other. There are several different ways to share files between a Mac and a PC. (compatible-Yes or No)
__Operating System? An operating system is what allows you to use applications and generally access all of the information you have on your computer. The most popular operating system is Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Windows 7 is the most recent version. Example: (1.) Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition or (2.) Apple MacOS X 10.6. (circle one Leave blank if you are not sure!)
__A system with a 64-bit operating system can handle larger amounts of information than a 32-bit (older) system. Since it can use more RAM-4 GB and up-a 64-bit computer can be more responsive when you're running lots of programs at once. (circle one Leave blank if you are not sure!)
__What Type of Processor (CPU)? [Processor Speed in GHz] The processor determines how fast the computer will carry out its functions. The processor is the brain of the machine, and controls all aspects of the computer. Also, there is AMD vs Intel (which isn't discussed here). Example: Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 / 2.13 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 6000+ 3.0 GHz or Intel's Core i7-2600 and i7-2700 series. (circle one Leave blank if you are not sure!)
__Multi-Core? Some processors can be "dual core" or "quad core." This improves processing speed (compared to a single core) by using two or more processors that can run independently or together. A significant speed advantage can be gained when the software is optimized. Example: Intel Core 2, Dual-Core or AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core. (circle one Leave blank if you are not sure!)
__Hard Drive? (Capacity) The hard drive is where you store all your data. It stores the data when the computer is switched off. Everyday tasks do not require as much storage space as digital photos, music, high-resolution digital media and 3D games. Hard drives come in many sizes and you should choose a size based on what your present and future needs might be. Examples: 100GB, 500GB, 1TB. (circle one or add to: e.g., 2TB.)
For general-purpose computing and storage of a moderate number of files including digital audio and photos, a 250GB hard drive should be adequate. A 100GB hard drive stores about 28,400 photos or 12 hours of HD video. Because of the relatively small cost difference, some would suggest getting a 500GB to provide for some growth. Example: 500GB, 750GB, 1TB,
__How Much RAM? (memory) Random Access Memory (RAM) is where the presently processed data is temporarily stored. The larger the RAM the faster your PC will be. When it comes to adding system memory, the general rule of thumb is more is better (up to a point!). Next to the CPU itself, RAM is the most important factor in computer performance. At least 2GB is recommended for newer Windows operating systems and Mac OS X (2 - 4GB is preferable for power users: photo editing, video editing, real-time multiplayer online games, multitasking). More memory (RAM) increases overall performance and enables your computer to run more applications at the same time. If you can spare a few extra dollars, upgrading to 4GB is likely to make your computer run smoother and faster. Serious gamers might find 6GB helpful! Example: 3GB /4 GB (need 64-bit)-> / 6 GB / 8 GB (circle one)
_____Graphics Card? A graphics card is a small chip built-in that handles all the videos and hi-fi gaming graphics.
_____Video Card? A better video card improves multitasking and graphics.
_____Built-in Devices? Stereo speakers, display, touch screen, infrared receiver
_____Pre-loaded Software? Examples: Virus protection, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Games
_____Warranty for Labor & Parts? How much time on the warranty and what does it cover? On-site repairs? Does it include parts and labor?
_____Extended Warranty? An additional warranty that goes beyond the factory warranty. Number of years?
_____Accessories? Examples: Ethernet cable, wireless mouse, additional software, virus protection, printer, camera, carry bag, speakers
+It doesn't cost anything to compare prices.
+Spend your savings on something else that you want!