Computer buying guide

August 27, 2007 RENU

1. Reqt: If for internet, emails, word processing, u dont need a powerful comp. For photos, games, need better graphics card, more memory, bigger hard drive. Imp thing to consider is some type of back up device so u dont loose data.

2. Brand name- imp as there r many clones out there except Apple which is a unified system as makes hardware & software & u’ve less problems with compatability. With clones, diff parts made by diff manufacturers, so when problem comes, cant be fixed as there’s no one place u can go to & also no warranty. Clone comps r cheap but not made by tier 1 manufacturers like Dell, IBM, H.packard, sony, apple who give good warranties & have good customer service. Comps typically come with at least 1yr warranty. U can buy extended warranty, which will extend warranty to 3yrs. For laptops, get extended warranty as moved around so often, have problem lot higher than desktops. When u buy new comp, u typically get either 9 days or 6 mths of toll-free tech support from manufacturer. You can buy extended warranties that will extend to 3yrs. Good benefit if buy from a place that does have a repair shop so could walk into, no packing & shipping. U can contact manufacturer to find out if comp store is authorized to repair or sell other comps.

3. Monitor: Desk top machines don’t come with monitors. Some Macs, for ex- iMac, come bundled with a monitor inside it. Laptops come with displays built into it.

4. Size of notebook effects wgt of comps. So screen size, wgt, screen resolution comes into play. Most notebooks offer integrated wireless internet access. Generally, they come with 82.11b and 82.11g cards integrated into computer. Some of the newer notebooks do come with 82.11n. The 82.11b was the original wireless standard. It later came out with 82.11g, which was a faster wireless card that u really only notice during file sharing betn comps. As far as internet access goes, u’ll not see much diff betn 82.11b or 82.11g.

5. Some laptops r small, don’t have any optical drives to burn CD’s or DVD’s internally so will need an external one to burn video. Faster the processor, lower ur battery life is going to be as uses up a lot of power. Displays now come with glossy screens, ultra-high resolution, really geared for video editing, photograpy, gaming.

6. RAM- Random Access Memory is a chip inside comp that stores info that is open at that time. When u open an appl, that appl resides in RAM. When u quit the appl, it’s freed from RAM. Most powerful software is definitely going to be video editing & gaming software which use the most CPU power & require high-end CPU, a lot of memory, a big graphics card, so get as much RAM as u can. If u go into ur comp & chk the system profile, it’ll generally desc type of memory. If not,u can always chk with salesperson Or manufacturer. RAM is crucial for comp’s performance so stick with name brand RAM such as Kingston, Crucial, Corsair, Nanya, Samsung which have lower failure rates than generic brands.SODIMM is a small outline dual inline memory module, and DIMM is a dual inline memory module. SODIMMs are used in laptops; they’re small-factor memory chips. DIMMs are long, used in desktop comps. Buy RAM with lifetime warranty. imp so u’ll have enough memory to store videos, photos.

7. RPM- revolutions per minute. Inside hard drive there r disk platters which rotate just like a record on a record player. Faster it rotates, faster the info is transferred from hard drive to processor. That in turn increases read time & write time on hard drive.

8. Battery life: Most manufacturers overstate the battery life. They’ll say for ex, u’ll get about 5hrs of battery life. However, that’s generally with the screen dimmed, power management on, not accessing hard drive, not playing any DVD movies etc. So typically, betwn 3-5hrs on most laptops if comp not being used to any great extent. If watching DVD movie, will only last 2hrs.
It’s not a good idea to buy a used laptop as no warranty, parts r small & expensive to replace when problem comes.

9. Comp speed- determined by speed of CPU, brain of comp, measured in GHz which means billions of cycles per sec. More GHz,, faster the comp is able to make calc’s per sec. CPU is a piece of hardware that handles all calc’s that go on inside comp. When u click on s’thing, that goes to processor which determines what u want to do based on software that u’re running & makes the calc’s, then u see the rslt on screen. MHz & GHz determine speed of comp. Comps nowadays r all measured in GHz. A MHz is million cycles per sec.

10. Cache- short-term storage. Cache enables comp to store parts of data, or complete data, in an area of comp that can be accessed more rapidly. For ex, comp could take info that is stored on hard drive & put that info onto a memory chip. It can be read & written faster to a memory chip than it can be read & written to a hard drive. That also comes into play when u go on the internet. There is software cache, where comp will store frequently accessed websites or images that u visited. This cache works so that next time u go to that website, it doesn’t have to download all that info again – it can just access it quickly from hard drive & so will improve speed of comp or it can go to a memory chip to pull that info up.

11. Processor: U don’t have much choice as to what type of processor is in ur machine unless u build it urself. Most PCs come with either Intel or AMD processor. Macintosh comps previously came with a Power PC chip designed by Motorola, but now transitioned into Intel chips. Single processor has only 1chip that does all calc’s, dual processor has 2chips that work together. There is a lot of progs that don’t take advg of a dual processor, so buy only if appl u’re running can take advg of 2processors. There r actually some progs that will run faster on a single processor that’s running, let’s say, 2GHz than a dual processor running at 1.5 GHz b’cos appl needs to be designed to the advg of that dual processor. Only way to chk u’re not getting a slower processor than private seller has advertised is to look at processor itself. Through software, u can manipulate what the processor speed is showing, so unless u really physically look at processor chip, u can’t be 100% sure.

12. Chips: Intel is the largest chip maker in the world. AMD also makes chips but not as famous as Intel, but there’s not really much of a diff. All Macs now actually run on Intel chips too, so they have a larger share of the market than AMD does, but they’re both good chips. A “Celeron” is a lower end Intel chip,generally in cheaper, less expensive comps. “Pentium” chip is the higher end chip, made by Intel. MultiMedia extension technology refers to set of instruc’s that come on Intel chips. When they’re enabled, progs that can take advantage of that will be able to run faster. There r not a lot of progs right now that can take advantage of MMX technologies, but later on when progs come out, they can take advg of it, so good idea to get a chip with MMX. Centrino is Intel’s mobile processor. It is a high performance, cool running chip, will not find it in any desktop machine; only in laptops.

13. Documentation: Most of the documentation is in an electronic format on comp or is available online. Manufacturers do this to cut costs but if u dont know how to use a comp, u’re not going to know how to get the online documentation or how to find it on comp. S’times u need s’thing to read & manufacturers need to realise that documentation is still necessary.

14. Store: What’s going to set comp stores apart while buying comp is the customer service u get, knowledgeable staff. For under $400 u can buy complete systems nowadays including CPU, printer, monitor enough for net & word processing. Buy as much as u can afford for it to last longer b’cos technology moves so fast that as soon as u buy it often seems obsolete. High margin comp products r cables as no 1, next ink cartridges.

15. Companies: Computer stores generally make their money in dealing with large volume. Computers themselves have really, really low margins on them, so volume helps. Also, accessories & peripherals r really big money makers for comp stores. Cables, inks, surge protectors, CDs, media, all little knick knacks that u get for comp.

16. Refurbished comp- a comp that’s been returned to manufacturer for repairs. Refurbishing gives u a new warranty too. It’s really imp if buying a refurbished item to make sure that it does come with a warranty, then its like new one but for less money, not a bad idea.

17. Internal CD/DVD drive- If name brand then generally it’s not a problem. Faster the drive, less time it will take u to burn CDs or DVDs. Most comps now come with at least 8/16 speed DVD burners, 52 speed CD burners.

18. Gray market parts- r items that aren’t authorized by manufacturer for sale, sold for less. They could be parts that were intended for sale in diff countries. Doesn’t mean that parts r bad, they’re often the same as parts that r used in non-gray market comps, but there r no warranties associated with them, so u’ve to be careful. It’s also difficult to really tell if u’re getting a gray market item or a non-gray market item. So, buy from a reputable store. If u want to chk whether comp itself is a gray market comp, chk with manufacturer by providing serial no of that comp who can tell if that serial number was sold to an authorized reseller.

19. Peripheral is any device that u hook up to ur comp like printer, k.board, mouse, surge protector, CD’s, DVDs, ink cartridges for printer, USB hubs to expand amount of ports u’ve on ur comp. Dont skimp on getting the best ones.

20. Extra hard drives provide lot more storage space for multimedia rich appl’s, videos, music, mp3’s which all take up a lot of hard drive space. If u’ve 2hard drives,u can offload all ur multimedia data on to that hard drive or u can use for back up. Speed of hard drive only comes into play if using appl’s that demand high-intensive disk access. For video editing, gaming, databases that need to be accessed really quickly, u’d want to get a 720 RPM hard drive. Other than that, for general office applications, internet browsing, email, 540 RPM drive is just fine.

21: CD/DVD burner: U do not need to purchase additional software with a CD/DVD burner. Most current operating systems will be able to load the drivers for the optical drive that u buy. Some of the more advanced CD/DVD burners have some custom appl’s that do require specialized software that u can buy on after market progs or will be included with the optical drive when u buy it.

22. Cables & surge protectors: Peripherals that carry the most mark-up r definitely cables in all varities. Even surge-protectors, UPS back-up systems carry pretty hefty mark-ups.

For Monitors: CRTs r old big clunkers, cathode ray tubes. LCDs are the nice, flat panel liquid crystal displays. There are a lot fewer emissions on LCDs so easier on eyes, better for envt as use less power, use less energy, less disk space, qlty good.With higher resolution, u’ll get a crisper image. It’ll be sharper with less strain on your eye. However, u need to make sure that comp can drive the resolution of ur screen. You can buy a really high end screen, which can be really high resolution, but ur graphic card may not be able to output that resolution. CRTs are pretty much gone except for some graphic design. LCD monitors, if 15″, $120, $130, 17″- $170, 20″, 23″, 24″ betn $700 & $1000. Most comps now have monitors that attach to them via these monitor connections – DVI cable, VGA cable or HDMI cable. I would say about 9% of the time it would be DVI or VGA. DVI stands for Digital Video Interface & is a digital cable, whereas VGA is an analog cable. So if u can, always go with a DVI connection over a VGA connection as image will be a lot crisper. HDMI is High Definition Multimedia Interface, & is a cable that carries both video & sound through it. Most televisions – high definition televisions – will have that input. If ur comp does have an HDMI output, u can connect ur comp to a tv that supports HDMI & carry that signal & sound.

23. Software- progs that u install which provide instruc’s set for ur processor. Without software, comp would just be sitting there not knowing what to do. software provides info to comp. exs: u use everyday are: word processing, web browser, email. Most new comps will come with anti-virus software, trial software for office applic’s, anti-spyware software, some game software. Mostly it is all on a trial basis & u’ve to pay for it after 30-60days to unlock it. U definitely need to buy Microsoft Office products. They’re extras, don’t come bundled with it. Anti-virus software, anti-spyware imp if not running on a Mac/Unix system, that is more prevalent to virus infection.

24. Operating systems come preinstalled from manufacturers but’ll provide u with disks in case u need to reinstall that system or as back up.
Linux is an op.system based on Unix developed by Linus Thorvald & a group of developers throughout the world. It’s a free or low cost, provides a really robust, solid op.system that doesn’t get infected by viruses & is not susceptible to spyware either.

25. Ports: New comps generally come with 2or3 USB ports in them for external peripherals but not enough b’cos most of them r USB now, USB cameras, USB keyboards, mice, printers, so USB hub is very imp which will plug into 1 of the existing USB ports.
Bus powered drive does not require power supply as cable that connects it to comp provides power to drive & also provides data transfer.

26. Slots: PCI bus slot on desktop machine gives expansion capabilities, so buy comp that have extra PCI slots for expansion later to add another video card or network card. PCI is an older slot used for graphics cards. AGP is a newer one, & even a newer one is PC Express. AGP is a faster graphics card system, allows graphics card to talk to processor at a much higher rate than PCI graphics card.

27. New technology: SATA, serial advanced technology attachment is a new technology that is in most modern comps. It is a faster interface for hard drives that replaces ATA or PATA hard drives. SATA provides expanded bandwith necessary for increased fast disk access.


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