For most non-techie people buying a computer is confusing and frustrating. With all the terms, features and functions that one needs to consider and understand it often becomes a hassle that few want to deal with. For the basic user, who just wants a computer for Internet, email and word processing there is no need for bells and whistles. Basic features will be enough to get the job done. But, if you are looking for a computer for entertainment, gaming or business you will need more intricate features that will provide high performance.
Getting acquainted with some computer terminology and having a basic understanding of the most important computer features is important and can assist you in getting the right computer, the first time.
1. Processor or CPU
CPU stands for central processing unit; it is the brains of the computer. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system and the speed, which is given in GHz, and quality of the processor will greatly determine the performance of the computer.
There are budget, mid range and high-end processors. The one that you need will depend on what the computer will be used for. Often times you can get a nice high-end processor that is no longer manufactured for the same price of a brand new budget processor.
For basic computer functions, such as email, Internet and word processing a budget or mid range model is fine. But, for gaming, and especially 3D gaming, video editing and processing, movie watching and for some business functions a high-end processor is necessary.
High End Processors:
The high-end processors are top of the line and will cost quite a bit. An interesting fact is that while these processors cost twice as much as the mid range types they perform only about 25-50% better. Today, the top of the line processors are: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 and Higher, Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 and the Intel Core i7 Extreme 965.
2. RAM Memory
RAM memory refers to the amount of programs you can run on computers without running into slow downs, crashes and drags in performance.
The more RAM the better as it greatly affects the speed and performance of the computer, especially for video, entertainment and gaming. 1GB is good for most computer functions, 2GB, 3GB and 4GB is really great. At least 2GB, but 3GB and 4Gb is better for the optimal gaming and media experiences.
It is a good idea to check and make sure that there are open memory upgrade slots so you can always add more memory RAM, it is fairly cheap and easy to install.
3. Ports and Connections
Ports are the connections that come with a computer for attaching peripherals, such as such as printers, Internet/Ethernet, iPods, scanners and others. One of the most important and useful ports is the USB, which the computer should have at least 4 of.
Other useful ports are Ethernet for high speed Internet and networking, FireWire port and a printer port. Media card readers are also important that support a variety of flash memory cards for peripherals. Overall, the more ports you have the more variety and options you will have for peripherals.
4. Optical Drives – CD/DVD/Blu-ray
A useful component is an optical drive such as a DVD/CD or Blu Ray high-def burner. While many computers come with a CD-ROM, these can only read disks, if you want to burn movie and music disks, or to do disk backups of your data from your computer, then a burner optical drive is most handy.