“How to pick a new computer?” I get this question a lot. It is right up there with “What wireless router should I get?” and “How do you know all this stuff about computers?” We can tackle those other two another day. Today, let’s focus on the process of selecting a new computer. Purchasing a new computer can be a frustrating experience if the right approach is not taken. Follow these general steps and I think you will have a good chance of avoiding what this little guy is feeling.
1. Why do you want a new computer? It’s the first thing you need to do because sometimes…you don’t need a new computer. What did you just say? You heard me. Sometimes, it is not the answer. A quick fix or part replacement can accomplish your goal with a much smaller price tag. I also think it is important to know why because, by knowing “Why”, you won’t get sold something that doesn’t meet your needs or is overkill for what you need. Below are some questions to help you think through this first step and to set some overall goals for your new computer:
- Do you want faster performance such as shorter boot time and application launch time?
- Do you travel a lot and your current computer is too heavy and doesn’t have enough battery?
- Is your computer broken?
- Is there a new program you have to have and the old computer is not compatible?
- Do you currently not own a computer but want one?
2. What is your budget? The answer to this question will help you prioritize those goals you set in the previous step. Everyone wants a faster, lighter, more robust computer that lasts 12 hours on a single charge but your budget will determine whether or not you can have that. That is not to say you won’t have something you enjoy. It’s about setting your expectations and that is what this step is all about. There is no point in looking at a computer that is $1000 when you can only afford $500. Once you have a price in mind, add 10%. This will help when it comes time to purchase and the one you want is just a little over your original number. This is something you will use everyday for 3 to 5 years so don’t “settle” because of $50. If you can, hold off for a month or wait for a holiday and you can save up a little more AND get it on sale. One last thing to think about here is the cost of software you may need such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Make sure the cost of software or other accessories is considered when determining your budget.
3. Windows or Mac? 8GB or 16GB? i3, i5, or i7? HDD or SSD? Screen Resolution and Size? Empowered with the information we have from answering the first two questions, we will determine the technical specifications of the computer we wish to purchase. A lot of this will be determined simply by what can we get for X number of dollars but not always. Just because you can afford to purchase the best doesn’t mean it is the best for you. How we determine the technical specifications is based on your usage. Below are some questions to answer along with a general recommendation.
- Is the main purpose for your computer web browsing, email, and a little word or excel work? An Intel i3 Processor with 4GB of ram and a HDD will serve you for years. I usually recommend a SSD (solid state drive) but its not necessary and will depend on your budget. A desktop is fine but most people want a laptop to lounge on the couch with. Your screen resolution and size will be preference. I suggest going to a local computer store to “try out” a few before making a decision. Just make sure you don’t let them over-sell you.
- Is the main purpose for travel and work? You will want at least an i5 with 8GB of ram. I would focus on the “ultrabook” line of laptops as they will be light and have large battery capacities.
- Are you a photographer or graphic artist? You may want to look into a apple computer but its not necessary. The adobe creative suite will run just fine on a windows machine. I would get an i7 with 8GB of ram. I would also get a large SSD because of how much better they perform especially dealing with large media files. You can always backup and archive to an external or network drive.
- Is there a program you HAVE to use? Refer to the recommendations of the software manufacturer. They will let you know what you need to get in order for the software to perform optimally.
As a final note before we close out this article, all of these recommendations are for general use. If you would like a more personalized experience, I would love to help with your next computer purchase. Most of the time I save people money because most tend to spend too much or too little for what their needs are. If you spend too little compared to your needs you will end up purchasing a new computer again in a shorter amount of time. Some of the items included with a PC purchase are:
- Research and planning
- Migration of data from old computer
- Printer installation
- Email setup
- Software installation such as MS Office and anti-virus
- Removal of junk software that manufacturers install
If you need any more guidance, I would love to help. Contact Us today!