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Help Buying a new Computer

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 23, 2012

MAC vs. PC - MACs are pricier up front but seem to have less maintenance costs associated with them so you may break even in the long run. Many people buy MACs to they don't have to deal with the Virus issues that plague Windows users. MACs are not more secure than Windows but Windows has the bulk of the market share so the Mal-ware writers target it more. You can buy your MAC right from the Apple store or from I am going to focus on the PC purchase as there are not as many choices on the MAC side and the Apple store techs can help you through that purchase.

Vendor – On the PC side, I prefer to buy directly from Dell. They are aggressive in their pricing and their tech support is less horrible than the others. I prefer buying direct from Dell either by phone or website as opposed to buying from one of the local stores as you have more options to customize your system and will have your warranty directly through dell.

Laptop vs. Desktop - Desktops will have faster processors, larger hard drives, can house more memory, and are more expandable than laptops and generally have a longer lifespan.
The only real reason to go with a laptop is portability.

Operating System – Windows 8 is the latest and greatest from Microsoft. It is a great operating system although you will have a learning curve as the interface is quite different. 64-bit Windows will give you better performance.

Processor - Unless you are gaming or doing heavy video editing, there is no real need to spend money on updating to a faster processor. Any Core 2 Duo or Dual Core processor will suffice.

Memory(RAM) – Windows loves memory. For Windows 7 or 8, I would go with a minimum of 4 GB RAM. Your system will perform better with 6 or 8GB.

Hard Drive - it's usually short money to upgrade to a larger hard drive. Video eats up hard drive space quickly. Photos and Music can if they are high quality. 500GB is usually pretty cheap and sufficient for most. 1 Terabyte is usually reasonably priced. Check what you are currently using and plan for plenty of growth. Solid State Drives are coming down in price. These are faster than standard hard drives if it keeps the system in your price range.

Video – built in video will be sufficient for everyday use. There isn’t a real need to upgrade unless you are doing something special such as video editing, CAD Design or heavy action gaming.

Warranty – I would go with a 3 year onsite warranty. After diagnosing a hardware issue over the phone, they will send a tech to your Home/Office to repair your system. A processor or motherboard failure will pay for the warranty.

Laptop Battery – Go with a 9 cell battery. You will get more hours out of a charge.

Laptop Screen Size - This is personal preference. Larger screens make for a heavier laptop so be careful if you travel frequently. Go to a local store and check out the different sizes to see what you are comfortable with. 15" seems to be acceptable to most in terms of screen size and weight.

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