11 December 2007

How to buy a Computer

I was thinking about this Christmas season and how I don't have a second job selling computer this year. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the extra money, but explaining the ins and outs of computers got old pretty quick...as did the people just looking to get the cheapest thing, even though it may not do what they wanted.

Since I'm not selling computers this year, I figured that I would write to tell you how to buy a computer, so that you may be the hero of your household. There are a few things that you must know before buying a computer, but don't worry, I'll walk you through it all.

The first thing you need to know is what you are going to be using the computer for? Is it going to be for just internet and email, games, school work, or video or image editing? Most people will know what they will be doing with the computer. Don't look too deep into the question...I mean do you plan on doing any of those tasks in depth.

Most all computers can do simple image/video editing for personal use; most can play simple games as well (although you get what you pay for here), and all can do internet and email now days.

So, once you have figured out what you plan to use your computer for, I will tell you what you will be looking for. Also, one thing to note is that most boxed computers from the store do not come with a monitor, so watch for that added expense.

Internet and Email - Many people out there just need a dependable computer out there that will just allow them to keep in touch with friends and family through the internet and email. This is easily done as most new computer will be able to handle this task with little problem.

You will be able to get by with a computer that is under $500. If at all possible find a computer with at least 1 Gigabyte (GB) of computer memory, or RAM. This will allow the computer to keep up and is an inexpensive way to speed up your computer.

Games - This category can be much trickier as there are a lot more options to look at. Some stores sell some "gaming computers", but these are for the hardcore gamers and wouldn't effect most who are shopping over the Christmas season.

The main thing when looking for a computer that you would like to play games on is the amount of RAM (computer memory) in the computer and the type and speed of the processor. For RAM, you want a minimum of 1 GB (Gigabytes), but 2 GB is recommended. As for the processor you will want to try and stick with the Intel Core 2 Duo series of processor.

If you follow these guidelines you will be able to run most games out there today without breaking your budget. If you want to make sure you get a good gaming experience, I also suggest you invest in a decent ($150) video card as well. Most places such as Circuit City and Best Buy can install these for you. Be prepared to spend $650 to $1,000.

Schoolwork - This type of computer is along the same lines of a internet/email computer, with a few additions. You can still get by with a minimum of 1 GB (Gigabyte) of computer memory (RAM), and minimum processor depending of what type of schoolwork is required.

For grade school through high school an internet/email computer (sub $600) computer should do just fine. Depending on the needs of your student, you may need to splurge for Microsoft Office to allow them to complete certain assignments. Otherwise a free substitute (very compatible and similar in features) is OpenOffice.

For college students, I recommend getting a more advanced computer as the requirements for certain classes can be demanding. I would at recommend 2 GB (Gigabytes) of RAM, although you should be able to get by with 1 GB in most cases. Hard drives are going to need to be above 100 GB as well and I would stick to a Intel Core 2 Duo series processor.

- These are just the quick basics of buying a computer. Remember to ask plenty of questions when buying a computer. Most sales members at box stores around the holidays may have trouble answering your questions as they are hired for the holidays only. If at all possible, try to bring a tech savvy friend or relative with you.

Just try to remember these few things:

- 1GB RAM (memory) is plenty for most computer users, but if you can find a good deal with a computer that has 2 GB it will help performance.

- As long as your computer comes with at least 80GB of hard-drive space you should also be fine, but obviously the more space available the better. Shop around.

- Sales people at box stores are required to try and sell you extras. Some can be worth it, such as Microsoft Office (if needed). They are also able to install the software for you, which can be worth it if it is a gift, but if you feel you or the person can do it for themselves it will save you money.

- All computers need anti-virus protection. New computers do not come with this, and if they do, it is usually just a short trial. Circuit City and Best Buy both offer services to install anti-virus protection for you. Be prepared to add and additional $75 to $100 for this. The two alternatives are to buy the software yourself and install it, or to download free anti-virus software and install it. Your options depend on time and how proficient you are with computers.

If you have any questions or would like to see more articles on certain topics, please let me know and I will try to help out in any way that I can. I enjoyed selling computers for the two years that I did so, but did not like the pressure of having to push the extras.

Enjoy your Christmas and New Year!

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