Guide to Buy a Personal Computer
Table of Contents
What do you need to know and do before you buy a computer?
1 - What to Do Before You Buy a Computer?
You need to know what you are going to do with the computer, you are buying, in the near future but also what you may use it for at later stages.
Computers can be used to write documents, play interactive games, surf the internet to look for information, study online, shop online, do banking online, watch films on DVDs, do online movie streaming, listen to music, read e-books, create and run an online business and do many more. Knowing the uses of the computer you plan to buy, help determine the necessary specifications such as processing power, memory, and storage capacity that the computer needs to have.
2 - Understand the Vocabulary Related to Computer Systems and its Meaning
- Hardware: Includes all the physical items such as monitor, printer, CPU, speakers, keyboard,... that come with a computer system.
- System Software (Operating System) : Includes all computer programs (set of instructions) that help the computer do what it is supposed to do. Examples are Linux, Microsoft windows, and Mac OS X.
- Application Software: Include all computer programs (set of instructions) that let the user do things like write documents such as Google doc, organize and anlyze data such as Google sheets, surf the web (Mozilla Firefox, Explorer,...), play games and many other applications.
- RAM: Is the Acronym for Random Access Memory, writable storage devices where data may be stored and retrieved at high speed. RAMs are very important in the speed of execution of applications. A larger RAM makes your computer faster. There are other varieties of RAMs such as DRAMs (dynamic RAM) and SRAMs (static RAM).
The amount of RAM will affect the computer's ability to run multiple programs at the same time. A minimum of 8 GB is recommended for most users.
- ROM: This is the acronym for Read Only Memory which in general refers to nonwritable and nonerasable storage devices containing data that is not to be altered. However, EPROMs are an erasable type of ROMs.
- Hard Disk: It is a large capacity storage device that keeps data even when the computer is switched off. The user uses the hard disk to store text files, audio files, video files and pictures to be used at a later stage. Decide between a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs are faster but more expensive.
- Monitor: Any electronic system to display output in text or graphic format. There are CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), Plasma, and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors. The last two have flat screens, lightweight and consume less power than the CRT type. The CRT monitor, however, is much cheaper than both LCD and Plasma screens. Consider the screen size, resolution, and quality of the display.
- Mouse: It is handheld device that can be moved on a flat surface in order to change the position of the pointer on the screen and click on buttons to cause actions. It can also be used to select text and then perform other actions on the selected text.
- Printer: It is used to print text and graphics (color and black and white) on paper.
- Keyboard: It comprises a set of keys that are used to type words and give commands to the computer.
- Processor: is a chip (or a logical circuit) that processes the basic instructions that drive a computer. Consider the type (Intel or AMD) and speed (or clock) of the processor. Demanding tasks such as video editing or gaming require a faster processor.
- Graphics: If you plan to play games or use graphics-intensive software, a dedicated graphics card may be necessary.
- Connectivity: Ensure the computer has the necessary ports and connectivity options (e.g., USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth).
3 - Speed and Storage Capacity Units that You Need to Understand
Units of measurement of capacity are used to express the storage capacity of computer memory and storage devices, such as hard disk drives, solid-state drives, and RAM. Understanding these units is important when purchasing a computer.
- Bit (b): The smallest unit of computer data, representing a single binary digit (0 or 1).
- Byte (B): A unit of digital information that consists of 8 bits.
- Kilobyte (KB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 bytes.
- Megabyte (MB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 kilobytes. (1MB = 1024 x 1024)
- Gigabyte (GB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 megabytes. (1GB = 1024 x 1024 x 1024 bytes.)
- Terabyte (TB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 gigabytes.
- Petabyte (PB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 terabytes.
- Exabyte (EB): A unit of digital information that is equal to 1024 petabytes.
- The clock speed of the CPU is measured in Hertz.
1 Hertz is the number of cycles the CPU goes through per second. However, the clock speed is so high that it is usually measured in Megahertz (MHz) and Gigahertz (GHz)
1Mhz = 1000,000 Hertz and
1Ghz = 1,000,000,000 Hertz.
The clock speed of the CPU is also called frequency.
Higher clock speeds generally indicate faster processing performance.
More References and links
- www.dell.com, Dell website
- www.amd.com, The Website of the American multinational semiconductor company that designs and manufactures microprocessors, graphics processors, and other computer components.
- Computers and New Technologies