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Ame_Evil's avatar

What should I look for when chosing a computer?

Asked by Ame_Evil (3033 points ) December 19th, 2009

So I am going to be looking for a new desktop/laptop computer next year, and I was wondering – what sort of things should I be looking out for and what sort of questions should I be asking?

I want something relatively powerful, but cheap, and can run games flawlessly.

Assume I am a novice (which I am).

Thanks.

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35 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

If you tell me what you intend to do with it, what tasks, etc. I can help better.

XOIIO's avatar

A laptop :)

Oxymoron's avatar

Don’t get one. I would recommend a laptop if anything. And if you plan on getting any kind of technology, make sure it isn’t a HP, they are hell. I would get a Mac.

Ame_Evil's avatar

I was thinking that for the same spec on a desktop of the gaming laptop it would be cheaper to buy the desktop computer.

But yeah, any recommendations of laptops are fine. I am interested in how much ram I would need, what graphics cards are good etc etc.

/edited OP

dpworkin's avatar

Again, what do you intend to do with it?

XOIIO's avatar

@Oxymoron How is HP hell? Mine is working great.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@pdworkin Internet, play some pretty (demanding) games, porn, multitasking, music, movies. Just general stuff.

dpworkin's avatar

From what you say, if I were you I would concentrate on getting the best display and best video card I could get for the money, and not worry as much about RAM or extra large storage. If the rendering gets done by your video system you don’t need a particularly fast CPU. For serious gaming, I would rather have a minitower or tower with a really nice monitor, not a laptop.

What OS were you thinking of running?

Ame_Evil's avatar

I’ve been using Microsoft for all of my computing life but won’t mind using a Mac as they are pretty sweet (but pricey).

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

It would probably be best if you get someone to help you build your own !
Your statement ” I want something relatively powerful, but cheap, and can run games flawlessly ” contradicts itself !! No such animal !! that’s like saying; I want a big flawless diamond but it has to be cheap !

Ame_Evil's avatar

@Pretty_Lilly Well I wanted something cheap that meets the requirements. Not something around $2k that overkilled my needs.

dpworkin's avatar

I agree with @Pretty_Lilly. I would spend the money on a well-made custom PC. Macs are gorgeous, but there is a price premium that it sounds like you want to avoid. So, for specs: you want a motherboard with a PCI Express slot for your Video, and a decent, but not spectacular CPU. 4Gb of RAM is probably sufficient, you want the best video card you can afford, and a well-reviewed monitor, as large as you can afford. You don’t need the biggest hard drive in the world, an eSATA at 500Gb or less would be fine. USB 2.0, some way for you to get Internet signal, that is, a wireless card (802.11n) or fast Ethernet gigabit card.

Buttonstc's avatar

The main thing you want to look for is an Apple logo :D :D

Ame_Evil's avatar

@pdworkin Any estimate on how much that would cost for the parts? I have a friend that could possibly make it so can negiotate labour charges.

dpworkin's avatar

That’s good advice if she can afford it, @Buttonstc, otherwise it’s mean.

sliceswiththings's avatar

I highly recommend getting a Mac. I was skeptical, having only used PCs, but someone convinced me to get a Macbook and I fell in love. There’s no going back.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@pdworkin HE.

Damn I got this crap on airow… is it my writing style or name?

dpworkin's avatar

I’m sorry, I haven’t priced such things out lately, but I suggest you browse some sites like www.crucial.com or www.netgear.com

Ame_Evil's avatar

Oh I have some other questions when I was looking around at desktops such as these:

http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/desktops_great_deals?c=uk&l=en&s=dhs&cid=DTOffer&cs=ukdhs1&dgc=IR&lid=DHP_BB1

What exactly does the “2MB Cache” mean? Is that too much or too little “cache”? :D

dpworkin's avatar

The cache is where ops are briefly stored. Think of it as a way to speed stuff up. If you are just doing routine tasks and gaming, don’t worry so much about the CPU or the RAM. Save your money for more Video Card and more Monitor if you want to game. The routine tasks won’t need extra fast RAM or an extra hot CPU.

wildpotato's avatar

Anything with this symbol on it should do you well.

Buttonstc's avatar

@wildpotato

Don’t you know? That’s mean…(according to pd who chooses to ignore smilies)

Chuckle, chuckle :) :) :)

proXXi's avatar

GA @wildpotato, you beat me to it.

dpworkin's avatar

It seems a little mean, since that’s what she really wants, but she can’t afford it.

proXXi's avatar

She should go preowned then.

Buttonstc's avatar

HE. he took pains to point this out upthread, pd. The OP is a HE.

Aren’t you being a little grumpypants this evening? No meanness was intended. Just a little Apple fanaticism jocularity.

You just got up on the wrong side of the bed. Take two Matisyahu (albums) and call me in the morning :)

dpworkin's avatar

I love Matisyahu.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

For a desktop, it is always best to search for the parts you want and get a shop to build it for you. For a laptop, only trust Asus or Toshiba (I’m not sure about VAIOs, I’ve never used one), and never get a processor by AMD, or a pentium or a celeron. I would also avoid second hand computers like the plague.

The main things to look for are processor clock speed, FSB speed, amount of RAM, the size and speed of the hard drive(s), and if you want to play recent games then the amount and type of graphics. The motherboard and processor are always the most important components to consider, because everything else can easily be changed later.

wildpotato's avatar

@proXXi Actually, Button beat us both.

Sorry Button, I violated my own rule and skipped down to answer. And you’re right, pdworkin, they are expensive as all get-out. In the spirit of actually being helpful, I heartily second the Asus EEE PC. Beautiful little critters. And you can do anything to them. It has a solid fan base, and they post detailed directions and pictures on how to install everything! I even feel like I could break out a soldering gun and do a few mods when I read this stuff, and I’ve only ever made a cricket chirper in 6th grade. This is a good place to start if you are interested.

proXXi's avatar

@wildpotato, I see that now. How it stings

Baggins's avatar

Get as much RAM as you possibly can. I’ve never understood companies that sell a computer to someone with just enough RAM to run the OS, let alone any applications.

dpworkin's avatar

4Gb is enough unless he is running a 64 bit OS, then 8 would be useful,

rhodes54's avatar

A Mac. No viruses, malware, service pack updates. I think they had an ad campaign once that still holds true; It just works…

dpworkin's avatar

@rhodes54 Now why hasn’t anyone else come to that conclusion? You are on the ball tonight!

mazingerz88's avatar

Look for that sign in the shape of an Apple with a bite on it? Then buy that. It’s pricier but adding 600–1000 to the purchase is worth it, even if you have to wait 6 more months to delay and work to get that money. Never had a single virus issue in 8 years and still going.

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