Choosing a Computer

Since hardware is less expensive than it used to be, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to purchase a computer that will meet your needs. However, it’s helpful to first determine what you want to do with your computer in order to get the right amount of memory, processing power, and hard drive space. There are many online resources to help in purchasing and using a computer.

Some of the hardware you’ll need to configure for your computer includes Random Access Memory (RAM), processor, and hard drive.

Think of RAM like a parking lot with a finite number of spots available. If one group uses up half the spots, other groups have fewer spots to choose from. Each application uses a certain amount of RAM, and some programs use up a great deal. The amount of RAM you need depends on how many applications you’ll be running, and how much memory each one uses. Windows XP requires at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM to run comfortably and Windows Vista requires 2 or more. Some applications, such as antivirus software, use up memory since they run continuously in the background of your computer.

Gaming and graphics software are memory intensive because of their fast-changing and detailed processes.

Without adequate memory, your system will run slowly or crash, so it’s a good idea to get as much memory as you can afford. This is easier now that the price of RAM is falling and many machines come with the extra slots you need to upgrade easily. Crucial provides a scanner and an advisor to find the right amount of memory for your needs. Tom’s Hardware offers tips for finding how out how much RAM you need.

The computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is another piece of hardware that needs to provide adequate power for your applications. Most computers use either an Intel or AMD processor.

Those in the market for new computers also need to determine how much hard-drive space they need. The hard drive is where application data and files are stored, along with music or video files, photos, and all other user documents. Computer Help A to Z offers tips for choosing the right size hard drive.

Other hardware decisions include which CD or DVD drives to install and how to access the internet. Most residential locations have a variety of internet providers to choose from, including cable, DSL, and broadband. The computer will require hardware to connect to the provider.

Buying a computer should be fun and exciting, not worrisome. A computer with the right amount of resources will be a reliable and helpful part of your home or office.