Once upon a time desktop computers had screens that looked like the old big and bulky televisions with all the junk in the back that virtually took up your entire desk. The monitors were accompanied by a tower that either didn't fit on your desk or would suffer accidental kicks underneath the table. Luckily today we don't need to suffer from a lack of desk space, you can still have your traditional desktop PC, but they now feature flat screen displays that can come with the tower separate or as an all-in-one model.
Due to their portability aspect laptops have created a massive wave in the computer market but there is no denying that desktop computers are built for the comforts of large screen sizes, speed, accuracy and storage space. While there are small handful of laptops that can rival the performance of a desktop computer you may find it difficult to find a laptop with similar specs that is of the same expense. While some people prefer the familiarity of a desktop computer feel others may find it a necessity. PC gamers, parents and businesses do still favour the desktop computer to for ease of use, to prevent theft and to protect the privacy of children. After all, the immobility of the desktop computer makes it hard for teens to hide the sneaky things they do, for anyone in the family can pop up behind you at any moment. So kiddies unless you have lightning fast reflexes to close that browser down before mum or dad reads your chat log, beware!
As with laptops there are a few things you will need to consider before you purchase a desktop. The first question to ask yourself is what do you need the computer for? The answer to that question will help you decide on the processor, RAM, and storage. We all have different expectations and with any device we expect them to run smoothly for our intended purposes. If your main purpose is to watch TV shows, movies or play games you should consider larger screen sizes. If the computer is strictly business it is important that you select one with the right specs to meet your work requirements. This buyer’s guide will give you the low-down on all you need to know about the modern desktop PC.
Tower desktops are your traditional desktop computer. The tower is rather bulky and would normally be placed under a desk but don't let that put you off. Essentially the tower is your computer containing the devices brain and guts, the screen you attach to it is the display. If you have the room to store the tower safely it is a good investment as the traditional tower is a device that offers the user a chance to change parts and upgrade thus extending the expected lifespan of the unit. Keep in mind though that the screen is usually purchased separate from the tower itself and there are a large range of options for monitor sizes. In traditional desktop style, you will need a mouse, keyboard and anything else that will give you better use out of your device.
All-In-One Desktop Computers
All-in-one desktop computers feature a large display screen where the computer component is actually built into the back of the screen. Within the computer desktop range these all-in-one computers are the most sought after and fast-growing in the range. There is a large variety of monitor sizes available on the market and models that feature a touch screen. All-in-one desktops are much easier to set up and are much more clutter free in comparison to their tower counterparts. These computers need less wires meaning that if you were to set this up in your home there wouldn't be as many cables that you would need to try and hide. On the downside, these computer models don't usually have the ability to upgrade parts in the same way as tower models and if something should happen to your unit, you will need to replace the whole computer not just the one component. Specs wise these computers can have their limitations and tend to have similar specs to laptops father than a powerful tower desktop.
Entry Level Desktop PC's
These are computers designed for general use such as web browsing, Microsoft office, email, social media, homework and keeping a small amount of media files. Entry level desktops are budget PC's, if all you need is something for general purposes that everyone in the family can use, don't throw your money away on a top of the line PC that's designed for more than what you need it for.
Mid-Range Desktop PC's
Mid-range computers are great for almost anything. They allow you to perform all the basic tasks that an entry level computer would while at the same time have the processor capacity to run some games and software. There is essentially more storage space for media files and data than entry level models. Generally mid-range computers are great for your standard business and private use and are targeted towards both families and business workers. Keep in mind though that for games and software that require performance computers you will be better off looking at a high range computer that has the power to run these programs.
High Range Desktop PC's
Designed for performance use and serious gaming. These computers feature higher image quality and a super speedy processor, but they don't come cheap. If you plan on using these performance machines for gaming, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with a larger monitor to fully enjoy the experience. High range desktop models are essentially a luxury item and you can find models with touch, motion and gesture controls. Performance PC's have ridiculously fast response times and some models have additional features such as transparent panels and LED internal lighting giving the user that wow factor.
CPU, RAM & Storage
CPU, RAM and storage are major deciding factors when it comes to choosing your computer. For the not so tech savvy buyer, discussing specs with a sales person can feel like they are speaking in a foreign language. While storage is a familiar term, CPU and RAM might sound like gibberish computer talk. The below will get you up to speed and tell you all you need to know.
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit which is also known as the processor, and this is basically the brains within the computer. The power of the processor indicates the computers complexity, how fast you can work on the computer and how many programs you can run at once. You will find that the processor is measured by its cores, cache memory and its speed. Most models of notebook have either Intel® or AMD processors.
Intel's Pentium® and Celeron® are your basic processors and are most suited to people who intend to use the computer for simple tasks like browse the net and send emails. Core i3 is a dual core CPU usually found in mid-range computers intended for general use, Core i5 processors are found in mid - high range computers intended for business and student workers and lastly the Core i7 is the top of the range found in high performance and gaming desktops that require a high speed processor.
AMD processors come in a FX, A and E series. The E series is much like Pentium® and Celeron® being the budget processor. The A series starts with the A4 which is most suited to general use to the A10 that has the speed and graphics performance required for gaming. The FX processor is the top of the range designed for heavy performance computer use.
RAM stands for Random access memory and you will find that it is measured in gigabytes. For general use you will need a minimum of 2-4GB RAM and a minimum of 4-8GB for business use. For our gaming enthusiasts we recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM as games require a larger memory to perform at an ideal speed. The majority of desktop computers on the market have 2-8GB of RAM but there are models with up to 32GB and some models that will allow you to expand the amount of RAM if you need to. Keep in mind that the more RAM offered the more costly the desktop PC will be. Essentially the more RAM the computer has, the more programs can be run by the processor.
This is the hard drive or solid state drive (SSD) of your computer which dictates how much data you can store. You will find that the drives are measured in gigabytes and terabytes. Hard drives are cheaper and offer lots of storage space in comparison to the SSD's. SSD's on the other hand produce a lesser amount of hear than hard drives but will increase the purchase price of your computer. SSD's have a smaller storage space than hard drives so if you are planning on storing lots of music and video files you may struggle and might have to purchase an external hard drive. If your intentions are to store large amounts of movies and data, opt for a computer with 700GB - 1TB, but if you don't intend to store videos a computer with 250-700GB will be sufficient.
Windows 10 is the exciting new Microsoft operating system. There are more desktop computers on the market that use Windows rather than other operating systems giving you a wider choice range. Windows 10 is easy to use, a combination of both Windows 7 and Windows 8 and has a personal assistant named Cortana. Cortana can assist you with locating items on your notebook, track packages, assist with calendar management, ask questions, chat to you and even tell you jokes! Simply type into the task bar or if you have a microphone hit the microphone icon and get right to it. Cortana can be personalised to respond to your voice only and you can set her up to respond to you by saying "Hey Cortana".
The screen size is dependent on the user. With the development of LCD screens you will find that most monitors on display are 20 inches plus. Consider the space you have to put the monitor and if your intent is for video and gaming you will find that its not necessarily wise to get the biggest baddest monitor on the market as the picture may come our grainy, so make sure you check out the pixels before you buy.
Graphics Card & Connectivity
Basic budget computers usually come with an on board graphics chip built into the computer but for serious gamers and graphic intense programs you will be better off with a graphics card for a more realistic gaming interaction and note that some programs require a graphics card to run. You can find graphics cards that offer a cooling solution too.
Before you make your purchase check the ports, outlets and drives that the computer has to offer. Some computer users require more USB ports than HDMI outlets so pick one that has what you need. You won’t find Blu-ray drives in your entry level desktop computer range as they can be expensive but if that's what you are looking for you will want a high resolution screen and speakers to match.
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