What would we do without computers? They are indispensable gateways to our digital way of life, and incredibly versatile technology that we use practically every day. Computers are great for streaming all sorts of content, playing video games, or simply getting some work done.
When you’re buying a new computer it can be quite difficult to find the right product. So what are some important aspects you should know about? Regardless of what it’s used for, every computer requires several modular components, each of which is likely made by different companies. These components can vary in price, performance and size. If you want to be fully prepared before you add anything to your cart, read on for some critical foresight into your purchase.
Before you lock in that sale item, think about what role you want it to fulfill. Due to the aforementioned degree of modularity, it’s important to find the right computer (or components) for your needs. Don’t be afraid to get specific, the more you know about what you want, the easier it will be to find good deals on quality items.
These days pre-built computers are made relatively well. Building your own computer used to be significantly cheaper than getting a premade build. Time and technology have marched on though, and nowadays building a PC yourself is more of a hobbyist activity. Many pre-builds offer competitive value paired with good performance, with added convenience to boot.
As we mentioned earlier, the main factor that determines your options is your computer’s function. Are you going to play games on it, or use it for work-related tasks? Even if you don’t use it for gaming, maybe you do graphics work or 3D animation; in which case you will need a good GPU. Buying RAM is another good example of functional priority; you don’t need more than 16 GB to run most games, but rendering a 3D environment can use up significantly more than that.
Once you’ve figured out your primary need for a computer, there are six main components to consider. The main components for any computer are its motherboard, processor, memory, graphics, storage and peripherals. When it comes to achieving good performance and efficiency, these are the parts that matter the most.
A good motherboard will provide a stable foundation for your setup. There is more than one generation of this tech available, and each board will support a specific chipset (i.e. processor). This is where you can see how pre-built PCs can save you a lot of legwork; you don’t have to worry about chipset compatibility or supported memory types, it’s all done for you.
If you do plan on building your own rig, ensure that the motherboard you choose has the right configuration for the rest of your parts to work. The motherboard (or mobo, for short) is the glue that holds your computer together. You can run a computer without a graphics card, but without a good mobo your whole setup will suffer.
Processor model numbers are a source of pain for many computer enthusiasts. Intel, for example, currently has more than one generation of three performance categories, with each category offering further performance differences.
When purchasing a PC, look out for the generation, model hierarchy, and processing speed of any chipset that catches your eye. Make sure these specifications provide the right level of performance for your needs.
A typical office computer usually doesn’t need more than 8GB of memory to function efficiently. 16GB is the bare minimum for modern gaming though, so a hybrid setup will need at least that much to perform adequately.
32GB of RAM is more than enough for running any game at 4K resolution, provided the rest of the system can manage that graphics output. If you really want to future-proof your setup then 64 or 128GB options are available; just be prepared for premium price levels.
Graphics cards come in three flavors; low-end, midrange, and high-end (as is the case with most PC parts). A low-end card will let you run most games at 1080p, but if you’re rendering a 3D film for example, a cheaper card will take forever to finish processing bigger files.
A high-end card will max out most games and make rendering as quick as possible, but keep in mind that graphics card prices are highly inflated at the moment. Brand new, the best cards can cost as much as a fully assembled build altogether.
How much storage space will you require? Many popular games have a hefty install size. It’s becoming increasingly common for games to be 100GB or more. Video editors commonly have to deal with multiple terabytes of data.
Hard-drive disks (HDDs) are good for storing mass amounts of data, while solid-state drives (SSDs) usually sacrifice capacity for speed. Keep an eye out for the amount of storage, as well as the type of drive, as these are your most important indicators of price vs. performance.
A good mouse and keyboard should be durable but ergonomic, and responsive yet resistant enough to provide good feedback. A small mouse might seem convenient but prolonged use will likely result in cramps and discomfort. Many keyboard models also take lighting a bit too far, and distract from whatever is on screen.
Button configurations that give your peripherals additional functionality are highly useful. A keyboard with dedicated media controls comes in handy when you’re a music producer, and customizable mouse buttons always come in handy for many esports players.
When buying any product, doing your research ensures that you get the best part for the best price. If you want to future-proof your setup, have a look at games and programs that are still in development. Will your PC be able to run those software apps five years from now? What about in 10 years time?
Make sure to shop around. You could look at reviews and comparisons. Check for things like warranty and repair services. You can even wait for sales, or perhaps consider some second hand parts. These days there are a number of reputable resellers online. If you do your research you won’t regret it. Instead of paying for an overpriced rig you may find better deals with a lot more value.