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How to buy the right computer.

What's Right For Me?

Sometimes, when trying to figure out the differences between RAM, processor speed and hard drive size , it seems like you need a degree in computer science. But it can be simplified into layman's terms.

On the same note, you can't take it too lightly, because there is a lot to think about. Believe me, the purchase of a new computer can affect you sanity for the next 2-5 years.

I read an article that stated most Americans ask: "What do I want?" Instead of: "What do I need?" when they go shopping. Now, if money is no object, stop reading this and return to your carefree life of Lamborghinis, Beluga, and chilled three olive Martinis. Otherwise this may help you in deciding on your next purchase.

Can I go no frills?
Yes, there are some good no name brands that will work just as well. However, (Personally) I prefer brand name PC's to the no frills isle. The $50-$75 that you save for going the cheaper way may cause you headaches when a warranty issue comes around.

Does size matter?
I did a quick survey and contrary to what we would like to think, size does matter. I mean it's pretty simple when you think about it, the larger it is, the more information you can store on it. (What did you think I was talking about; get your mind out of the gutter)

Seriously, if you write essays/proposals for school or work, play a lot of games, or have tons of music that you would like to store, you'll need to make sure you get a hard drive with practical size. (80-120GB should be fine for now, if you need more space in a year or so you can look at an external USB or Firewire HDD)

How fast is fast?
In order to answer this you will have to ask yourself one question. What am I going to do with my new PC? If you are using it for checking emails, writing letters and surfing the web, save yourself some money and go with the Celeron processor and standard RAM package. If you are going to play games, develop graphics and use your PC as a TV/stereo, you'll need to go with Pentium or equivalent processor and boost your RAM to 1GB or what ever you can afford. (Remember, more RAM (memory) is one of the best ways to speed up your PC)

Bring On The Noise!
This is simple, if you plan on using your PC as a TV or stereo, I suggest the latest greatest sound card along with some kicking speakers. (7.1 surround sound really responds nicely)

What operating system do I need?
Again, we need to ask the same question. What am I using this PC for? (See a Pattern)Email checking, Web surfing, Game playing junkies – Windows XP Home/Professional is your choice (If you have a choice, always go with the Pro). Home theater watching, MP3 ripping, picture taking extremists – Windows Media Center is your puppy. What You See Is What You Get!

Video can make or break your PC. Standard users need a least 64MB of video RAM. I recommend 128MB or better for everyone. Is flat better? Yes, the technologies with the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) displays have made major improvements in the last few years. Also, the space saved is worth its wait in gold. Go flat.

Breakdown - If you plan on checking emails, surfing the web, writing letters, here is your PC.

Brand name – Whatever you want (I recommend Dell); Hard drive size – (80-120GB IDE drive); Memory – (256-512MB); Processor – Latest Celeron processor will do; Sound – Integrated sound card and 2.1 speaker system will be fine; Operating system – Windows XP Pro or Home; Video Card – Integrated is fine, but you should have between 64 and 128MB of RAM; Monitor – 15"-17" flat panel.

If you are going to play games, create a home theater or stereo it up. This is what you will need.

Brand name – Whatever you want (I recommend Alienware); Hard drive size – (250-400GB SATA drive); Memory – (1-4GB); Processor – Latest greatest Pentium or equivalent; Sound – Audigy 4 Pro will suffice, along with the Creative Power Pak 7.1 speaker system; Operating system – Widows XP Pro or Media Center; Video Card – ATI all-in-wonder X800 XT; Monitor – 19-21" Flat Panel or DLP projection screen for home theaters.

About The Author -Jackson Morgan is a Sr. desktop support specialist and works with small to large businesses. He is certified to work on many platforms and has over eight years experience in the field. If you would like to contact Jackson you can e-mail him at If you would like to know more about computer security please visit us at

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