How to Buy a PC and Not Be Ripped Off
(Simple questions you need to ask yourself)
Buying a PC can be confusing. There are so many choices and they vary wildly in price. First there are 3 basic questions you need to answer first:
- Do I need portability, or will the computer stay in one location? Laptop verses desktop PC.
- What am I going to use the computer for?
- Do I want to run Windows, MAC OS or Chrome/Android OS?
Laptops are the only choice if you need to use it at multiple locations. Desktop computers cost less than laptops that are similarly configured. Desktop computers break down less because they don’t have a lid to open and close, don’t get dropped and don’t have batteries that wear out. Desktop computers typically have much larger screens (monitors).
If you need a laptop, consider the size and weight of the laptop. If you are a student or frequent flier, a smaller, light weight laptop is best. If you are getting older and don’t have the perfect vision of a 20-year-old, a 15” screen or larger is better (but is heavier)!
How Will You Use The Computer?
This the second most important question. Eighty percent of most computer users need a ‘middle of the road’ computer. Not the cheapest, but certainly not the fastest and most expensive. The only group of people who need very fast computers are the rich, the impatient, gamers, video editors, modeling engineers and some graphic designers!
You fit into the 80% if you browse the Internet, access social media, email, use a word processor, create spreadsheets or presentations, etc.
What Operating System Do I Want to Use or Know How to Use?
76% of the world uses Microsoft’s Windows operating system on a PC (usually version 10 or 11). Go with this and you can’t go wrong. It is the most popular choice in the business world.
Consider the Apple MAC OS if you are a graphics designer, want a fluid or more user friendly interface and want to purchase into the Apple ecosystem. Apple products integrate nicely together (Watch, PC, iPad, iPods, etc.) Apple computers only run Mac OS (not Windows natively). You can however run Windows on a Mac using a product called Parallels.
Consider Android/Chrome OS if you only want to browse on the Internet or run simple apps. Does not run Windows applications. The computers that run this operating system are usually very inexpensive. Popular in elementary and middle schools.
Now that you have this figured out, the next choices are all about money, speed, and quality. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. This is true in cars and in computers.
The overall speed of the computer is based on several factors:
- The speed of the processor (the engine of the PC).
- How much memory does it have? More is better.
- How much hard disk storage do you need?
- Speed of the graphics card. Important for games, video editors, etc. (not the 80 percenters!)
The Speed of The Processor
To be honest this is a very difficult thing to gage by the name of the processor. In the early days of processors, the higher the number of the processor was always faster (i.e. Pentium 2, Pentium 3). Today this is not true. The Intel i5 can be faster than the Intel i7 and vise versa. Or select models of the Intel i3 can be faster that the i5.
To make matters more confusing, many computer listings online or in the store, only give the manufacturer and series number (Intel Core i5) and not the specific information such as Intel Core i5 1165G7. There can a hundred Intel Core i5 models! If you know the full model number you can find benchmark speed numbers that give a relative speed. Customers of Code Vapor can email the full model number and we will give you the relative speed number and recommendations for free.
If you are buying a computer for your business, you need to purchase a business class PC. These are different from the consumer models found at Best Buy the discount warehouses, etc. We pre-stock some of the best models that have been researched for best value, quality and speed.
There are two major manufactures of processors for laptops and desktop computers. Intel and AMD. Both are excellent choices.
When a computer starts up a program or application it loads it into fast memory. It’s like reading a book. You can look at a line of text and you can remember it, but it is difficult to look at the whole page and remember every word. Going back and forth from line to line takes time. Same with computers. If it has enough memory, it can load the complete application into memory all at one once, saving a lot of time. More programs or browser windows you have open, the more memory you need. More is better.
Discount computers will come with 4GB of memory. 8M is really the minimum you need for a decent response. 16GB is ideal.
Hard Disk Storage
Since RAM memory can only hold so much information and it forgets all of the information when power is removed, you need a larger, non-volatile device. This is called the hard disk. For many years hard disk were mechanical disks, that stored information. After 4-5 years they were prone to failure. These disks still exist and some computer manufactures still install them in PCs.
The new standard for hard disks is called SSD (solid state devices). They are not mechanical devices and at ten times faster. You should always look for an SSD disk when you buy a computer (there are a few exceptions). Bigger is better. 256GB, 512Gb and 1000GB (1 TB) are great options. So much data can be stored online (‘in the cloud’) that a 256 – 512 GB disk may be fine for many users.
These are special computer processors that handle graphic image processing. These cards/chips can be expensive ($500 – $1,000 or more) and are only necessary for those users who are serious gamers, video editors, modeling engineers, bit coin miners, etc. For the 80 percenters, do not be too concerned with this.
The last question is what manufacturer should I buy? The most reliable brands tend to be: HP, Dell, Apple and Lenovo. There are a few other exceptions. Keep in mind like cars manufactures, PC manufactures have lower quality models and high-end models. Remember you generally get what you pay for. Aim for a computer that will last you 3-4 years.