Desktop computers or better Desktop PC still are continuing to change, and while many are in the market for a more mobile device these days, most still need the power of a desktop machine somewhere in their lives.
Buying a new desktop PC is always exciting, but if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, it can be daunting too. In this PC buying guide, we’ll take you through all the things to consider and explain the jargon along the way.
Let’s start with the basics: what is a desktop computer? Unlike a laptop or tablet, a desktop is usually designed to stay in one place. It consists of a “tower” that houses all the internal components like the processor, graphics card and memory, and which usually connects to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Because they’re bigger and bulkier than laptops, desktop PCs are often more powerful and suitable for gaming or demanding applications. However, it’s all about the components you choose – and one of the biggest advantages of a desktop is that it’s easy to build a custom model that meets your needs.
If you’re shopping for the right desktop PC to meet your needs, this guide could help.
Think About Your Budget for The Best Desktop PC – Buying Guide
Before you ever get started, you’ll want to define your budget over everything else. Laying out this number ahead of time will help you narrow down the various options that become available to you. While you want to buy the best desktop you can afford, you really only need certain features for your use, so make certain that you have a number in mind before you start shopping.
Think About Your Usage Plan
What will you be doing with your new desktop PC? If you plan to do some serious gaming, you’re going to have very different needs than you might if you were simply going to be bringing some work home from the office. Similarly, editing pictures for your photography business on the side may mean you want something a bit different than you might if you were looking for a fully featured CAD workstation. Define your needs carefully at the outset so you don’t get a desktop PC that won’t do what you want it to.
As you shop, you’re going to see lots of different terms thrown about, and you only need to be familiar with a few of these. Start with the processor. You’re going to see both Intel and AMD processors available. Intel has quite a bit of backing, but AMD processors can be great for a number of applications. You want to go with a quad core processor if possible, but if you’re only looking at light applications, a dual core, like the Intel i3, should meet your needs.
Beyond the processor, you’ll also see RAM availability quoted. Short from Random Access Memory, RAM defines how your computer can run programs at the same time. The higher the number you choose, the more programs you can run at once. For most home users, 4GB should suffice, but if you’re doing quite a bit with your machine, you’ll want to consider 8GB.
The final essential quality to consider is your hard drive space. You’ll be choosing between the traditional HDD and the newer solid-state hard drive (or SSD). These have flash memory systems, similar to what you might find in today’s iPhones, and they allow the system to boot faster. They’re pricier, though, and thus not completely necessary for a home user. More storage space here is better, but you should only buy what you think you need, because you can typically expand this component.
There are many other options you’ll be faced with as you buy, like graphics cards, optical drives, and ports, but covering these basics should get you a machine you’ll love.
While there are many different desktop processors, or CPUs, most come from just two manufacturers: AMD and Intel. Intel processors generally offer better performance, but they are more expensive than AMD processors. However, the main difference between processors relates to the number of cores they offer and their relative speed.
Most manufacturers present a performance rating system for their desktop PCs, but comparing across brands isn’t always easy. Your best bet is to look for PCs in your price range and then research the processors to make sure they are powerful enough for your needs.
Memory, or RAM, plays a big role in the speed and performance of a PC. The higher the RAM, the better the performance. Experts recommend at least 8 gigabytes of memory, but 16 GB offers better performance. For gaming and other power-computing uses, 16 GB is the minimum you should consider.
Although DDR3 memory was the standard for desktop computers for many years, DDR4 is now preferred. Whe
While some desktop computers still rely on hard disk drives, most newer PCs ship with solid-state drives for storing and caching data. SSDs are preferable since they’re faster, more efficient, and more durable than HDDs.
There are two main elements to consider when shopping for hard drives: size and speed. A modern desktop hard drive should have at least 1TB of storage space. In terms of speed, most run at 7200 rpm, but some green or variable-speed drives consume less energy. Most motherboards now support RAID to install several hard drives on your machine.
In buying memory, try to buy as few DIMMs as possible to allow for future memory upgrades.
Optical Drives (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
Most desktops still come equipped with a DVD burner, but some small form factor PCs are doing away with optical drives. To watch new movies in HD, your desktop needs a Blu-ray drive. If the computer you want doesn’t have any optical drives, purchase an external CD, DVD, and Blu-ray player.
If you don’t play PC games with 3D graphics, then you don’t have to worry about a dedicated graphics card. Gamers should consider a DirectX 11 card with at least 2 GB of onboard memory. Pick a budget video card if you’re just interested in accelerating non-3D tasks. Factors to consider include performance, the amount of memory on the card, the output connectors, and the version of Direct X supported.
External Peripheral Connectors
Check how many and what type of external ports are available on the computer for use with future peripherals. There are a variety of high-speed peripheral connectors now available. It is best to get a PC with at least six USB ports. Other higher-speed connectors include eSATA and Thunderbolt, which can be especially useful for external storage. Many desktops also include SD card readers.
Desktop Monitors for The Best Desktop PC – Buying Guide
While there are all-in-one PCs with built-in monitors, you still need to consider the quality of the screen. Most monitors today are based on LCD technology, and the only major difference between them is size and cost. Some other factors, such as color accuracy, may be important if you plan to use the desktop for graphics work. 24-inch LCDs are the most common, thanks to their affordability and support for full 1080p high-definition video. Larger screens, such as 27-inch LCDs and 4K displays, are also dropping in price.
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