So first thing to do in my opinion is to think about what you are going to be using the new PC for; are you going to be playing graphic intensive games or are you just planning to do a bit of word processing and surf the web? Because this will determine what kind of spec your computer will need. In other words there's no need to buy the most cutting-edge (and expensive!) PC if you'll only be using it for basic tasks.
Then you can start comparing PCs!
I'll now give a list of things you should look out for when buying a PC, depending on what you want out of it:
Basic/Budget PC (for basic tasks such as word processing and low-end gaming)
- Hard Drive: Now I know quite a lot of people who have just gone and bought the computer that has the biggest hard drive, thinking that if it has a big hard drive it must be good. Don't be fooled this isn't the only thing that matters by any means. For what you'll be doing I think around 250Gb should give you ample room to store your photos and word documemnts.
- Processor (CPU): This is the nerve center of your computer and probably the most important part. You should now decide whether to go for a Intel or a AMD there's nothing much between them, but as Intel are better known I'll focus on their CPUs. Even if you only have a very basic knoledge of computers you've probably heard of Intel's Core 2 Duo model. This is a very good CPU but quite expensive if you're on a budget, therefore I beleive you should probably look for either a Pentium 4 or a Pentium D processor. With a Pentium 4 try to look for the high clock speeds e.g 3.00Ghz, but with the Pentium D it's dual core which means that it has basicly 2 CPUs in one. So don't be put off by low clock speeds (2.4Ghz + 2.4Ghz = 4.8Ghz
- Memory (RAM): The amount of RAM you need depends entirely on what you plan to do with your computer and which operating system you want (Vista vs XP). But as a general rule of thumb, the more the better! For Vista 1Gb is minimal but 2Gb is much better. The same goes for XP although you could probably get away with 512Mb if your budget won't stretch.
- DVD/CD Drive: It's best if your on a budget to make sure that the computer has a DVD drive not just CD nowadays most things are DVD not CD. 16x is fine for the drive.
- Graphics Card: I don't think you'll be needing anything special here 64Mb is fine for basic use but minimal. Try to find one with 128Mb or 256Mb just for some breathing space. But again the more Mb the better!
- Hard Drive: For Games 320Gb - 500Gb is fine and will give you enough room to breath; but perhaps for things like large amounts of video data you might consider 450Gb - 1000Gb depending on the amount you process.
- Processor (CPU): Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz is probably the best and will be for the foreseeable future although you can get Quad core now, they can be a bit unstable and I don't see any need unless you really want to push the boat out.
- Memory (RAM): 2Gb - 4Gb is fine the latter being better
- DVD/CD Drive: DVD 16x is fine 18x is better.
- Graphics Card: This depends on your level of gaming; the best on the market now, in my opinion are the nVidia GeForce 8800GTX 786Mb even better would be if the computer said that it was SLI which means that it runs two duplicate cards in unison to create truely mind-blowing performance. Although if you can't quite afford that make sure it's at least GeForce 8series which means that it will be DirectX 10 compatible without which you wouldn't be able to play the latest games on Vista.