Choosing a Desktop PC - Warnings! (Nov 2012)

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There are now thousands of computers on eBay at any given time, and it can be very difficult to make a choice between one and the other. Below is a list of things to watch out for:

 

PROCESSORS 

Generally speaking, a processor with a higher frequency (measured in GHz) will be faster than another however there are exceptions:

  • Having a dual or quad core processor does not effectively mutliply the speed by 2 or 4, although they do perform better. Modern processors go up to about 3GHz - so if a seller is trying to sell something which is a 10GHz processor that probably means they've multiplied it up to look better!
  • Modern Intel Processors - eg Intel Core i3 / Intel Celeron G5xx / Intel Pentium G6xx / Intel Pentium G8xx are superior to their rivals.
  • Avoid Intel Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 processors as these are outdated

  • If you are on a tight budget, an old Pentium Dual Core E2xxx/E5xxx/E6xxx/Celeron E3xxx/AMD Sempron processor will do.
  • If you want to do media/photos/documents then pretty much any X2/dual core processor will do.
  • If you want to play games, any dual core processor over 2.5GHz with at least 2MB of cache will probably do (excluding the Pentium D as it is older). Look for an nvidia/ati graphics card if you want to play games!
  • If you're looking for top performance, look for Intel's "Core i" series.

 

"OPERATING SYSTEM (OS) NOT INCLUDED"

If you are not a technical person and see these words, best to steer clear of the listing. This means there is no Microsoft Windows or Mac or Linux installed on the machine - you're effectively buying a bunch of parts in a case without any way of using it.

 

RAM

USE OF YOUR PC       SUPPLIED OS             RAM RECOMMENDED
   Basic home use             Windows XP                             1GB
   Basic home use        Windows Vista / 7                          2GB
   Gaming / media             Windows XP                             3GB
   Gaming / media        Windows Vista / 7                          4GB

Also note that dedicated graphics cards are recommended for any gaming. Look for an nVidia GT or ATI radeon card.

I strongly recommend getting computers with Windows 7 Home Premium - this is a far better operating system than Windows Vista and Windows XP is becoming outdated and more vulnerable to security threats.


HARD DRIVE SIZE

Normally measured in Gigabytes (GB) like RAM. Look for at least:
- 160GB if you are a basic home user with no big needs to store photos/music etc.
-320GB if you might store a few photos/music/video but not lots.
- 500GB to 1TB (1000GB) if you do lots of media/music/photos or if you install lots of PC games.
- An SSD (Solid State Drive) for generally snappy performance. 

 

BRANDED OR UNBRANDED?

I'd always say look for the big brands like Dell, Compaq, HP etc. as the machines will be more professionally made and will be quieter. Beware cheap listings and no-name brands as these will often come with a catch (eg no operating system or poor quality, loud components). 



Last updated Feb 2012.

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