With endless options on the market and lots of geeky jargon to contend with, working out which computer to buy can be daunting. To help you choose the right laptop or any PC, tech experts Sarah and Bo have laid out the five key features to pay attention to.
#1 The processor
The CPU (Central Processing Unit, or “processor”) is essentially the brain of the computer; it’s where most calculations take place and very much determines the speed at which your computer runs. There are currently three basic types on the consumer market: Intel Core i7, i5 and i3. Though we find i3 frustratingly slow, it’s sufficient for entry-level users, such as young children. If you’re looking for a high-performance unit for heavy duty computing tasks like video editing or gaming, go for the i7. For most users however, i5 is fast enough, with a good balance between speed, performance and cost.
Now, this is really important! With all the digital content we create and consume from our photos, films, apps and programmes, ample storage is key. Yes, we can store some of it in the cloud, but there are always essential items to keep close at hand and we strongly suggest having at least two copies of all your data. If you plan on transferring all your digital content over, first check the amount of data you have on your old computer to gauge how much space and room for growth you’ll need on your new one. If you’re planning to store photos, you will need at least 1TB or 2TB of storage. Many new machines have solid-state drives (SSDs) that are much faster than standard hard drives – but they often come with a hefty price tag. Be cautious, though, as many laptops come with small SSDs, as little as 128GB of storage (less than a phone)! If you’re purchasing a Mac, check out their customised options online to increase the storage capacity.
#3 Memory (RAM)
Many often mistake this for data storage, but it’s actually the memory space that the computer uses to access stuff. The more memory, the faster and more efficient the computer is. We advise you to buy the most memory your budget can afford. The absolute minimum should be 4GB, while the ideal is 8 or 16GB.
#4 Screen size and graphic capability
Are bigger screens better? Not always. Larger screens add weight to your system and require more power. But if you often find yourself juggling multiple windows or you work frequently with creative software, a roomy screen and powerful graphics are useful. Remember, screen size is measured diagonally across the part of the screen that lights up. In our opinion, the minimum screen size should be 13 inches for a laptop and 21 inches for a desktop.
#5 Battery life
Check the spec sheet and see if the battery contains two, three or four cells. The more cells, the more power the battery packs, though each additional cell adds weight to the system.
Remember, a slow or troublesome computer doesn’t necessarily mean its time is up! At Tekkie Help, we offer hardware repairs and upgrades to give your computer a new lease of life. And, if you’re looking for a new Mac on a tight budget, we also sell refurbished Macs as a cost-effective solution. They come with a three-to-six-month warranty and can be customised to your needs.