Buying Computer Basics

Do-It-Yourself Tech

Computer technology moves so quickly that keeping track of shopping tips can be a nightmare. Here are a few things to consider when buying a new computer:

1 New or Used?

What’s your budget? New computers can start as low as $299, but used computers can often be even less. New computers are generally faster and warrantied whereas used computers are older technology with no warranty.

2 Desktop or Laptop?

Laptops used to be quite a bit more expensive than desktops, though that price gap is shrinking daily. Do you need the flexibility of moving your computer around easily?

3 Local or Large Corporation?

“White box” is the term used for local retailers that sell computers. Such companies often offer personable service as well as better warranties. Larger corporations such as Dell or HP often have more competitive pricing at the expense of outsourced service and limited try-before-you-buy (i.e. not much of a store front). Though another thing to consider with larger corporations is the security of company unlikely to default on warranties (a small retailer could be gone tomorrow).

4 Warranty

Do you need on-site service? Can you live without your computer for a few days if it needs to be taken in or shipped? On-site service can be more expensive but is often worth it. Also, standard warranties for computers now are one year in length. How long do you plan on using this computers? Warranties can usually be extended from one year up to four years with varying options in between.

5 Hardware Requirements

What will you be using this computer for? Do you plan on using it for school, gaming, working, etc.?

The following is the recommended minimum for most users:

Pentium IV Processor
512 Megabytes Memory
40 Gig Hard Drive
Windows XP Home

Other components may vary depending on your needs. Do you need a CD burner? Flat panel or traditional monitor? If you intend to do more gaming, you’ll need a nicer video card, etc.

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