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Buying Your Next Computer

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Looking to buy a new computer? Here are some things to consider . . .

Looking to buy a new computer? Here are some things to consider . . .


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  • 1. Purchasing Power What you need to know before you buy your next computer
  • 2. The Three P’s Your Purpose will guide your Price. If you haven’t determined a Purpose, Price will then dictate it for you.
  • 3. Purpose
    • Know why you’re making the purchase:
      • For what are you, or might you, use this computer?
      • Who else might use this computer?
      • What software are you expecting to run on this computer, and how many of those programs will be open at the same time?
      • How long do you hope to use this computer before having to replace or upgrade it?
  • 4. Purpose – Common Uses
    • Reading Email & Browsing the Web
    • Listening/Downloading/Recording Music/Movies
    • Digital Photos
    • Video Editing
    • Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations
    • Gaming
  • 5. Power
    • Critical aspect of customer satisfaction, yet too often set aside for the sake of price (big mistake!)
    • Supports your Purpose for the computer
    • Most common complaints we see usually involve computers that are underpowered for the tasks they are expected to perform.
      • Would you pull a 32ft travel trailer with a VW Bug?
  • 6. Aveo/Impala/Corvette Experience tells you that these three Chevy vehicles have different features for different purposes. We also know that the differences between a Corvette and a Model T are major. Yet when it comes to our computers, we still tend to see them as all the same – and as glorified hybrids of calculators and typewriters.
  • 7. Parts is Parts, Right?
  • 8. Processors (cont’d)
    • Aveo Grade (4-cyl) “budget” processors – Great highway mileage, low power, okay for everyday commute on the Internet.
    • “ These are processors that may or may not be in production anymore by the manufacturers but are very inexpensive and functional. Discontinued high-end processors typically provide a better bang for your buck functionally.” (Kyrnin)
            • AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 to 5600+
            • AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350
            • Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 to E4600
            • Intel Pentium D 900 Series
            • Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2140 to E2180
  • 9. Processors – cont’d
      • Impala Grade (with the standard V-6 engine), mid-level processors:
    • “ This is the segment of the market that is probably the best overall value for your computing dollar. While they are not the fastest processors on the market, they still perform very well in all aspects of computing. They may not have the total functional lifespan of the highest end processors, but the price to performance ratio tends to outweigh their longevity.” (Kyrnin)
            • AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ and higher (Socket AM2)
            • AMD Phenom 9500 and 9600
            • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 to E6850
            • Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 to E8500
            • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
            • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 to Q9550
  • 10. Processors – cont’d
      • Corvette Grade (V-8 of course!), high-end processors:
    • “ This is the cream of the crop when it comes to processing power. If you absolutely must have the best thing out there for your new computer then this is what you want to look at. It will cost you though. Generally the most recent processors from the manufacturers come at a price premium of about double that of the middle processors. While the price is over double that of the middle processors, the performance tends to be only about 25-50% more at the best of times from their counterparts in the middle category.” (Kyrnin)
            • AMD Phenom 9700 and Higher
            • Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800
            • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 and Higher
            • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 and Higher
  • 11. Purpose & Processors
    • Email & Web Browsing: “Used,” Aveo, Impala or Corvette
    • Listening/Downloading/Recording Music/Movies: Aveo, Impala, Corvette
    • Digital Photos: Impala, Corvette
    • Video Editing: Impala, Corvette
    • Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations: Impala, Corvette
    • Gaming: Corvette
  • 12. Memory – What is it?
    • “ Memory is the workhorse behind the performance of your computer. Memory temporarily stores information from your operating system, applications and data in current use. This gives your processor easy access to the critical information that makes your program run.” From OfficeMax Recommends
      • This is the area on that spec sheet where you’ll see something like “2 GB DDR2”
      • This is NOT the amount of space on your hard disk drive (HDD)
      • If you run multiple programs at the same time, you cannot afford to skimp on memory
  • 13. Memory – How Much?
    • “ The rule of thumb that I use for all computer systems for determining if it has enough memory is to look at the requirements of the software you intend to run. Pick up the boxes for each of the applications and the OS that you intend to run and look at both the "minimum" and "recommended" requirements. Typically you want to have more RAM than the highest minimum and ideally at least as much as the highest listed recommended requirement. The following chart provides a general idea of how a system will run with various amounts of memory:
      • Minimum Functionality: 1GB (Aveo)
      • Optimal: 2GB (Impala)
      • Smooth Sailing: >2GB (Impala, Corvette)
    • (Kyrnin)
  • 14. System Bus What's a bus? “ To get anything done with a computer you have to get the information you input to the CPU and then to any attached devices such as cards, displays, and other output devices. Inside the computer itself, this information travels in the form of signals over what is known as a bus. You can think of a bus as a road and the signals as cars. A wide road (bus) can support more cars (signals), and a smaller road (bus) supports less. The cars (signals) on the road (bus) have a speed limit (the bus speed). Going along with this analogy: A computer is like a small city. You do not have just one road, but instead you have several different roads with different names and speeds.” Lee Penrod, Directron.org
  • 15. System Bus – cont’d
    • PCI/PCI Express: The PCI bus connects your expansion cards and drives to your processor and other sub systems. PCI Express is the superhighway version of the PCI bus. Currently, the most common use for PCI Express is video.
    • AGP: The AGP bus connects your video card directly to your memory and processor. It is very high speed compared to standard PCI. Only one device can be hooked to the AGP bus as it only supports one video card, so the speed is better compared to the PCI bus, which has many devices on it at once.
    • FSB: The Front Side Bus is the most important bus to consider when you are talking about the performance of a computer. The FSB connects the processor (CPU) in your computer to the system memory. The faster the FSB is, the faster you can get data to your processor. The faster you get data to the processor, the faster your processor can do work on it. (Lee Penrod)
  • 16. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Space
    • The hard disk drive is the primary storage location where data is permanently stored.
    • Beware of too much disk space (risking too much on one drive)
    • Beware of too little disk space (may outgrow too quickly)
  • 17. Operating Systems (OS)
    • If you have:
      • Windows 95, 98, 98 SE or ME – TIME FOR A NEW COMPUTER!
      • Windows Vista Starter, Home Basic or Home Basic N – UPGRADE THE OS!
    • Look for:
      • Windows XP Home Edition or Pro (preferably Pro)
      • Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Business N, Enterprise or Ultimate
  • 18. Other Consideratios
        • Included Software
        • Expandability
        • DVD/CD Drives
        • Video Cards
        • Monitors
        • Cameras, Microphones, Speakers
  • 19. Summary
    • Keep the Purpose in first position
    • Make sure the system has enough Power to fulfill your Purpose
    • Underspending can be just as costly in the long run as overspending
      • Upgrading, time, frustration, crashed computers
      • Flip side – don’t need a gaming system just to check Email
    • Bottom line? Do your homework/seek professional advice/be honest about your skill level and your Purpose