Tips for Buying a New Computer

Finding a new computer doesn’t have be intimidating. Whether for paying bills or binge-watching, choose a computer that has the features and specs you need to do what you love every day.

What will you use your computer for

First, take some time to think through what you use your computer for today and what you might also want it to do
in the future. Whether a notebook or a desktop, a variety of different form factors and key components are possible.

  • Notebooks
  • Desktops
Shop Non-Touchscreens

Non-Touchscreen

The standard clamshell format, this laptop hinges up to 180 degrees and comes with a keyboard for your regular computing needs.

Shop Non-Touchscreens
Shop Touchscreens

Touchscreen

With the same functionality as Non-Touchscreens but more capabilities than a tablet, Touchscreens allow you to swap between your keyboard and screen-swiping.

Shop Touchscreens
Shop 2-in-1

2-in-1

Also referred to as convertible, 2-in-1 notebooks are almost always touchscreen. They hinge between the keyboard and display for 360-degree rotation between standard and tablet modes.

Shop 2-in-1s
Shop Towers

Desktop Tower

Great option if you already have a monitor, external speakers and other accessories.

Shop Towers
Shop Desktops

Desktop
with Monitor

Includes the tower, monitor, keyboard, mouse and sometimes external speakers.

Shop Desktops
Shop All-In-Ones

All-in-One

Think of this as the desktop equivalent of a notebook. An All-in-One consolidates all elements of the desktop computer and monitor into one set-up. Monitors can come in non-touch and touch models.

Shop All-In-Ones

Key Components and Specifications

Learn a computer's main features to help you shop more confidently.

Operating System

Also referred to as an OS, Operating Systems are pre-installed on all computers to run programs as well as manage hardware and software resources. The OS allows you to communicate with your computer without speaking the computer’s coded language.

Windows

The Microsoft operating system pre-installed on most computers, Windows is different from Microsoft Office software, which includes Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.
and isn't included with the OS.

Operating System
Chrome

Pre-installed on Chromebook devices only, this operating system was designed by Google and uses the Google web browser as the primary user interface.

Memory

AKA: RAM (random-access memory). Memory works by storing information that your computer is actively using so it can be accessed quickly. The more programs you plan on using at the same time and more complex they are, the more memory you need. Basic computing needs 2GB to 4GB of memory. For more advanced needs–such as video and photo editing–6GB or more is recommended.

Optane Memory by Intel
Memory

Intel Optane memory is smart memory because it adapts to your behavior, as well as preloads and accelerates what you do on your computer. It significantly reduces the wait time for data to load and allows you to open video files and big editing applications faster.

Screen Size & Resolution

Notebooks
Screen sizes range from 10” to 17.3.” Smaller screen sizes are ideal for portability. Larger screen sizes are ideal for viewing everything from work documents to videos and gaming. As screen size increases, so does your computer’s weight and power usage.

Desktops
The sky’s the limit when it comes to desktop monitor sizes. 22” and 24” monitors are the most common. Curved, 4K, ultra-wide, and large-sized monitors have also grown in popularity tremendously.

Resolution
Desktops and notebooks have the same resolution options. Just like your TV, the resolution of your display impacts the clarity and level of detail you see.

HD: 1366 x 768
The standard resolution of many mainstream computers and is good for everyday computing, email and web-surfing.

HD+: 1600 x 900
Increases performance to deliver good casual gaming performance, streaming videos and watching DVD movies.

Full HD (FHD): 1920 x 1080
Increases performance for watching Blu-ray movies, playing more robust video games and more detailed tasks, such as graphic design and photo editing.

4K: 3840 x 2160
The ultimate resolution! Ideal for extreme gamers and professionals that require high-res detail for photo and video editing.

IPS Displays
Ideal for creative professionals and offers wider viewing angles and higher quality color reproduction.

Processors

Your computer’s processor is its brain and determines how fast it works. A processor handles everything from basic tasks like loading a program, turning your computer on or opening a web browser to the most complex tasks, like video rendering or gaming. Consider a computer with a processor that meets your needs as there are distinct performance and price differences in all of them. There are two primary brands of processors: Intel and AMD.

Intel

Intel® Core™ processors range from entry level Celeron and Pentium to their Core i3, i5, and top-of-the-line i7 processors.

Intel
AMD

AMD processors range from entry level E-series and A4 to their A6, A8, A10, and premium A12 processors. They also have an additional line of performance processors in their FX and Ryzen series.

AMD

Graphics

The graphics card in your computer takes electronic signals and sends them to your display or monitor, which then converts that signal into images for you to view and read. There are two types of graphics: Integrated and Dedicated (Discrete).

Integrated

These graphics use your existing computer memory to function. This means that depending on what applications are running on the computer, integrated graphics could be using 1% to more than 5% of your total memory.

Dedicated/Discrete

These graphics have their own independent source of memory to use in order to function so they leave the other memory on your computer untouched. The additional memory for dedicated graphics is perfect for gaming or using video and photo programs.

Graphics

Internal Storage

HDDs use magnetic storage to keep and retrieve digital information using one or more rapidly rotating disks or platters coated with magnetic material. This type of storage is common across both notebooks and desktops. The benefit to a HDD is that they are capable of being very large +2TB which is good for those that want the ability to store tons of data on their computer.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

These graphics use your existing computer memory to function. This means that depending on what applications are running on the computer, integrated graphics could be using 1% to more than 5% of your total memory.

Solid State Drives (SDD)
Solid State Drives

This type of internal storage uses flash memory chips to store data and has no moving parts. Due to not having moving parts, SSDs are generally much faster at accessing data than HDDs. SSDs are also very small so they are used in thin and light notebook products. Speed is the primary benefit of a SSD as they currently do not have the same storage capacity of an HDD.

Ports and Connectivity

Keep in mind how you want to use your next computer to ensure it has all of the connections you need as well as the ability to sync to your other devices and connect via Bluetooth if desired.

HDMI
Used to connect your computer to a TV, monitor, or other display type.

USB Type-C
Premium type of connection that allows for fast data transfer and power.

USB 3.0 & USB 3.1
Upgraded type of connection that allows for data transfer and power.

USB 2.0
Standard type of connection that allows for data transfer and power up to 480 Mbps. Also used to connect external drives, smartphones, gaming controllers, cameras, keyboards and other accessories.

AMD

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