How to Buy a First Computer

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When buying a first computer, visit a retail store to compare the processor speed, memory, hard drive and monitor size. Find a computer for the best price with the features appropriate for your lifestyle with help from a network engineer and IT specialist in this free video on computers.

Part of the Video Series: Computer Hardware Tips
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Video Transcript

Our first question is how to buy a first computer. What I recommend you doing is actually going to a retail outlet to kind of take a look at the different specs and different prices that they have on each one. Really what you want to look for in a computer are a couple of things. We have a processor which is pretty much essential brain of the computer and then we have the memory which is how many things the computer can do at one time kind of like how many things you can have out on your desk on one time before you actually can do the stuff on your desk. And then you have your hard drive which is more or less the capacity or like a filing cabinet that you pull things out of and put it back in when you're done with it. So those are the primary things and of course you want to consider monitor size too. If you want to get a larger monitor or one with a higher refresh rate if you're doing gaming so we'll talk about each one of those. First off is your monitor or actually processor. The best and baddest processor would be the quad core processors. They're two rivaling companies, there's Intel and AMD. Intel is by far probably the better one only because that they spend a lot more money in research and development than AMD so they stay a little bit ahead of the curve than AMD. However AMD is a little bit more price conscious so you kind of have to weigh out which ones that you want. Gigahertz and front side bus and also level 2 cache are the three measurements there. Gigahertz is overall how fast the processor can think per second. And then you have, so the higher the number the better, then you have front side buses which is how fast the processor can get that information to the rest of the computer kind of like the spinal cord to the rest of the body. And then you have the L2 cache which is direct memory on board the processor, the more it has, the more space that processor has to think at one time. Memory is also the next more important thing which is how many things the computer can do at one time. So the higher the number the better and also the frequency at which that memory runs is the higher the better. What I'd recommend is getting at least two gigabytes for Windows Vista, four would be the preferable one so that your computer is not out of date so quickly. We have a hard drive which is the capacity, the overall capacity, the storage space of the computer. A lot of people often times confuse that with memory and that's not the same thing. The capacity of the hard drive is measured in gigabytes so the higher the capacity obviously the more stuff you can put in the computer. To give you an idea, a single MP3 file is about 5 megabytes and a gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes so there's a lot of stuff you can put in one gigabyte. So 250 to maybe 500 if you're doing a lot of things would be where you would to kind of look at. For the monitor, you want to make sure that the refresh rate is fast enough for you. So the lower the number the better. So this is measures in milliseconds. A 3 millisecond refresh rate is much better than a 16 millisecond refresh rate. For gaming you also want to make sure you have a high refresh rate and contrast ratio which is how many to 1 that you can discern different colors. So for instance there might be one that's 3,000 to 1 and then a more expensive monitor might be 10,000 to 1 so you want to kind of look at those things and also of course the size are some of the things that you kind of want to look at in your first computer. Overall, I would say that a couple of companies really compete per specification on the Internet particularly. You have HP, Dell, and then if you go to a retail store like Best Buy, you'll see a lot of those things already pre-built which of course you can't really put in the components that you want. So those are a couple of companies I'd look at then you kind of look for your first computer.


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