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Old 09-15-2015, 09:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

I'll be buying either a PC or Laptop pretty soon, but would like to get some opinions on what you guys would look for if it were you. It's really just for general use... nothing like gaming or for use with graphics packages; I've heard they require some pretty crazy high tech gear.

To be more specific, what hardware/software is a must? Really, I want to start fresh, this time taking care of the thing; I'm taking nothing from the computer I'm using right now (stuff may be infected from viruses, etc.), which I've had for many years.

Oh, and what's best, to purchase from some electrical store, or just get one custom made from somewhere?
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Old 09-16-2015, 05:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

For non-gaming usage, I consider the minimum to be:

1 - Solid state drive of at least 128GB, ideally 250GB
2 - High quality display with a resolution of at least 1920x1080 (1080p)
3 - Decent keyboard
4 - 8GB RAM

These apply to laptops and desktops and mean that whatever you get will be comfortable to use, plus generally if whatever you are buying meets the above requirements, all of the other components like CPU and GPU will be plenty good enough.

Quote:
Oh, and what's best, to purchase from some electrical store, or just get one custom made from somewhere?
Laptops you can pretty much only buy from a store. Building your own PC allows you to know exactly what's gone in it, and build it to the exact specs that you need, but this means that you're on your own for troubleshooting and repairs.

Required software essentially boils down to:
A - The most recent version of your preferred operating system (Windows/OSX) with all the latest updates installed
B - A decent anti-virus+firewall package (I recommend ZoneAlarm)
C - A browser that supports extensions that will improve your security and reduce your chance of downloading anything dodgy - essentially, Chrome or Firefox with the HTTPS Everywhere, uBlock, and Ghostery extensions


What sort of budget do you have? For basic usage I'd expect to pay for about £500-650 to get everything listed above.
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

With out knowing you budget. I could not say what would be better.

When I look for new equipment I search for best specs vs price.
for school I had to buy a tower, I spent 399. on a asus which has 8gigs ram, 1tb mechincal HDD and a ap10 6700 3.7Ghz processor. for what I need and what i wanted to spend it was the best option, as my schooling needs more Ram I can handle up to 32G on the board. one pci-e slot for video card and 6 sata ports to add more storage.

Far as laptops are concerned, even if you dont do much gaming graphics processor are your main concerns when buying. ram can be added, and harddrive can be upgraded. yet no days laptops have imbeded processors and you have imbeded graphics. so I would search for a system with the processor/graphics vs price. if you can afford a custom built. I would get one of those and have dedicated graphics, best processor and high capacity Harddrive.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

It all depends on what YOU want to do. Do you want to buy something to toss away later because it's a paperweight, or do you want to buy something and possibly upgrade it as time goes by, or neither? Desktops generally come better equipped for the money but you lack portability, and desktops can be upgraded fairly easily. Also if you buy a box PC they normally come with the monitor and KB/Mouse that you need for regular tasks.

The questions you have to ask yourself are, do I need portability? Am I willing to get dirty and upgrade myself later? How much money am I wanting to spend here? Besides those, Yami's points are spot on. 8GB of RAM and a solid state (SSD) are a must for modern computing.
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Old 09-16-2015, 05:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yami View Post
For non-gaming usage, I consider the minimum to be:

1 - Solid state drive of at least 128GB, ideally 250GB
2 - High quality display with a resolution of at least 1920x1080 (1080p)
3 - Decent keyboard
4 - 8GB RAM

These apply to laptops and desktops and mean that whatever you get will be comfortable to use, plus generally if whatever you are buying meets the above requirements, all of the other components like CPU and GPU will be plenty good enough.

Laptops you can pretty much only buy from a store. Building your own PC allows you to know exactly what's gone in it, and build it to the exact specs that you need, but this means that you're on your own for troubleshooting and repairs.

Required software essentially boils down to:
A - The most recent version of your preferred operating system (Windows/OSX) with all the latest updates installed
B - A decent anti-virus+firewall package (I recommend ZoneAlarm)
C - A browser that supports extensions that will improve your security and reduce your chance of downloading anything dodgy - essentially, Chrome or Firefox with the HTTPS Everywhere, uBlock, and Ghostery extensions


What sort of budget do you have? For basic usage I'd expect to pay for about £500-650 to get everything listed above.
Thanks for the response... That's basically the budget I have (approx. £500-£650).

I would like to ask you some questions, however... I'll just throw them out there as they come to mind:

A SSD is absolutely the way to go, right? I've heard it's just better overall for things like heat, no moving parts, faster data access, etc.. As for data storage, I don't really store much on the computer anyway, and I can always just buy an external drive if need be, correct?

The monitor should be like the above resolution, even if it's a laptop? From what I know, 720p (not sure what that is in ?x?) is good enough for the size of laptop screens... I'm missing something, right?

Anything below 8GB RAM is no good?

I'm veering more toward just buying a laptop that's already got everything up and running... the idea of putting stuff together can come years later for me. But, speaking of years later, would it not be better to just keep waiting about 4-5 years and just keep buying new laptops, or whatever, and just getting rid of the old ones as time goes by?

I thought that OSX was an actual computer from Apple. I'm guessing Apple is just like Microsoft here in that they also do operating systems on their own too?

When it comes to Anti-virus software, etc., people always tell me they just get a really good free Anti-virus, like Avast, or whatever... Is there any real point to paying for online security? I've been with Norton for years, but plan to stop and just go free. Some say that Norton is also a resource killer, being super demanding on the system.

When you say browsers, do you just mean software I'm already using, or something that has to be paid for?
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Old 09-16-2015, 05:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy John View Post
Thanks for the response... That's basically the budget I have (approx. £500-£650).

I would like to ask you some questions, however... I'll just throw them out there as they come to mind:

A SSD is absolutely the way to go, right? I've heard it's just better overall for things like heat, no moving parts, faster data access, etc.. As for data storage, I don't really store much on the computer anyway, and I can always just buy an external drive if need be, correct?
Yes, SSD is definitely the way to go. Even on older machines it can breathe new life into them.

Quote:
The monitor should be like the above resolution, even if it's a laptop? From what I know, 720p (not sure what that is in ?x?) is good enough for the size of laptop screens... I'm missing something, right?
1080p (1920x1080) is pretty standard for most systems nowadays. Smaller laptops, range from either 1600x900 to 1920x1080.

Quote:
Anything below 8GB RAM is no good?
Depends on what you're doing, really.

Quote:
I'm veering more toward just buying a laptop that's already got everything up and running... the idea of putting stuff together can come years later for me. But, speaking of years later, would it not be better to just keep waiting about 4-5 years and just keep buying new laptops, or whatever, and just getting rid of the old ones as time goes by?
You'll probably end up spending more doing than than building a nice desktop and do gradual upgrades over time. But like said, you lack portability with a desktop - so it's up to what you need in a system.

Quote:
I thought that OSX was an actual computer from Apple. I'm guessing Apple is just like Microsoft here in that they also do operating systems on their own too?
Apple mainly focuses on their OS but only selling it with their "approved" hardware. They don't sell their OS separately like MS does. Apple is kind of a hybrid hardware/software company - more focusing on aesthetics.

Quote:
When it comes to Anti-virus software, etc., people always tell me they just get a really good free Anti-virus, like Avast, or whatever... Is there any real point to paying for online security? I've been with Norton for years, but plan to stop and just go free. Some say that Norton is also a resource killer, being super demanding on the system.
Yes Norton is a resource hog, and yes free AV's are just as good or better than most paid AV's.

Quote:
When you say browsers, do you just mean software I'm already using, or something that has to be paid for?
Browser = the internet browser software you use to access web pages. E.g. Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, Edge, Opera, etc.
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Old 09-16-2015, 06:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrunk View Post
With out knowing you budget. I could not say what would be better.

When I look for new equipment I search for best specs vs price.
for school I had to buy a tower, I spent 399. on a asus which has 8gigs ram, 1tb mechincal HDD and a ap10 6700 3.7Ghz processor. for what I need and what i wanted to spend it was the best option, as my schooling needs more Ram I can handle up to 32G on the board. one pci-e slot for video card and 6 sata ports to add more storage.

Far as laptops are concerned, even if you dont do much gaming graphics processor are your main concerns when buying. ram can be added, and harddrive can be upgraded. yet no days laptops have imbeded processors and you have imbeded graphics. so I would search for a system with the processor/graphics vs price. if you can afford a custom built. I would get one of those and have dedicated graphics, best processor and high capacity Harddrive.
Thanks for the reply.

Why are graphics processors so important on laptops? Are they more important when making a laptop purchase than making a desktop purchase?

Can RAM be added externally, or does it absolutely have to be to the internals of a laptop?
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Old 09-16-2015, 06:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

If you intend on upgrading every 4 or 5 years the GPU isn't that important unless you want to play 4k content before your next upgrade.

RAM is internal only, always.
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Old 09-16-2015, 06:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

@carnageX


Thanks for the reply, carnage.


What exactly is the disadvantage of 1600x900 when compared against 1920x1080? I keep hearing people talk about this like it's a bad thing to have 1600x900.


As for RAM, I'm doing basically what most do; surfing, email, Youtube, etc.. Not sure if anything lower than 8GB RAM would be a mistake.


How long, exactly, can a person keep one laptop/pc and upgrading it before they eventually have to buy a new one? I once heard that anything beyond 5 years is an old man way past his prime, and anything beyond 10 years is an ancient antique and nothing more... even if still usable.


What Anti-virus do you recommend? I've heard of Avast, AVG, Bit something, etc., etc..
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Old 09-16-2015, 06:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do you look for when buying a PC or Laptop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PP Mguire View Post
If you intend on upgrading every 4 or 5 years the GPU isn't that important unless you want to play 4k content before your next upgrade.

RAM is internal only, always.
So, basically, a half-decent GPU should be good? I do plan to watch videos online a lot from places like Youtube, but also from more system-demanding places. For whatever reason, some sites make it harder to watch videos on;takes longer to load, and also makes this revving sound on the PC, which isn't good.

I know I should do something, like clear the temporary files, defrag, or whatever. I'm gonna learn how all this works with the new comp, though, so no worries there... yet.

P.S. What is 4K? Do we use it these days? Back in, like, 2006 ish the only thing I had to worry about was 1080p for bigger screens.
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