14 Tips when buying a computer
For the not, so tech-savvy it must seem like there is an endless number of options to choose.
So here are 14 tips to take into account to help you make the right decision before you start shopping for a computer.
- Buy new, used or upgrade?
- Decide if you want to purchase from a shop or online?
- Select what operating system?
- Choose between a laptop or desktop computer?
- Pick a processor? (AMD or Intel)
- RAM size, more doesn’t mean faster?
- Storage space?
- Type of Storage (SSD or HDD)
- Internet & Network Connection?
- Size of the laptop or desktop computer?
- Will you be playing games?
- Consider ports and peripherals?
How much you willing to pay for a computer is the ultimate deciding factor to what you will get in terms of ability or power and longevity when you purchase when buying a computer.
The best tip i can give you with buying a computer is to estimate your budget is to think of it as an investment.
The more you spend, the longer it will last. As the more up to date hardware you purchase, predominantly the longer life span your computer will have.
"A Computer is an investment"
Think of it more like if you spend £1500, but it lasts you 10years, then that’s £150 a year (or £12.50 per month) and it will probably be still going strong.
But if you spend £700 but you get two years out of it that’s £350. Then require an upgrade. “This isn’t an opinion this is experience.”
We have seen this so many times when customers have come in the shop with £300 laptops that they believed were a deal on an offer, but ultimately they only got 13 months out of the computer just out of the warranty period.
By example, we have an Apple iMac in our shop that we paid £2200 for back in 2010, that at the time was top of the range and it’s still going strong, and we can sell it now online for about £400-£500 on eBay.
So that’s 220, and we could sell it now for 400, that’s a cost of 180 per year or £15 per month.
Computer investment formular.
The computer purchasing / investment formula. Why not Calculate this on one of your old computers, see what you come up with?
This formula gives you the monthly cost of the computer.
2. Buy new, used or upgrade?
Buying new, used (refurbished) or upgrade is a question that we get asked a lot, at Kingfisher Computers.
Ultimately, the answer is quite diverse, again if you think its time to buy a new computer, that’s your decision. A decision that only you can make, we can give you all the tips and advise when it comes to buying a computer to the best of our ability.
The benefits of buying new are quite simple. Depending on your budget influences the longevity, ability and power and of your machine as mentioned above.
However, this decision needs to be thought through and researched or at least get the correct advice. “Not sales advice tech advice”.
We’ve had customers in the past buying new machines from the likes of PC World or Dell and not comparing the specification to their old devices, Thinking they have got a bargain with a new computer. Unfortunately, the old machines would outperform their new computers.
This is where buying from a shop outweighs buying from a large chain or online.
This guide will help you with that decision. “Hopefully”.
If you know what you’re looking for, there is nothing wrong with buying used PC or laptops. Although one question has to be raised?
What was the “used computer” that your purchasing, previously used for?
“We have bought many a machine in our shop in the past. but we knew what we were purchasing, we also fully tested each piece of hardware before selling on.”
Is the seller of that used computer;
- had it had issues with that machine?
- Is the seller just trying to pass or fob you off with their unwanted old problems?
- Had the seller correctly wiped the machine
- Does it have the sellers old unwanted and potentially dangerous files on it
- Is the seller trustworthy?
- Has the computer been thoroughly tested?
- How old is the computer?
- How much life does it have left in it?
Upgrading your existing computer?
Upgrading is an excellent way of revitalising life into an old machine. Especially these days with the likes of solid-state hard drives (SSD), you can genuinely make an old machine, catch up to new devices.
Depending on the requirements of the user, each component of a PC or a Laptop serves a different purpose. “But take into account that PC desktops are designed to upgrade”.
Taking this into mind can point you in the right direction, in terms of buying new or merely upgrading your existing machine.
We have a great page on our website outlining the different uses of certain upgrades. <> and <> Check them both out.
But ill quickly outline different upgrades.
- More Storage = Bigger hard drive (HDD)
- Do more at one = more RAM (memory)
- Play games = Graphics card
- Faster = SSD (solid-state hard drive)
- Think faster (CPU Upgrade)
The conclusion to new, used or upgrade...
We hope you have considered our advice if you have decided that buying a new computer is what you want then our 14 Tips when buying a computer will be just what you need, Read on..
3. Decide if you want to purchase from a shop or online?
Do you buy online to save a couple of quid (pounds) or do you buy locally at a shop? I suppose it depends on your tech knowledge. If you are not so tech-savvy, I presume that buying online can be a bit of a black hole.
Merely reading the reviews and checking out random specification numbers that might not mean much to you, but with a little google here and there you have a little understanding, then you order with the hope that when it comes, it suits your needs.
But that uncertainty might not always work.
That’s where buying from a shop comes in. At least if you go to a shop, you have professionals who know the hardware and software needs, and furthermore if you tell them in the shop your needs they can point you in the right direction.
Even better generally in a shop, you have a technician that knows what the excellent hardware to use is. As obviously from experience, they will know what equipment has common faults or issues. Something that you generally won’t get from buying online.
Furthermore, if you buy online, any hardware faults that you have with your computer will likely be covered by warranty.
Meaning if you have a failure your computer will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for assessment then if they find a fault they will replace and repair, and this can sometimes take weeks or months.
Although buying from a shop means that it is likely that the person that built your computer. Will have a personal connection to your system and be the one repairing it.
Also, if parts do need replacing and covered under warranty, it will usually be done the same day or a few days later.
Ultimately the decision is yours to buy a computer online or in a store. But at least if you visit a shop first, you will be pointed in the right direction, or at least gain a little understanding before buying a computer. Thus why we have produce the 14 tips for buying a computer.
4. Select what operating system?
We suggest that you select the option that you are most accustomed to using. Each operating system has its unique benefits.
We find that some users prefer to use a computer operating system that matches your smartphone with this in mind. There are benefits to syncing files and information you use daily on your smartphone (like iPhone) with your computer — for instance, Apple iCloud storage.
It is also essential to consider what software you need for day-to-day use to ensure that it’s supported by the operating system you choose.
But ultimately the answer is if you’re used to Microsoft Windows! Stay with microsoft Windows.
If you have several Apple devices, we would suggest going to an Apple iMac or MacBook, as apple device work so seamless with their like-minded counterparts.
But if you’re simply using the likes of google docs or sheets and using Gmail online storage, choose chrome.
5. Choose between a laptop or desktop computer?
This choice is dependant on your needs.. do you want something that stays static in your office or home.
Do you want something that you can take with you to different locations?
These days, desktop and laptop computers have very similar capabilities, and a lot of desktop computers are smaller than they were in the past (depending on your need).
The big difference between a desktop and a laptop these days is generally a desktop will have significantly more gaming (Graphics card) power, and they have a higher spectrum of upgradability, thus ensuring longevity with an upgrade.
However, if you want more freedom of mobility, a laptop or tablet might be the best option for you.
6. Pick a processor? (AMD or Intel)
You’ve likely heard of many different types of processors from various advertisements. But you might not understand what the processor is.
A processor is also known as a central processing unit (CPU), the processor like the brain of a computer. The faster the processor, the faster your computer will run tasks and programs. The higher the number of cores (brains) and Gigahertz (GHz), the quicker the processor is.
Predominately, the chose between processors, is between AMD and Intel.
The difference between the two manufacturers is PRICE vs POWER.
Traditionally AMD was more focused towards the gaming market, although intel was more towards the productivity /server market.
Until recently Intel dominated the industry with the speed and power of their processors, but the top end of the market was costly.
Now AMD has pulled through (at the time of writing this article). With processors that are just as powerful if not more, for half the price.
In Kingfisher over the last six years, we have steered customers towards the i5 and i7 range of Intel processors, previously to the release of the i-series of intel we could advise customers AMD Athalon.
Although in recent years, we have advised that customers go the AMD Ryzen or Threadripper route.
The simple reason why we now advise AMD in recent years is;
7. RAM size, more doesn't mean faster?
Random Access Memory (RAM), Measured in gigabytes (GB), is believed to impact the speed of your computer. Although in some ways, this is true, although the real benefits of RAM are the ability to perform more tasks at once (multitasking).
The more RAM that you have, the more your computer is capable of running more programs at once, stabily.
Programs and photo editing (photoshop), video editing or internet browsers (google chrome eat ram) access RAM to help run processes.
The higher the RAM, the better your computer can manage these specific programs.
But some machines have limitations to the amount of RAM you can have based on the specifications of the motherboard in your PC (desktop) or Laptop computer.
These days ram isn’t as important as it as demanding as it used to be.
The average computer usually contains 8GB or RAM that generally is enough. Still, to future proof a computer it is advised to have 16GB of ram.whereas 32GB of ram is considered overkill unless your computer is getting used for photo or video editing.
Reviewing the specifications of the software, your wanting to use can often help to serve as a guide for your needs.
8. Storage space?
Storage space is the amount of data (pictures, documents, videos) that your computer is capable of holding.
If you’re deciding upon buying a new computer rather than upgrading, its always a good idea to “Check your current storage?” this will help to guide you on your storage requirements.
Apple Mac Users: Check your Mac FREE Space
This is a good idea, for instance, If you have a 500GB hard disk that is full, perhaps you might require double that storage (to 1TB) or even more if you decide to either upgrade or buy a new computer.
We find that users these days commonly back their data onto external hard disks to benefit from more free space on their computer.
9. Type of Storage (SSD or HDD)
These days we have two different types of storage on PC desktop computers and laptops. These are Solid-state drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD)
The fundamental difference between the two is storage space vs speed.
Whereas a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) has significantly more storage space, an SSD (solid-state Drive) has up to 10 times more speed.
Obvious, the choice is;
more speed + storage = expensive
Less Speed + more storage = cheap.
The ideal scenario, in our opinion or the best tip we can give you when buying a new computer, is to use an SSD hard drive for your operating system and boot and having a secondary hard drive (HDD) for storage. This way, you create a balance for performance and storage capability.
10. Internet & Network Connection?
Internet & Network Connection is a valid point for anyone choosing a new computer. These days everyone has an internet connection. But how you connect to the internet is adequate consideration.
Is your computer near your router? Can you connect through an ethernet cable? Or is your router too far away and needs a Wifi connection to connect to the internet.
The main fundamental difference between connecting through WIFI or internet is reliability and speed.
As a wired connection generally is faster and more stable than a wifi connection.
But again that chouse is yours.
11. Size of the laptop or desktop computer?
When deciding where to purchase a desktop PC or a laptop, the size is a factor that you need to consider.
If you’re purchasing a PC desktop computer, do you want a large tower with higher airflow, and the ability to add extra graphics cards or more hard disk storage? Or do you have in mind, a charming small, sleek tower to hide away on your desk?
If you’re considering purchasing a laptop, do you want something light and mobile, or hefty and powerfull?
Or even a laptop with a larger screen? Perhaps 17-inch screen?
12. Cooling? Air vs Liquid!
In computing these days, we have two variations of cooling for your computer: Air Cooling or liquid Cooling.
Although liquid cooling, isn’t really applicable to laptops.
Liquid cooling: or what is known as water cooling generally cools your computers processor or graphics card significantly more than the traditional air cooling.
The benefits of this are your computer will run quieter, and it may prolong the life of your computer.
Furthermore, you can push your computer’s hardware significantly more with techniques called overclocking. Overclocking can push your components beyond the boundaries of the manufactures limitations.
AirCooling: Air-cooling is the traditional way to keep your computer running at an optimal temperature, although air cooling is cheaper than liquid cooling. The downside of air-cooling is that you cant push your system (overclock) to its power boundary without issues.
Plus the hotter your computer runs, the more the fans make noise that can become irritating.
13. Will you be playing games?
If you’re using your PC Computer or Laptop for playing games. If
Or will you be using your computer for general everyday things? Like surfing of the internet, doing wordprocessing or office work, this doesn’t apply to you.
But if you are considering playing games on your computer, you need to consider buying a graphics card (GPU)
Depending on the gaming title that your considering playing depends on the power of the graphics card that you require.
this is something you need to
14. Consider ports and peripherals?
When is the last time you used your CD/DVD drive? For most of you, it has been a long time. You may not need one any longer, which can save you space and reduce the weight when choosing a laptop. USB cables continue to be standard ports for computers, but make sure you use the most recent cables to avoid incompatibility and damage to your devices. One other consideration is if you need a built-in SD card reader, or if you are comfortable using a USB attachment.
A built-in reader is convenient when transferring data from your farm equipment to your management software. Some other considerations are whether you need or want VGA and Ethernet. While HDMI is the new standard, you may find that older systems only have access to VGA (although there are VGA to USB adapters), and though most devices have wireless connectivity, an Ethernet connection is more reliable.