It seems simple but contains so much technical wording its hopeless! Here is what I hope is a simple guide.
A computer or laptop is made up of a number of components. Quite simply I will explain each one. (technical bits are in brackets you can ignore them if you wish!)
The processor, the bit that does the work.
Buy Intel, it always works. There are many to choose from, and there all described by funny names. You only need to know 3. (The difference between these is the number of cores. Effectively all a processor does is add and subtract. Each core can add and subtract 2 cores means it can add and subtract twice as fast as a single core. Thats the theory, but programs have to be written and balanced to make this work, so buying 4 cores doesn’t mean your computer runs 4 times as fast!)
i3 – Suitable for general use, i.e. Word, Outlook and some web surfing. This has 2 cores.
i5 – You want to do some Graphics. This has 4 cores.
i7 – You want to do video encoding. This has 8 cores.
Most of our customers need an i3/i5. You could make do with a cheaper processor than listed above but you wont save a lot of money.
This is important. When a computer runs out of memory it uses the disk as a temporary storage, which is bad. This is called swapping, and quite simply as swapping increases your frustration with your machine increases. (What happens is the memory becomes full so the computer makes an educated guess about what it isn’t going to need, writes that part of the memory to disk and reads in the bit it now needs. You then get frustrated with your computer and start clicking on more buttons, queuing the work up, increasing the swapping)
2GB – suitable for a member of staff who does nothing all day but surf Facebook. It will be a slow experience but who cares!
4GB – A good entry point. If you are running standard office applications and don’t open too many Windows, this is right for you.
8GB – Will provide a fine machine, especially for graphics and multiple windows being open.
16GB – Serious graphics work.
Memory is cheap.
The Disk Drive
Most of the delay in your computer booting is caused by the disk drive. There are 2 technologies.
HDD – Hard Disk Drive – What you would normally use.Cheap and normally store a lot of information. The typical size is 1 Terabyte which is 1,000 GB.
SSD – Solid State Disk – Very fast but unless you spend a lot of money will not store a lot of information. Typical size is 127GB or 250 GB depending on your budget.
Are you willing to make a slight change about how you work? We all have loads of documents spinning around on our disk which we don’t use, the proposal to a client from 3 years ago. Now if you move those to an archive, a cheap disk drive then you can use a fast SSD. This will make your machine run like lightning!
I hope you enjoyed our way of describing the computer. In summary:
Pick your processor
Pick your memory
Pick your disk.
For the majority of our customers I would recommend, i5, 8GB memory and an SSD. Its over specified but the machine should last an extra year!