Buying a new computer

Buying a new computer

Last updated 7/17/2017

Picking out a laptop in the sea of options can be tricky. Here's my tips to limit the choices and find one:

Information/Decisions to put together (print this to help)

Existing amount of stored data
(Right click c: drive on current computer and see used space)
                                                                
Size of Screen
(15" average, 13" small, 17" big)

Do you want touch screen or 2-in-1 tablet?
(Yes / No)

Need numberpad on keyboard


Apple

If you're Apple, your decision is much easier.
Desktop then iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac mini
Laptop then Macbook Air (small/portable), Macbook Pro (as beefy/workhorse portable as you can get)

Chromebook

You want cheap and all your need is the Chrome web browser a Chromebook is a cheap, simple option that eliminates all the problems of full PC's/Macs. You'll be calling me a lot less, but you can't "install xxx program". 

Neither of those, you'll be going with windows

Windows recommendations in order of priority:

  1. Intel processor. Bigger the i number, the faster it'll be.
  2. SSD (Solid State Disk)
  3. RAM 4GB minimum, 8GB ok. If you like to keep lots of programs/browser tabs open at once get more RAM (16+ GB)

Reducing your choices to a select few

If you want something right away/see it first go to your local Electronics Retail store and look at what they have (Microcenter/Fry's/Best Buy/Staples/Walmart etc).

Websites for selecting computers: www.microcenter.com or www.newegg.com 

When you're limiting your choices work thru the selection in this order
  1. Look for the screen size you want
  2. Do you want 2 in 1 (foldable)/touch/tablet style/light and thin look for that
  3. Require SSD of size desired and bigger. If you need lots of space, you'll probably get 2 storage drives, one for the OS and one for saving data. 
  4. Do you want a full keyboard with numberpad, require that
  5. Need discreet graphics (nVidia/ATI) require that
  6. Battery Life
  7. Look at the keyboard layout (where are your arrows/home/end/page up/down etc)
Pick one from what's left :)

If the list reduces to nothing, start eliminating items.

You can buy cheaper at the start and upgrade to SSD, but call David in advance to confirm you can actually upgrade it to SSD

Additional Details

SSD size
Sizes are usually 128GB, 256GB, 500GB, 1TB (keep doubling).
Once you have how much data you currently have take the total data and double it. Make sure how much data you have will never exceed 90% total size of SSD (SSD's work differently and if you fill them greater than 90% full the SSD speed will reduce SIGNIFICANTLY)

SSD Types
When looking at SSD's they connect in 2 fundamental ways: SATA (slow - 400-500MB/s), or PCIe/NVMe (fast 1000-1500+MB/s). If you want fast, you'll always see either PCIe or NVMe associated with the SSD because it'll be more expensive but it's a selling point.


Speed
Drive Type
Slow but big and cheap
100-200MB
HDD or Hard Disk Drive
Ok
400-600MB
SATA SSD
Super Fast
1000-1600MB
PCIe or NVMe SSD

Understanding Intel Processor Naming Convention
i3-6700 vs i7-4570
  • the i_ is the number of cores. More cores = faster. eg. i3 is slower than i7
  • After the - the thousands means what family/generation it is. as of 2021 the latest family is 9000/10000. So a i3-3xxx is older processor than i3-6xxx. The last 3 digits are for specific speeds/features, don't sweat that too much.
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