So you want to purchase a new computer for yourself or someone else.  What kind of computer should you purchase and how would you know which computer of all the ones you see in stores or online is the “right” one? You may also wonder what all the parameters for a computer system mean, such as the amount of RAM, SSD drive, etc.

Well, in this article, I will provide some information and tips to help you select the right computer for you.  You will learn what the basic parameters mean so that you can better match a computer for your needs.  You will learn the basic types of computers so that you would acquire the most expedient one for your needs.  After reading this article, you will have more insight into computer systems so that you can buy the one that is right for you.


Your Requirements

What do you want the computer for and what will it generally need to do?  Computers come in several different formats such as desktop, laptop, tablet, all-in-one, small form factor, and more.  There are also computers that are designed for home, office, harsher environments, gaming, power apps, and more.  There are many configuration options that may be available for a computer. Given the plethora of choices for computer systems, it becomes necessary that you know what the computer will be used for.

The key to purchasing the computer that is best for you is knowing your requirements, i.e., what you will use it for, what applications it will run, and what it will have to connect to, just to name a few.  For example, purchasing a computer for someone that will be creating and editing videos and audio tracks is very different than purchasing a computer for someone who merely wants to surf the web and check emails online.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when considering a particular computer to purchase.

What will I generally use the computer for?

The computer that you choose is very much going to be determined by what you plan to use it for.  This will lead you in the direction of purchasing a gaming computer, office computer, laptop, tablet, or perhaps a tower orientation.  It will also lead you in the direction of the capabilities and performance of a computer because someone needing lots of processing power, memory, or storage will require a specific type of system or one with specific specifications.

What applications will it have to run?

Programs have minimum and recommended requirements for the computer they are to run on.  This may mean a certain amount of memory, hard disk capacity, and more.  It is very important that the computer you chose is capable of running the applications you plan to run with room to spare since you will run other programs as well.

Where will the computer be located?

The case type (form factor) of the computer that you chose will be influenced by its intended location.  When you are looking at systems either in the store or online, consider where you intend to put it once purchased to make sure that it will fit and it is appropriate for that location.  For example, if you plan to put it on the floor, then a tower orientation is appropriate.

Will you travel a lot with this computer?

Of course, you cannot carry a desktop computer around with you to use while traveling, so you will need to determine what kind of mobile computer you want. Things to consider are weight, size, battery life, performance, and screen size.

What monitor(s) will the computer connect to?

Knowing the type of monitors that will be used with the compute ris very important.  You need to ensure that the computer has the proper video connections to connect to your monitor(s).  There are several connection types for monitors.

  • VGA
  • DVI-D
  • DVI-I
  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort

Just be sure that the ports on the monitor are compatible with the ports on the computer and that you have the proper video cable, and adapter if necessary.  You don’t want to be in a situation where you do not have the proper cable or connections for your monitors.

How much disk space do you need?

A person that will create videos needs much more disk space than someone that is going to surf the web and check emails.  Be sure that you have sufficient disk space for the files you intend on saving.  These days, you probably want a disk capacity of at least 1 TB unless you have a hybrid system (one drive for the operating system and the other for your files).

it may also be a good idea to get SSD drives for better performance. I recommend a hybrid system if you can afford it. A hybrid system will have one drive (usually an SSD) for the operating system (e.g., Windows 10) and a second drive for your files, pictures, music, etc. The second drive may or may not be an SSD.

What audio capabilities do you want/need?

Perhaps you plan to listen to music from your computer through a high-quality sound system.  The best quality of sound will require a good sound card that has the proper connections for a high-quality sound system (e.g., a 7.1 surround sound system). Shop around and consider the location of speakers and the subwoofer. Consider your real needs.

Note that you may also connect your computer to your audio system if you have a home office or room. This way you won’t need to purchase an audio system in addition to a sound card. Otherwise, you will need to purchase a speaker system for the computer.


System Parameters

There are some basic system parameters that you should be aware of when purchasing a computer.  The system parameters along with the requirements you have will establish the computer you should purchase. The system parameters include the following.

  • Operating system – Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Memory (RAM) – The amount of system memory measured in GigaBytes (GB). A typical system today should have at least 8 – 12 GB for general use.
  • Disk Capacity measured in Gigabytes (GB) or Terabytes (TB). This is the amount of mass storage the system will have.  A typical system today will have at least 500GB – 1 TB of disk space.
  • An option for mass storage is to use an SSD instead of an HDD.  SSD stands for Solid State Drives and is a storage system similar to what is used in tablets.  An HDD (Hard Disk Drive) uses spinning magnetizable platters to store information.  These are mechanical systems whereas SSDs are all electronic, i.e., no moving parts, and therefore perform much better than mechanical HDDs.
  • Processor and speed – The type of processor (Intel or AMD) and the clock speed of the processor measured in GHz. Even though the processor clock speed is a basic measure of the speed of the system, it is not the only determining factor of a computer’s performance.  A computer with a faster processor than another may not be faster.  One should consider the amount of memory and the disk drive system when considering performance.  We’ll talk more about disk drives shortly.
  • Ports – Your computer will have to connect to something, e.g., monitor, mouse, keyboard, printer, or other peripherals. Some common ports are USB, VGA, HDMK, DVI, optical (for sound), ethernet, DisplayPort, and headphones, etc.  Ensure the system you chose has the ports that you need.


What type of monitor do you want because they come in many different types and sizes?  Popular monitors now are widescreen monitors, however, have to ensure that the monitor you select will produce a clear and large enough image for you.

A good-sized monitor, in my opinion, is a 24” monitor (measured diagonally).  You can also choose to get a TV that has inputs for a computer, which allows you to not only watch TV but also to use the TV as a monitor.  As mentioned previously in this article, make sure that the inputs on the monitor match the video outputs on your computer (or use adapters).


Keyboard and Mouse

Of course, you are going to need some way of communicating with your computer, and that is done with a keyboard or mouse.  There are many types of keyboards and mice.  Keyboards come in wireless or wired, backlit, angled, and more.  Mice come in wireless and wired.  I personally like the trackball types of mouse inputs rather than a traditional mouse.



Laptops are a bit different than desktop computers of course. I am speaking more of the configuration. One thing about laptops is that they are not as easy to upgrade as desktop PCs. Therefore, get the most that you can afford to help give your laptop as long a life as possible right out of the box.

The same basic steps apply to laptops as well. Determine how much memory you need, the disk space capacity (though I highly recommend SSDs for a laptop), the size of your monitor, etc.


Consider your needs when purchasing a computer.  Don’t merely purchase something that is on sale but considers your needs along with the price.  Reggie’s PC Resources can help you pick the perfect system through our over 30 years of computer system experience and the computer companies we have relationships with.

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