Buying a New Windows 10 Computer (Aug 2016)

Technology Tips – Published August 2016 in the Guide and Digest

By Don Trauger – Kennett

 

The last time I wrote about buying a new computer was for the February 2012 TV-Guide issue. Since then a number of  changes have taken place. Desktop computers with a monitor are still viable and are often slightly less expensive than laptops with equal specifications. What can be confusing when shopping for a computer is the terminology and the technical specifications.  Although space doesn’t allow for a complete primer on the subject, I’ll tell you what you need to know.

 

First, decide whether you want a laptop or a desktop. Laptops offer certain advantages over a desktop. You get portability with plenty of processing power.  However there are disadvantages too. A somewhat smaller screen may strain your eyes over a period of time. A smaller keyboard makes for cramped typing. Glossy screens are great for sharpness and contrast but don’t sit with a sunny window behind you. The glossy screen acts as a mirror reflecting the light from the window thus making the screen harder to see. Another item to consider is the touchpad. A touchpad allows you to mimic the mouse. Some people have trouble using the touchpad and prefer to connect a real mouse to the laptop. That’s fine if you typically use the laptop as a substitute for a desktop.

 

My minimum hardware recommendations for both laptops and desktops require that they have dual core processors. Dual core refers to 2 computer processors in one package. Names like i3, i5 and i7 made by Intel are best.  Computers with i3 processors can serve very nicely for everyday computing single task needs such as Internet surfing, email, and word processing. An i5 processor can handle all of that plus picture and simple video editing plus light gaming. An i7 processor is the fastest and most expensive processor and is aimed toward serious gamers and multitasking. When buying a new computer choose a computer with a base processor speed of 2.3 GHz or higher. The higher the speed the faster the computer will run Apps (programs). Windows 10 computers, along with many popular Apps, run better with a quad core processor. More cores offer faster operation, but at a higher price. Although I recommend Intel processors, AMD is very price competitive on the lower end of the price scale. An A9 (dual core) or A10 (quad core) AMD processor for a laptop is a generally lower priced choice than a comparable Intel based computer. For a Desktop computer look for an A8 or A10 processor.

 

My recommendation for a typical Internet, email, and word processing computer would have a 2.3 GHz or higher speed dual core Intel i3 processor, 4 GB’s or more of RAM, and a 500 GB or higher hard drive. A mid range computer would handle all of the previous tasks, and in addition, do photo and simple video editing and some light gaming. It should have a 2.3 GHz or higher dual or quad core Intel i5 processor, 4 GB’s or more of RAM and a 500 GB or higher hard drive. There are many other options available for computers that help personalize it for your needs and of course add to the cost. A DVD drive is now an option on some laptops. What I’ve outlined here would be suitable for most HM residents.

 

Both laptops and desktops feature the Windows 10 operating system. Shop for popular brands such as HP, Dell, and others. I favor Dell because of good reliability, easy ordering and less junkware installed compared to other brands. Before going to a store become familiar with a manufacturer’s line of computers by visiting their web sites. HP can be found at www.hp.com, Dell is at www.dell.com. A mid range Dell laptop is model i5 5000 and can be viewed at their site www.dell.com. Try to avoid the low cost ($200-$300) computers. They can be annoyingly slow if speed is a priority for your needs. A higher priced computer also offers future proofing which means the computer will operate at nearly the same speed in future years as it does now.

 

More help in purchasing a Windows 10 computer can be obtained by attending the PC Club meeting on the 3rd Tuesday at 7 PM of each month at the Community Center.