Even over the last decade, the advances in computer technology have been immense. Computers can do more today than ever before, faster and at a better value price. Unfortunately, this also means that shopping for a computer can be confusing, as it is hard to know what you actually need and what is just an extra that’s nice to have. Hopefully this article can clear up a few of the mysteries for you.
First of all, let’s look at processors. The two main companies producing processors today are Intel (Pentium processors) and AMD (Athlon processors). Although fanatics on each side swear otherwise, there is little difference between them, performance-wise. In almost all cases, more expensive processors will simply run faster.
However, it is important to consider that the performance of your processor can be limited by how much memory (RAM) your computer has. For high-end processors, you should make sure to get at least a gigabyte of RAM, although lower-end systems will be fine with less. RAM is especially important if you plan to use the system for gaming or other graphics-intensive applications.
Hard disk space, at this point, probably isn’t worth caring too much about. Even the cheapest computers now come with ridiculous amounts of hard disk space, far more than you are ever likely to use. It is much better to upgrade to a DVD re-writer drive than to upgrade your hard disk space. DVDs hold so much data that however big your hard drive is, it is unlikely to hold more than a cheap spindle of DVD-RW discs – and they’re re-writable, so you only need to buy them once.
The only other thing you really need to worry about is the graphics card (sound cards are all the same these days). Again, if you’re going to be doing anything graphically-intensive, then research this further and get a good one (be warned that it can be expensive). For the average user, though, the graphics card that comes with the processor is likely to be fine, even for many less-demanding or older games.