Buying a computer can be a daunting task. Especially if you're hit with the usual computer jargon these days: MHZ, DVD, HDD, RAM, Sd,SSD USB, Ethernet, WIFI. The list goes on. Since the back to school sales are on right now, I thought I'd try to lift the veil of mystery in the following entry. This is by no means an extensive overview of all computer specifications or an encyclopedia of meanings. My goal is to get you familiar with some computer terms when it comes down to researching for a good system. This entry can apply to MACS, desktop PCs, netbooks and laptops.
So, let's dive in, shall we?
These days, you hear all sorts of impressive jargon when it comes to computer processors. But like anything else, the bigger the number, the faster it will be to process your tasks. You'll usually hear something about the processor brand and how many Megahertz it runs at. Sometimes the speed may not even be listed.
The other thing to watch for is the number of cores. The word core refers to how many processors are built into the processor chip. For example, a quad core has 4 processors working for you at the same time. I would never run Windows 7 with less than 2 cores, or as they call it a duo core processor.
the memory where programs and the operating system process things is essential for quick response when using your computer. RAM comes in various styles and speeds and will be specific to the computer that you are considering. You'll want at least 2 to 4 gigs when running any current operating system. Some manufactures and PC vendors will cut on this area to save a bit of money, but it's just better to have more when possible. There is a maximum of ram that you can put into any computer. You will need to find out what this is when purchasing your system. This is usually listed within the specifications. For example, the cute little NetBooks come with 1 gigabyte as a default; and some are not upgradable. It's important to find out if they are, and to have it done before you purchase it.
Hard drives, also known as HDD:
This is where the programs, your files such as music and documents and the operating system reside. Again, bigger is better, but most people will do pretty good with a 250 gig hard drive. Sometimes, computers will be sold with a smaller hard drive. That's okay, as you can buy external hard drives to gain space at a later time. There's also the option of getting an SSD drive. This is a solid state hard drive. Although faster, they are also more expensive. The advantage is there are no moving parts, hence increasing the access speed to your data.
Well since I can't use one, I'm not the best to ask. But it all goes to taste really. If you're going for a laptop, the bigger the screen, the bigger the laptop will be; a consideration if you're moving the laptop around.
The size of the screen will also dictate the size of the keyboard on a laptop and/or netbook. So this could also be something to think about. A couple of years back, I had bought a netbook with an 8.9 inch screen. It was very small and I loved it. What I did start encountering was the keyboard was just a tad too small and I found myself making more typing errors. I had to buy an external keyboard in order to work on something more suitable for long documents.
These are devices that you can attach to your computer.
Some peripherals might be built-in, while others connect externally. For this to happen, you'll need ports. The most commonly found port is the USB port. Most computers will have a minimum of 2 to 3. There are other ports that may be supported, such as the serial port or the parallel port, (better known as the printer port). Other ports exist to connect external screens, link in faster hard drives plug in keyboards or mice, but this varies by configuration. The USB port will support printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, external DVD players/recorders, etc. The list is always expanding. Please note, netbooks do not have built-in DVD drives. There are external ones however. For a built-in DVD drive, you'd have to opt for a laptop instead.
Most netbooks and laptops also have a built-in SD Card reader. This accepts those little cards that you can put into cameras and/or MP3 players. What SD formats these slots support varies by computer model. Refer to their specifications.
You have 2 choices for networking your computer; IE connecting it to the internet or a home network. A wired connection port, (or Ethernet port) is standard on most computers. This is a port that looks like a bigger phone jack.
Your second choice is wireless connection, (or WIFI). There are various standards out there for wireless connection. The most recent one is the N standard. B and G are older. I'm not going to go into a discussion of these standards. Suffice it to say that N is faster and preferred. Computers supporting this standard also support the older B and G.
So, there you have it. A very basic introduction to computers and their features. Some manufactures will list other information such as memory and hard drive cache sizes, DVD read/write speeds, hard drive spindle speeds. Although, important to know when you're a geek and perhaps an indicator of how quickly your computer will perform, the above pointers should give you a better idea of what you are looking for. Your best resource might be your computer geek friend down the street, or even visiting a local computer store where you can try out the gear before you buy.
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