What to Know when Buying a New Computer

New Computers for Non-Technical People

New Computers for Schoolwork

When buying a new computer, some things matter, and frankly many things don't. For example, the CPU speed doesn't matter for most people. Anything faster than 1.3 Ghz is fine. AMD chips work just as well as Intel ones. Save money by buying a less impressive CPU. Use that money to buy more memory first, and a DVD writer second.

Memory does matter. More is better. Don't buy less than 512 Meg of memory, 1 Gig is good. Definately spend money here.

Every computer needs a hard drive. 40 Gig is the minimum. People usually need larger hard drives to accomadate music and photos. 80 Gig is better and more than sufficent for most people. Most people can buy a less expensive sound card and be happy. Of course, you need some kind of keyboard and mouse and a monitor.

Every computer you buy today should have a CD-RW (CD writer) and a DVD. You usually save money by buying one CD-RW and a separate DVD. A DVD-RW, or DVD+RW is very a good idea, but not absolutely necessary. All computers should have a LAN card to access a local area network, and a modem. A nice video card is a good idea, but not essential. (Unless you play games). Spend the money on a DVD writer first.

In terms of monitors, CRT's are very nice from a quality point of view. Unfortunately they are heavy and bulky. LCD's are quite good now, and are less heavy and bulky. They also cost more than CRT's. LCD's are nice for college students where space is at a premium. This is one component you can easily upgrade in a few years if you like.

If you buy a LCD monitor it should have digital inputs. You should also buy a video card that has digital outputs. This often means buying a somewhat nicer video card. Going cheap here is a bad idea. Better to stick to CRT's if it's too expensive for you to do this all digital.

If you are anticipating using the computer for lot of music creation, photo editing, or movie editing then computers with faster CPU's and more memory will help a lot. The computers recommended here will work for doing this type of work, but they will be somewhat slower than the current technology requires. Remember that just a couple of years ago the computers recommeneded here were considered the absolutely best you could buy. A few years from now these machines will be obsolete and for not much more than what you pay for these machines you will be able to buy a much better machine.

We recommend people buy Dell computers from their home or small business line. We often find the small business prices somewhat better. When their prices get too high, we recommend HP.

For laptops we only consider Dell and IBM. We prefer IBM generally, although it's close.

The fact is that shopping around with this list of criteria will save significant money. Many vendors will sell you computers with these specifications at significant savings. For a list of good places try this computer page.

Red Tag Sale - Save 10% on all HP & Compaq refurbished & closeout We believe that HP currently has the best overall deal on computers. We suggest a HP refurbished computer to get the most computer for the money. HP's are difficult machines to service, so purchase the extended warranty. Based on their current inventory, taking into account all the important issues above and consider the 725n Pavilion and 735n Pavilion.

Important: To get to the well kept Pavilion secret, click the "refurbished hp pavilion desktops" link after clicking HPshopping.com - Refurbished Desktops

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If you are buying a laptop we have a special coupon for 5% off Inspiron. 5150 Notebooks at Dell Small Biz and to save 10% on the Ultra-Mobile Latitude C400! . We also feature the weekly promotions in the graphic below:

We configured one Dimension 2400 Celeron icon for $728 in the home area. The Dimension 2400 Celeron icon in the small business area cost for $713 and included XP professional. The key points here are
  • Celeron 2.2 GHz processor
  • 40 gig hard drive (this could be larger, 80 Gig would be better)
  • Separate DVD and CD-RW drives (this saves money over combined models.)
  • Microsoft Office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint),
  • 512 Meg of memory
  • No floppy drive (saves a few bucks, and people don't use them anymore.)
  • No montitor