A New Generation of Desktops for a New Generation of Students
Many of us use laptops that we can take anywhere we might want to work or play. But good laptops can be pricey, and aren’t always powerful enough to play the latest games or edit videos and graphics. So you might want to consider a desktop PC. These powerful workhorses can whip through the most demanding tasks, and unlike the bulky, beige boxes that cluttered tabletops in the past, today’s desktops are stylish and compact. Here are some of the key points to consider before you buy.
The processor is the engine of the PC. The faster and more powerful your processor is, the more your computer can get done in less time.
Intel’s Core processors come in three basic flavors: i3, i5, and i7. It basically boils down to good, better, and best. Core i3 processors are typically found in economy, or entry-level systems, while Core i7 chips outfit high-end PCs, and Core i5 rests comfortably in the middle. For basic computing, either Core i3 or Core i5 will work fine, but if you anticipate needing extra horsepower, particularly for advanced gaming, spend a little extra to get a Core i7 system.
If the processor is the brain of the PC, the memory is the fuel. As you open up different applications on your desktop PC, they are loaded into memory where the computer can access and interact with them. The amount of memory your PC has determines how many different applications can be open and running at once, and greatly influences the overall performance of the computer.
Four gigabytes of RAM is the minimum these days, but more is better if you can afford it, because some tasks, such as processing photos or videos, or rendering 3D images, require 8GB or more in order to run well. If you need more than 4GB of memory, be sure the system you buy includes the 64-bit version of Windows.
One of the great things about most desktop PCs is the flexibility to add or change components that will allow you to expand your computer or add capabilities. The form factor—the size and shape of your PC—dictate just how expandable it is. A larger tower case has more room for adding hard drives, DVD drives, graphics cards, and other components internally.
If you have a smaller tower case, or an all-in-one model, you can still expand your PC using external devices if it has the right ports. USB, Thunderbolt, Firewire, HDMI, and other ports enable you to connect external hard drives, webcams, and other devices to enhance your PC as you see fit.