A guide to buy a personal computer



Introduction


Owning a personal computer is not like owning a television set or a walkman stereo.We should have some basic knowledge about the new technology in which we can get the best out of it. There are a few factors to consider before buying a new PC, such as: do we really need a computer? What is the price range that we can afford? What features that we should look for in a hardware? Finally where should we buy it? Having answered all of the questions, the problems is where do we start?

Getting Started

We can start by asking our friends who already own a PC. We can also read computer magazines, especially ones with evaluations and ratings, or we surf the internet for information. Next we can visit several computer dealers to gather the information we need for comparison before we decide.

1. Analyze Your Wants and Needs

Computers can be used for a variety of applications, but what do we need it for? Everybody knows computers offers advantages, but how does it help us personally? Set your priorities so that we can avoid using the computer for games most of the time. Below are some common applications to consider:

1. Education
2. Entertainment and games
3. Communication
4. Business


2. Understanding A Personal Computer Specifications

We should understand some basic hardware components to help us decide what kind of computers is suitable to satisfy our needs. Basicly there are a few computer hardware or components that we should understand. A basic understanding of how the computer works will be helpful.This will assist us to decide or which type of system to buy. They are mainly the processor, system memory, hard disk drive. Please refer to a sample brochure of a computer system.(Appendix A).


The Processor

The processor or microprocessor and also often called the CPU or central processing unit) is the central component of the PC. It is the brain that runs the show inside the PC. All work that you do on your computer is performed directly or indirectly by the processor. Obviously, it is one of the most important components of the PC, if not the most important. It is also, scientifically, not only one of the most amazing parts of the PC, but one of the most amazing devices in the world of technology. The processor plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:

· Performance: The processor is probably the most important single determinant of system performance in the PC. While other components also play a key role in determining performance, the processor's capabilities dictate the maximum performance of a system. The other devices only allow the processor to reach its full potential.

· Software Support: Newer, faster processors enable the use of the latest software. In addition, new processors such as the Pentium with MMX Technology, enable the use of specialized software not usable on earlier machines.

· Reliability and Stability: The quality of the processor is one factor that determines how reliably your system will run. While most processors are very dependable, some are not. This also depends to some extent on the age of the processor and how much energy it consumes.

· Energy Consumption and Cooling: Originally processors consumed relatively little power compared to other system devices. Newer processors can consume a great deal of power. Power consumption has an impact on everything from cooling method selection to overall system reliability.

· Motherboard Support: The processor you decide to use in your system will be a major determining factor in what sort of chipset you must use, and hence what motherboard you buy. The motherboard in turn dictates many facets of your system's capabilities and performance.


System Memory

The system memory is the place where the computer holds current programs and data that are in use.Memory usually refers to the main system memory, which holds the instructions that the processor executes and the data that those instructions work with. Your system memory is an important part of the main processing subsystem of the PC, tied in with the processor, cache, motherboard and chipset.

Memory plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:

· Performance: The amount and type of system memory you have is an important contributing factor to overall performance. In many ways, it is more important than the processor, because insufficient memory can cause a processor to work at 50% or even more below its performance potential. This is an important point that is often overlooked.

· Software Support: Newer programs require more memory than old ones. More memory will give you access to programs that you cannot use with a lesser amount.

· Reliability and Stability: Bad memory is a leading cause of mysterious system problems. Ensuring you have high-quality memory will result in a PC that runs smoothly and exhibits fewer problems. Also, even high-quality memory will not work well if you use the wrong kind.

· Upgradability: There are many different types of memory available, and some are more universal than others. Making a wise choice can allow you to migrate your memory to a future system or continue to use it after you upgrade your motherboard.


Hard Disk Drives

The hard disk drive in your system is the "data center" of the PC. It is here that all of your programs and data are stored between the occasions that you use the computer. Your hard disk (or disks) are the most important of the various types of permanent storage used in PCs (the others being floppy disks and other storage media such as CD-ROMs, tapes, removable drives, etc.) The hard disk differs from the others primarily in three ways: size (usually larger), speed (usually faster) and permanent (usually fixed in the PC and not removable).


Your hard disk plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:

· Performance: The speed at which the PC boots up and programs load is directly related to hard disk speed. The hard disk's performance is also critical when multitasking is being used or when processing large amounts of data such as graphics work, editing sound and video, or working with databases.

· Storage Capacity: a bigger hard disk lets you store more programs and data.


3. Selecting A Computer Dealer

Having decide what kind of computer we need based on our requirement and budget, the next important decision is where should we buy it? In fact this is the most crucial and critical decision so as to avoid and overcome future problems. When selecting the dealer, we should consider the following criteria:

1. Price as compared to specifications and product quality
2. After sales and support services
3. Product warranty and claim procedure
4. Qualification and experience personnel
5. Location of the dealer


Problems

Sometime we cannot catch up with the advancement of the technology. For example at one time Pentium 3 1.0GHz is considered a very powerful processor, but then came Pentium 4. The same goes in pricing. A few months back Pentium 4 cost about RM3,000 but now it only cost RM2,000. It is known that the price will continue to drop from time to time. So the question is either to buy now or buy later when the price is lower.


Conclusion

When buying a personal computer we should plan first before making any decision that we would regret later. Several factors that have been discussed should be taken into careful consideration. Become a satisfied user by following the guide given.


A GUIDE TO BUY A PERSONAL COMPUTER
Zaidi Tawang-BIT(Hons)UUM

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