Finding A Good Computer
So what within the computer is important? Trick question, every piece is important. But when looking at the stats, which ones really matter? The breakdown is pretty simple.
The processor is the heart/brain of your computer. Decide how strong of a processor you need and the rest will follow.
The storage capacity should be pretty obvious when looking at a computer. The real question boils down to HDD or SSD. And then how good of one?
You typically want to see a good brand name. If a company isn’t willing to make their name easily visible on the board, that probably isn’t a good sign.
Is there enough memory in the computer to do what you need to do? Some people are fine with 4 Gb and most do not need over 8 Gb.
Let’s talk a bit more about all of the parts and what you need to consider.
Like we said, this is the heart and brain of your computer. If you have a bad processor, you are doomed to a bad computer no matter how nice the rest of it is. With processors, it comes down to one spec: the benchmark. This number tells you how the processor actually performs with raw data. We can show you pentium processors which are capable of outperforming i7 processors. You won’t see these specs on advertisements, but you can find them over at cpubenchmark. It is different for everyone, but typically, a score around 5000+ will make for a solid computer.
Next up comes the storage. Oh hey, that advertisement says 2 Tb hard drive… what they didn’t tell you is it’s only 5200 rpm. Lots of storage but not very fast. If you have a hard drive (HDD), try to be sure it is a 7200 rpm drive. For performance, however, you really want a solid state drive (SSD). These guys read/write at 10+ times the rate of a HDD. What that translates to is that your computer will boot in seconds and load programs faster.
Pro tip: NEVER get one of those hybrid drives with a mixture of SSD and HDD storage. They have amazingly high failure rates.
The motherboard you get depends on your processor (as in physicall depends on it… think lock and key design). But there are different levels of motherboards. That said, a solid, name brand motherboard is much less likely to cause you problems. MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte all make top quality boards. Of course, depending on your needs, you may need a board with specific capabilites. For example, some might support using multiple graphics cards while other will let you take advantage of different technologies such as Intel’s newer Optane chips which speed up daily workflow. The motherboard in your system will depend on your specific needs and which processor is chosen.
There are many different brands of ram. Truth be told, however, ram is ram for the most part. If a company isn’t offering a lifetime warranty on the ram, don’t touch it. If they are, it is probably fine to buy. There are special cases where some ram isn’t compatible with a given motherboard. And if you have a server, you’ll be needing special error checking ram. But in general, most ram will work with most systems. The amount is what becomes important. Do you need 4 Gb, 8 Gb, or 16 Gb? Typically, going past 16 Gb becomes bragging rights more than anything. But the breakdown is easy. 4 Gb is good for general usage, 8 Gb gets you to a nice amount of multitasking, and gamers typically aim for 16 Gb.
Your computer requires a certain amount of continuous power to function. Getting an adequate power supply insures your computer has what it needs to run. Finding one that is some level of 80+ certified insures you have an energy efficient model. There isn’t much to say here other than a quality supply with the correct wattage for your needs is essential.
Though we will mention that in name brand desktops, the power supply is typically just enough to run the system… don’t plan on upgrading it.
The remaining components are your case, optical drive, and operating system.
The case is user preference. The only considerations are that it must have good airflow and be large enough to fit whatever you need to inside of it (some graphics cards are quite large).
The operating system is effectively Windows 10 at this point. Windows 7 will lose Microsoft support at the end of this year and so isn’t used in builds unless necessary. Hardware limitations fall into play there as well if 7 is required.
And the optical drive. It’s becoming less popular to need one, but they are also quite cheap. So really, the question is if you need to install something from a CD, do you know how to do it without an optical drive? We think its easiest to include one just to be safe.
Yep, the stickers you get from the hardware vendors… everyone knows the stickers are a 10% performance boost right there so we made a tab especially for them. 🙂
Obviously, a decent amount goes into finding or building a computer. And for what it’s worth, a custom built desktop will almost always outperform one you can order for the same price from some big brand company. Don’t be fooled by the fancy advertisements or low prices, if you are finding “blowout pricing” on a computer, it’s because the quality was what really got blown out from the machine. We enjoy building computers and work to create some of the best you have ever used. Tell us what your budget is and what you need to do. We’ll take care of the rest. Head over to our newly redone computer page and see a bit more about our systems.
And one last quick tip: avoid anything with a celeron processor. They are weak and basically named celeron because they failed the test to be Pentium. We don’t even refurbish computers with Celeron processors for resale.