Get the most from your computer

Tips & Hints
Our Services
Contact us


Computer specifications

Updated 13 March 2010

To help you navigate around the jargon of buying a computer, we have the standard specifications for most home and small business users.

You should read these specs in conjunction with our buying a laptop and buying a desktop guides. If the jargon is becoming too much, check out our jargon buster page.

Standard Desktop

This is a standard, general purpose home system desktop. This will meet the needs for most home and home office users. If you have specific needs such as sound mixing, CAD programs or game crazy kids then you will need something more advanced.

CPU: Don't worry about this, most new system CPUs will handle the needs of the typical user. Most systems come with a Dual Core Intel Pentium processor.
Memory: 6 GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Hard drive: 640Gb SATA drive.
Video: 512Mb PCI express video card with DVI.
Monitor: 21.5" monitor
Optical drive: 16X Max DVD+/-RW Combination Drive with double layer write capability
Other features: Built in ethernet, sound and as many USB ports as possible with at least two on the front panel for easy access.
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium.

Budget: $1,600 for a name brand PC.

Note that for an Apple Mac, the specs are somewhat different. We'd recommend the 21.5" iMac with 4Gb RAM, 1Tb hard drive and a 3 year Apple Care protection plan for a list price of $1,688.00

Standard Portable

For portable computers, it's a balancing act between portability, features and price. The specifications we have here are what we believe are the right combination for the typical user. Visit our choosing a laptop page where we discuss how to determine what meets your needs.

CPU: Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor 2.53 GHz
Memory: 4 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Hard drive: 500Gb SATA drive.
Other features
Minimum 3 USB ports, built in Ethernet and wireless
Video: Built in graphics accelerator
Monitor: 15" monitor.
Optical drive: 8X Max DVD+/-RW Combination Drive with double layer write capability
Other features: Built in ethernet, sound and wireless. We like to see three USB ports on a system, but smaller systems may not have these.
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium
Warranty: Three year back to base parts and labour.

6Budget: $1,900 for a PC, $2198 for a MacBook.

General tips

Reducing the price

It is possible to cut the price by ditching the three year warranty, getting an onboard video card, choosing a smaller hard drive or less RAM, but those systems will struggle to keep up with the changes we can expect over the next few years.

Avoid gimmicks and rebates

When shopping for a computer, be careful of gimmicks. Deals that are too good to be true often are. We also suggest steering clear of rebate offers as we find they are cumbersome and ineffective.

Buying a Mac?

We like Macs and if you are considering one, these specifications are still valid. Most Apple models will meet these requirements. Visit our Mac versus PC page for the pros and cons of both and why the more expensive purchase price is offset by other factors.

Bear in mind these are the minimum specifications. If the budget will stretch to a better system, then by all means go for it. More memory, a bigger hard drive, better video card or faster CPU will make your computer more of a pleasure to use and extend its life.

If you'd like to be kept up to date with the ever-changing world of computers subscribe to our newsletter.



PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
©Technology Publishing Australia, 2008