Updated 13 March 2010
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.
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.
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.
$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
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.
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
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium
Warranty: Three year back to base parts and labour.
for a PC, $2198 for a MacBook.
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
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.
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