Computer Buyers Guide

April 19, 2023 by
Mark Nash

Have you ever bought a new computer only to have buyer's remorse a few months later? Maybe you didn't check the storage capacity and ran out of space, or you may have glossed over memory and experienced constant freeze-ups. Investing in a new PC isn't something you want to do lightly. Doing your research ahead of time and consulting with a knowledgeable friend or IT shop can help. It can help stop you from making mistakes that could come back to haunt you later. Here are several things you should consider before spending your hard-earned money on a new computer.

The Amount of Memory (RAM)

One of the big mistakes that people make when looking for a new computer is to ignore the RAM. Random access memory, more commonly known as RAM on the specification or just "memory," is vital for running your computer. Memory is the "thought process" of the PC. If there isn't enough, it can't take on another task until it completes the current processing tasks. People often go for low-priced computer deals when looking for a new device but fail to notice that it's that cheap because it only has 4GB of RAM. That's not much if you intend to do more than stay in a single application or open more than a few browser tabs. The higher the RAM, the more responsive the system performance, so look for PCs with at least 8GB of RAM. Or higher if you do any graphics/video or other processing-intensive activities. If your system has low memory, you are going to run into many issues, such as:

  • Browser freezing up when you have too many tabs open
  • Issues watching videos
  • Some software not working properly
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Inability to open multiple applications
  • Constant freezes

User Reviews for Longevity

Buying a new computer is an investment. So, it's natural to want that investment to last as long as possible. You don't want to spend $700 on a new computer only to begin experiencing problems when it's just two years old. Take your time to research user reviews on the specific models you're considering, so you can steer clear of models with consistent complaints about breakdowns sooner than expected. You may have to pay a little more for a system with a better performance track record, but it will save you money in the long run when you have more years of usable life before that device needs replacement.

Whether the PC is for Personal or Business Use

If you have a small business or are a freelancer, you may try to save money by buying a consumer PC, but this could cost you more in the long run. Consumer PCs aren't designed for continuous "9-to-5" use. They also often lack certain types of firmware security present in business-use models. The price gap has also shortened between good consumer computers and business versions. If you're not looking at the cheap systems (which tend to come with their own expensive issues), you'll find that getting a business-grade device is not much more.

The Processor Used

It can be confusing to read through the processor specifications on a computer. How do you know which factors are important for your needs and should be considered and compared? Thankfully, there are numerous resources available online that can help you make an informed decision. Databases like have recorded all the specs you could want to know, allowing you to easily compare processors.

Storage Capacity

If you buy a computer without paying attention to hard drive space, you may not be able to transfer over all your data from your old system. Or you may quickly find you are running into issues with saving new data. However, these days storage capacity can be somewhat circumvented and be an area where you can save some money. If you store most of your files in the cloud, then you may not need a lot of hard drive space, meaning you can find a computer that lacks in that area for a lower price.

Hard Drive Type

If you can get a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), you should. SSDs are faster and less likely to have read/write issues. They have no moving parts; thus, they are quieter as well. Solid-state drives have come down in price quite a bit recently. There are many affordable options, and you'll also find some PCs with both a hard drive and SSD.

For Laptops: Durability

If you're looking for a laptop computer, it must be durable. Laptops have some unique characteristics that differ from desktops, such as how the screen is often folded down one or more times daily. Additionally, the keyboard is part of the case and is not easily replaced by the user. If you get a laptop with a cheap plastic case, it's likely to break during regular use. Paying an extra $20-$30 for a better casing is undoubtedly worth it, as it can help you avoid unneeded headaches.