For Your Information

Take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions (faq's), common problems and items you are likely to come across while working with your PC.

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Buyers Guide

When you decide to buy your new computer, ask yourself "what am i going to use it for?" Desktop and laptop PC's come in different sizes and specs so it's important to really have a good understanding of what you need. If you will be using it for browsing the web or using it for emails or word processing, then you won't be requiring a high-end PC. If space is an issue then you may want to consider a laptop instead of a desktop tower (more on that in a bit).

It can be tricky to know what is right for you, especially if its all in an alien language to you, for example, is an Intel i3 processor with 6 gigs of RAM better or worse than an AMD A10- 5700 processor with 8 gigs?

Bigger doesn't always mean better!

There are hundreds of different specs available, so we are going to try to explain things in terms that may help you to understand.

 

Processors (CPU) - AMD vs Intel
The processor is usually made by Intel or AMD, one question asked frequently is "which is best?" Let's look at it this way, Intel is considered the better when it comes to performance, but you can expect to pay a little more than the AMD equivalent. Ask yourself, are you really going to notice a difference in performance when all the computer does is check your Facebook page? The flip side to that is you may decide to expand your computer knowledge in the future so the extra performance might be beneficial.

Processor clock speed
Clock speed is the rate at which the processor can execute its instructions. Clock speeds are expressed in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz). An important note is that while a 2.0 GHz processor has twice the clock speed of a processor with 1GHz, is not necessarily twice as fast, this is due to the different architectures of processors.

The advice here is the higher the processor clock speed, the better your computer will handle multi tasking.

Operating Systems (OS)
PC's bought from most retailers will come pre installed with a version of the Microsoft operating system, the latest version (as of Oct 2012) is Windows 8.

Windows 8 came with significant changes over previous versions of Windows particularly with the user interface (UI). Dubbed 'Metro', the layout of different coloured tiles to represent applications and programmes is dramatically different to the familiar desktop screen of past Windows versions. Handy for touch screen platforms like mobile phones and tablets, but if you are used to the old layout it can take a while to get you head around.

Windows 7 is still available and supported by Microsoft and will be for quite sometime, a competent and capabile OS, go for the Home premium version for the home user or if you will be using your computer for business Windows 7 Professional is available, this comes with extra business features and the very handy XP compatibility mode incase you need to run some older applications.

Note - as of April 2014 Microsoft will no longer be supporting Windows XP

CD, DVD, Blu-Ray Drives
Otherwise known as optical drives, the drive on a computer that plays CD, DVD, or Blu-ray discs.

Most PC's come with a DVD multi-drive these days allowing you to read/burn DVDs as well as CDs. They usually support all formats (DVD-R, DVD+R, CD-RW etc) but if you are unsure ask the retailer to confirm and check the blank discs you buy, it will say on the box whether they are DVD-R or CD-R.

A DVD-R is a write-once format, DVD-RW can be erased or rewritten (approx 1000 times), the ‘+’ format offers faster writing.

Blu-Ray is the latest format and will appeal to anyone wanting to watch Blu-Ray movies on their computer or for the home movie enthusiast, but they will bump up the price of the computer.

Memory
When it comes to memory the general rule is the more the better. 4 Gigabytes is usually enough for the computer user doing the basic's such as email or word processing, but if you want to play games or run image editing software you might consider upping this to 6 or 8GB

Video Card
More commonly known as graphics card, this is is an expansion card which allows graphical information to be displayed on your monitor or projector.

Almost all desktop PC's and laptops will have video hardware integrated on the motherboard, known as integrated graphics or on-board graphics. This graphics chip usually has a small quantity of memory and uses some of the system's main memory (RAM), reducing the total RAM available. This is fine for the low end user, but for users wanting to run 3D applications, then a dedicated graphics card is required.

A dedicated graphics card has its own RAM and Processor specifically for processing video images, and takes the strain off the main CPU and RAM.

If you have an existing computer and wanted to upgrade you graphics card you must make sure your motherboard has an expansion port. Todays expansion ports are PCIe (PCI-Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express)), older systems may have AGP or PCI expansion slots. It is important to get the correct one for your motherboard as they have different connections.

Popular video cards - Nvidia GeForce, AMD Radeon.

As with all PC components, graphics cards have different levels of specification, but as a rule the ones that are most expensive will have extra features, such as High Definition and 3D, and be able to display a much higher level of visuals, especially when it comes to gaming.