Buying a Computer Guide


build a computer
Choosing a processor
Buying a computer motherboard
buying a computer case
buying a computer monitor
buying computer memory
buying a keyboard mouse
buying a cd rom dvd
buying a hard drive
buying a sound card
buying a graphics card
computer cooling
build your own computer
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build your own computer
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Buying a computer

Do you need to buy a computer?

Buying a computer can be expensive, after a house and a car, it may be the most expensive thing you ever buy. Firstly you need to decide if you truly need a computer or is it just another must have toy. If you are only going to use it once a month, you could try the following as alternatives:-

  • Could you use a computer at work/school/university?
  • Could you use a computer at a local library?
  • Could you use a friends computer?
  • Could you use an internet cafe?

Now that you have decided you need one read on.

What do I need to know to buy a computer?

To buy a computer, you have to understand what you are buying. If you go to a computer store, the salesman may try to sell you what he wants to sell you, not what you need. Do you really need that DVD writer and the 36 month warranty? Perhaps you do, perhaps you don't. Spend a Saturday reading up on computers. Try to understand even at a very high level, the basic components of computer. The purple buttons down the right hand side of this page may help even if you are not intending to build your own. You need to understand about the different types of processor, monitor, memory, drives etc. and you also need to understand the advantages of bigger hard disks, more memory, faster graphics cards etc. Don't worry, it's not rocket science. Even a superficial knowledge will stop you getting ripped off. There is no point paying thousands for a top of the range games computer when all you want to do is your home finances.

Don't be rushed

When buying a computer unless you need it urgently, take you time, shop around, haggle. Chances are, next month your PC will be cheaper, it's very unlikely to go up in price. Once you have bought stop looking at prices, remember next month your PC will be cheaper.


Deciding what you want

Make a shopping list of what you want in terms of components. Ask yourself all of the following questions and write down the answers.

  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Do I want a PC or do I want an Apple Mac?
  • Do I want an AMD processor or an Intel one?
  • What do I want to use the computer for?
  • How fast a processor will I need to do this?
  • How much memory will I need?
  • What operating system will I use?
  • How big/fast a hard drive do I need?
  • Do I need a CD-RW or CD-ROM and/or DVD-ROM or DVD-RW?
  • TFT monitor or CRT? How big?
  • Do I need a top of the range graphics card for playing games or something more ordinary?
  • Firewire ports? Ethernet ports? USB ports?
  • Do I need a sound card or is onboard sound fine?
  • Do I need speakers? Surround sound? Cordless keyboard and mouse?
  • Do I need a printer and/or a scanner? Digital camera? What other peripherals would I like?

The last two lines we ask, because many PCs come bundled with extra goodies like these, often at quite a discount.

Now the bad news, you may not get exactly what you want. Many retailers will only stock perhaps 10 computers and you will have to find the best match for your specifications. Some online companies will allow you to specify your own computer, perhaps the most famous of these being Dell.

Buying the computer

There are two main ways of buying a computer. Firstly from a local store. This has the advantage that if a fault develops you can take it back to them, set it on their counter and tell them to fix it. Secondly online. Buying a computer online. Buying a computer online has the advantage of being cheap. However you take the risk if the computer fails to work of having to ship it back to the online retailer. Make sure you deal with a reputable company and check out the small print of the guarantee. Will they pay for the shipping - good? Will they send someone out to fix it - even better? Do they have a helpline? How much does it cost to use, if you are on it for 1 hour? We recommend two online PC sales companies TigerDirect and Dell.


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