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📘 PC Buyer’s Guide

Interested in buying a new or used computer? This guide will help you pick a personal computer that’s sufficient for your needs. There are three main specifications the consumer should consider: memory, processor, and storage.

🧠 Memory (RAM)

Memory, AKA RAM determines your computer's capacity for multitasking. When too many programs are opened, the computer can "run out of memory" and slow to a crawl.

DDR4 is newer and faster than DDR3. RAM also has a frequency spec in Hz: a higher number is better.

Don’t buy a computer with less than 4GB of RAM! Operating systems typically require more than this.

It's relatively easy to upgrade a system's RAM. However, there are limitations, such as the number of available slots and the maximum RAM the processor can handle.

🧮 Processors

Processors do all the computer’s math. All computers have a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and some also have an optional Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). CPUs are general-purpose, while GPUs do processing related to graphics only. Having a GPU takes a big weight off the CPU’s shoulders.

You will need more powerful processors if you’re going to be doing any video editing or gaming. Otherwise, it’s not so important.

Generally, the best CPUs can be determined by checking these stats:

Processors can sometimes be upgraded, but the socket must be compatible with the new chip. AMD and Intel, the two big processor-makers each have their own socket type, so you can't replace an Intel CPU with an AMD CPU. GPUs are generally mounted on a graphics card which is easily interchangeable.

💾 Storage

Storage determines how many files you can fit on your computer. This includes all documents, programs, photos, videos, music, etc.

A Hard Disk Drive, or HDD has a physical disk that's read by a laser. These are delicate items and prone to failure, especially when dropped. They are also slower than other forms of storage. However, they are cheap, even at high capacities.

Solid State Drives, or SSDs are faster, more reliable, and more expensive.

Flash media such as NVMe or eMMC storage are typically faster, more reliable, and more expensive than SSD storage.