Can you believe it is April already? I know I can’t. Now that we are here, we are just days away from Tax Day. Maybe you have already finished them and have some money burning a hole on your pocket or you are making plans for the money you are getting back. I am here again to help guide you in making the perfect gadget purchase for your blogging life.
Last time I suggested some gadgets to help you blog on the go, this time I want to help you navigate all the technical mumbo jumbo surrounding buying a new computer.
One of my pet peeves when I am at an electronics store is listening in on a sales rep try to sell someone a computer they do not need. If you are doing some word processing and emailing, you do not need the newest most powerful gaming rig on the market. So, knowing a little bit about what you may want and need out of a new computer will help you not get taken advantage of.
I know for the average person when looking at the specifications for a new computer, it can seem like you are reading some long dead ancient language. So, I will try to break things down a bit and make it all less scary.
For illustrative purposes here I found an “average” laptop on Amazon and will use its specs to explain what you need to know. (For the record I am not giving a recommendation for this computer, just using it as an example) Highlighted in red are the main specs you need to look at when buying a computer.
First is the processor. You will also see this listed at times as the CPU (Central Processing Unit). This is the brains of the system. It is where all programs executed and run from. You will notice there is a number there that says 2.4GHz. That is the speed at which the processor runs. The higher the number, the faster it can run things. Another thing to look out for are terms such as “dual core” or “quad core”. These are CPUs that have multiple processors on them, allowing them to do more simultaneously. There are plenty of processor manufacturers out there but the big names to look for are Intel and AMD.
Next is the RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. This is kind of a companion to the CPU. Whereas the CPU is running the show, the RAM is the one allocating memory to the programs. If you have ever been multitasking and suddenly everything seems to freeze for a moment, this is from not having enough RAM. The higher the RAM, the smoother things run. The computer for this example is loaded with only 4GB (4 Gigabytes) of RAM. This seems to be the lowest amount I see in computers being sold today. If the bulk of what you do in your blogging is writing and some light photo editing, then something with 8GB of RAM should suffice. Though if you are heavy into creating graphics and using Photoshop, I would suggest a computer with 12GB or above. Honestly, if graphics is your thing, I would suggest a Mac. Macs are made with heavy graphics in mind.
Last is the Hard Drive. This is where everything lives on your computer. From your programs to all your photos and word documents. The computer in this example lists as its capacity as 1000GB. I am not sure why they list it as such, but that is 1TB (1 Terabyte). The hard drive size is something that is dependent on your needs. Personally, the laptop I am writing this on has a 500GB hard drive and I have not even used a quarter of that space. You may also note that it states that it is a mechanical hard drive. This means it has moving parts inside. In contrast, you may see computers that list the hard drive as a SSD (Solid State Drive). This is the same type of technology that is found inside of your flash drive (or thumb drive as some still call them). These hard drives have no moving parts and as such load much quicker than their mechanical counterparts.
Now that you have some basic understanding of specifications you will see, let us talk a little about what you may need.
Other things to keep in mind when picking a computer:
When you are purchasing a program, such as Photoshop, you will notice that there are “minimum requirements” listed. You need to keep in mind that these are truly minimum, meaning yes the program will run, but you will likely experience lags and other issues. If you want to have a good experience running these programs, there is a rule of thumb you need to abide by. It is the rule of two. If a program says the minimum required RAM is 2GB, it is best to have 4GB. Or if it asks for 4GB, make sure to have 8GB and so on.
When shopping for that new computer, you will want to always keep in mind what your needs are:
- What are you going to use it for?
- What might you be using it for in the future?
- Can you upgrade the hardware later if you have the need?
When it comes to that last one, that can be a little tricky. Desktop computers are more easily upgradable than their laptop counterparts. By their very nature laptops are compact, so space is at a premium, making upgrades hard. You tend to be able to upgrade the RAM and maybe the hard drive, but other components will be much harder to upgrade. Another thing to keep in mind are there are some laptops on the market cannot be upgraded, such as Chromebooks. To be as portable and affordable as possible, they are manufactured in a manner that tends to make them non-upgradable.
There are other things to keep in mind when making your purchase. They may seem minor, but down the road, depending on what kind of user you are, they may become something you wished you paid attention to. Such as, how many USB ports are there? Having too few can be frustrating at times. Though if you do not need that many devices hooked up at any given time it will not be a problem. Is there an HDMI port allowing you to connect to another monitor such as your HD television? Is there a card reader so that you can plug in your SD card and transfer files from your camera? Or is it equipped with Bluetooth so you can use your wireless headphones?
As you can see there are many factors to keep in mind when purchasing a new computer. I just hope I was able to help you a little bit to know what you want and need in your new computer. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Until next time, Happy Blogging!
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