If you’re reading this blog post you’ve got some kind of computer. People get caught up in all sorts of things when buying a computer or laptop but the reality is that there are some things important and other things not so important to the general user. If you’re a power user you already know what you need and want so this article isn’t for you. For everyone else, here’s what to concentrate on.

1. RAM. It stands for ‘random access memory’ and it’s what determines how your computer handles its resources. In the old days people always thought that if you added more RAM that your computer would move faster. That’s only true if you have too little RAM. These days almost every computer on the market has enough RAM to get you by. The top RAM these days is DDR3, and many computers will have anywhere from 4 to 8 GB. Right now most computers can’t use more than 4 GB anyway, so if you’re not a power user save your money and go for 4 or 4 GB RAM.

2. Hard Drive. Hard drives are for storage of files and programs. These days most hard drives for both computers and laptops are at least 250 GB. For almost anyone that’s way more than you’re ever going to use. If you’re someone that downloads a lot of movies it’s not big enough, whereas if you download lots of music it would probably take you as long to download enough music files before it was time to purchase a new computer. However, it’s probably smarter, if you are one of those people who downloads a lot of files, to buy a separate drive to put all those files on so it doesn’t slow down your computer. Don’t pay up front for larger drives because buying a separate drive costs less in the long run.

3. Processors. I’m not going to get into all the things about processors because it gets confusing. I’ll just say this; if it’s being sold at a large store it’s pretty good. When comparing two laptops recently I had a choice between the Intel I5 or I7, and the difference in price was $250. I’m not a gamer and I don’t overuse my laptop, so I went with the lesser processor. Most people will never need anything stronger than that for now.

4. Brand names. Like in the old days, brand names drive prices. We all have names we hate and names we like. However, there’s no real difference for most consumers between a Dell or Gateway or Asus or any other name. None of these are overly better than the other, and it takes someone like PC World or Consumer Reports to run thousands of tests to find minor differences in performance. Get the computer you like to look at, that fits your style, and go from there. That goes for the difference between a PC & Mac. Apple products will always cost more and some say parts of them are easier to use. But if it’s based on price buy what you can afford; PC’s aren’t as bad as Apple lovers make them out to be.

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