Unless you spend day in and day out working with computers, then trying to understand all the technical terms is unbelievably confusing. There can easily be hundreds of different computers available at any given time, and they all have different specs when it comes to the processor, memory, hard drive and even USB ports, et cetera.
Therefore, rather than walking into a shop and buying the first computer you think looks nice, you should be prepared to ask the shop assistant a host of questions before you buy, unless you could end up with a computer that isn't suitable for your needs or contains outdated tech.
Question 1: Has your PC range got the latest generation of processors?
The most common processes are from Intel and AMD. These 2 companies generally's release new computer processes every single year, usually from early spring until the late autumn.
Unfortunately, the new range of processes can take time to appear in new PCs and may only be available from late summer onwards in many high street shops.
To check what the latest processor ranges is you should visit both Intel and AMD's official websites and take note of the models available.
Question 2: Can I add more memory?
More internal memory, also called RAM, is a fast, cheap and easy way to improve the performance of your PC. You should ask how many memory slots your computer has and how many are used. You should also ask whether it is easy to install more memory. On some PCs, this is just unscrewing a hatch on the PC's underside, while other PCs you first need to remove the keyboard.
Question 3: How easy is it to replace the hard disk drive?
Budget PCs these days usually come with at least a 320 to 500GB hard disk drive, which will provide you with plenty of space to store your files, but these are slower than so-called solid-state drives (SSD). A SSD is a hard drive that has no moving parts and is based on a memory type system and is much faster than traditional hard drives and more reliable.
An SSD is often installed on Ultrabooks and other small and thin devices. The disadvantage is that they are expensive and can have lower storage capacity than traditional hard drives. However, if it is easy to replace the hard disk, you can upgrade your PC with a bigger and faster hard drive than the one at the time of purchase.
Question 4: Is the screen glossy or matte?
Glossy displays have been popular for many years. They looks good in the store, and in many cases watching movies and games are better on a glossy versus matte screen.
The downside of a glossy screen is glare from light sources in the room. It can be anything from the ceiling light to daylight from windows. Glare can be annoying and distracting, especially if you primarily use your PC to write, surf the Internet and write e-mail. If that's the case then a matte screen would be preferable.
Question 5: How many times can the battery been recharged?
On many PC's the battery can recharged approximately 500 time.
After so many charge cycles, the performance of the battery will be somewhat reduced and you may find that the battery stops working. A new battery can cost from £50 to over £500 for some PC models. If you have a cheap PC, it be wiser to buy a new and inexpensive PC rather than spend a lot of money on a new battery for a used PC.
Some PC manufacturers have batteries that can withstand both 1,000 and 1,500 charging cycles. This enables good battery performance up to four to six years.
Question 6: Warranty and repair
All electronic products bought from a British store will come with a 12 month standard warranty which will protect you if your machine breaks down within that time. You should ask the store what happens if the machine does develop a fault and who is responsible for getting it fixed. Some stores will allow you to take the product back to the store within that 12 month period, while others will request that you send it to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
Almost all stores will attempt to sell you an extended warranty, but are often expensive and unnecessary and just a moneymaking scheme from retailers.
Question 7: Has it got a USB 3.0 port?
USB 3.0 is a relatively new USB-standard that provides higher throughput than previous versions. USB 3.0 is typically used to transfer data to an external hard drive and memory sticks.
Question 8: Can the PC be connected to a television?
The easiest and best way to connect a PC to a TV is with an HDMI cable. Your PC and TV will require an HDMI output. There are other options, but HDMI is the best because it allows you to watch movies in full HD, including the audio, from a cable.
Question 9: Does the PC have an optical drive and do I really need it?
DVD or Blu-ray drive is nice to have on a notebook, but on some sleek models this has been removed to save space. You should ask yourself before you buy if you really need an optical drive (DVD/Blu-ray player/burner) as you can still use the USB ports, or just download software and movies directly from the Internet.
Question 10: What is the screen resolution?
On a PC with large screen (15 to 17 inches) it's important to make sure it has HD resolution. This will either be 720p or 1080p HD. 1080p will provide a slightly better viewing experience, though many people cannot tell the difference between the two.
Some of the very powerful and new gaming laptops will have a screen resolution of 4K, which is 4 times the resolution of 1080p. These are quite rare at the present moment and very expensive.
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