Tom’s Tech Tips

Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: Holiday Computer Buying Tips

The holidays are officially here: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us and the Christmas/Festivus/Hanukkah season is just ahead. I know that some of my CLNC® amigos will be asking Santa for something electric under the tree so here are some tips on how to select that special something.

If you’re buying a new computer, you’ve got to make a choice between a laptop and a desktop and the deciding point for you deciders is whether or not you want to sacrifice form for function. Desktops are cheaper and easier to upgrade. Laptops need lots of accessories adding to an already higher price. If you travel a lot or haunt Starbucks® for peace and quiet, consider a laptop – otherwise stick with the desktop.

No matter what you buy, you’ll be making some choices about memory, hard disk size and graphics cards. When it comes to memory (commonly known as RAM), more is better. No matter desktop or laptop, stuff it full of as much memory as you can afford – think of 4GB as a minimum with 6-8GB (or more) as ideal. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer will seem to run.

Hard disks are great places to store your legal nurse consulting work product, photographs and music. Get a pretty good sized hard drive – a 320 GB drive is small by today’s standards so, whether laptop or desktop, go bigger and faster. 7,200 RPM is recommended if available. For now, stay away from solid state drives (SSDs). These have no moving parts but are limited in terms of data storage and you’ll find yourself regretting the purchase later (it’s already later).

Central processing units or CPUs can be a grab bag with dual-cores and quad-cores in the mix. Most laptops will probably be dual-core units; while desktops are most often quads. What matters is the CPU speed. Look for something fast, but if there’s a big price difference for an incremental speed difference (3.0-3.2 GHz), save the money and go with the cheaper unit. If it’s a major difference in speed (2.3GHz-3.2 GHz), go for the faster unit. It’ll pay off in the long run.

The fastest CPU in the world won’t help too much if you have a slow graphics card. This is what “harvests” your FarmVille® crops. If you’re planning on gaming, go for a fast card with a larger amount of RAM than the “stock” card. If you’re a normal user, you can probably get away with a 3-D capable card with at least 512MB of RAM minimum. Desktops should have two DV-I ports to plug in your new dual monitors.

Finally, speaking of monitors, if you have a great computer but a small single monitor you won’t enjoy your PC as much as you should. Spring for a new, bigger, brighter monitor (or two) so that you can enjoy those Blu-ray® DVDs the way they’re meant to be enjoyed – while checking Facebook® on the other monitor. Remember, computer specs change constantly so your new purchase may be obsolete before you leave the store or the UPS driver delivers it. Always check with your salesperson for the most current specs.

Keep on techin’,

Tom

P.S. Comment and share what tech items you plan on asking Santa for this holiday season.

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