Desktop Computer Buying Guide

With the constant arrival of new specifications, configurations shapes and sizes itís difficult to decide the best desktop computer to buy in todayís market. Depending on your budget and requirements there is likely to be several options available to you. Hereís a guide to finding the right PC for you.

If youíre likely to be using your PC for surfing the internet, uploading holiday photos, office work and maybe some recreational gaming then youíll be looking at a price range of anything between £300 and £800. Look for a dual core chip and a quad core processor, although desktops with less than this are rare. The minimum amount of memory youíre likely to need is 4GB and 6 to 8GB of RAM is pretty standard for a PC in this price range. PCs towards the lower end of this price range are likely to have integrated graphics cards although graphics cards in more expensive PCs are likely to have either 256 or 512MB of video RAM, allowing 3D gaming and animation.

In terms of operations systems, Microsoft users look at Windows 7 Home Premium and those leaning towards Apple, Mac OS X Snow Leopard. A DVD-RW drive will allow you to read and burn music and film from your PC. If youíre wanting to watch or burn Blu-ray film a BD ROM OR BD-RW is required. Also make sure your desktop computer comes with at least four USB ports as well as ones for your mouse and keyboard.

For home office use, graphics are of little concern although enough power is required to run several programmes at once. A dual core processor is likely to suffice for most office users although for heavy usage, a quad core CPU wouldnít be a bad investment. Thereís no real need for a graphics card and all other specifications are roughly the same as the everyday userís PC.

For the serious gamer a quad or six core processor and at least 8GB of DDR3 RAM is necessary. A larger, faster hard drive is required and, most importantly, a good graphics card. The two main competitors are AMD and Nvidia. AMDís ATI Radeon 5000 series is currently in the lead being the fastest on the market and able to support DirectX 11 across three monitors. The Nvidia GeForce 400 line is arguable as good however and also able to support DirextX 11. The price range for the gaming enthusiast is between £1000 and £2500.

Finally, for editing and watching media, a similar specification to the serious gamerís computer is required. Again, six or quad core CPU is needed to edit video and a discrete ATI or Nvidia graphics card with 256MB to 1GB of video memory is useful. If youíre using Firewire/IEEE 1394 for transferring files between your PC and camcorder youíll need the right Firewire/IEEE 1393 port. Again for Blu-ray movies, a BD-RW is needed.

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