What To Know When Buying A New Computer!

PC Bits sells refurbished computers that includes our famous tune-up with our complete suite of free computer security software installed! If we don’t have a computer in stock that fits your needs we can also consult with you regarding purchasing a new computer and obtaining our tune-up to maximize it’s performance.

It is easy to become bewildered when buying a new computer, there are so many choices, options, and jargon. Here are a few tips that will help you make a better choice. The internal components are the same for a desktop computer or a laptop so after discussing the similarities, we will present some additional things to consider when buying a laptop. Below are the primary components you need to consider for either one.

3 Performance Components of Computers - CPU, RAM, HDD

  • 1) The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of every computer. Faster is better! Today’s name brand CPUs (Intel and AMD) come in many speeds and simply being newer does not necessarily mean faster.
    • PC Bits recommendation: Look up the “Benchmark Score” of the CPU in the computer you are considering. The Benchmark Score will tell you how fast the CPU is compared to other CPUs. Here is one of the best websites that score CPUs (https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php). Make sure the CPU you are considering has a “CPU Mark” value of 4,000 or more.
  • 2) Random Access Memory (RAM) is where data and operating programs reside when the computer is running. More memory (RAM) is better!
    • PC Bits recommendation: Buy at least 8GB of Double Data Rate (DDR) RAM. In addition, it is much better to have two or more RAM sticks instead of just a single stick. This doubles (or more), the number of things your computer can do simultaneously.
  • 3) The Hard Drive (HDD) is where all your data and programs are permanently stored. The hard drive loads your data files and program files into RAM so you can work with them, and stores any new files, so they are available in the future. Fast hard drive speed and adequate size are critical to your computer’s capability to adequately serve you. Plus, there are different kinds of hard drives:
    1. “Spinning” drives are the oldest and slowest type available and they need regular maintenance or they get even slower.
    2. Solid Sate Drives (SSD) contain no moving parts and need no maintenance. They are as much as 15-times faster than a “spinning” drive.
    3. The latest revolution in Solid State Drives is the NVMe PCIe (Non-Volatile Memory express, Peripheral Component Interconnect express). These amazing tiny hard drives are 5-times faster than SSDs.
    • PC Bits recommendation: Typically, a minimum of a 256GB SSD, larger if you plan to store a lot of pictures, music, or movies.

How Do I Decide What I Need?

Consult with PC Bits! They will help you determine what is right for your computing needs. Based on your typical computer usage they will help you choose the best hardware, at the most reasonable price.

What Do I Need To Know About Laptops?

Small, ultra-thin, and light weight laptops are popular today, especially laptops that fold over to become tablets. Too often, thin equals weak, poor quality, and high-cost repairs, if they can be repaired at all! Read below (A Note About Laptops), for additional information.

  • PC Bits recommendation: Buy a “business class” computer. They are built to a much higher standard and are designed to be repairable. They are more powerful, last longer and have lower repair costs.

More Information about computer components

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is where all commands are processed. Each click of your mouse will start hundreds, even thousands of commands to start. What you may not realize is that this processing never actually stops. Operating Systems (OS) are constantly doing work behind the scene. Data and commands are flying in and out of the CPU, from RAM, and the hard drive the whole time you are using the computer. Gone are the days when each new CPU was faster than the last. Manufacturers have hundreds to choose from when building a computer. YOU must know whether they have installed a fast one or a slow one.

You need to look up the “Score” of the CPU in any computer you are considering. A CPU Benchmark Score will tell you how fast the CPU is compared to all other CPUs made. Check with https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php. We don’t recommend a CPU with a CPU Mark score less than 4,000. Know that there brand new computers sold with CPU scores of 800, (too slow!) Be aware that Intel makes slow i5s and they make fast i5s. In fact some i5s are faster than i7s, which seems counter intuitive. The same applies to AMD (Advanced Micro Devices Inc.) CPUs. You can’t just go by brand name A4, A6 A8 etc. You need to look up the score.

Random Access Memory (RAM) is where all data and programs reside when the computer is running them. RAM is loaded with data and programs from the hard drive when you turn on the computer and when you click on icons and files. Today’s RAM is very fast but the problem comes when you don’t have enough. If you try to load more program code or data into RAM than you have, the computer must pause and remove something else first. PC Bits doesn’t sell a computer with less than 8GB of RAM. Another problem is that low-cost computer manufacturers are using only one “stick” of RAM. All RAM sold today is “DDR” RAM. DDR stands for Double Data Rate. What that means is that you want to have two (not one), sticks of RAM so the computer can be doing different things on each stick at the same time. That gives you double the number of things you can do simultaneously. All computer geeks know you need two or more sticks of RAM to run the computer at maximum speed.

The Hard Drive (HDD) is where ALL your “Data” and “Programs” (Apps) are permanently stored. Hard Drives today are always busy loading files into RAM and saving files from RAM. If you consider that an antivirus program scans every file that will be loaded into RAM then a slow hard drive slows down the entire process. Hard drives have undergone a revolution in the past few years. Currently, there are three types being installed in computers.

  1. “Spinning” drives are the oldest and slowest type available. Even the fastest of these is inefficient at keeping up with the demands of the computer and programs we run today. Manufacturers are still putting them in new computers since they are lower cost and consumers do not know they should ask for newer technology. PS: they also need regular maintenance or they get even slower.
  2. Solid Sate Drives (SSD) began replacing “spinning” drives around 2016. They contain no moving parts and need no maintenance. They are really fast! As much as 15-times faster than a “spinning” drive. A computer from PC Bits will always have at least a Solid State Drive.
  3. The latest revolution in Solid State drives is NVMe PCIe (Non-Volatile Memory express, Peripheral Component Interconnect express). These amazing tiny hard drives are 5-times faster than SSDs! A high-quality SSD can move data at a top speed of 600MB per second. An NVMe SSD can reach a top speed of over 3,000MB per second. If you don’t see his type of SSD on the “specs” or package, you are not getting one! For more information watch this excellent YouTube Video below.

The smallest size drive I would recommend is 256GB, larger if you plan to store a lot of pictures, music, or movies.

A Note about Laptops

I know what is popular today, thin “Ultra-portable” laptops that fold over to become tablets. Take it from a computer repair guy with years of experience, this is the worst thing to buy. “Thin” equals weak, poor quality, and many repairs at a high cost. Often these tiny laptops cannot be repaired at all! Think about it, if you built your dining room table out of balsa wood it would be thin and lite, but would it be strong? Would it hold up to the demands of a Thanksgiving Day dinner?

To make a laptop easy to carry, many compromises must be made by the manufacturers. All the parts must be very thin. That leaves no room for screws so these laptops are glued or taped together. The touch screens have glass as thin as a sheet of paper. People have been known to break it when they pick it up with their thumb on the glass. For years I have been repairing hinges that break on these laptops and the power plug and charging port are so small, they frequently break as well.

Here is another problem with laptops. In my opinion, really inexpensive (cheap) laptops are a scam. All the parts I talked about above are the cheapest and slowest possible. Often these parts are soldered directly on the motherboard and cannot be replaced with bigger or faster parts. I have seen laptops that were so slow and had so little room on the hard drive (32GB!!!) that they refused to run right out of the box.

At PC Bits we try to always sell “business class” computers. They are built to a much better standard and are meant to be repaired. They are more powerful, last longer and have lower repair costs. Yes, they cost more than local “store bought” computers but over time they save you money. Check out the “repairability scores” at ifixit.com. https://www.ifixit.com/laptop-repairability You will be surprised what you learn.

Quick Tip-Bit: Bring this article to any store and show it to the sales person, if they can’t show you a model that meets these requirements or don’t understand them, look elsewhere. If you have any questions please call Dean at 763-360-2163

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