How To Buy a Computer - Guidelines in purchasing Desktop computer

 Computer nowadays becomes one of the necessities of human life. Computers are use for media creation, workstation, publishing, intensive gaming, recording music and making Flash movies. checking emails, surfing the web, and word processing, video editing, drafting emails and conducting your online banking, handling business online and etc.
Below are the things you consider before you make a purchase.

1. Determine your needs!
                Laptops are usually use when you take your work along with you. Laptops are meant to be easily portable and typically more expensive than desktop computers but keep in mind that you’re getting a monitor, keyboard, mouse and PC in a single, portable package.

                Desktops are usually for family and office use and cheaper than laptops. Desktops can be easily upgraded without replacing the whole machine because they are built to accommodate a variety of components and can be easily customized.

2. Determine the speed of the Processor and the size of RAM
   Computer with high processor speed and large memory unit has a higher speed of computing and
    processing performance.

                The Processor is the brain of your computer. In general, the faster the better. Processor speeds are measured in gigahertz (GHz) and as of this writing, the fastest models available operate at about 4 GHz or more. Entry-level machines start at about 1.5 GHz and are more than adequate for web surfing, email and word processing. If you see a computer with a processor that has a speed specified in megahertz (MHz), steer clear -- these are older models.

Processor choices are a bit more difficult now then they were before. It is still really a choice between an AMD and an Intel processor. But Intel processors are currently faster and more efficient than the offering from AMD. But, going with AMD may save you some money and this is where the choice depends on your budget.

                Memory or RAM is the temporary working memory that your computer uses to perform calculations and manipulate files. When you open a document, it is copied from the hard drive into RAM. As you and your word processor work on the file, the modified copy exists only in RAM. When you save the file, it is copied from RAM back to the hard drive, or permanent storage. And as with CPU power, the more RAM you have, the better your computer will perform.

                Most desktop computers now use a type of memory called DDR2. Some high performance ones might use DDR3, but this is quite expensive. Avoid systems using the older DDR memory standard. In terms of amount, it is best to have at least 1GB of memory in the system and preferably 2GB. Memory speeds can impact performance as well. The faster the memory, the better the performance should be. When buying memory, try to buy as few DIMMs as possible to allow for future memory upgrades if needed
3. Determine the storage size

   Hard drives
                The hard drive is your permanent file storage. All of your personal files, such as word processor documents, photos, music, and emails are stored here, in addition to software packages and the operating system. Most new PC's come with a hard drive that's 80 gigabytes (GB) or larger.
Hard drives really boil down to size and speed. The larger the drive and the faster, the better the performance and capacity. In a desktop, it is best to have at least 250GB or more of storage space these days. In terms of speed, they are pretty much all running at 7200rpm now. A few high performance 10,000rpm drives are available. Most drives use the Serial ATA interface now for ease of installation. Performance wise, there is little difference still between Serial ATA and the older IDE standards.

4. Determine the quality and speed of display

 Display Monitors
                There are three options in choosing display monitor.
The first is the standard CRT monitor, which is a tube-based,
traditional looking unit. They’re big and they’re heavy, but they
have great picture quality and are typically value-priced. The
second choice is the LCD. LCDs are generally higher priced than CRT monitors, especially if you want top-notch performance, but these flat panel displays are chic, lightweight and take up very little room on your desk. Another option to consider—especially if you’re running a Windows Media Center operating system—is a plasma or LCD television that can interface with your computer. This is obviously the most expensive route, but you’ll be able to watch movies and television with a high quality picture, and at the same time have the ability to compute from your easy chair.

   Video Cards

                Video card technology seems to change every three to six months. If you aren't really doing any 3D graphics at all, then integrated graphics may be just fine. Beyond this, there are a wide selection of cards. Things to consider include performance, the amount of memory on the card, output connectors and the version of Direct X supported. Those looking to do any gaming should really consider a Direct X 10 card with at least 256MB of memory onboard. Pretty much all new systems will use the PCI-Express graphics standard.

5. Determine Additional Drives you need: CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD recorder, Zip.
                A DVD-rewritable (DVDRW) drive is essential today for making backups and drive images should you find the need to restore your system. A DVDRW drive will allow you to burn to almost any type of writable DVD media (DVDR, DVDRW) and erase DVDRW discs and use them over again.
Most systems sold now feature DVD burners, even the budget systems. It is best to make sure that you get a multiformat DVD burner that can support both the +R/RW and -R/RW formats. Speeds should be 16x for the recordable speed. Dual or Double Layer media support is also a common feature although less likely to be used due to media cost. If you don't need a DVD burner, try to at least get a CD-RW/DVD combo drive of 24x recording speed to allow for CD media storage and DVD playback. Options also include LightScribe or Labelflash support for burning labels directly to compatible media.

6. Determine the peripherals and additional hardware.

      Keyboard and Mouse
                Basic keyboards and mice are both reliable and inexpensive,
however, there are many options if you’d like to upgrade. For
mobility, you could consider a wireless keyboard and mouse, or if
you spend a lot of time in front of your monitor you might want to think about an ergonomically designed keyboard. As with many peripherals, keyboards and mice come in a variety of styles and colors, so choose something that you like to look at and that feels good to use.

   Speaker System and Microphones

                If you decide to go for something beyond the built-in speakers that
came with your PC, you need to consider how high-tech your sound needs to be. Believe it or not, you can choose everything from an average pair of speakers to 2.1, 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems. Keep in mind that you must have a sound card that can support these higher-end audio configurations. If you’re thinking about picking up a microphone for your PC, you might want to mull over the purchase of a Webcam that comes with an integrated microphone.

                From workhorse single tone laser jet printers to professional digital
photolabs, when it comes to printers, the options are virtually
limitless. Before you invest in a printer, it’s important to decide
what you’re primarily going to use it for. If you’re planning to print mostly text documents, a laser jet or an all-in-one printer/fax machine/scanner might do the trick. If you’re expecting to print a lot of photographs, you need to determine whether you’re satisfied with printing small pictures or if you’d like to print large ones too.

                The Faster the modems the better. Faster modems are used by Internet users every day in order to speed up information.

Sound Cards
A sound card (also known as an audio card) is a computer expansion card that facilitates the input and output of audio signals to/from a computer under control of computer programs. Typical uses of sound cards include providing the audio component for multimedia applications such as music composition, editing video or audio, presentation/education, and entertainment (games). Many computers have sound capabilities built in, while others require additional expansion cards to provide for audio capability.

7. Decide how many extra internal card slots and disk-drive bays you'll need in order to allow room for
         future expansion
                PCI , PCI-E, AGP, and SCSI cards - specifies a computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a computer motherboard..

8. Decide how many external ports you'll need in order to allow room for future expansion
   External Connectors
                Many upgrades and peripherals to computers now connect through external interfaces instead of internal cards. Check to see how many and what type of external ports are available on the computer for use with future peripherals. Look for systems that have both USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 or FireWire ports. It should have at least six USB 2.0 connectors and one FireWire ports. Many times media card readers that support various different flash memory cards for peripherals are also included

  These USB or Firewire external connectors serves as file storage solutions using Flash drive and memory card.

9. Determine what pre-installed software you want or need.
                Most of the software you need will come pre-installed on your new PC. Windows comes with Internet Explorer (for web browsing) and Outlook Express (for email). Many PC systems include a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice. If your computer doesn't come with any of these, I suggest you purchase Microsoft Works, which will give you MS Word, a spreadsheet similar to MS Excel, and other useful programs.
Look for a computer that comes with anti-virus software pre-installed. If yours doesn't come with any anti-virus package, check with your Internet service provider to see if they offer anything for free

10. Choose a computer brand based on quality, price and technical support

                There several computer manufacturer such as Dell, HP (Compaq), Gateway. Some of them provide a web-based configuration tool for customizing a PC before you purchase it. This may be a more relaxing experience than being rushed by a sales representative over the phone. If there is something you don't understand when configuring your PC, call that company's sales line for answers.

11. Know your retailer
                The last, but most important aspect in purchasing a computer is the retailer. Many companies may be cheap, but they cut many corners. When the time comes you are better off searching for the cheapest and most reliable retailer. Every component should be tested for compatibility before it is installed in your computer, resulting in a reliable, error-free system that can provide you years of happy computing.

    Choose the length of warranty or service coverage appropriate to your needs.