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Gadget Magnet - Buying a new computer? Consider the processor first

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Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:00 am

To many people, buying a new computer is both an exciting and worrisome experience. The worrisome part tends to supersede the excitement as most people do not know what is important to the computer.

Consequently, many questions come with purchasing a new computer.

Can I save money now, and upgrade later? Is a quad core really necessary right now?

However, the questions that should be asked before purchasing a computer are: what do I plan to do with this PC? Am I going to do any type of photo or video editing? Will I play video games, and if so, what type? Do I need to have multiple monitors to work on?

There are so many more in depth, and powerful things that can be done with a PC. For the budget conscientious consumer, the most important thing to ask is what kind of processor the PC has in it.

The processor's power, for the most part, will determine what a user will be able to do with the computer now, and more importantly, in the future. A computer is both a financial investment and a commitment of three to five (or more) years. Depending on the type of processor that is purchased in the beginning, this can either be the start to a wonderful journey, or the path to aggravation and frustration. The processor is the most important component in a computer, as it is central to overall performance. By choosing a more powerful processor at the beginning, the computer will remain relevant longer, and age more gracefully. The saying that “technology becomes obsolete overnight” can be very true if you buy your computer for today with no thought of the future. People often hear many computer terms used, like: graphics cards, RAM (memory), hard drive, and Megabytes and Gigabytes (and to get as many of those as possible). While important, these components take a backseat to the processor. With most computers, these parts can be affordably upgraded, while the processor typically cannot.

Manufacturers that allow users to custom build a laptop or desktop with a wide range of models usually will allow you to select all of these components. The smart thing to do if price is an issue, is to select a processor that supersedes your needs and expectations right now, and go with the minimum offerings on other parts at that time. The cost of upgrading parts later will be much less expensive than potentially upgrading them when you buy the computer. The reason is that many companies make a lot of money off of these upgrades, when if you were to have a smaller company do it, could cost you as little as a third of what the manufactures charge. There are multiple types of processors available, varying from one to eight cores. While the number of cores impacts system performance, the quality of the core is what truly counts. For example, Intel's i7s quad core processors outperform AMD's eight core processors. In order to delay obsolescence, we recommend purchasing a system with a minimum of a quad core processor to be ready for future software and technology needs. Even tablets, such as the iPAD and phones are getting quad core processors to keep up with technology demands.

Depending on what you are doing with your computer will dictate the type of processor you need. A basic user who does email, word processing, and some music should get an AMD quad core processor. A mid user who does some gaming, photo editing, business trading, could go with an Intel i5 or AMD six-core processor. Those that require a lot from their computers, such as multimedia enthusiasts that create movies, hard core gamers that play intense games, or the business professional who requires a lot going on at once, should go with an Intel i7. As for the other things, a computer that has a quad core processor, four gigabytes (GB) of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive should be sufficient to have a machine running quite well. The last two of those parts are upgradeable, at typically low costs to the consumer. Investing a little more money upfront makes the upgrade costs less later, and typically a much longer lifespan for the computer, which in the end, means less money out of pocket for the consumer.

(Editor’s Note: Tommy Bobnick is Cofounder and Partner of PCRx Computer Solutions, a computer company in Tucson. For computer and technology related questions, or to schedule an appointment with PCRx, call 1-855-ASK-PCRX (1-855-275-7279) or email HYPERLINK "" Visit the website at HYPERLINK ""

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