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What Kind of Computer Should I Get?

Question: It’s nearly new computer time at the old bunkhouse. What to do? What to do? Laptop? Desktop? Mac? PC? Dell? HP? How many gigabytes? CD? DVD? It’s been eight years for me.

This is an extremely common question. In fact, I’ll bet anyone who’s the tech in the family or neighborhood gets asked this same question more often than they would perhaps want.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no single answer.

It depends on your needs and your budget. And as technology is ever-changing, it even matters when you ask the question.

I typically ask myself this question about every few years as one computer or another needs replacing or simply comes to the end of its usable lifespan.

So rather than give you a definitive answer that doesn’t exist, let me instead walk you through some of the things you should consider when it’s time to get a new computer.

In this multi-post series, we’ll start with the most basic of questions…

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Laptop? Desktop? Tablet? Hybrid?

The most fundamental of decisions has become even more complicated in recent years. Laptops are getting more powerful, tablets are getting more useful and “the death of the desktop” seems to be a common, yet mistaken, news headline.

What you want will depend, of course, on how you’ll be using it.


Laptops are perfect for traveling when you need what I’ll call a “real” computer. Not to disparage tablets, which I’ll talk about in a moment, but sometimes you just need a real computer with a real keyboard and mouse and with a traditional operating system and applications. And sometimes you need that computer to travel with you on vacations or business trips, or trips to your local Starbucks.

A laptop can often be a very reasonable “only” computer. Particularly, if most of what you do is online, today’s laptops easily have more than enough power to do what you need. Even tasks needing more “horsepower” (i.e. RAM) – like photo and video editing, which I sometimes do – are often quite doable on a sufficiently powerful laptop.

Laptops fall a little short in two ways:

  • Price: they’re typically pricier than a desktop of equivalent specifications.
  • Expandability: they’re more limited in how far they can be upgraded. (Of course you can add things via USB, but that somewhat negates the portability.)

Computer TypesDesktop

Desktops tend to have the latest and greatest technology. Since they don’t have to focus on things like extending battery life like a laptop does, desktops typically use more powerful and power-hungry CPUs, as well as other components that make for a faster machine.

Desktops are, of course, bigger. In exchange for the size, you get more flexibility when it comes time to upgrade. You can often upgrade the power supply, add additional disk drives, add-in cards and more with relative ease. RAM can usually only be upgraded to the limits of the main circuit board (or “motherboard“), but in many desktops even that can be replaced.

While their numbers might decrease overall, in my opinion desktops are here to stay for a number of reasons. While you can do things like photo and video editing on a laptop, there’s nothing like a big screen and a powerful desktop to get the job done, or to get more complex jobs done that you wouldn’t even consider on a portable machine. The same can be said for many office applications including bookkeeping, document management, presentations and more. Even as a window into online services, the less-expensive desktop machine is here to stay.


Tablets, like the iPad and Android-based equivalents, have become much more viable in recent years, both in price and functionality. I’ll lump in smartphones as well, since they share many of the characteristics of tablets; though I wouldn’t necessarily consider a smartphone as a replacement for a computer, whereas in some situations a tablet might be.

The important thing to realize with these smaller and more portable devices is that you’re often trading off things you can’t do for ease and portability. To begin with, for the most part, you’re selecting from a completely separate eco-system of applications. Your Windows or Mac programs won’t just work on your iOS or Android devices, so you’ll need to get versions or alternatives that do.

Perhaps more importantly, tablets may be fantastic content consumption devices – for reading email, surfing the web, even reading books and manuscripts – but they are more difficult content creation devices. I know I wouldn’t consider writing lengthy emails or Ask Leo! articles using my tablet.

Consider how you’ll use the devices carefully and recognize that they – like many laptops – are inherently limited in their expandability.


The power of a laptop and the utility of a tablet … that’s a hybrid, sometimes called a convertible among other things.

These are typically Windows1 devices that operate either as a laptop – with a full or nearly-full keyboard – and as a tablet with a touch screen. Typically, you use it as a tablet when the keyboard is detached or folded behind the screen.

While hybrids are even more expensive than equivalent dedicated tablets or laptops, I have to admit that if I were in the market for a Windows-based laptop today I’d seriously consider a hybrid.

Next in the Series

What brand of computer should I get?

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Footnotes & references

1: Make sure that’s Windows, and not Windows RT.  The two are incompatible. Windows RT can run only applications from the Microsoft Store specifically for Windows RT, whereas Windows machines can run … well, pretty much anything that runs in Windows.

37 comments on “What Kind of Computer Should I Get?”

  1. I have a Compaq/ Hewlett Packard computer and I have to say they have excellent support. Its a mixed praise however in that I am now on the third printer in one year as the other two HPs have broken down but the good part is that in both cases they immediately send me a new one. Same with the CD player that came with the computer. It too broke down but they replaced it..

  2. like with cars u can get a lemon, i have had every type of PC on the market and for one that is already built for u DELL is the best, i still have my 1st DELL which is slow because it is 9 years old but it runs… i have two desktop DELL’s & a laptop that i use every day which i love, they are so easy to work on and repair …… i have a brandnew gateway that is junk i have two brandnew HP’s that are junk anyone want them? lol and for DELL’s customer service IT HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER!! so if u want a good pc BUY A DELL!

    have a great day!

  3. Dell customer service…better? I don’t think so. I’m on hold with tech support right now!! The first rep I spoke to had no solutions and *tried* transferring me to tech support. I got disconnected. Our company’s Dell sales rep only cares about selling and failed to help us in returning one item from our previous order.
    Their computers are solidly built, but if you have to deal with their customer service, avoid them like the plague!! It’s not worth it.

  4. good day leo,
    i’m a graphics person,i use corel graphics suite,adobe photoshop,macromedia director,macromedia studio mx and i love working long hours,so consideration has to be on battery power e.t.c,
    what notebook/laptop do you recommednd me to buy, my budget is about Rm3500 which is about $950….also i love working online(internet),so the notebook/laptop has to be connected…also waht is the difference between a notebook and a laptop.

    Unfortunately I think your needs outstrip your budget. I’d be hard pressed to make a specific recommendation. My advice would be to get your laptop with as advanced a graphics adapter as you can, because that’s difficult to upgrade later. Then make sure that everthing else, like RAM, Hard disk and perhaps even battery life, can be expanded later as you’re able to afford it. My Latitude is like that .. I don’t have max memory, but I can easily upgrade when the time comes. I also opted for a second battery (this model allows you to replace the CD-ROM drive with a second battery) which may be of interest to you.

    Laptop versus notebook is vague. I think of notebooks as smaller … say under 5lbs, but there’s no hard and fast rule or definition.


  5. Hello Leo
    I’m looking for a fairly cheap but reliable PC, i was looking at some Dell Pc’s and they seem to be what i’m after. What i need to know though is if they are easily upgradeable, as i will no doubt be doing so in the near future if i do decide to buy one…

    Thanks a lot

    The best way to determine what Dell’s can do is to run through their customization page. You can see how far each machine can be upgraded. For example you might be able to order up to 4gig of ram for your computer… so only order 1, and you’ll know you can upgrade to 4 later.


  6. Not to completely disagree with you, but if we’re talking reliability and longevity AND notebooks, where’s the shout-out to ThinkPad? They might hit the wallet a little harder, but the extra cost is worth it. They don’t break, period.

  7. i just wanted to say i agree with earlier comments about dell’s customer service – i think it should be renamed DELL’s HELL indeed!. i live in the caribbean, i ordered my laptop twice and i still have not received it as yet. I had to be transferred a million times from america – bahamas – panama – where ever because my toll free number wasn’t working and to make matters worse my sales agent went on vacation without even leaving a message on his voicemail, which means i was having all those problems with no sale rep to assist me. Well, i have just completed reordering the laptop, hopefully i get it soon. So i can be rid of Dell’s awful customer service.

  8. I’ve had about a half a dozen computers since my first one, which was a 486sx. Then came a 486dx2, then P166, Compaq Deskpro (P200), then a P2-266 and P2-300 and recntly I got lucky at a yard sale and currently own a Compaq Deskpro which is a P2-400mhz with 192 MB RAM.

    One thing they all had in common, they where all second hand and all I could afford. And its still my philosophy for buying computers now.

  9. I have a gateway laptop that is less than 2 years old and it is already falling apart. Headphone jack broken, power jack wont stay connected, and it constantly overheats after being on only an hour and a half. The air intake and exhaust ports are very poorly designed. I will never buy another gateway again.

  10. I’ve been using PCs since they were called “IBM Compatible,” but this year it was time to upgrade my 6-year-old Dell Latitude D620. I asked experts I’ve known for years and who have used both PC and Mac, plus Asking Leo what was new at the Las Vegas show that might make a difference in the future. I have had excellent service through Dell’s Gold Tech Support over the years, and I have the software and peripherals. But like switching from film to digital cameras, U.S. to Japanese cars, and other cataclsymic changes, I decided to move to a MacBook Pro. I’m now on the learning curve, which is traumatic. I’m confident that my advisors streered me in the right direction, but it’s painful. The important points in making the change were that I don’t have any PC-specific programs … and my level of acceptance from my 21-year-old daughter has soared.

  11. Try also a Compaq. I bought a Compaq Presario A900 series in 2008 and have been using it around 10 hours a day for software development. I had upgrade to a 4GB RAM(maybe you can get that as free upgrade today) and Windows 7 Ultimate it has been by far the best machine I have bought in terms of toughness and durability.

    However, other machines I would recommend having used them are Thinkpads and Macs. I have been extremely impressed by the stability of the Mac Mini and Macbook.

  12. I agree with your friend’s “Dell’s Hell” customer service. We’ve bought maybe 8 Dell computers over the past years and when our Dell desktop died, I immediately ordered a Dell – but this time from a tv shopping network because they had a 30-day return policy and the price couldn’t be beat. Thank goodness I ordered from them! When a software install kept giving me script messages and a blue-screen delay on startup, I phoned their customer service. After speaking to several Dell service reps, the last one wanted to charge me $150 for a repair to a 2-week old computer. Rather than pay, I sent it back for free, and ordered a wonderful HP laptop with excellent customer support, more specs and longer battery. Buying from a “no-questions asked return” shopping channel was the best decision I ever made! Oh, and shipping was free and well as 6 interest-free payments.

  13. Hello Leo, Very informative article. Like you say, everyones needs are different, & I get this question all the time, and tell each person the same thing. When looking for a laptop/notebook in particular, do your reseach first. Look at the adds from the big box stores, then Google the model numbers for forums and further input. This will give some idea of the pro/cons on inexpsensive vs. more expensive. Then take into further account what purpose you will be using the machine for. The worst thing you could do is walk uninformed into the local big box store, ie Staples, Best Buy, Office Max, etc. They may mean well, but the help is mostly uninformed & just want to sell you something. The more expensive the better! You CAN get very good deals at such places, but know beforehand what you want, shop for the best price, & go in and buy it.
    I myself have an H.P.Pavillion dv7 Loaded, laptop. It’s huge, it’s heavy, but it’s what i need. I’ve had it going on 2 years now with not so much as a hiccup. In use 8 to 10 hours a day.
    As far as my home base desk top, Dell XPS 400 that’s been tweeked so much it’s pretty much just a Dell case. But for a desktop I’d have to recomend Dell. Thanks for letting me ramble! John.

  14. Your deep background with Microsoft is obviously a huge investment – and your sharing it is appreciated.
    I’m not a techie, but for 25 years have been learning as I use products – I still revert to DOS very occasionally when needed. The knowledge is is an investment too.
    So I have stuck with PCs.
    But the file wuauclt.exe is changing my mind. A couple of times a week it takes over my machine for an hour or so. No doubt there is a work-around.
    Then a eureka moment struck: much of my knowledge, and added programs like Diskeeper and Registry Mechanic, are required because of defects or inadequacy in MS products.
    So why not change to a MAC, despite them being proprietary and hence more problems with 3rd party hardware, as you mention? My wife has had a MAC for 3 years and needs none of this knowledge or these tools.
    To sum up: if my knowledge is simply how to make a PC work as well as a MAC, why shouldn’t I just buy a MAC instead?
    BTW: what it the fix for wuauclt.exe?

  15. I needed a new PC. My old Dell Dimension 8200 is just too old to run the software I would like. I had always had Dells previously but I found as I began to enjoy upgrading hardware, Dells were not conduicive to it. When I installed a (once) powerful video card the stock Dell power supply wasn’t enough to run it. Because the power cord connector location and other parts were totally opposite of every other power supply on the market, it took a metal nibbler, files, and a set of metal shears to modify the case to fit an 850 watt power supply. I had to cut away everything but the mounting screw holes. I don’t know if they are still that way. I couldn’t install a better mother board after the computer became dated because the motherboard secures to a mounting plate and isn’t made to be removed. Even the proprietary RamBus RAM memory it had when it was new was twice the price of every other RAM memory and it was quite a while before anybody but Dell sold it. There were also too few bays for what I ultimately used the computer for and my real desk top is still cluttered with a host of external devices that had no room to put in the case. Also, because of the way the mother board was installed and the connection points on the back panel, the guts wouldn’t fit in another larger and better case! The moral of the story is if you are a gear head and like upgrading parts be sure to educate yourself on what’s proprietary that can’t be changed, what parts you will be at the manufacturer’s mercy to buy, and what you can actually swap out that will work and actually fit.

    An HP desktop I owned I found out after the fact would not accept a full sized video card. The case wouldn’t go back together. Having to find a video card for its size rather than it video processing power limited my choices and was a heck of a lesson learned and a mistake I will not repeat.

    For my new PC I went to one of the specialty companies that custom build computers. There are a number out there but after much research, two of the best are Digital Storm and Stealth Machines. I went with Stealth Machines because of they way you can talk to them and tell them what you do with your computer and they will recommend what you need to accomplish that. I spoke at length with Josef, the owner, and all I can say is I was very impressed. His reputation is well earned and deserved. There were parts I wanted that he said he’d gladly sell me if I wanted but that there were alternatives that were actually better that were less expensive. With his guidance I came away under budget and with way more computer than I expected. it’s such a different experience from what I am used to I can’t see me ever buying anything from a regular retailer again. While Stealth machines is more well known in the hard core computer gaming world (of which I am a proud member) they and the other companies also cater to the business and more regular PC user.

    For anybody looking to buy a new PC I would recommend that you call one of these companies and talk to someone. You may be very surprised at what you can get for your money.

  16. “Next Business day” is no good if they don’t have in-town service center

    Manufacturer hardware quality and service reputation comes and goes. Unless you have a strong preference for someone, it is good idea to check online for current user reports about issues.

    3×27″ monitors!?! I’m totally lime green with envy! I tripped over the joys of multiple monitors when I accidentally discovered that my new laptop had an “extra” VGA plug.

  17. Two things I overlooked in the past, which I will definitely be paying more attention to the next time I’m laptop shopping is the all important battery life and the number of peripheral connectivity ports (usb, firewire, hdmi, card readers etc). One never knows the importance of these until it’s time to add one more device or gimmick to the brood. I bought 3 laptops in the last 3 years, and I always wish I knew then what I know now.
    This article is an eye opener. I look forward to reading Part 2.

  18. a PC is a tool or an appliance (its also a toy, but let’s skip over that for now).

    think of your ‘fridge. is it big enough? Probably not. Was it when you bought it. Probably. Some people like glass shelves and some like wire shelves. Some like side-by-side while others prefer over & under. freezer on top or on the bottom. auto ice maker? water and ice available thru the door? white, Harvest Gold, or Avocado Green? I’d bet lots of folks don’t even know *why* they prefer one option over another, they just do.

    Will the ‘fridge you pick today always make you smile when you open it? Probably not. But it will still cool your food (as long as it isn’t a piece of junk). Same sort of thing with a PC (or as one poster reminded me “IBM compatibles”).

  19. > – What is the best computer brand and why? I’m a big fan of Dell. My experience with them has been hugely positive. I recently bought a replacement computer off them ( which yet again proved a real value for money.

  20. hi there what about solid state computers useing solid state flash modules with no spinning hard drive

    I think they’re fascinating, and in certain situations quite worth it. However they are pricey, and I’d recommend that the average consumer hold off until the technology matures further.


  21. I use my laptop for both traveling and at home. I have a USB hub on my desk connected to my external drives, my wireless keyboard mouse dongle, my scanner and my external speakers. I use it essentially as a docking station. When I use my laptop at home, I just have to plug in 3 plugs: the USB hub, the external monitor and the power supply.

  22. When I get asked this question, I keep it simple. Follow the gamers. Gaming desktop computers use the latest and greatest. Research them and find one in your budget. Your computer will become obsolete one day so why not stay ahead of the pack?

  23. As I looked through comments, I noticed I submitted one Feb. 22, 2011, about switching to a MacBook Pro. A couple of updates since then. Early-on I downloaded Virtual Machine so I have Windows in my Mac. It’s a bit confusing (to me), but from time-to-time I need it to access PC-based programs. As I said back then, I had good success with Dell’s Gold Tech Support and dealing with Apple support has been excellent — they take a very personal interest in my problems, like glitches in existing programs when updating OS every few months. Do I recommend Apple over Mac? Our son works for Alcoa — he can’t change from a PC. His wife works with photography and video, so she’s hooked on Mac, except for tasks related to her college-level teaching. The seamless connection between the Iphone, Ipad and other Igizmos has me cemented in the Mac platform.

  24. I noticed that most of the comments were posted in 2005, and oddly enough I’m running computers from between 2003-5, and those are the ‘new’ ones I got to upgrade to Windows 7. I solved most of my hardware problems except my Scanjet, even found a driver for my ancient USB floppy drive as I use Sony Mavica cameras from the 90s solely and they need floppy disks but my newer Dell has no floppy slot at all.

    My word processing needs aren’t huge so I use Word Perfect 11 and I made that XP compatible, my ancient Photoshop version will work although startup is a mess and I need to reinstall and set it up better but I’m still using an AMD dual core, Hyperthreaded P4s and an honest to goodness quad core Xeon and I’ve adapted to any problems or solved them.

    My biggest problem with printers is simply that I’m still using HP 930 series but the drivers are supported and ink is available so mechanical glitches are my main enemy (can solve those too).

    I can do about anything I really want to with my machines as they are upgraded as well as I can. I realize not everyone has the skills to do this but then again I’ve never bought a new machine and I’ve spent 22 years learning. The aggravation I get sometimes is worth it and I know what will work. But I’m still not a ‘geek’-I love my stereo gear a lot more.

    Do you really have to replace a computer if it’s five years old? Only if your needs have truly outgrown it or it just can’t handle the modern world you are in. I’m not getting knee-deep in anything fancy and if my computer is mobile it’s either in the shop or I need to call the police ;-)

  25. I own a small computer business and I am always trying to keep up with technology. Many of my customer are older (seniors over 65). I am experimenting with Chrome OS (using a Chromebox) and I think this has tremendous promise. You can buy a Windows laptop for what a Chromebook costs, but the setup, simplicity, stability, and safety of Chrome OS are unbeatable. I believe that Chrome OS may be all that 50% of us need. We may be a couple of years off from Chrome OS taking off seriously, but it is coming.

    • Do a Google search on “Raspberry Pi” !

      If you want to develop a custom appliance for the elderly, it is definitely worth a look.

  26. Laptop buyers need to know two important things and they may ease the process of choosing the right one.

    1- Majority of laptop brands are manufactured in very few factories in Taiwan and China!!
    Check here:
    One reason that Asus has more satisfied customers can be because of making most of its own laptops but considering Apple in the list looks like this theory cannot be so true.
    Also MSI manufactures its own laptops and has pretty satisfied customers despite of higher price.

    2- Majority (excluding very few models) of HP and (and ex-Compaq) laptops “Overheat”. It used to be like this years ago and still is a problem. A technician told me its because of inferior quality heat sink paste they intentionally use to limit laptops life span.
    I would suggest to be off from HP and you are very likely to be literally happy in long term.
    I had overheating problem with Toshiba netbook but I guess it was because of bad paste on GPU heat sink and not CPU.

  27. I don’t travel, so a Laptop is out for me. I have friends, who don’t travel either, but, they love their Laptops. I personally, don’t like them. I want my Desktop computer, where I can “upgrade” or replace, when the time comes. Right now, I have a Dell Optiplex 960 Desktop, Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU – E8500 @ 3.18GHz 3.18GHz; 1TB WD Hard Drive; 8.00 GBs of RAM; 2 DVD-+RWs (I install a second one); Windows 7 Professional – 64-bit. I got this online, at a computer store, that “Refurbishes” Off Lease Dells and HPs, at a good discount price. Plus, they sell these types of computers, with a 6 month warranty!!! I paid $315, plus shipping and handling. In my book, that is not bad.

    I honestly prefer, to build my own computer, from scratch, but, I couldn’t build a new system, as cheaply as I got this Desktop. I have been using this computer, for over a year now and am very, very pleased. I have “purchased”, from this computer, for over 10 years now, for family and friends. I have not had any computer shipped to my home, NOT come out of the box, ready to go! I simply, plug it in and push the Power Button, they have all started up, just fine. Then, I only have to “add the goodies”, like Anti-Virus protection, Malware Protection, CCleaner, games, an Office program, so on and so forth. NO bloatware, to remove … It was already done, at the Online Store, that I use. Yes, there will be some minor blemishes, I don’t care. Even, when you build from scratch, blemishes happen, eventually. I do know, this machine is ultra quiet and performs excellently.

    For those interested and don’t need the “latest and greatest”, but, want a good, solid, refurbished computer, go to: {URL removed} I know that, I am glad that I did, years ago. They package your computer to ship to you, wonderfully. I have always been impressed, with their packaging techniques.

  28. One thing nobody has mentioned is what computer to get for those who play games. Even when buying an expensive ‘Gaming Laptop’ – which if you are serious about gaming will overheat – one is still better off with a reasonable strong PC.

  29. I bought a Surface RT (stop gagging) While I loved my old Toshiba 17″, it was too heavy for me to lift after a stroke damaged my left side. The Surface is fun! I use it mainly for email, internet, e-book reading, and a few select games. Yes the choice of apps is very limited, but it has good battery life and does what I Need it to do. it also has Word, Excel etc. pre-packaged if I want to play with a spreadsheet. Yes it has its limitations but so do I and this works for me! I have had no problems with it. Hubby pushed me towards Mac but I resisted. He has had wonderful luck with his &great tech support. When his hard drive failed after almost three years, they gave him a new laptop. This meets my needs and my old laptop is still usable if I need it. Love that the tablet has USB port.

  30. I’m not saying which is best, but I have a Lenovo desk top that is the best I ever had. With a two terabytes hard drive and a
    i5 CPU and 8 gigabytes of ram. I bought it at Comp USA for $599.00 a couple of years ago. It came with a two year extended warrantee, which I haven’t had to use. It does more than I need and like you, I would rather use this than the Toshiba laptop that I paid $1200 dollars for. But, like you said, one cannot take it with you when one travels.


  31. There is a store in my area (BLH Computers in Springfield, IL) that sells USED PCs, laptops, etc. One can buy a PC that has been refurbished, cleaned up, hard disk wiped, and loaded with new operating system. They come preloaded with freebie software (e.g. OpenOffice). And they are cheap. The store will wipe it clean and reload the operating system for as long as you own it and the operating system is still supported. (I can’t get XP loaded anymore). All I need is a backup of my data and any software I have added.

    I have to imagine that other cities have a similar store. (If not, why not?) Save your money, buy used. Most of us do not need the latest and greatest.

  32. No matter what you think your needs are today, get the fastest cpu, most memory, best graphics you can afford. Before you come to the point of buying another computer the world will have made the one you have seem slow and under powered. Spending a little more money now can extend the usefulness of the computer for a few more years, saving you money and frustration in the long run.

    • I tend to recommend a different approach. For many people, probably most home and small business users, getting a less expensive entry level machine might be the best option. Here’s an example: a $400-500 machine should handle any software upgrades for about 4-5 years. An $800-1000 dollar machine probably would handle updates for about 5-7. After 4 years the buyer of the less expensive machine could buy a new machine for $400 which would be much more powerful and still have the older machine which they could still use. So for the same 800 the buyer of the cheaper machine would have a faster machine than the buyer of the $800 model plus a second machine. One way to get a good quality inexpensive machine would be to buy a closeout model of a previously high end machine when the newer models come out.

      My numbers might be a bit off, but I believe that idea is generally true in most cases.

  33. I was looking at PCs in a large electronic chain store, and I was surprised to see a few dozen laptop models and tablets, and only three different desktop PC models. The local computer shop which sells more to businesses and gamers had a much larger selection of desktop PCs. The conclusion I drew from this is that home users are switching to more portable devices, while businesses and gamers are sticking more to desktop PCs.

  34. I prefer to compare computers to cars, rather than fridges. That better embodies the variety of designs covered by the single term. Everything from smart phone/Polski Fiats (brain dead simple, even simpler than a 1960 Beattle) all the way up server class gaming rigs with multiple 6K monitors / Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita ( street legal at $4.8Million with diamond paint and 1000 HP) or a Belaz 75710 (biggest dumptruck in the world, capable of moving 450 tonnes in one go for $6million ).

    As you say, it depends on what you want to use it for. In general, I suggest staying away from the bleeding edge, just released chips to one grades down. You have to pay too much of a price premium for the latest and the greatest. Especially today when there is very little performance difference between chips. Consumer chips seem to have peaked at 2-3GHZ. But do try to get the “most” computer you can afford. I’m still using a 10 year old laptop with “only” 4gb of ram and 256GB of disk space. It started off running Vista, then Win 7 and I now have Win 8.0 on it (I’m resisting Win 10, but it may even handle that too). At the time I paid $1300 for it, and it is still performing adequately for my needs, even though with the built in screen not working I have to depend on the external monitor I used to use for a multimonitor setup.

    Right now I’m looking for a new computer, i5 or i7 Broadwell (NOT Skylake), 8GB ram, 500GB+ storage, and high end video card with 2GB+ ram. I’m planning to get a 4K monitor and maybe a second one.

    Bottom line, make a list (and check it twice). Decide what you are going to use it for (web surfing and simple documents vs photo video editing vs Home Theatre PC (video recording) vs gaming etc) which then gives you a clue of how much “power” it needs. Decide how much you can afford to spend. Decide if you plan to EVER upgrade any part of it (pay a little less now, upgrade in future) or if you are more comfortable with a sealed “black box” (pay more now, closer to “bleeding edge”, keep longer).

  35. Hi Leo,
    Desktops are, of course, bigger. Apparently you haven’t looked at an Intel NUC. I’ve been using one for over a year now. I’m running Linux Mint 18 Mate on it, and it boots in 15 seconds. This little sucker is at least ten time faster than my 5 year old HP with an AMD 8core 3.6GB cpu.

    I just priced one for a friend using Amazon. A NUC5i5RYH, 120GB m.2 SSD (boot), 2TB 2.5″ HDD (storage), 16GB RAM, a USB 3.0 6 port adapter, and a USB Audio adapter. This came to just under $600.00! Amazing I’d say.


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