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Important Components Explained

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When purchasing a new computer whether it be desktop, laptop or tablet there are certain components which define the performance and usability of the machine

 

Below is an explanation of these components:-

 

Processor (CPU)

 

cpu

The processor is the brain of the computer that processes instructions and performs tasks. Your processor sends and receives information from the different parts of the system (hardware and software)

 

There are two main brands of processor available, Intel and AMD - I would recommend choosing an Intel processor where possible as these are generally faster, the AMD processors are more often found in budget models and don't tend to perform quite so well when compared to an Intel processor

 

Most new processors are designed to work with a 64-bit version of Windows, which means it works a lot quicker and can make use of more memory (RAM) in the computer (32-bit processors and operating systems are limited to 3Gb of RAM)

 

Recommended:-

 

Desktop/Laptop - Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 (for general home computing) - Intel Core i7 or AMD A10 (for high end computing and gaming)

 

Tablet - Intel Atom, Intel Core i3/i5 or i7

Memory (RAM)

 

memory

The physical, working memory of a computer where data is temporarily stored whilst a program is running. A higher amount of RAM means there is more space available for temporary data storage, which speed up processing making the computer work faster

 

Recommended:-

 

4 Gb minimum (watch out for lower priced models that only have 1 or 2 Gb!)

Hard Disk (Storage)

 

harddisk

Area of the computer where all your files (data) and programs are stored. The larger the disk the more space you have to store your documents
 
Recommended:-

 

500Gb +

Graphics Card

 

graphics_card

Component that handles all areas relating to graphics and video output to the monitor

 

Most computers have an "onboard/shared" graphics card, this is part of the motherboard (main circuit board in the computer) and is fine for most uses of a computer, but if you intend to use your computer for gaming or other graphic intensive tasks then look for a computer that has a "dedicated" graphics card installed

CD/DVD Drive

 

dvddrive

 

Allows you to insert CD or DVD disks to install programs, view photos and also to use blank disks to back up your data

 

Most computers come with a drive that will allow you to read and write CD's and DVD's, other more advanced models come with a Blu-ray drive that also allows you to read CD's and DVD's but will also read Blu-ray disks to watch hi-definition videos on your computer

 

It is worth noting that some laptops, ultrabooks and tablets DO NOT have a CD/DVD drive included - this is mainly because of the small/slim size of these devices, and the fact that most people use USB memory sticks and hard drives instead.  In addition the majority of software is downloadable rather than being supplied on a CD/DVD

 

If you do need a CD/DVD drive for a device which doesn't come with one fitted internally, then you can purchase an external drive which would connect via USB