Owning a computer is now essential because of the immense benefit of the PC in learning, working, and entertainment. The PC also greatly increases productivity, as many tasks can now be automated or made simpler (user friendly) with PCs. Add these to your ability to browse the internet and buying a computer will be top on your agenda if you do not have one yet.
In this page, we will highlight some key considerations for buying a PC. However, here we will focus on buying brand new PCs, especially branded model.
What will the PC be used for?
Before buying a computer, it is necessary to clarify what the PC will be used for and where it will be used. Having a good knowledge of the applications this computer can be used for will enable you buy the right PC.
What applications will the PC be used for? 3D Gaming, graphics, and CAD require more power and resolution than internet browsing, office applications, and media playing. A notebook will be favoured if mobility and convenience is important.
You need to make a list of essential features for your PC based on your requirement. Doing a thorough job at this stage, will enable you take the right decision in successive stages.
Desktop PC or Laptop PC?
A desktop computer, although cheaper than a laptop, cannot be moved around easily. If you need convenience, a computer you can use at any location in your home (Kitchen, living room, bedroom, outdoors) it would not be out of place to pay the extra price for a laptop PC. Laptop PCs are portable and is a good companion for mobile workers.
A desktop is cheaper than a laptop feature for feature but is rooted to the desk; this could be a big limitation. If Cost is a priority, a desktop PC is a good choice. Desktop PCs are also cheaper to maintain and upgrade.
Buy a desktop if you are looking for a workstation.
What is processor’s processing power?
Processing power is an indication of how fast a computer processes data. Processing power is today measured in Gigahertz (GHz). The processing power is one of the most important parameter of a PC. Processing power determines the type of software that can be run on a PC.
Processors usually come with multiple cores. A 1GHz dual-core processor has 2 processors each operating at 1GHz. A 1GHz quad-core processor has 4 processors each operating at 1GHz. So, a 1GHz quad-core processor should be more powerful than a 1GHz dual-core processor.
For basic home applications like internet browsing, media playing, electronic learning and their likes a PC of 1.8 GHz dual-core or more will deliver enough power for the smooth running of your applications.
If you intend using your PC for professional applications like graphics, CAD, and AutoCAD, you will require powerful PCs with processing power in excess of 2.2 GHz dual-core.
Intel and AMD are the major players in PC processor market, so your PC will be running on either of these processors.
What RAM capacity?
RAM is the memory used by your PC’s processor. Your operating system, programs and data are stored in RAM for easy and fast access by your PC processor. RAM is also a determinant of your computer speed.
More RAM space increases the speed at which your PC can access data, as your PC may not use virtual memory, which slows down your system. In today’s multimedia world, a 4GB RAM is recommended. 2GB RAM is the standard on entry level computers.
Computers running heavy graphics and CAD applications may require 4GB RAM or more for smooth operation.
What Built-in Storage capacity?
While a RAM stores programs currently being run by a computer processor, the built-in storage is a permanent storage for all your files and data. All your software from your operating system to application programs like word processors, spreadsheets, database, CAD software, videos, music, photos, and so on are stored in your PC’s hard drive. In fact, everything is stored in your hard drive from media files to games.
Built-in storage usually come as Hard Disk Drives (HDD) or Solid State Drives (SDD). HDDs are mostly available in desktops and laptops while SDDs are available in ultra-slim laptops.
Today’s PCs come with quite a lot of HDD, usually more than 100GB. However, our demand for even more storage space demands for even more. If you will like to store media files, especially video on your PC, you will require more memory.
Most Computers with HDD starts at 320GB capacity while SDD starts from 64GB.
What screen size & technology?
Desktop PCs used to come with Cathode Ray Tube, CRT display or Liquid Crystal Display, LCD display. But today LED backlit LCD displays hold sway.
LED monitors are stylish and occupy less space than CRT. Desktop monitor screen sizes range from 14 inches to 21 inches. A 17 inches LED monitor is perfect for most applications, but the bigger the better.
Laptops are usually equipped with LED displays with screen size varying from 7 inches to 17 inches.
Which of these features are available?
Here are some more PC features to consider. Note that price increases with number of features.
DVD: DVD is now standard in most PCs. There are a number of DVD standards in the market today. The DVD you get depends on the OEM you buy. DVD offers high storage space for your media. Here are some DVD standards:
DVD ROM: These means that the DVDs can only be read, but cannot be written to. DVD ROM may read and write CDs.
DVD RAM, DVD+RW: These DVDs can read and write DVD discs. This type of DVD can be used to store data on compatible discs. Compatible discs can be rewritten up to 100,000 times. They are also called DVD rewritable.
DVD-R, DVD-RW: These are targeted to audio/video applications and can be rewritten up to 1000 times. They are also called DVD recordable and are both compatible.
Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a short range wireless technology that enables wireless data transfer. With Bluetooth, you can connect transfer files (like music clips, video clips, office documents) from your Bluetooth compatible mobile phone to your PC. Bluetooth can also enable wireless printing. Bluetooth is available mostly in laptop PCs.
WLAN/WIFI: WLAN (wireless LAN) or WIFI (Wireless Fidelity) enables you to connect to internet applications wirelessly with your laptop PC. Once you open up your laptop in a hotspot, you can start surfing the web. WLAN is an essential feature for mobile workers.
Webcam: Webcam is an inexpensive camera. Webcam are usually used for internet chatting. It enables the person you are chatting with to see you almost real-time. If your chat mate has Webcam installed you can also see him/her as well.
Fingerprint: Fingerprint readers can be used to capture fingerprints. It can serve as a security feature for your laptop.
Remote control: You can control your PC some distance away from it.
Touchscreen: Touchscreen are displays that are sensitive to touch, enabling users to enter data/command into the computer via the screen by tapping or by writing.
Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray is similar to DVD but offers many time more storage space.
Light pen: Light pen enables you to point and select object by pointing a light sensitive pen to the required object.
operating system: Windows Vistas, Windows XP or Linux
What am I paying for?
The cost of a PC may include a printer, Webcam, and some other peripheral device. You need to know what is included in your PC package. If a printer or Webcam is not included, you will have to buy them as separate gadgets.
What software is included?
A computer is almost useless without a software. Therefore, when buying a new PC you need to be sure that it contains all software required. If required software is absent, you will have to buy and install it yourself.
As a minimum, you will require a word processor, a spreadsheet, an antivirus, a media player and a browser. Other software that may be useful includes database, presentation, e learning, games, and so on. You are not likely to have all the software you need, you will have to buy and install it.
You will also need to upgrade your software as new versions and patches are released
As stated earlier, the price of a desktop PC is cheaper than that of a laptop PC. The price of a brand new branded desktop PC starts at about N55,000. Fully featured models will cost more than N100,000.
Prices of new Laptops on the other hand starts at about N55,000 with fully featured models costing above 130,000 Naira. Prices of desktop and laptop computers depend on brand name, number of features, and shop location.
Now you know the price of a PC, you need to determine how to finance it. Consumer financing may be available to assist you in buying a new PC. Enquire from your bank about financing options available to you. In countries like the US and UK product financing is more common than those in Africa like Nigeria. However, today financing is now available in most leading banks in Nigeria.
Lease financing may also be available for businesses.
Uninterrupted Power Supply, UPS?
An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is an electronic device that supplies backup power during a power failure. A UPS is an essential PC component/hardware in countries like Nigeria were power supply is epileptic.
Without a UPS, your PC will be shutting down abruptly during a power failure, which can lead to serious PC problems. If you computer system does not include a UPS, you have to buy one if you live in a country with epileptic power supply. You may also require an AVR is power supply is erratic.
PC brands and models?
PC brands in Nigeria includes local brands like Omatek, and Zinox and international brands like Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, Toshiba, and IBM Lenovo. Here are some popular models to checkout:
- HP 650 Laptop
- HP 655 Laptop
- HP Pavilion g6-2200 Laptop
- Dell Inspiron 3521 Laptop PC
- Dell Inspiron 5050 Laptop
- Lenovo G400 Laptop PC
- Acer Aspire E1-571 Laptop PC
- HP 600B MT Desktop PC
- Dell XPS 15 Laptop
- Dell Optiplex 3010 DT desktop PC