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How to Choose the Best Computer for Your Needs

How to choose the best computer for your needs


You know it’s time to buy a new computer when your hardware is outdated and not up to the task, or you experience ongoing performance issues that can’t be fixed at a reasonable cost. Physical damage to your machine may be another reason leading you on the path to a purchase. Yet, selecting a laptop or desktop that meets your needs can seem overwhelming, considering all the brands, configurations and features to choose from.

So, how do you choose the best computer for your needs? To assist your decision process, the computer experts at Vinton Computer and Brambleton Computer are available to answer your questions and make recommendations, based on your individual requirements and budget. These specialists will take the time to listen and understand your specific needs, and then suggest the best computer picks for you to consider.

As you begin the selection process, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the following factors that come into play when selecting a computer.


How Will You Use Your Computer?

Identify how you plan to use the computer. Are you primarily using it for everyday tasks like web browsing, email, photo storage, and word processing? Or, do you need it for more demanding tasks such as gaming, graphic design, streaming real-time meetings, or video editing? Understanding how you will use your computer will help navigate your selection process.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Determine your budget for your new laptop or desktop. More expensive computers typically offer more power, greater speed, and more performance features. They may have a sleeker design and a more brilliant display. Yet, depending on how you use your computer, there are many budget-friendly models that adequately get the job done and sufficiently fulfill your computing needs.


Central Processing Unit or CPU
The computer’s CPU serves as the brain and engine of your computer. It handles all the critical tasks such as running programs and processing data. When choosing a CPU, you’ll come across terms like the following that impact performance.

  • Cores: More cores can help your computer do many more things at once.
  • Clock Speed: A higher clock speed means the CPU can process information faster.
  • Cache Size: Cache is a small amount of temporary memory that enables the computer to quickly access frequently used data. It is one of the two forms of temporary memory in a computer. The other is random access memory (RAM), which is described below.

For basic tasks like checking email, computing spreadsheets, or web browsing, a low-to-mid-range CPU will work just fine. If you plan to do more resource-heavy activities like photo editing, gaming or video editing, consider a higher-end CPU for better speed and performance.

Random Access Memory or RAM
RAM is temporary memory like cache, but handles significantly more volume and serves a different role. It supports the programs and data currently being used. RAM helps your computer multi-task smoothly by allowing you to keep a variety of programs open at the same time and alternate between them quickly.

If you only use your computer for basic tasks, 8 to 16 gigabytes of RAM are usually enough. Yet, if you’re into gaming, video editing or other similar applications, having more RAM will help your computer perform better.

Hard Drive Storage
Your hard drive is where all your files, photos, videos, and programs are kept. The size of your hard drive determines how much of this data you can store on your computer. If you deal with large files such as videos, games, or multimedia projects, opt for larger storage capacity.

Additionally, consider the type of hard drive storage you want. Traditional hard disk drives or HDDs offer baseline storage at an affordable price. Solid-state drives or SSDs provide faster performance and more reliability, but at a higher price. You also can opt for a hybrid of the two: an SSD for the operating system and programs, along with an HDD for storing files.


Operating System
Determine whether you prefer a Windows, macOS, or Linux operating system, based on your familiarity and compatibility with software applications. If you don’t know which operating system to choose, seek advice from a computer expert who will explain the pros and cons of each operating system.

Form Factor
Determine the type of computer you want based on size and form factor, such as laptop, desktop, or all-in-one model. Consider your requirements for portability, space-saving design, weight, and expandability.

Consider the connectivity options available on the computer, such as USB ports in different sizes, HDMI display ports, audio jacks, and networking capabilities. Ensure that the computer has sufficient ports and connectivity options for your peripherals and accessories. Examples of peripherals include an external display, external camera, desktop speakers, additional keyboard, external microphone, etc.

Basic laptops and desktops come with built-in graphics capability, referred to as integrated graphics, that support visual tasks such as watching videos, sorting photographs, and browsing the internet. If you plan to do more demanding activities like photo editing, video editing, or gaming, consider upgrading your computer with a dedicated graphics card. This is a separate component that provides more power and better performance for complex visually-based tasks.

When choosing a built-in display or external display, think about the size, clarity, and type of screen that best fits your needs. Here are some points to consider:

  • Screen Size: Pick a size that is comfortable for your eyes.
  • Resolution: Look for clear and sharp visuals. Display options are Full HD (full high definition) and 4K UHD (ultra-high definition). Full HD will deliver beautiful display images, while 4K UHD provides even more vibrant imagery.
  • Panel Technology: This affects the screen quality. There are two types of panel technology: IPS and TN. IPS delivers a superior color and viewing experience.TN displays feature faster performance and cost savings. To the average eye, the difference may be hard to distinguish.
  • Refresh Rate: The refresh rate refers to the number of times per second that the display image refreshes. This typically will not be noticeable to the user. Though, higher refresh rates make the display smoother, which is more important for gaming or fast-moving videos.


A good warranty will protect your investment if something goes wrong with your new computer. Before you buy, check what’s included in the warranty and understand how to get help if you need it. Typically, a computer warranty will last one year and cover parts and labor. Some warrantees allow for onsite service, while others require you to ship the computer back to the manufacturer for repair and servicing.

Some sellers offer extras and extended warranties. For example, with all new and used computer purchases, Vinton Computer and Brambleton Computer provide a 2-year warranty and free virus protection for life. In addition, all your data – including software, photos, videos, and documents – will be transferred from your old computer to your new one free of charge.

Whether you shop for a computer at a local, family-owned retailer, big-box store, or online seller, do not hesitate to ask questions and seek advice to ensure you get the computer want – and are completely satisfied with your purchase.

If you have questions about buying a new or used computer, please call us at 540-904-2070 or come by our Vinton Computer store at 360 East Virginia Avenue in Vinton.


Article: How to choose the best computer for your needs