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Computer Buying

What are good qualities for a good computer?

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05/18/2010

As of 5/10, assuming basic consumer applications, desktop (laptops are a different story):

- Fast memory, 2 GB +

- Good graphics (not integrated with motherboard, PCIE 2.0 interface, 512 MB RAM+)

- Large Hard Drive (2 TB +), optionally enhanced with a smaller SSD drive (very expensive though)

- DVD writer is always nice

- Intel Core 2 Quad/Intel I5/I7 series processor OR AMD Phenom II X4 (X3 high end are ok too)

- Good balance between components. This basically means no component (Memory, hard drive, motherboard, CPU, etc) is significantly faster or slower than the rest. If one component is much faster than the rest, it won't be able to perform up to its full potential and you could get a cheaper one without losing performance; a slower component will slow the rest of the components down and act as a bottleneck. Evaluating how well a computer is balanced requires some technical knowledge and research regarding the performance of its components; however, some websites such as Tom's Hardware Guide will hold competitions to see who can build the fastest computer at a specific price point. These tend to be very well balanced, and looking at one can give you an idea of how components should fit together. Also, anything made by Dell that isn't at the very high or low end is almost universally poorly balanced (I don't know why this is so, but they do it quite consistently)