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5 Key Choices When Buying a New Computer

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Whether you're looking for a new tablet, notebook or desktop computer, this blog helps you identify key decisions to make your shopping easier.

It’s estimated that roughly 300 million PCs will be sold worldwide this year1 and if you’re one of the lucky people buying one you’ve got a big decision to make. As you search for the best PC for you, you’ll likely do a combination of researching and comparing products online (possibly Googling unknown tech words and dropping them casually into conversation with friends later), talking to that tech-obsessed friend we all have that seems to know all the latest and greatest gadgets, visiting stores to have a look at what the products actually look like, and polling your social networks to weigh in with their opinions and experiences.

However, by thinking through five key choices first you could save yourself a lot of time and energy, not to mention heartache over a wrong decision.

#1: Choose a Computer type. There’s never been more choice when it comes to the type of computer you can get, which is both really awesome and pretty intimidating. If you don’t already know what you’re looking for – a desktop or All-in-One, a laptop, a tablet, or perhaps a 2-in-1 – start by asking yourself:

  • Who will use the computer? Just you, a roommate, kids?
  • How will it be used? Email, watching videos/TV, creating presentations or other documents, editing photos/videos, connecting with friends and family through social media and video chats
  • Where will it be used? At home in a stationary place so everyone can share, around the home, out-and-about town, on business trips?

#2: Settle on a budget. Figure out how much you want to spend and do your best to stick to it. You may be surprised at how far your money will go these days to get you a computer that you love and meets all your needs.

#3: Pick a processor. You may think this category is a little biased given I work at a chip company, but the processor really is one of the most important pieces that makes up your computer. You can learn more about why in our “How To Choose the Right Processor” Infographic, which also describes different types of processors and the significant advancements in this area since the first central processing unit (CPU) was introduced in 1978. These advancements were driven by the way you and I use our technology today, resulting in a new category of processor known as the accelerated processing unit (APU) that’s designed for today’s most popular computing activities. So, why choose a decades-old technology that’s been gradually updated to fit into today’s world for your brand new computer? After all, would you trade in your favorite online gaming app or game console for a Simon game (also introduced in 1978)?! I think not.

#4: Figure out your features. The real key here is knowing what you want to do on your computer (for example, are you a gamer? Do you do a lot of photo and/or video editing?). This will help you figure out what features are most important to you. Some of the major decisions include:

  • Screen size – There are many choices here with benefits and trade-offs for each. Generally, if you’re looking at a desktop you can go big as long as it fits in the designated space.
  • Touchscreen or no touchscreen – Touch is a really cool new way to interface with your computer, but it’s not for everyone and often increases the cost of the computer. For mobile computing, smaller screen size usually means smaller keyboard, but lighter/more portable. Larger screens are less tote-able, but provide more surface area from which to enjoy your videos.
  • Integrated webcam – Particularly useful for anyone away from loved ones regularly, or those who work remotely, also a key component for new user interfaces like AMD Gesture Control and AMD Face Login.
  • Connectivity – How many USB ports do you need? Do you need an HDMI port? A VGA port to connect to projectors at work? A CD-ROM drive? Caution: failure to outline these needs now can lead to toting around a lot of dongles in the future!
  • Battery life – If you’re set on a laptop or tablet you’ll need to decide on your battery life requirements. For mainly around the house use you’ll have ready access to a power source – the same usually goes for the office. If you’re constantly on the go, you’ll want to look at a more power efficient solution, perhaps Picture2.pngone based on one of those AMD APUs you heard about in #3, which are designed to be energy efficient.
  • Storage options – It’s likely that any computer you choose today will have sufficient RAM (for the temporary stuff that disappears when you turn your computer off), however the hard drive options (for the files, applications, and data that’s still on your computer when you log back on) are where it gets a little more complex. Some key advantages and disadvantages of the two most popular hard drive options are:
    • Hard-disk drives (or HDDs) A good choice for those who do typical computing activities like email, Web surfing, basic content creation and editing, as well as for those with large multimedia collections or who work with large files.
      • Key Advantages: Less expensive and available in a variety of capacities up to multi-Terabyte options.
      • Drawbacks: Larger in size and thus the computers they come in are typically bigger. HDDs are also known to be generally slower and less stable than the other popular option discussed below.
    • Solid-state drives (or SSDs) Might be right for you if you’re constantly on the go, have an extreme need for speed, or perhaps just have some extra money to burn.
      • Key advantages: Durability and fast performance that help lead to quick boot times and app loading, among other things.
      • Drawbacks: More expensive, usually less storage capacity than their HDD brothers

Or, you could go for a combination of SSD and HDD with a Hybrid drive or dual-drive system, which combine the above options either internally or externally to get the advantages of both.

#5: Consider where to buy. Whereas you’ll likely do most of your research online, you may want to go into an actual store (gasp!) to make your purchase. The savvy shopper you are, you’ll surely do your due diligence to research and compare prices with retailers and e-tailers to make sure you get the best deal.

Once you have these five items figured out, you have a list that you can reference during your search for the best new computer for you. I wish you happy hunting! And don’t forget to visit to learn more about the latest AMD-based computers and AMD processors, and how AMD designs technology that powers millions of intelligent devices, including personal computers, tablets, game consoles and cloud servers that define the new era of surround computing.

Sarah Youngbauer is a PR Manager at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

*Originally Posted by Sarah Youngbauer in AMD on Mar 18, 2014 7:51:33 AM

1 IDC Expects PC Shipments to Fall by -6% in 2014 and Decline Through 2018 press release, March 4, 2014