Choosing the Right Computer
Desktops, laptops, all-in-ones and more, the range of computers available on the market today has never been bigger!
But how do you decide which computer is best for you? Whether for emailing your boss, video chatting with relatives, watching a movie, or playing the latest games, we’re here to help you find your next computer. Let’s get to it!
As the name suggests, these computers are designed to sit in place on a desk or other surface. Typically, these computers are made up of separate components: the computer ‘tower’, a monitor, and peripherals (keyboard, mouse etc.). Desktop computers work great in a home office or lounge room and are suitable for virtually any type of computing you need. They are especially ideal for gaming as they are generally the most powerful and high-speed computers around. One of our most popular desktop computers is the Patriot Gaming Computer.
A variant of the desktop design, all-in-ones combine the monitor and ‘tower’ section of the computer into one body. These models are far more compact so they’re perfect for those looking for the power of a desktop but with limited space available. Check out our all-in-ones here.
The classic portable computer, a laptop is a compact, self-contained unit that allows you the freedom to use your computer wherever you go. A laptop fits the entire computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse (touchpad) and more into a lightweight, battery powered body. Whether you’re a businessperson on the go, a student working from home and school or just someone who doesn’t want to sit at a desk to use their computer, there is a laptop to suit your needs. Check out our range here.
With the rise of tablets and mobile phones providing touch screen, portable computing, many find themselves looking for this convenience while still needing the increased functionality and power of a ‘full’ computer. 2-in-1s are convertible devices that can operate as either a touch screen tablet, or a standard laptop. These devices are perfect for students and the added touch screen features make them ideal for
An operating system (OS) is the software that allow us to operate a computer. While there are many operating systems available that cater to all kinds of users, the majority fall under two categories:
If you’ve ever used a computer, chances are it was running Windows! As the most common PC operating system in the world, Microsoft’s software can be found on most computers we stock and is a great all-round platform for your computing needs, from beginners to power users. The latest version, Windows 11, brings a range of design, interface and performance improvements to the classic Windows 10. Most developers design their apps to work with Windows, so you’ll never have any trouble finding the right program for your needs, and with such a wide range of devices using this OS, there’s a Windows PC to suit any budget.
Designed from the ground up to work with Apple computers. Unlike other developers, Apple creates both the hardware AND software for their computers, allowing for greater synergy and integration. MacOS is known for its style and user-friendly interface, popular for creative hobbies like photography and music but also suitable for everyday use. A key feature of Apple’s products is their iCloud ‘ecosystem’, where your photos, contacts, messages, apps and files sync seamlessly between devices, making these computers ideal for anyone with an Apple iPhone or iPad. This convenience can come at a price, however, as Apple products are generally more expensive than their competitors.
Specifications and Terms
Confused by all the jargon and acronyms when looking for a computer? Let us explain what some of those terms mean:
The ‘brain’ of any computer, CPU stands for Central Processing Unit and is the main processor for all activity on a computer. The CPU makes calculations, processes logic and generally runs all instructions you tell the computer to do.
There are a few major manufacturers of CPUs: Intel (Models include Pentium, i5, i7 etc.), AMD (Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7 etc.) and Apple (M1, M2 etc.). While not always the case, generally speaking: a higher processor number will feature more power, but likely cost more. An Intel i5, for example, will have 4x core processing units, while a comparable i7 features 6x cores, allowing for better multitasking and faster overall processing. Each company has their own model naming conventions that would be too much to get into here. One point that may help is: both Intel and AMD models use the first number(s) to designate the generation (E.g an Intel Core i5-11600K is from Intel’s 11th gen, a Ryzen 7 5500 is from Ryzen’s 5th gen), with newer generation processors generally benefitting from more advanced manufacturing and specifications.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is temporary storage space that a CPU uses to run all its processes.
To understand how RAM works, imagine you are sitting at a small desk and have a stack of papers that you want to sort through, you lay out pages on the desk but quickly run out of space before finishing the stack. You now need to sort through the current pages, then take them off the desk before you can bring new ones out, slowing your work. Now, imagine there is a large benchtop you can perform this same task on instead; you lay out all the pages with room to spare and are able to quickly sort them because you can access all pages at the same time. In this example, you are the CPU, and your workspace is the RAM you use to hold the data you are processing.
There are some generally accepted guidelines for how much RAM is enough for your usage: For modern computers, you want at least 4GB RAM for basic computing. 8GB is usually plenty for most everyday users and 16GB is great for gaming or more advanced programs.
HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and SSD (Solid State Drive) are the main storage devices for computers. This persistent storage is where a computer keeps all the files necessary to run the Operating System, along with any programs and files that you load onto it. When you open a picture or document on your computer, you are accessing the ‘hard drive’ for that data.
HDD drives have been around for a long time, featuring a spinning magnetic disk to store data, these drives are larger and slower but also cheaper and generally available in larger storage sizes. These drives are perfect for long-term storage of large files.
SSD is newer technology based on flash memory. With no moving parts, these drives are lightning fast, loading data much quicker. This makes them perfectly suited to store the computer’s Operating System as well as any programs that may otherwise experience long load times. These drives are generally available in smaller sizes and cost more than similar HDDs.
A graphics or video card is a dedicated device for processing the visual output of the computer. Not all computers need this device to run – a CPU is capable of processing display data itself – but if you plan on gaming, graphic design or video editing, a graphics card is a must have!
NVIDIA and AMD are the two major graphics card manufacturers. Both use model numbers and GB size in their descriptions (for example: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 8GB). As with most computer components, a larger GB size indicates more processing power, while the model numbers generally start with the generation number (3060 = 3rd generation) followed by the model ‘tier’, with higher generally being more powerful. Check out our range of gaming computers here.
Whether built-in like a laptop/all-in-one or a separate device used by a desktop PC, a monitor is a panel of pixels and lighting that displays the image output from a computer. You could have the most powerful computer in the world but without a monitor, you’ll never be able to see what it’s doing! Monitors have a couple of key specifications to look out for: resolution, refresh rate and response time. Resolution is the number of pixels found in the monitor. Resolution is generally written in in the format of width x height (e.g. 1366×720, a monitor with this resolution has 983,520 pixels), some of the more common resolution sizes are named for convenience, for example: Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) and 4K (3840×2160, a whopping 8,294,400 pixels!). Simply put, the more pixels to an image, the more detail it can have, so higher resolution monitors are capable of crisper, clearer images.
The refresh rate is the number of times a monitor can update the image displayed each second. Measured in hertz, most monitors today are at least 60Hz while many can be found at 144Hz or higher.
So, there you have it! Hopefully this has been helpful to give you an idea of what to look for in your next computer. If you’re still unsure, or have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us or call our friendly team on 1300 552 558.