When shopping for a new computer, it is important that you do your homework and research the computer that is right for you. In this post, I will list some important facts you need to know before buying a new computer.

Don’t go with the cheapest computer you can find. Usually, a lower-priced computer means that it is underpowered and/or built with low quality components that will eventually give you problems in a few years. (Example: capacitor plague).

That being said, avoid the eMachines and Gateway brands. They fall under the “you get what you paid for” category since they typically meet the criteria described above.  I recommend a Compaq, HP, or Dell computer. Acer was ok until 2007 when they merged with eMachines and Gateway.

Decide if you want a desktop or laptop. Laptops are portable, but are not as powerful as desktops. Laptops have very few components that can be upgraded. (Such as memory and the hard drive).

Processors are very important, especially with today’s programs and hardware. Avoid buying a computer with an Intel Celeron or an AMD Sempron. These are budget processors with very few features and will slow down your computer while multiple programs are running. Look for a computer with a processor that has at least two cores. The more cores, the better your computer will multitask. You should also pay attention to the processor’s frequency, cache size, front side bus (FSB) speeds. The higher these numbers are, the faster your computer will process data.

Computers now usually come with at least 2 gigabytes of system memory. The speed of the memory (PC5300 667MHz for example) indicates how fast the memory can process data.

Video graphics is also something to think about. Most video graphics that come built in with the computer are usually very basic. If you plan to play games or edit video, you can purchase a video card to upgrade your existing video.

The hard drive is the main storage unit in the computer. If you plan to do a lot of photo or video editing, consider a computer with a bigger hard drive.

Most computers will come with a combination DVD-RW/CD-RW drive for recording to DVD’s and CD’s. Compaq and HP usually offer a Lightscribe drive for creating labels on Lightscribe compatible discs.

If you have a high speed internet connection or a network, you will need a network interface controller. Just about every computer sold today comes with a 10/100 network interface controller.

There are some other components I can talk about, but this is basically what you need to know when looking for a new computer. Desktops can take expansion cards that allow you to add extra features to your computer.