Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
How to Purchase a Desktop Computer
Considerations for Hardware Components
Ports: Depending on how you use the computer, you may need anywhere from 4 to 10 USB ports.
USB ports have become the connection of choice in the computer industry. They offer an easy way to
connect peripheral devices such as printers, digital cameras, and portable media players. Many computers
intended for home or professional audio/video use have built-in FireWire ports. Most personal computers
include a minimum of six USB ports, two FireWire ports, and an Ethernet port.
Printer: Your two basic printer choices are ink-jet and laser. Color ink-jet printers cost on average between $50
and $300. Laser printers cost from $200 to $2,000. In general, the less expensive the printer, the lower the resolution
and speed, and the more often you are required to change the ink cartridges or toner. Laser printers print faster and
with a higher quality than an ink-jet, and their toner on average costs less.
Processor: For a personal computer, an Intel Core i7 processor at 2.93 GHz is more than enough processor
power for most home and small office/home office users. Higher-end users, such as large businesses or
people who use the computer to play games, should upgrade to faster, more powerful processors.
RAM: RAM plays a vital role in the speed of a computer. Make sure the computer you purchase has at
least 2 GB of RAM. If you have extra money to invest in a computer, consider increasing the RAM.
The extra money for RAM will be well spent because more RAM typically translates into more speed.
Scanner: The most popular scanner purchased with a computer today is the flatbed scanner. When evaluating
a flatbed scanner, check the color depth and resolution. Do not buy anything less than a color depth of 48 bits
and a resolution of 1200 3 2400 dpi. The higher the color depth, the more accurate the color. A higher resolution
picks up the more subtle gradations of color.
Sound Card: Many computers include a standard sound card that supports Dolby 5.1
surround and are capable of recording and playing digital audio. Make sure they are
suitable in the event you decide to use the computer as an entertainment or gaming system.
Speakers: Once you have a good sound card, quality speakers and a separate subwoofer that amplifies
the bass frequencies of the speakers can turn the computer into a premium stereo system.
USB Flash Drive: If you work on different computers and need access to the same data and information,
then this portable flash memory device is ideal. USB flash drive capacity typically varies from 1 GB to 32 GB.
USB Hub: If you plan to connect several peripheral devices to the computer at the same time, then you need to be
concerned with the number of ports available on the computer. If the computer does not have enough ports, then you
should purchase a USB hub. A USB hub plugs into a single USB port and provides several additional ports.
Video Card: Most standard video cards satisfy the monitor display needs of most home and small
office users. If you use your home computer to play games or if you are a graphic designer, you will
want to upgrade to a higher quality video card. The higher refresh rates will further enhance the
display of games, graphics, and movies.
Web Cam: A Web cam is a small digital video camera that can capture and display live video
on a Web page. You also can capture, edit, and share video and still photos. Recommended minimum
specifications include 640 3 480 resolution, a video with a rate of 30 frames per second, and a
USB or FireWire port. Some Web cams are built into computer monitors.
Wireless LAN Access Point: A wireless LAN access point allows you to network several computers, so that
multiple users can share files and access the Internet through a single Internet connection. Each device that you
connect requires a wireless card or wireless capability. A wireless LAN access point can offer a range of operations
up to several hundred feet, so be sure the device has a high-powered antenna.
Hardware guidelines. (continued)