Buying a new computer is not always the easiest thing to do. There is a huge selection from cheap to super expensive with lots of different specs. So how to think? Here is a proper review so you get an overview of everything you need to know before the purchase.
In this guide we will go through:
- How you should always go about making the best purchase possible!
- What different components are good to keep track of before the purchase, such as RAM, processor and hard drive.
- The eternal question: Mac or PC? What is best for you?
- Depending on what you need the computer for, I give some tips on how you can think and models that can currently work.
- Step-by-step: how to make a good and successful purchase
Read this guide (which you are already doing) and find out which parts are most prioritized for you based on your needs and what you intend to use the computer for. Buying a new computer must take some time so it will be right.
Look at my suggestions and start there.
Research, research and research! The more you find out before you decide, the greater the chance that you will make a good and successful purchase. Start by going into the models I suggest below and look closely at the specs list (“technical specifications”). Also use the online stores’ search functions and click on the choices that are most important to you to find more models.
Compare models! Many online stores have features where you can select multiple models and compare them against each other.
Check reviews – both experts and customer reviews. Google the computer model + reviews or review, search the computer on e.g. Amazon or other buying sites to see customer ratings and testimonials.
Check in store! Once you have found one or more models that look promising – go to a store and feel them a little. Test the keyboard, lift the computer and feel the weight, check out high-resolution images on the screen, test the touchpad, check how you feel about the design and if it feels durable, etc.
Investigate the secondary market! If you know exactly what you want, it may be worth checking out sites where you can find used computers. Many active computer users sell fully functional computers when they buy a new one. Just remember to ask if the warranty still applies and so on. If it does not apply, it is a small disadvantage but can be worth considering what you have the opportunity to save. Buying used is also a sustainable decision and better for the environment.
Compare prices – go in and look at the computer you want to buy on e.g. price comparison sites to compare prices from different stores.
Examine current offers and see if any local store might have received the model you are looking for as a return that they sell cheaper? Sometimes previews are also sold out with cheaper prices. If a big SALE is on the way, then maybe it’s worth the wait to buy a new computer. Many stores also have student discounts – very worth exploring!
Buying a new computer: what is what?
Here is a quick overview of some of the things you usually look at when buying a new computer.
Processors are usually called the computer’s brain and are the part of the computer that handles the various tasks we tell the computer to perform. When you look at processors in the specs list, you usually check the clock frequency, which is measured in GHz (gigahertz) and how many cores it has.
When it comes to processors, it is not quite simple. Intel processors are common where the classifications i5, i7 and i9 give good indications of how powerful they are, where i5 is more budget and i9 is the professional variant. The most common is that the processors have two or four cores where four cores generally provide a more powerful processor.
The computer’s built-in memory is important for how fast the computer is perceived. If there is too little memory for what you want to do, the computer will slow down. RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB) and the rule of thumb is: the more the better!
Really cheap computers are currently equipped with 4 GB of memory, while a super-fast computer can have over 32 GB. The most common, however, is between 4 and 16 GB.
Hard drive is how much space your computer has to install programs and store files. The type of hard drive also affects how fast your computer is experienced. A “traditional” hard drive is a mechanical hard drive, also called an HDD. These are a bit slower but have a lot of room for money. 1-2 TB is not uncommon (1 TB, terabytes = 1000 GB, gigabytes).
SSDs (the same type of technology used in mobile phones and USB sticks) are significantly faster – the computer starts up faster and does not “slow down” over time in the same way as HDDs usually do. However, you get significantly less space – 128-512 GB are standard sizes for SSDs.
Today, it is basically standard for laptops to have SSD hard drive. Desktops can still have both.
Finally, there are also what are called “hybrids”: SSHD disks. These are not as common but should simply combine the benefit of the fast SSD drive with the large space of an HDD drive. Where the frequently used files are stored in the SSD part and other files can be saved on the mechanical hard drive.
A lot of storage can be done in the cloud today via iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and similar solutions. Just keep in mind that it requires a good connection and maybe even that you pay for extra space (per year or month) if you are going to replace physical hard disk space with a cloud solution.
The graphics card in the computer is most important if you are going to play games or do more demanding creative things such as. 3D animation.
Here, PC for everyone has made a guide to graphics cards from budget to worst (from 2017 so not completely updated but can give a clue). Here they also have a guide where you can learn more about graphics cards in general.
Powerful computers, such as gaming computers, have what is called a “dedicated graphics card”, they also usually talk about graphics cards with “dedicated memory”. It means a bit simplified that the graphics card has its own RAM to work with so as not to load the remaining RAM. This is usually a requirement for handling heavy 3D designs or graphics in recent games.
The biggest issue when it comes to screen size is what you prioritize most – mobility or large screen. A computer with an 11-inch screen is e.g. very easy to throw in a bag while a computer with 17 inches requires a much larger bag but at the same time provides more work space and is nicer to watch movies / TV series on.
I think 13-15 inches is just right for a laptop if you do not work very much with e.g. movie editing or anything else where you need a lot of workspace.
Inch is abbreviated with the “sign, e.g. 13 ”= 13 inches.
buy new computer laptop mac or pc
Mac or PC?
A big question many ask themselves when buying a new computer is – should one choose a computer from Apple or a PC model ??
It’s really a bit sloppy to make this comparison – Mac or PC – because Macs are computers from a company and PC is a lump-sum concept that includes a number of different manufacturers. It is also not so easy to say that it is about which operating system you want because a PC can have Windows but also e.g. Linux / Ubuntu.
Price is a factor
If price is an important factor in your data purchase, it is the case that you will get significantly more “bang for the buck” (computer for the money) if you invest in a PC. In terms of specs, you have to pay much more for the same things in Mac (processor, hard drive, RAM, etc.) compared to a PC.
Games are not for Mac
If you want to play games on your computer, it’s pretty stupid to buy a Mac because these are not optimized for gaming. Of course, a new Mac can handle some games, e.g. I played Sims 4 without any major problems on my old MacBook Pro 13 2015 (2015), but if gaming is a priority, there are significantly better and more affordable PCs with better graphics cards, more RAM and more powerful processors.
Design and user-friendliness
When you buy a Mac, you not only pay for the hardware in the jar itself, but a big reason why so many people love Macs is its design and ease of use.
As mentioned, PCs are manufactured by a number of different companies and most come with Windows. This means that different companies are developing the hardware and software. One of the major success factors with Apple is that it is a company that manufactures both the computer itself and the operating system. This makes some people find that Macs work better and are easier to use.
Many who work with e.g. design and other creative professions like Mac because they are good at doing what you want to do “out of the box”. You spend money on not having to research a variety of components in different PCs, where you may still have to make some modifications after the purchase to make the computer work exactly as you want.
In recent years, however, there have been some changes here. While Apple has made several dubious decisions, such as removing all ports from the new laptops, Microsoft has also started manufacturing really good, stylish and user-friendly computers.
So the differences shrink a little but much of what makes Macs so popular is in the small details such as how they feel to use, the keyboard, the touchpad, the simplicity of the built-in programs and that you do not have to update drivers, etc.
Repair, change and modify
If you want to be able to repair something that breaks in your computer easily or want to be able to upgrade parts as it is, it is much better to invest in a PC. This is why many people who are very interested in technology diss Mac computers. Apple makes it very difficult to replace parts in the computer and their computers are much more locked both in terms of hardware and software.
If your Mac computer breaks down, repairing it can be an expensive affair. If your PC breaks down, there are good chances that you can basically fix it yourself or find someone who can help you with a cheaper money.
Of course, it also depends on which PC you buy so that it is easy to repair. Many manufacturers have made it harder and harder to repair computers because they need to be as thin and compact as possible.
Feel free to include your views and arguments in the Apple vs PC battle in the comments
Desktop or laptop?
The vast majority of people today probably get the most benefit from buying a laptop, I think, because we got used to being mobile. At the university e.g. sits basically every single cone with a laptop.
Even those who work properly in an office use laptops together with a laptop dock or external screen to be able to be flexible and work from home or from other offices sometimes.
Of course, if you buy a desktop, you get more value for money. But basically the only ones I would recommend a desktop to are:
- Those who will primarily use the computer to play heavy, demanding games.
- Those who need a work computer for a lot of photo / movie editing and do not need to be so mobile.
- Those who absolutely only use the computer at home and never want to move it.
What are you going to use the computer for?
This is the most important question when buying a new computer. Because how and what you should use your computer for affects what you should look for when it comes to performance, memory and all that.
These suggestions are really just suggestions to help you along the way in your search. I have not tested all the models and can not vouch for the fact that they are the ones that best meet your needs. Most computers have their pros and cons. I recommend that you always do a thorough research of the model you are considering. Find reviews on google and youtube, check customer reviews on buy sites etc.