Wayne from Merced, CA writes:
What brand of desktop computer do you recommend to a person who only needs the computer for personal use? People have told me to go to Dell Computers and I wanted your opinion too. Thanks, Wayne
Asking someone which PC brand is best, is like asking for an argument. Many people will swear by a particular brand, and share negative experiences with another brand. The problem, in my opinion, with recommending a specific brand, is that every PC includes different parts, even within the same model, You have to talk in broad generalizations when making a recommendation. Instead of picking a brand, let’s talk about what you should be looking for in a computer company.
Value (Not Just Price)
The phrase “penny wise pound foolish” applies here, so don’t immediately jump on the lowest dollar total. You should consider the other main areas covered in the rest of this article before deciding on which price is truly best. I mention price first, because it’s the first thing almost everyone looks at, but it’s not the most important aspect.
Warranty & Support
Pay careful attention to the warranty and support policies, because they are getting more complicated then ever. Many companies offer various levels of in-home, mail-in or even local repair. If your warranty is “mail-in after 90 days for a period of 1 year,” it means if anything goes wrong hardware-wise, you’ll need to mail the computer in. You may wait up to two weeks toget it back. Buying from a local computer shop can often result in faster service and better component choices (to reduce service costs), but may cost you a bit more initially.
Components (The Insides)
Just like every car has an engine and tires, but they are not all equal, every PC will have a power supply and a processor. The differences can be dramatic in both reliability and performance. If you’re buying from a local computer shop, then you can discuss component choices. If your buying pre-built, it’s easier to look at what to avoid.
- Hard Drive: Avoid 5400 RPM drives if possible and buy 7200 RPM or solid state hard drive (ssd)
- Memory: Avoid 4 GB or lower of system memory and over 16 GB. The ideal range is 8 to 16 GB.
- Processor: Avoid Celeron, Pentium or AMD E or X2 series. I’d look for either an Intel I3 (or higher number) or AMD A6 (or higher number) processor.
- Power Supply: Avoid no-name or “it comes with the case we buy” from small PC shops. Antec (not the basiq line) and PC Power & Cooling are both well respected reliable brands.
Laptop or Desktop
The choice used to be a very easy one. Laptops offered mobility, but sacrificed a lot of performance. Today many laptops, while still being slower than similarly priced desktops, offer more then enough performance for everyday tasks. If you want the portability and convenience of a laptop, make sure you buy one with a good screen, since it’s not replaceable. If you want maximum speed and expandability, buy a desktop (buy a good screen too, but at least you can replace it if the first one fails or you aren’t satisfied with its performance.)
P.S. Ok you twisted my arm! If I REALLY had to choose I’d probably buy a HP laptop (Envy or DV series are quite nice) or a locally built desktop. If you have to buy a pre-built desktop both Dell & HP offer reasonable warranties.