The Best Desktop Computer

May 2nd, 2007 | Desktops

The main aim when choosing the best desktop computer is to get the most up-to-date computer with cutting edge parts, but still keeping good value for money in mind so that money is spent where it is most needed. Getting a computer from these specifications will be good for at least 5 years or more and will be easy to upgrade if anything needs a change before that time.

I will go over each of the things you should look for. If you need more details you can delve deeper by reading specifically about that part.

Often the most expensive part in a computer labelled as the best desktop computer is the computer processor, which is like the brain of the computer.

This Systemax computer with Intel Core 2 Duo and 2GB or RAM offers a lot of power and includes a monitor

The fastest, most cutting edge processors can be more than $1000, but for a quarter of the price you can get one that is only 20% slower and put money into other parts of the computer. Currently I would recommend an Intel Core 2 Duo, or AMD Athlon 64 X2. Intel Core 2 Duo go for $150 - $550, while AMD Athlon 64 X2 go for $100 - $250. According to benchmarks, the Intel processors are the better choice and offer more performance per dollar in most applications. Even though you can get cheaper deals with AMD, currently Intel is the better choice. In speed per dollar, don’t go any higher than the E6600 2.4GHz model, as the prices jump after that. The AMD range are spread evenly, so the choice is yours, best value is still found around the middle of the range though.

The motherboard should be packed with lots of features. My preference is for motherboards that give tons of features, here is what you should expect.

  • USB 2.0 with 4 slots at the back of the computer and 2 in another location, usually the front.
  • External SATA (not completely necessary, but good)
  • Built-in audio, with 5.1 channel (or equivalent) support as well as mic and headphones.
  • Network port, preferably Gigabit, 2 ports a bonus.
  • PCI express for graphics card upgrades (if not used already). SLI a bonus.
  • PCI-X, which is a faster PCI slot, but still compatible with older PCI cards. Expect 2 or more.
  • Make sure SATA2 is supported, it’s faster and more future-proof.
  • Firewire (IEEE1394) slots, just 1 or 2 (not essential).

This HP offers a midrange Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB or memory and a DVD burner

Your computer should come with at least 1GB or memory, often called RAM. More memory makes a huge difference and you should get as much as you can when you buy your computer. Remember that 512MB is my recommended minimum for Windows XP, while Vista will run better with 1GB(1024MB) or more. If you can afford it, get double the minimum.

The hard drive should be a balance between storage size and speed. Get bigger than 100GB, one DVD movie is 8GB, so you might only get 10 on your hard drive. If you don’t store the movies, no problem. Fast hard drives spin faster, at 10K rpm, like the WD Raptor, but are smaller sized for the price. I prefer speed as I don’t need massive space, I backup to DVDs when necessary.

A DVD writer is essential. Make sure it does dual-layer, DVD+R and DVD-R, and should be rated about 16x. DVDs are great for backing up any data, including your DVD collection.

And that’s it. You should be good to go, with a computer that will stay current for at least a few years and last for many more than that.

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