At one point you may need to own a laptop or computer for personal or business use. When shopping for the same you will come across terms that may seem alien and confusing. Nonetheless, you need to understand a few basic terms to get the right computer for your needs and financial capability.
Random Access Memory
Simply denoted as RAM, this is the temporary memory required to hold whatever software or media you are running at a time. Think of it as the computer version of humans’ short term memory. For instance, a document or photo you are editing is stored in RAM before you can save it to the hard drive.
Should there be a power loss, everything stored on the RAM is. lost. A computer for basic use such as word processing, basic photo editing, music or movies does not require much RAM and 2GB to 4GB should do just fine. However heavy applications such as advanced video editing or gaming require more than 4GB of RAM to run smoothly.
The hard drive is the permanent storage for your files. The computer’s operating system is also stored on the hard drive. 160-320GB of hard drive space is ideal for normal use. For heavy or business use, 500GB and above will be necessary.
Central Processing Unit
The central processing unit (CPU), or simply the processor, is the computer’s brain. Just like RAM and hard drive, light users will do fine with a basic single core processor while heavy users will have to go for a faster and more powerful one. The more cores a processor has, the more tasks it can handle at a go.
Normal word processing, music and video watching will run smoothly on single core processors clocked at 2.0GHz to 3.0GHz. Dual core and core 2 duo processors will give a smoother and faster feel though.
Heavy users such as gamers and graphic designers will require processors that have more than one core. At the minimum, a processor with 4 cores is ideal (for example Intel’s core i3, i5 and i7).
Laptop and desktop monitors come at different sizes. Basic personal use can be well taken care of on a 15 inch (15”) display. A system intended for detailed use (graphic design, 3D modelling) will need a bigger size. Ideally 20” and above will do fine.
PS: You always upgrade to computer parts to accommodate growing need. However, you will need to make sure the RAM type and size, hard drive capacity, processor type or display resolution is compatible with the particular model of computer you own.
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