Finding the right computer

computers

Finding out what you need

Everyone is different when it comes to hardware and software needs. For instance, if you are someone that loves music and you will be syncing music and other media to your iPod, smartphone and tablet, then you will most likely need a large hard drive. If you play games, you’ll need a fast CPU and a quality video card. If you are using it for work, then you’ll need to be sure that you have Microsoft office installed and any other software you need. Document the most important functions that you will be using the laptop for. This is the initial step in your search.

Laptop brands are not among the most important thing

Time and time again, I am asked “What kind of computer should I get?”, usually meaning the brand (Dell, HP, etc). I always answer by saying that the brand is not all that important. It is what’s inside. You need to check out specs, not brand labels. You can get a great laptop by any brand. Dell, Acer, HP and Sony seem to be the most popular. Obviously, a Mac is a different animal all together. This article is on PCs only.

Ok, so what is essential?

As I said, everyone is different in terms of needs, but here are the specs you should be looking for and what is considered “good”.

Memory

types-of-computer-memory                                                                  Desktop RAM (left) Laptop (right)

In 2013, the average amount of memory is around 4GB on a standard mid-class laptop. Unless you are gaming or you are running 3d applications, 4GB will probably fit your needs. For someone like me that does run games and software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, might benefit from a little more. I have 16GB of RAM on my everyday desktop and 8GB on my laptop. That may be considered a lot but I run multiple graphic intensive programs at a time. I have even seen gaming desktops with as much as 128GB of memory and as much as 64GB on a laptop, which is definitely excessive in my opinion. Before purchasing parts for your computer always remember to check the specs or your computer with manufacture site to check for compatible parts. Example is knowing if you need ddr, ddr2, ddr3, or ddr4, laptop (short) or desktop ( long).

recommended places to purchase memory: Amazon, TigerDirect, or Ebay

CPU

cpu

 

Your processor is probably among the most important. It is the main workhorse of any computer system. This is one area where I do prefer a brand. There are 2 major brands in the world of processors and that is Intel and AMD. At this moment in time, I would suggest an Intel based processor for most people. The only reason to choose AMD is price. They are generally cheaper than Intel units.
The top CPU at the moment would be the Intel i7 chip. They are usually around $300-$400 (yes the chip only, not the computer). If you are looking for power, the i7 is the way to go. You can get an i7 based computer for $750 to around $1100. Just know that if you get a laptop with an i7 chip for $750 or less, it is probably lacking in another area like drive space.

The next one down would be the i5 processor. You could get a laptop with an i5 processor for $500 to $700. The lower end of the series is the i3 CPU which would be in low to mid range laptops. If you are just using the laptop to surf the Internet, social media, etc then the i3 would be just fine.

Hard Drive

hard-disk

There are 2 kinds of hard drives to select from. We have standard internal computer hard drives and we also have SSD’s (Solid State Drive). SSD’s are much faster and reliable but have very low storage for high prices. These are meant for the operating system only. They are not meant to store music, movies or other forms of data (not yet anyway) because there just is not enough room.

seagate_laptop_sshd Laptop Hard Drive (above)

The optimal setup is to have an SSD for system files and operating system and then a standard internal drive for your data. You can get a 128GB SSD for around $130. You can get a standard drive with 1TB (1000GB) of data for less. With that said, if you are looking for a good deal but also enough room to store your music, pictures and videos, you want a laptop with at least 500GB of space. A 1TB drive would be sufficient for most people. It would store thousands and thousands of songs and images.

hdd internaljpg

Graphics/Video

If you wish to run modern high graphic performance games, then you should be considering the graphics card. The Dell XPS series and Alienware systems are great for gaming laptops. Some great laptop graphic cards today are the Nvidia GT series and AMD radeon series.

graphics-cards-2

Software

For someone that is very tech savvy, the software is not a big deal because they can just get the software they want and install it themselves. For some people, it is a good idea to look at what comes with the laptop they are buying. Most laptops in May of 2013 have either Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed. I would definitely suggest Windows 7 at this point. The tabbed interface of Windows 8 can be somewhat confusing for some people. There are also less bugs with 7.

The majority of people if not everyone uses Microsoft Office, so that should be something to look for. You also might want to look at what kind of virus protection comes installed and how long the subscription is. I prefer Norton when it comes to premium anti-virus but I actually prefer AVG over most of them, which is free. If you are into design, look out for Adobe products such as Photoshop.

Best Resources for Laptops

There are many great places to buy laptops at great prices. It is possible to find a good deal at Best Buy for a laptop with the specs above but I would suggest an online retailer, especially if you want a great price. My top choices are newegg.com, tigerdirect.com and amazon.com. You can also get great deals on Ebay but just be careful if you are buying used laptops.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have gained some knowledge from this article when it comes to what you need in a laptop. The main things to look for is memory, storage and processing power. Good luck in your search!

Just know that if you get a laptop with an i7 chip for $750 or less, it is probably lacking in another area such as drive space.

With that said, if you are looking for a good deal but also enough room to store your music, pictures and videos, you want a laptop with at least 500GB of space. For some people, it is a good idea to look at what comes with the laptop they are buying. You can also get great deals on Ebay but just be careful if you are buying used laptops.

Hopefully, you have gained some knowledge from this article when it comes to what you need in a laptop.

 

Crucial MX200

crucial-mx200

THE GOOD The Crucial MX200 includes helpful enterprise-class features rarely available in consumer-grade SSDs. It should last a long time, and it delivers fast performance.

THE BAD The three-year warranty is short, and the drive is a bit more expensive than its competitors.

THE BOTTOM LINE For heavy storage users who also need a high level of data safety, the Crucial MX200 is an excellent buy. 

The Crucial MX200 is a mid-tier solid-state drive, rivaling the recently reviewed Samsung SSD 850 Evo as an excellent storage upgrade.

The new SSD has significantly higher durability, especially the 1TB capacity, and includes enterprise-grade data security features. In testing, it was also faster than the Samsung in certain categories.

I feel comfortable recommending the drive to anyone. The MX200 has enough power to make any hard drive-based computer perform much faster. And the ultra-high endurance means you can regularly use it for heavy tasks, such as HD video editing, without having to worry about quickly rendering it useless.

A consumer drive with enterprise features

The MX200 is a 2.5-inch standard internal drive, with a design similar to most other SSDs and laptop hard drives. It supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and works with earlier revisions of the SATA standard.

On the inside, however, it’s the first such drive I’ve seen with a number of high-end features, normally found only in enterprise-class SSDs, that keep its stored data safe. These features include Exclusive Data Defense hardware encryption, and RAIN.

RAIN is a technology that allows a portion of the SSD’s flash memory to be dedicated as parity. This means when data is saved on the drive, it’s dispersed to multiple different storage components. As the result, if one storage component fails, you can still retrieve data from other components. And to reduce the chance of data corruption, each storage component has four layers of Exclusive Data Defense.

The MX200 supports AES 256-bit hardware encryption that is TCG Opal 2.0- and IEEE1667-compliant. This makes it fit in business environment where data security in case of theft or loss is important. On top of that the drive also features power-loss protection, adaptive thermal monitoring, TRIM, SMART and DevSleep, which enables it to use very little power.

CRUCIAL MX200 SPECS

250GB 500GB 1TB
Drive type 2.5-inch, 7mm thick 2.5-inch, 7mm thick 2.5-inch, 7mm thick
Controller Marvell 88SS9189 Marvell 88SS9189 Marvell 88SS9189
Flash memory 16nm 128GB NAND with Dynamic Write Acceleration 16nm 128GB NAND 16nm 128GB NAND
Interface SATA III (6Gbps) SATA III (6Gbps) SATA III (6Gbps)
Max sequential read 555 MBps 555 MBps 555 MBps
Max sequential write 500 MBps 500 MBps 500 MBps
Max random read 100,000 IOPS 100,000 IOPS 100,000 IOPS
Max random write 87,000 IOPS 87,000 IOPS 87,000 IOPS
Endurance (TB written) 80 TB 160 TB 320TB
Endurance (GB written per day for 10 years) > 40 GB > 80 GB > 160 GB
Warranty 3-year 3-year 3-year

ULTRA-HIGH ENDURANCE, HELP SOFTWARE

The Samsung SSD 850 Evo has impressive endurance, but the MX200 tops that by a large margin. Endurance, also known as program/erase (P/E) cycles, is the rating that quantifies the total amount of data that can be written to an SSD before the drive becomes unreliable. You can think of endurance as the drive’s durability.

Generally endurance increases with capacity: the MX200 is available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities that have respective endurance ratings of 80TB, 160TB and 320TB. Particularly with the 1TB drive, you’d have to write 40GB of data to it per day, every day, continuously for 22 years before it became unreliable.

Note that an SSD’s endurance relates only to writing, as reading doesn’t affect its life span at all. Also, 40GB is quite a lot of data. On average, most days we don’t write even a fraction of that to our computer’s main drive, and many days we don’t write anything at all.

Nonetheless, the high endurance allows pro users to use the drive for heavy tasks that involve lots of data writing, such as video editing or data swapping. If you get the 1TB capacity, it’s safe to say that you can use it without having to worry about abusing its P/E cycles.

Crucial-Executive-Storage-1

Are you looking into getting a SSD drive for your computer but worried that you would lose all you data or programs? Don’t worry, I can help you switch drives smoothly without sacrificing your information. I am available all week until 6pm and have drives available for your choosing. Stop by today so that we can get you that extra performance your looking for.

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