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Not all computers are created equal. You wouldn’t want to use the one in your microwave for word processing in the same way that you wouldn’t want a powerful gaming setup to be used to control your home heating system. Manufacturers design chips for each device so that they’re appropriate for the task at hand.
The same principle applies to the computers we use to work, relax, and entertain ourselves. There are many different price points offered by manufacturers, each designed with a specific type of customer in mind.
Typically, the price reflects the power of the components inside the machine, with more expensive computers usually having more memory, faster processors, and more powerful graphics chips.
With this in mind, many people may just buy the most expensive computer they can find so that they have a machine of the highest quality. Others may not understand the difference and just buy the cheapest since they don’t understand what they might be missing out on.
But if you’re in the market for a new computer, it helps to understand what sort of device you need, how powerful it should be, and how much you should budget for it.
Computers for Surfing the Web
Many home computer owners don’t need their computers to do much more than access their emails, handle a little online shopping, and maybe read a few news articles. If this is the case, then a cheaper and less-powerful computer will more than suffice.
If you’re not dead set on the larger screen and physical keyboard and mouse that comes with a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet-like an iPad would also work great.
If you do still want a full-sized computer, then one that has 4-8 GB of memory and an Intel i3 or equivalent processor should be more than sufficient.
Computers for Sports Fans
Sports fans may use their computer for streaming games through services like F1 TV, the EFL’s iFollow, NowTV, or the NFL’s Game Pass. Others may also want to place bets on games while they watch, so may want their computer to handle basic multitasking. In addition to running free-bet promotions and other offers, some bookmakers even provide live streaming of events to attract more customers. This is especially true in horse racing, making it even easier to follow along and wager on each event at the same time.
In most cases, you’ll only need a basic specification that has a modest i3 processor and 4-8 GB of memory, though anything above that will likely speed up loading times.
If you want to watch in high definition, then be sure that your laptop screen has an HD resolution (most do) or it has an HDMI port so you can connect it to an HD-ready TV or monitor. It’ll also need to support the latest WiFi standards or have an ethernet port to give you the bandwidth to carry high-quality video streams. This isn’t something you should need to worry about too much though, since almost every consumer computer on the market comes with this pre-installed.
Computers for Those Working on Computers All Day
Most employers will give their employees a cheap computer like the ones described above if they’re going to be doing office work on them all day. However, this can be a little shortsighted since having multiple office applications and a web browser with several tabs open at once can quickly slow down your computer; after all, these programs are renowned for being memory-hungry.
Slow computers with long loading time for even the simplest of files make employees less productive and can even lead them to feel dissatisfied with their jobs if their workstation is chronically slow.
Therefore, it may be wise to invest in some slightly more expensive mid-range machines that have 8-16 GB of memory and a more powerful i5 (or equivalent) processor. An onboard graphics processor will be sufficient unless you’ll be doing a lot of image and video editing.
For storage, a solid-state drive (SSD) would be better than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), unless you need a lot of storage. If you use Outlook as opposed to a cloud-based email system like Gmail, then you’ll likely want a larger drive (256 GB or bigger) since OST files that store your entire mailbox can get very large.
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Computers for Gamers
Gaming consumes far more resources than most other things you’ll do on your computer. When you watch a movie, all your PC has to do is read what colors to display on the screen and what sound waves to send to the speakers. It doesn’t have to do any complicated number crunching for this.
However, gaming requires the computer to do a lot more. Using your inputs it has to generate each frame (of which there are usually 40-60 per second) on the fly. It also needs to factor in things like the action of other players and the AI behavior of non-playable characters.
This is why gaming PCs tend to be bigger and more expensive since manufacturers need to cram in a much bigger graphics card that does all the above without running too slowly.
Bigger games also usually need more memory, larger amounts of storage, and a faster processor. For a mid-range gaming setup, you’ll need an Intel Core i7 processor, at least 16 GB of memory, and a graphics card like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. With all this hardware, a gaming PC will cost three to four times more than a general-purpose computer.
Computers for Audiophiles
If you really love listening to great music, then you may want a machine that can handle songs in FLAC format and output them to speakers that are capable of doing justice to the lossless audio.
FLAC is a lossless way of encoding music into a digital format and, at least in theory, has a higher quality than a compressed (and lossy) MP3 file. Because FLAC files aren’t compressed like MP3, they require a lot more data, which means bitrates of up to 1411 kbps.
A fairly modest setup is likely going to be enough, provided you’re not going to be editing music as well. An i5 processor and 8-16 GB of memory will likely cut the mustard. You’ll probably want a large hard disk drive though if you’re going to be storing a lot of music files – 1 TB should be enough. It may be sensible to keep a backup of your library though, just in case. So perhaps you’ll want a second 1 TB drive for this purpose.
Unlike computers from a couple of decades ago, you likely won’t need a dedicated soundcard as the one on your computer should be sufficient. However, you will need to invest in some good speakers to connect to your computer as these will have the biggest influence on what the music sounds like.