We’re far from the creation of the first generation of computers, those developed with electronic vacuum valves, lacking an operating system, disproportionate in size and intended for use by military and scientific forces, today potentially everyone has access to a personal computer. Over the years, this machine has been perfected and is far from where it started, thanks to transistors and the arrival of integrated circuits, computers are now capable of performing increasingly fast and complex calculations, resulting in a compact design and more refined applications.
The development of computers has also led to more sophisticated designs. Today, computers are made up of a large number of components and every piece helps the machine to function properly. In this article we are going to look into the pieces of a computer, make an analysis of its main components and point out what features each one of them offers so that you can decide what type of computer can best suit your needs.
Everyone has benefited at some point from the use of one of these machines. Nowadays, they can be used for different tasks like work, school, home, research, gaming...etc.
In this article we try to guide you in purchasing a computer. To do this we will explain different profiles that are required for a computer to perform tasks in different areas. Finally, we will talk about which components and characteristics of this device you should emphasize according to the purpose of use.
This is an important feature when buying a computer. When you buy a computer, you should consider whether you will always use it from the same place or whether you will be transporting it from one place to another.
This is the brain of our computer and therefore one of the key elements for proper performance. One of the characteristics that varies from one computer to another is the speed of the CPU, this is an essential and important detail when choosing one product or another. The choice will depend mainly on the use you are going to give it, although later we will analyze this feature in more detail.
The operating system is the intermediary between the user and the hardware. The most common are GNU Linux, Microsoft Windows and MAC OS. Among these, the main differences we observe are memory management, exclusivity and whether or not they are free softwares.
This refers to computer storage and is the place where data is secured in the long term. When buying a computer, one should consider speed, capacity, susceptibility to mechanical failure, noise and power consumption. There are two types: HDD and SSD.
RAM memory is the place where data is stored in real time, i.e. it is automatically deleted when the computer is turned off (unlike the hard disk). The main factors to take into account for the performance of RAM memory are speed and latency (time elapsing from request to response).
This is a basic component in laptops. As it is well known, the higher the battery capacity, the longer the autonomy time of the device will be, that is, the time that can pass without the need to connect it to charge.
This element is key to the visual experience, since it is responsible for processing the data and its subsequent transformation into visible information to the user through the monitor. The power of this component is another important factor to take into account according to the use you are going to give to your computer.
You must also consider, depending on your needs, if you want the computer to contain a CD player, HDMI input, USB, SD ... among other features. New computers keep adapting and changing the port entries, so make sure it adapts to the needs of your external electronic gadgets.
In this article we have focused on the features that cause the most problems for users, usually due to the lack of technical knowledge of computer hardware. When choosing a computer, it’s important to consider other characteristics such as size, use of antivirus, design, budget, etc.
In this section we make a generic classification of the different profiles that are looking for a computer and its specific purposes. If you don’t fit among these, don’t worry, surely the information will be just as useful because we perform an exhaustive analysis of the characteristics that a computer should have based on the most common requirements.
We are aware that this profile is very broad and that an engineering student will probably not have the same needs as a student in a less technical field. That is why we are going to start with what we consider to be common needs of most students and then talk in more specific terms.
A common feature of all students is the ability to move the computer from one place to another, either to college, the library ... that is why for this profile we highly recommend a laptop.
As for the operating system, all the above mentioned have an intuitive and easy to use interface. The main advantage of Linux over the rest is that it is a free software and for those who are being trained in the computer world it can be interesting to have access to the source code, to know how each program works and even modify them. This is also advantageous for the rest, since visibility is always a plus for the security of our device. A final plus side; it is free.
Windows, despite not being free, is the most used software by computer users since it is a comfortable operating system and compatible with the vast majority of softwares developed for computers. It can be recommended for office and basic computing activities. However, this is a paid version.
If your studies are related to the world of design, Mac OS excels in editing and design tools, but has the disadvantage of exclusivity: you can only install on Apple computers and accessories should always be complementary to this brand, not all of the external softwares are available for both Microsoft and Mac OS, meaning you should take in account the features you would like to work with.
In general terms, if you decide to use a Linux operating system, a 4GB RAM and an SSD hard drive (these offer higher speed than HDD) of 256GB will be more than enough. Otherwise, we recommend extending the RAM to 8GB. For students who require the installation of heavier programs and additional tools we recommend 500GB of hard disk and 8GB-12GB of RAM. For students, we also opt for an Intel Core i5 processor. But if your budget is small and you do not have many technical demands, an Intel Core i3 might be enough.
The battery capacity we recommend is at least 40-55Wh, equivalent to about 6-7 hours of autonomous activity. This is a feature easily detectable and most laptops share the basic information of such, keep in mind how often you’ll use your laptop far away from an electricity outlet to find one that adapts better to your needs.
As for the graphics card, for studies with high graphics needs we recommend at least 2GB of memory. The NVIDIA GTX 1050 or GTX 1060 are very well rated by users. For studies with standard requirements AMD cards are more than enough.
Finally, for students we recommend computers that have as many ports as possible, you never know when you will need them (HDMI, USB...).
In the gaming world there are many additional accessories beyond the main component, the computer. There are even specialized seats on the market, such as gaming chairs designed for video game lovers to achieve perfect posture and ergonomics. That is why for this profile we recommend the desktop computers that allow us to create a corner destined to the game.
For this section, powerful computers are required and the graphic card cannot go unnoticed either. We recommend an Intel Core i7 processor, but an Intel Core i5 may be sufficient. As for the graphics card we opt for the NVIDIA models: GTX 16 and RTX 20. At least 16GB of RAM is suggested, although consider the option of 32GB for better performance. The 256GB SSD hard disk can be enough, but the ideal is 1TB.
Regarding the operating system, the most used in this sector is Windows. Most of the games are not usually developed for Linux and MAC has compatibility limitations at the software level.
We recommend a minimum RAM of 32GB, ideally 128GB. As for the graphics card, we recommend an NVIDIA RTX (2060-2080Ti) or GTX. The ideal is to have two hard disks: SSD of 256GB-500GB and HDD of 4TB. The processor that stands out here is the Intel Core i7.
As for the choice of laptop or desktop computer, we leave it in your hands. In this case we have considered it secondary, as it may vary from one case to another.
It is similar to the case of students: we are facing a very generic profile that may require more or less features depending on the use that will be given to the computer. In general terms, our recommendation is 8GB of RAM (4GB may be enough) and a 256GB SSD hard disk storage. As for the processor, with the use that a child can have on a computer we consider that an Intel Core i3 is enough.
In this case we recommend to make special emphasis on those computers that offer the possibility of parental control and also have a robust structure.The Windows operating system seems to us more intuitive and friendly due to its graphic environment for this profile. The port entries seem to us a key point also to take into account, specifically when considering using other gadgets.
For those who need a computer for office work or a basic use that does not require much performance, then we recommend an Intel Core i3 processor, a RAM of 8GB, a hard disk SSD of at least 256GB and the Windows operating system.
Note: For more powerful computers, it is recommended to monitor that they have a good ventilation system.
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