When we go to buy a computer, and we look at a model that catches our attention, we have a list of technical specifications of all kinds: processor, hard disk, RAM, graphics card … A lot of terms, acronyms and numbers maybe they will not tell us anything Which is better? What is better for me? There are many doubts that can arise when we are thinking about renewing the PC.
In Technology from you to you we want to help you with your purchase. For this, we have prepared this guide in which we will explain what are the main components of a computer , and what it is that you have to take into account. Do not forget that, if what we want is to update and improve the performance of our PC, we also offer you a guide of PC components . In addition, at the end of the guide we leave you a series of profiles so that, depending on the use that we are going to give you, we focus more on some elements than others. With this introduction, let’s start with the basics.
The heart of a computer. This component is basic and therefore we must select well which one we take. A processor, explained briefly and simply, is the part that is responsible for running the operating system and applications. The performance can vary quite depending on the model we take. In the chips of the processors we will always find two data: the speed and the number of cores.
The important thing when choosing a good processor is to know what use we are going to give it . If it is a low intensity use (surf the Internet, write documents) with an Atom or Core i3 processor we have enough. If we are going to use it for games, and more exhaustively, uploading to a Core i5 chip (or one of AMD’s most recent Ryzen 7) is a good option. Finally, if we are going to make a more professional or very specific use, we should choose a Core i7 with four cores.
SSD and hard disk
We continue with another fundamental factor: internal storage. This is where all the information on our computer is stored, including the operating system and its applications. In the case of traditional hard drives we should look at the writing speed. This data tells us, in revolutions per minute, the speed of rotation of the plates used to store the information. In principle with 5,400 RPM we have enough for everyday use but if we can get much better speed
Currently the hard drives are becoming somewhat outdated. The SSD technology , which stores information in very fast solid-state memory chips, offers a much higher speed and flashing access times without any noise. An operating system or a game installed on an SSD starts much faster than on a hard drive, to the point that simply changing this component an old computer can magically rejuvenate.
The biggest problem with SSDs is that they are a bit more expensive. The current recommendation is to use an SSD disk if you are not going to store much information and add a traditional high-capacity hard drive as a secondary unit for heavier data, such as large collections of music and movies. Most users have enough with a 256 GB SSD. A tip: if you take a hard drive with a lot of capacity, make two partitions to separate the files from the system of personal data such as photos and music. You will avoid more than one dislike.
Remember, you can always choose to use external units to dump information and take it with you anywhere. If you want more information about internal and external hard drives, in Tecnología de tu a tu we have a guide to help you in your choice .
RAM is a type of memory that the processor uses to temporarily dump calculations to run the applications. Over the years the quality has been improving a lot, and today it is easy to find RAM at a very affordable price. If we are going to use a computer for the basics, with 4 GB we have enough . The most demanding will get a good performance with 16 GB, and finally, for professional uses, the amount may vary depending on the task we are going to perform.
When it comes to expanding RAM , whether it’s a laptop or a desktop computer , we have to look carefully if we have free slots on the motherboard. Normally the table equipment comes with a free space to put more. In the case of laptops, it depends on the model. Always remember that the type of RAM memory must be the same as that accepted by the motherboard.
The graphic card is usually associated with games in a popular way. However, this is not entirely true. This element is responsible for processing all visual information produced in the CPU (ie the processor) and sending it to the monitor. In this way, choosing a convenient card is very important because it is who will show us what we will see on the screen.
Both Intel and AMD usually offer central processors with integrated cards that, for basic use, are more than sufficient. However, whenever we can (especially if we plan to play, watch video in high definition or work), we must opt for an independent graphics card. Both AMD and Nvidia have great models. Fix yourself well in the memory of each one. With 4 GB we will have enough, but 8 GB will guarantee a smoother operation during the next two years.
The base plates and the graphics card have a series of outputs, connectors, which allow us to connect different peripherals. From the basic ones like the keyboard, the mouse and the monitor to other more specific ones like the USB ports. When looking at which connectors our computer carries, we have to take into account what we are going to use and what our devices use. It is worthless to have a screen with HDMI input if our graphics card does not have it.
In terms of video output, today’s graphic cards in desktop computers have DisplayPort and HDMI outputs . The DVI format is in reverse. These connectors are capable of sending a high definition signal to a monitor. Most laptops have a DisplayPort output that we can use to connect another monitor or a projector, in case we have to make presentations in class or work.
The most modern and powerful computers, including the latest portable models from Apple but also many designed for games, integrate Thunderbolt technology into the USB-C port itself . This reduces the number of connectors and cables needed to connect the computer to an external display.
Some professional laptops and intended for the educational market still have VGA / D-sub outputs , since this connector is widely used in old projectors.
Types of computers
Surely in addition to terminology of the components, we have heard about different models of computers: laptops, desktops, hybrids … For some the difference may seem obvious, but for many other categories can be confusing. For this, we have prepared a section to explain to you what each one consists of.
We start with the most basic model. The desktop of all life : a CPU or tower , a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Each time they have been losing more prominence but if we are not going to move it every two times is the best option.
They are cheaper and we can update the pieces very easily and cheaply . Although laptops are attractive to work or have a fixed equipment at home is still the best option.
In recent years they have gained much prominence. Increasingly thinner and more powerful, laptops have become the choice for many users . Its main virtue: mobility. To be able to take the computer to any place without having to depend, in excess, of the plugs is a joy.
Normally the hardware is a bit more limited than that of desktop computers. Not that it is bad, on the contrary, but the fact of being mobile gives us some limitations : less powerful graphics cards, smaller hard drives … However, there are professional options and high performance games that can be compared without problems with a powerful desktop computer. Of course, they are considerably more expensive.
The times in which those who carry a laptop in the backpack was a punishment have gone down in history. Nowadays very extended, the Ultrabooks are portable very thin (less than 21 mm of thickness) and of low weight ( less than 2kg ). The idea is to offer power in a small space thanks to Intel processors. To achieve this reduction manufacturers use solid-state drives (SSD) with which, in addition to gaining space, make the operating system startup and data transfer much faster.
More and more manufacturers are betting on this format, and today companies like Acer or Asus have very interesting models. If you want more information about ultrabooks, here we explain in detail.
Is it a laptop or is it a tablet? They are both at the same time. Very versatile equipment that we can use either as computers or as tablets thanks to its touch screen. We can find two types of hybrids . On the one hand those in which you can rotate the screen (such as the Lenovo Yoga that you have above these lines) or those where we can separate keyboard and screen (like Surface ). They are one of the most trending options on the market and it is worth taking them into account.
All in one
Do you want a desktop computer but want it to be less bulky? Then an all in one is for you. Think of this type of computer as if it were a large screen with all the components hidden in its back. Simple but also powerful. Perfect to have them at home and enjoy a complete computer and design. We talked to you more about them here .
Tell me what you use and I’ll tell you what you need
We finish our guide with a section where, if you still have any doubt about what you need, give a hand when selecting a computer. Tell us what you are using and we will tell you what you need . Then, we leave you with a series of profiles that we hope will help you. If you miss one, do not hesitate to leave us a comment to help you in your choice.
I want a computer to surf the Internet, watch movies and read documents
In principle any computer fulfills that function but our recommendation is a laptop . If we are going to use it at home, we can take it with us to any room very easily. Taking into account that we are not going to give it a very intensive use, we should not worry too much about the hardware. With any Core i3 processor and 4 GB of RAM we have enough.
I want a computer to take to all sites
If what we are looking for is mobility and we want a computer for the most basic, our first option is a hybrid . Handy, versatile and ideal for carrying in any bag and backpack. If we want a little more power, Ultrabooks are just as light and small, in terms of thickness. If you are going to use it a lot and do not want to carry the charger, do not forget to take a spare battery, just in case. Many professional computers offer this option.
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I want a computer to play
The best option is a desktop computer. We must look very well in what processor it takes (from Intel i5 up is a good option), the RAM (8 GB to DDR3 is the minimum) and the graphics card. In this last section it is already a matter of taste. The options are basically two: AMD or Nvidia.
Both houses have very good models and it is difficult to choose one in particular. Our recommendation: have 8 GB of memory. Always avoid the cards integrated in the motherboard type Intel Graphics, do not give a performance good enough to play.
I want a computer to work as a designer / video editor
Again, the best option is a desktop computer, but for specific tasks, or if we have to move a lot, there are very powerful laptops that measure up. In any case, we must look at the processor, RAM (here the amount can vary greatly depending on what we are going to do) and the graphics card.
We are very interested in the power , some applications consume many resources, and also be able to display the graphics with speed and quality. Therefore, if we choose a desktop computer remember to buy a good monitor, as well as accessories that make your life easier. For example: a digital tablet.