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What To Look For In A New Computer

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Processor speed

This is the master chip that drives your computer. Current Windows-based computers typically run 10th- or 11th-generation Intel chips. Look for the model number (examples: i5 or i7), then find the two digits immediately after that, preferably 10 or 11.

Device types

America has gone mobile, and so have computers. Laptops are the most popular type of computer today, followed by tablets. Together, portable devices account for about four-fifths of the worldwide market.

Those big desktop boxes of old are still available but are usually built for high-end users who need ultra-high-speed capability. You can also hook up a laptop to a monitor on your desk when you need a larger display. They, too, have dropped substantially in cost; great monitors can be had for $150 or less.


This is your computer’s short-term memory — essentially, its operating workspace. The more RAM, the more programs or browser tabs you can have open and running smoothly at the same time and the fewer freeze-ups on your monitor. Experts recommend at least 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM.


You should be able to find a computer suitable for most everyday needs for about $400. The difference is the quality of the components.

“It’s like shopping for a watch. You can buy a Timex, or you can buy a Rolex. Both will tell you the time,” says Nicholas De Leon, a senior electronics reporter at Consumer Reports.

Mark Spoonauer, global editor in chief of the Tom’s Guide tech-buying website, says a Windows laptop that costs less than $600 should last up to five years. More expensive models should have a longer life because they have more speed, memory and storage.

Data storage

A good starting point for internal storage is 256GB, but you could get by with less because of one big area of change in the past few years. Increasingly, computer users are storing documents, photos and videos “in the cloud,” which means on secure servers you subscribe to and access online.

This not only reduces your need for a large hard drive inside your computer but also lets you access your files from your mobile devices and other computers. Another benefit: When you buy a new computer, you won’t need to transfer a mountain of data.

Need help setting up your new computer? Call Stacy (941) 246-1048; she can help.

Do you need help?

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