Soon, many people may be in the market for a new computer for themselves or as a gift for someone else. I got my first computer in 1988. I started advising people what to look for in a computer in 1990. Warning, many people will tell you that I am not a bargain computer type of guy. There are some people that INITIALLY hesitant regarding the price of the computer that I recommend that they buy. However, I have never, ever had a person come back to me and say, “John, my computer is just too fast. My computer has too much storage space. My computer is meeting too many of my current and future needs. My computer is lasting too long.”

Here are some things to consider when trying to figure what type of computer to buy.


Be honest with yourself about what you want to do with the computer today and in the future. Your current and future PC needs will dictate how much money you will need to spend.


I ask people how much they want to spend and I often here, “As little as possible.” I understand. We all what to get the most for our hard earned dollars. In my experience, you get more for your money up front. For example, my wonderful wife is cheap. Ten years ago we spent 2 months going to various stores looking for the “CHEAPEST” laptop.

She found a laptop for $300. I was against the purchase because I knew the laptop would barely meet her current needs and meeting her future needs was out of the question. She purchased the laptop.

In less than a month she wanted to run a certain software program. Her bargain laptop would not run the program. In order to really run this application WELL and have enough hard drive space to install it, she needed to buy more memory and a larger hard drive. The cheap laptop would end up costing her more money than if she had just spent the money up front on a good laptop.

If you have it, spend the money. You can recoup the money you spent by earning more money. However, what can you do with a computer that simply will not do what you need it to do? You either live with that unfortunate fact or spend more money (often more expensive) to upgrade the computer. Also, just don’t think about the cost of the additional part(s). You have to pay the PC tech as well.


Typically, you can find cheaper prices online. Even after doing your extensive online research and finding the perfect computer with all of the specs you want, try and go to a store and find that same model. Nothing beats touching\feeling a computer to see if you like the keyboard, how sturdy it feels (or not) and how heavy it is.


Buy as much memory as you can afford. Memory is the cheapest way to speed up a computer. The more memory you have, the quicker programs will load and you can have more programs running at the same time. With Windows 10, I would say the minimum amount of memory installed in a computer should be 8GB of RAM, 16GB of RAM would be even better.


The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brains of the computer. The faster the CPU, the faster the computer. CPU speeds are measured in Gigahertz (GHz) and the number of cores. The bigger the GHz number the faster the CPU. Cores are actually extra CPUs. The more cores your computer CPU has, the better your computer will be at multi-tasking. A single core 2GHz CPU is much slower than a four-core 2GHz CPU. Intel makes good CPUs. Take a look at computers with Intel i5 or i7 Core CPUs.


Yes, I know more and more people are storing files in the cloud. However, I think it is a very good idea to have files stored in BOTH the cloud and locally on your hard drive. You may not be able to access your files in the cloud if you do not have an Internet connection. For that reason, I recommend buying the largest hard drive you can afford.

A 250 gigabyte (GB) hard drive is a good minimum. A 1 terabyte (TB) hard drive may last you 3 years before you fill it up. Make a note of the RPM (revolutions per minute) speed of the hard drive as well. A 7200rpm drive is faster than a 5400rpm drive. If at all possible, get a SSD (Solid State Drive) drive. SSD drives are faster than the old school HDD (Hard Disk Drives) drives.


There are people that say all computers are basically the same on the inside and it does not matter what manufacturer you choose. Over the years I have found IBM\Lenovo and HP computers to be more reliable. I know several people that swear by Dell computers. Did I say that I like Lenovo computers?


In advance, have a plan in place to deal with technical problems you can’t handle. Tech support can come from the manufacture of your computer or your local tech guy. People often have a technical problem that they can’t fix and then they ask someone that they know that may be able to fix the problem. This person may not be interested in fixing your problem, especially for free. I used to fix computer problems. People wanted to pay me with cakes or pies. I no longer fix computer problems for friends or family members.


USB: How many Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports do you need? You can connect external hard drives, printers, flash drives, mice, and keyboards into a USB port.

HDMI: High-Definition Multimedia Interface. Do you plan on using the computer for entertainment? Want to connect it to your TV? You probably will want an HDMI port.

SD Slot: SD stands for Secure Digital. If you do a lot of photography work, you will need an SD slot to transfer pictures from your camera to your computer.


Got questions? Email me at

Happy PC shopping,




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