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 Choosing the Right Computer

Buying a new computer is like buying any other investment. A few things to keep in mind when considering a new purchase are price, performance and capabilities.  A computer used strictly for email, web surfing and word processing does not require as much horsepower under the hood as a PC designed for gaming, video editing or animation.  Analyzing what you need the computer for will help narrow down your choices.  You may like all the bells and whistles but you may find yourself restricted by your budget. 



If you need to carry your computer with you, consider a laptop.   

Netbooks are smaller and more affordable than a laptop.  However, they do not have as much power since they are designed more for basic tasks such as word processing, web surfing and checking email.  Also, be aware that netbooks do not have a DVD drive and the smaller keyboard may not be as comfortable.  

Tablets, such as the iPad, are trendy laptop replacements but they lack a physical keyboard, which means they might not be as comfortable for a lot of typing.  

Desktop computers have more options in terms of power, functionality, easier and cheaper to upgrade and are less likely to be damaged or stolen.  


Brand Names     

Going with a no-name can save you some money. The old adage, you get what you pay for generally runs true. It is more cost effective to buy brand name components (ie. motherboards, memory, hard drives, etc) than it is to buy a whole brand name computer. Make sure you know what type of components you are getting. They will last longer and give you better service in the long run. Many brand name computers today come with brand proprietary software and/or trial software that expire after 30 days, leaving the customer to purchase the full version at full price. 

Custom built systems come with reliable components, the operating system and software that you need. 


Technical Support     

While mainstream computer companies provide free technical support for one year, the customer is often frustrated due to long phone wait times or a language barrier if technical support is located in another country. When trying to fix a computer issue, generally speaking, it is easiest deal with someone local. The technician would also be able to answer any questions you may have about your computer.  


Operating System   

When considering an operating system, there are a few things you may want to consider.  

Windows is commonly used and most other software and hardware available is already compatible and has the relevant drivers. It is sufficient for everyday computing, (documents, spreadsheets, emails, surfing etc.) 

However, today's more robust Windows operating systems require higher system specs to function efficiently.   



Choosing a processor can be tricky if, you don't understand what it is and how it works. A processor, also known as a CPU (central processing unit), is an electronic circuit that can perform computer functions. When searching for a new computer and researching its processor, you might come across information like this: Intel Pentium, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, i3, i5 and i7.  These processors will also have other numbers included in the model (Q8300, 2.60 GHz, 8MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB).  Without knowing this computer lingo, you may not know what you're buying. The following is a break down.  

a. Intel is the brand name of the processor. There are other brands available such as AMD.  

b. Pentium Processor is Intel's generation name for their processor. Every generation has new and improved technology and offers different benefits.  

c. Q8300 is similar to a company's item number. This number, or one similar to it, is a way of tracking what specifications the processor has, such as the GHz and MB's.  

d. 2.60 GHz. GHz is short for gigahertz, which describes how fast a computer runs.  

e. 8MB L2 Cache. MB is short for megabytes, which is used to describe how much storage is inside the processor. Cache assists the processor to reduce the average time to access the storage or memory.
f. 800MHz FSB. MHz is short for megahertz, which measures the speed the processor takes to process tasks. FSB (Front Side Bus) describes how fast the data is transferred between the chips in the motherboard to parts such as the processor, RAM, video card and the hard drive.  

Memory (RAM)   

Memory, also known as RAM (random access memory), is a component that stores data. This is usually referred to temporary memory and is used every time you open an application, use the Internet or play a game. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer will respond. References to RAM or memory might looks like this: 1GB DDR2 System Memory (1 DIMM).  

a. 1 GB. GB is short for gigabyte, how much data storage your RAM has. Windows 7 Home Premium requires at least 1 gigabyte of RAM, so I would recommend at least double if you choose Windows 7.  

b. DDR2 - DDR is short for Double Data Rate, which is a type of computer memory. The number 2 was added to the original DDR when it was improved to send more data. The higher the number, the faster data can be sent and received.  

c. DIMM is short for dual in-line memory module. This describes the memory stick that is inserted in your computer. The number in front of DIMM indicates how many sticks of RAM the computer has.  

Hard Drive   

The hard drive is the primary part of any computer where all the files and programs are stored. If the hard drive fails or becomes damaged, you may lose all your important information unless you back up your important files. When researching hard drives you might come across information like: 160GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive.  

a. 160 GB. GB is short for gigabyte. This indicates how much data storage the hard drive has. Windows 7 Home Premium requires 40 GB with an addition 15GB of available space. As time goes on, you will start to see hard drives that say 1 TB, which is short for terabyte, and is equivalent to 1024 Gigabytes.  

b. 5400RPM. RPM is short for revolutions per minute. The higher the RPM's the faster the seek speed which is the delay associated with reading or writing data.

c. SATA Hard Drive. SATA is short for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment.  

Graphics Card   

The graphics card is hardware found in all computers and displays the images onto your computer screen. When researching graphics cards you might come across information like: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD.  

a. Intel is the brand name of the graphics card. There are other companies available and you want to consider if you are going to play games or run any high graphics programs.  

b. Graphics Media Accelerator is Intel's generation name for their graphics card. Every generation has new and improved technology and offers different benefits.  

c. 4500MHD. 4500MHD is similar to a company's item number. This number, or one similar to it, is a way of tracking what specifications the graphics card offers.  


Final Decision   

After all that, you finally get to start choosing the appearance of your computer. Here you get to choose between a laptop and a desktop, the color, screen size, accessories, weight, battery life, and what kind of software and security features you want your computer to have. There are many more aspects of what you may find when searching for your next computer.  

Call us at 416-827-1224 and we will help you make the right decision, even custom build the system that is right for you. Your needs are unique and we work with that.


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