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Covering the most important computer specifications and what they mean. It used to be difficult for the average computer buyer with all the focus on feeds and speeds -- MB, GB, GHz RAM, ROMS, Bits and Bytes.
Computers have a geeky history and new models often come with a bewildering array of specifications that you have to troll through. The good news is that understanding what the specifications mean when buying a computer is getting easier. Now, only the processors, graphics, hard drive, and memory really matter. What do these parts do and what do you need to know about them when you buy a computer?
Well, let's start with the processor or CPU. The processor is an incredibly complex piece of technology that consists of billions of transistors, all of which work together to function like a computer's brain. When buying a computer a few years ago, the thinking or computing speed that a processor operated at, really determined how good it was. The speed is measured in gigahertz and the more gigahertz, the more computing power that's available.
Today, PCs are very different. Instead of using only one processor, they use multi-core processors. Well, this is like having 2, 4, or even more brains or cores in one head all working in tandem and adding up to an amazing amount of thinking power. The actual speed of these cores isn't the only factor in determining how powerful a processor is. Now, it's the speed plus the number of cores as well as how sophisticated the cores are.
When choosing the processor in your computer, look for signs like "the latest generation" and "multi-core" to ensure you're buying the top end kit. On today's computers, you may not notice any single application running faster, but you'll notice that they are much better at running many programs at once. You could be browsing the Internet while playing music with your mail program open and all running smoothly as your anti-virus software checks over your computer all at the same time.
Beyond the processor, memory is an important specification. Memory, measured in gigabytes of RAM, is not the same as hard drive storage space. RAM is a specific type of memory that your computer needs to keep close at hand in order for it to operate efficiently. A quick rule of thumb is that you'll need 2 gigabytes or more of memory to run today's programs, but 4 gigabytes is better if you want to run quite a few applications all at once or more graphically intensive tasks like editing video or working with large format photos.
You might see some sales pitch on the graphics capabilities of new PCs. Now, this doesn't refer to screen size or screen resolution. Instead, graphics processing is about a computer's ability to manage a lot of visual detail very quickly. Graphics really only apply to gamers. If you don't play fast action 3-D games, well you don't need to worry. Well, there you have it. Understanding a computer specification is simpler these days. All you really need to focus on is the processor, the RAM, and the graphics. Here's a handy chart to recap the core elements. It'll help you make a more informed decision.