Buying a brand-new desktop computer can be a little daunting, especially after you see the price tag. Even in the age of smartphones and tablets, desktop computers still cost a great deal. If you’re going to buy one, you might as well make sure it’s perfect for you and your needs. Selecting the desktop that’s right for you doesn’t have to be difficult. All you have to do is break down the pieces and figure out what you need.

How Will the Desktop be Used?

How you plan to use the desktop can drastically change your decision-making process. Not every desktop is the same. Some of them are wildly different from what you would find in an average office. So, your first decision is to figure out what you want the desktop to do for you. Selecting the desktop that’s right for you starts with what you need from the device.

If you’re looking for a desktop computer that can run games without any problems, then you’re going to want a high-frequency CPU. Basically, the more cores your CPU has, the better. This guide will explain more about CPUs and cores later. However, if you’re a professional looking for a new computer for work, you’re going to want a high-frequency CPU and a lot of memory storage. This guide is going to help you make sure you know what you’re looking for when buying a desktop, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

  1. Choosing the Operating System

The operating system is the program the computer runs on, making it functional for anyone to use. There are four popular operating systems you’ve probably heard of: Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS. Chrome OS is fairly new and based on Linux, which remains open-source and incredibly efficient if still not as common as the first two.

Mac, created by Apple and formally known as macOS, is excellent for protection and safety considering it works in a closed environment. However, this situation has a serious pitfall, wherein if your Mac does get infected with something, self-repairs and updates aren’t easy to do. The lifespan on Macs are also pretty great if you’re willing to pay the usually high price.

The most popular operating system is by far Microsoft’s Windows. Since all of the latest PC games are only available for Windows, this is the best operating system if you’re interested in gaming. The latest version is Windows 10, and it comes with two different releases: Pro and Home. The Pro version is excellent for business professionals as it comes with remote desktop, policy management and IT business support.

If you already find that you’re used to a particular operating system but aren’t sure which one it is, there are multiple ways to check. The most effective is to go to the About section of your PC. Every PC works in similar ways, but this example is going to be performed on an HP laptop using Windows 10.

First, you have to go to Settings. There are two ways to find it. The first way is to use the search function in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.

Type in Settings and the option should appear. Another way is to use the Start Menu.

Click on the Windows icon in the bottom left corner on your screen (an already clear indicator that you’re using Windows), and find the gear icon in the available options. Both of these ways will take you to the Settings.

Once you’re in the Settings window, click on System in the top left corner. This will take you to the System window.

On the left-hand pane, you’ll find a list of options to view in separate windows. Scroll all the way down and click on About. The About window will show you all the information about the computer you’ll need.

The third section in the window will show you what kind of operating system is running on the computer you’re using. This particular example shows that the computer is using Windows 10 Home Version 1903.

  1. Choosing the CPU

The operating system is the first thing you should consider when selecting the desktop that’s right for you. Next on that list should be the CPU. CPU stands for central processing unit and is the part of the computer that carries out instructions of programs, like a brain telling a body what to do. A single CPU on a chip is a core, and multiple CPUs on one chip is referred to as a multi-core processor. The more cores your computer has, the smoother it runs.

There are two major brands that make CPUs: Intel and AMD. Intel has been a popular brand for a long time that’s known for its efficiency, but AMD is a rising star that’s beginning to pass Intel in technology.

In the About window, you can see what kind of CPU your current computer uses.

In the Device Specifications section, you’ll find the name of your computer and all of the important hardware on your device. For the CPU, you’ll want to focus on the part labeled Processor.

Here’s a simple breakdown of what the example above means. The computer in the example has an Intel CPU with a three-core processor, meaning there are three CPUs on a single chip. The three-core Intel CPU runs at 2.20 gigahertz, meaning the internal clock of the CPU beats 2.2 billion times a second. The higher this number is, the faster and better your computer runs.

  1. Choosing the RAM

RAM stands for Random-Access-Memory and is the main storage space of the computer. The CPU works directly with the RAM, and the RAM is able to pull up multiple bits of information at any given moment as needed, hence the “random” in its name. Information about the RAM can be found in the About window in the Device Specifications section.

The RAM on the computer in the example has eight gigabytes of storage space available. 8 GB is an appropriate amount of RAM space for an average user, but if you’re using anything that’s data-intensive (like Photoshop, Lightroom, Video Games, Development), you’ll want to consider buying more. The more ram you have, the less bottlenecking you’ll feel when you have multiple applications open.

  1. Choosing HDD or SSD

Your computer needs to store data, like applications, your operating system, and any documents and files. Most files are stored in the cloud these days (like iCloud or Google Drive), so users don’t need to have a ton of data.

HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive and is the older form of secondary memory. The HDD is a magnetic storage device that uses rotating disks that spin quickly (and loudly) to access memory. The SSD or Solid-State Drive is a newer form of secondary memory that uses integrated circuits with no need for spinning disks. In terms of speed, the SSD is almost always faster.

To find out what kind of drive your current computer uses, go again to the System Settings.

Instead of About, find Storage in the list of options on the left-hand pane.

On the right-hand pane in the Storage window, scroll down to the More Storage Settings section and click on Optimize Drives.

The Optimize Drives window will tell you the current state of your secondary storage options. In this example, only one drive appears in the list.

Here’s some suggestions for storage:

  • 128GB+ for people who are just using it for YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, and Email
  • 256GB+ for people who will have a handful of applications, music, or photos.
  • 512GB+ for people with many applications, no cloud storage, and have their music and photo libraries stored locally. Maybe you have a couple of video games as well.
  • 1TB+ for people who are playing a lot of video games, or professional developers/photographers/videographers.

Taking Care of Your New Desktop Computer

Once you’re done selecting the desktop that’s right for you, also taking ports and graphic cards into account if needed, you need to be able to take care of your new PC. One of the best ways you can defend your computer from bugs and malware, beyond getting decent anti-virus software, is always to make sure your device is up to date in every aspect. Services like Driver Support can help your computer out with this problem.

Driver Support has been helping desktop owner since 1996 by offering free software to keep your drivers updated. Their paid option also gives you a detailed list of all drivers on your desktop computer, allowing you to keep them as safe as possible by always keeping an inventory and providing missing drivers. With this support and knowledge at your back, you can keep your new desktop around for many years to come.

Download Driver Support now to get a full inventory of all the devices and drivers on your desktop computer. If you choose to register their service, Driver Support will always keep your devices updated with no hassle. You’ll never have to find drivers manually or try to remember scheduling updates with Driver Support.