How to Buy a New PC

“While I have you…”

That is how the question always starts when I’m on the phone with an end user who wants my opinion on what kind of PC they should buy next.

“What do you recommend for a new computer?”

People seem to think that asking that is akin to asking their mechanic what they recommend for a good car.  The mechanic may tell you to “get a Toyota, they’re good cars”.  You, understanding that different cars are better for different things, would look at something like a Toyota Highlander or Sienna to move your family around and not a Yaris.  The same principle applies to computers, yet most people don’t understand that different computers are meant for different tasks.  A lot of people will buy that $300 laptop and get disappointed when it doesn’t accomplish the tasks they need it to do.  It’s a lot like buying a Toyota Yaris when you need a Highlander.

Luckily, shopping for a computer is easy.  You just need to identify your needs.

“What do I plan on using the PC for?”

This should be the first question you ask yourself.  There are a lot of choices depending on your needs.  Gone are the days of cookie-cutter PCs, unless, of course, we’re talking about a certain Malus pumila branded company.  Nowadays, there is a plethora of PCs out there to choose from.

Maybe you’re a student starting college.  You need something that is fast, has good battery life, compact and supports touch input.  Something like a convertible or a Microsoft Surface would work nicely for you.

Maybe you’re a mobile professional.  You may want something that is powerful and portable.  An ultrabook would be a good fit here.

Playing video games?  A gaming desktop may be right for you.

Once you identify your needs, you can select the PC that is right for you.


Say you need a car and you’re looking at a 4-door sedan.  You can either buy a Honda Accord or a BMW 5-series.  Both will do what you need them to do, but one is about $30,000 more expensive.  Once you determine which type of PC best suits your needs, you need to determine how much you want to spend.  The $1,600 PC may have more features or have a nicer fit and finish than the $800 one, but are these things that are important to you?  I always tell people to buy for performance not looks.

Do Your Research

Granted, buying a PC is not nearly as big as a purchase as buying a car, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research.  Read reviews online.  Compare models.  Go to the store and try them out.  This is especially true when shopping for a laptop.  Try out the keyboard and trackpad.  You may or may not like the way they feel.  It’s like buying a car, but not liking the ride quality.

Go to the store armed with knowledge.  The salesperson will try to upsell you on things you may not need.  Being informed will prevent you from making an unfavorable purchase.