Replacing You Windows XP Computer?

You may have decided that you need to replace you old computer because it is running Windows XP and you know Microsoft has decided to no longer support XP after April 8. The question becomes what should you replace the old system with?

My recommendation is to first decide if you want a tablet, laptop or desktop version. There are pro’s and con’s with each version. So let us take a moment to briefly look at them.

1)      Tablet: Tablets are getting a lot of attention these days, but they might not be the best choice for you. Why? Because tablets are designed around portability, long battery life, and being able to be hand held, they don’t usually have a very powerful computer processor. They are also designed not to be upgraded, meaning if you want something better, you have to buy a new tablet. Because of their design, tablets are very hard to fix. They are great for checking email, playing Candy Crush, watching a movie on Netflix, and your favorite social networking site. A tablet can do word processing and spread sheets but because of their small screens they are not practical if you use them daily.

2)      Laptop: Like the tablet, the laptop is designed around the idea of portability. However, because they are not designed as a hand held device, they have more space in them to hold more components. This translates into more powerful processors as well as access points for upgrade to memory. Laptops are easier to have repaired than tablet, but their small parts do offer a challenge. In some cases there is also room for a DVD drive which is great if you still load programs from disc and/or you burn discs for home movies.  Unlike many tablets, laptops usually will USB and Video ports which allow you to connect a wider selection of peripherals.

3)       Desktop: Because the idea of portability if not a chief concern when building a desktop, the manufacture has a lot of room to add components to a computer.  It also usually allows for you to upgrade your computer as your needs grow. Also, due to their size, they are the easiest to fix. However, if you need to take it somewhere, you have a box, keyboard, and monitor to lug around.

If you need portability, but not a lot of horsepower, a tablet might be the way to go. If you need portability and horsepower, then a laptop is the way to go. If you don’t need the portability, and looking for something upgradeable, a desktop is the way to go.

If you choose to go with a tablet, I should stress that Windows based tablets have one of two different versions of Windows 8.x installed on them. The reason for the two versions is tablets either run what is known as an ARM processor which needs a specific set of directions to make it work, while other tablets run on an Intel processor that takes a total different set of directions to make it work.  This is why when the original Microsoft Surface came out there were two versions: the Surface RT and the Surface. The Surface RT ran on an ARM processor and used Windows 8 RT. The Surface on the other hand had an Intel processor and used Windows 8. There are pro’s and con’s to both versions which I don’t have the space to expound upon here, so I offer this link to Microsoft’s website which outlines the differences -http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-rt-faq

If you choose to go with a laptop or a desktop, you need to consider the amount of memory the computer, the size of the hard drive, the type of processor and video card you need.  Fortunately, they first two questions are easy to answer.

To run most programs, 4 gigabytes (or 4 GB) of memory is all you need for your computer unless you are doing video editing or playing high end games; then you might want to go to 8 GB.  You can now get computers which hard drives as large at 1 terabyte (1 TB or approximately 1,000 GB).  If you do a lot of photo editing, or you have a large collection of videos or mp3 files, you might need that large of storage. However, I believe a maximum of 500 GB will suffice for most users.

To recommend a specific processor and video card is difficult. The reason being there always seems to be a new processor and video card coming out daily. There are some general guidelines I do offer however. If you are a casual computer user (internet, email, solitaire) you don’t need a real powerful processor and video card. At the time of this writing, an Intel I3 processor and an on board, video card would be fine.   If you are a business user, a middle of the road processor and standard video card should suffice. In this case, and Intel I5 processor and a lower end Radeon video card. If you are a gamer, you will need a higher end processor and video card. You definitely want an I7 and two video cards in a Crossfire or SLI configuration. (However, if you are a gamer, most likely you know that already since we are all about power computers.)

Before you buy anything, decide how you want to use the computer and if you need portability. Then look for something that fits your needs. Don’t settle for something that is under powered because it was a good deal. Also don’t buy something you don’t need. Granted it will meet your needs, but if you are not going to use the horsepower, you spent money on something you are not going to use.

Also do not buy anything at the spur of the moment. If possible talk to a sales person to get his/her impression of the product. Ask if other customers seem to be happy with the computer or are they getting a lot of returns. Check online and read reviews on the computer you are interested in.  Be careful of the “customer reviews.” These reviews can be faked. Look at the 1 and 2 star ratings. What issues are these people having? Sometimes they are people who had unrealistic expectations, but other times they point to real issues with a computer. Also go to the manufacture’s website and look and the support forums. What issues are listed there? How are they being handled by the manufacture?

Know what you want and doing a little research will go a long way in helping you find a computer that will meet your need.

Recommended Article: How to Set Up A PC

Rather than rewrite or rehash a perfectly good article, I suggest the following article from Maximum PC. It show you how to clean up a brand new computer and then configure it they way you want it. It is a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it.

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How to Set Up a PC

 Posted 07/08/2013 at 5:45pm | by Gordon Mah Ung and David Murphy