What To Look For in A New PC

[ad]Dear Computer Lady,

Another question, we run a small business what PC specs would you recommend I look for when purchasing a new PC (desktop).

Thank you, Sherona

Dear Sherona,

While I don’t know what you use the computer for in your business, I can tell you what to look for to get the most out of your computer and to keep it running your programs for as long as possible.

First, don’t assume that your new computer will last as long as your old one running XP has lasted. The average computer lasts about 5 years, and as a small business, you should plan to replace your computer every 4 to 5 years.

For your new desktop computer, I would suggest you look for a couple of things.

First, the processor. Processors have gotten as fast as they can without overheating, so the manufacturers have started putting several processors together on one chip. These are called multi core processors. If you have 4 processors working together, you can process 4 times the data at once.

I recommend getting a new computer with at least a quad core processor, 4 cores. If the sales person doesn’t know how many cores are in the computer he/she is trying to sell you, here is how you can check:

On the keyboard, press these three keys at the same time: Ctrl – Shift – Esc
This will open the Windows 10 Task Manager.

If you don’t see tabs across the top of the Task manager window, click “More Details”

Click on the Performance tab.

CPU should be already highlighted on the left, look at the bottom-right of the window and find the listing for “Cores” to see how many cores the computer has.

The other thing you want to have plenty of is RAM. I suggest you get a computer with 6GB to 8GB of RAM. More if you can afford it. My personal computer has 16GB.

If you get a computer with a quad core processor and 8GB of RAM, everything else on the computer will also be powerful enough to run your business for several years. You should know how much data you have and how much hard drive space you will need, but most computers these days come with 500GB to 1TB drives which is more than enough for most people.



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…. Share your experience in the comments box below.

Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • sixty06
    • November 7, 2015

    I tried your solution to find out how many cores I have and it didn’t show anything about cores when I went to the performance tab in my task manager. I took a picture of it. How do I send an attachment with this comment?

    • ron007
    • November 7, 2015

    Sherona, before you ask what “type” of computer to buy, you need to figure out how you are using it, and plan to use it in the future.

    Most business users I’ve been exposed to do very simple work on their computer. They do “MS Office”, email using Outlook and Word. A few will also use PowerPoint and/or Excel. And these days most people will do internet browsing. That will include viewing videos/youtubes. And that is basically it.

    That is all very simple computing and does not require a very high end computer. An ‘Intel i3 or i5’ CPU chip will be more than adequate. And it doesn’t even have to be the newest 6th gen aka “Skylake” chip. It easily can be a 4th or 5th gen chip.

    For this type of simple use, 4GB of RAM is adequate and 8GB is more than enough. More than that is a waste of money.

    Although 250GB and larger HD’s are becoming common, I personally don’t recommend them for general business use. In general business, you should be doing everything you can to encourage people to save business files on the business network (NOT the “cloud”). Files on the business network will be backed up regularly (you do have a regular backup plan working). Files on the desktop computer will not be regularly backed up. That means they are exposed to being lost at any time. For a general use business computer 64GB or 128GB is more than adequate. That size is also the range of inexpensive SSD type drives. Using a SSD instead of a “normal” spinning disk HD will make the computer seem to work faster, be more responsive.

    For existing computer users who are being upgraded they will already have monitors. As long as the monitor is adequate, you don’t have to buy a new one with the new computer. This will save you 100-200 dollars.

    You should be able to get a very usable general use business computer for $250-500 these days.

    For people who are doing more computer intensive work, graphics design, photo editing, video editing, working on really huge files you would want to bump up the specs on the computer. But that would be a relatively small percent of “common” business users.

    For people who are ‘mobile’ (sales people, recruiters etc), you could look at laptops, or tablets or 2-in-1’s (laptops that the monitor folds over so you can use it as a tablet). These will be somewhat more expensive than a desktop computer but will be more useful to them.

    Bottom line, if you are larger than a “mom and pop” shop (say 10-20 or less users) find a consultant who is computer hardware knowledgeable, who is NOT a salesman and will not be making money on the sale to evaluate your computer users and make recommendations. Over large numbers of machines purchased, the difference in cost between the machine I spec’d and the one Elizabeth spec’d should cover the cost of the consultant.

    One “tweak” I would suggest is consider using 2 monitors. Most current computers can actually handle it. For anyone who has to work with more document open at a time I find it really helps. You can have more of each document visible at the same time without having to zoom out to make them tiny. The natural reaction is to set both monitors in the “default” orientation, Landscape. I have found that rotating one to Portrait really helps. Documents like Word and many browser pages work better on a “long”, vertical, screen.

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