These days, it’s not unusual for individuals or families to have more than one type of computer. If you’re looking to carry your computer to work or on vacation, you obviously need a laptop. And some have slimmed down to weigh as little as a couple of pounds.
If mobility isn’t a concern, get a desktop, because it’s very likely that you’ll get more performance for the same money—plus more flexibility in customizing the machine once you buy it. (That’s one reason lots of serious gamers have desktops.) Those are two major categories of computer, but there are several variations to consider—and we haven’t even mentioned the choice of operating system yet.
Top 5 Desktop Pc
- 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10400 6-Core Processor (Up to 4.3GHz)
- 12GB 2666MHz DDR4 Memory | 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD | 8X DVD-Writer Double-Layer Drive (DVD-RW)
- System: Intel i7-10700F 2.9GHz (4.8GHz Max Turbo) 16GB DDR4 RAM 240GB SSD 1TB HDD Genuine Windows 10...
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB Dedicated Gaming Video Card VR Ready 1x DVI 1x HDMI 1x...
- CUSTOM BUNDLE OF 5 INTEGRATED ITEMS - HP Elite Desktop PC (Intel Quad Core i5 3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB...
- MICROSOFT WINDOWS 10 LATEST RELEASE - A brand new installation of the latest Microsoft Windows 10...
- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process...
- System: AMD Ryzen 3 3100 3.6GHz (3.9GHz Max Turbo) | 8GB DDR4 RAM | 240GB SSD | Genuine Windows 10...
- Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 550 2GB Dedicated Graphics Card | Display Connectors - Dual Link DVI-D, HDMI
Choosing a Processor, an OS, and More
Speed matters. Processors with multiple cores can process more data simultaneously, with four cores now increasingly common on laptops. Our ratings say how many cores a laptop’s processor has.
Clock speed, measured in gigahertz (GHz), along with the number of cores and other factors, determines how quickly a processor can process information. Many processors can up the speed a bit for a brief time to yield maximum performance. Generally, within a processor family, the higher the clock speed, the faster the processor. Clock speeds typically start at around 1 GHz for a mobile processor. Speeds can exceed 5 GHz for a desktop processor.
Another important factor when choosing a processor, especially for laptops: Lower power consumption equals longer battery life. If you’re looking for a very basic or budget computer to browse the web, email, and work on Office documents, basically every processor on the market should be sufficient. If you plan to watch high-resolution videos or play mainstream games, you should consider the Intel Core i5 and AMD’s Ryzen line of processors.
How Much Memory?
The more memory a computer has, the faster it is, up to a point. Memory is measured in gigabytes (GB). On both desktops and laptops, 8GB has become common, with 16GB found on higher-end devices. Unless you regularly have multiple large apps open at the same time, 8GB should be your target.
Windows 10 brings a more uniform interface across a variety of devices: computers, tablets, Xbox consoles, and smartphones. In addition, “universal apps” developed for Windows 10 will look and work the same on a variety of devices. And far more games are available for Windows computers than for Macs.
Macs can be more expensive, but they’re less prone to most viruses and spyware (in part because there are more Windows PCs out there than Macs, making them a bigger target for hackers), and Apple’s support has been tops in our surveys. The company’s phone support is free for only 90 days, but you can get unlimited technical support through the Genius Bar at an Apple Store. The latest version of macOS (previously known as OS X) is called Mojave and was released in the fall of 2018.
Graphics Adapter and Graphics Memory
Also known as the video card, graphics processing unit (GPU), or graphics card, this hardware is responsible for drawing what you see on your screen. Graphics processing comes in two basic flavors: It can either be integrated into the same chip that’s running the rest of the computer or it can run on a discrete piece of equipment.
Most computers have integrated graphics. This has usually been the less expensive and lower-performing option—fine for most tasks but not for serious gaming. If you play mainstream and extreme games with all the visual effects turned on or if you edit video, especially HD and Ultra High Definition (4K), you need discrete graphics. Light video editing and gaming and all other typical computer tasks will do fine with integrated graphics.
All About Drives and the Battery
Solid-State Drives: SSDs are a different type of storage technology, letting your computer access data without the moving parts required by a traditional hard drive. They are also the single largest performance boost you can give a computer over an identical computer with a hard drive.
SSDs don’t have the spinning disk of a conventional hard drive, so they use less power, work more quietly, and should be more resistant to damage—and less likely to fail mechanically. And because there are no moving parts, access to data should be quicker.