How To Wisely Buy A New Computer

We are now into 2012, and your old computer just quit. Do you fix it or buy a new computer? If the computer is 5 years old or older, then probably buying a new computer is the better strategy. Many computers manufactured 5 to 9 years ago have hardware components that fail mandating replacement of the computer. Please read on to understand how to buy the best computer for your needs.

The first decisions to make in buying a new computer are very basic. By answering these questions you determine your basic purchase strategy:

1. Please ask yourself “How much can I spend?” The computer prices range from $200 to $400, $450 to $800, and $900 and up.

2. Next determine the computer type (or style) that works best for you. The types of computers are desktop, laptop, and tablet. These types of computers differ in their size, portability, and functionality. Desktop computers are the least portable. They are good for using multiple displays and heavy workloads. Laptops vary in size and portability. The big ones have 17-inch display making them luggable for occasional trips. Big laptops have most of the capabilities of a desktop but the computing horsepower is lower than a desktop in order to conserve laptop battery power. Similarly, the display is smaller with lower resolution than displays used with desktop computers. Tablet computers are the most portable. They can do a lot, but with a much smaller display. The tablets are a powerful, portable information tool that is one step above a smartphone.

3. Finally, the timeless question is: Do I buy an Apple or another computer? The other computer main selections are Windows 7 operating system or Android operating system computers. There are also Linux computers. Linux is free General Public License software operating system. Linux computers are equivalent for everyday users to Windows and Apple computers. The single difference between Linux and Windows is that with a Linux computer you only pay for the computer hardware which is a huge savings over Apple and Windows computers.

The market for Apple computers is tightly controlled. This means that Apple computers work very well with few problems. They are seldom attacked by malicious software. Everything an enthusiastic Apple owner says about their Apple is true. They are also beautiful looking computers. The down side is that they are expensive. When an Apple does malfunction, you have a big problem. If the Apple computer is under warranty, then you schedule a visit to the Apple store and wait in line to get it fixed. Also, you pay a lot for the repair.

In contrast Windows 7 computers are like the Wild West. In the Wild West anything can and does happen. There are many competing hardware and software products for Windows 7 computers. Windows 7 computers are the most malware, spyware, and virus attacked computers. Because there are more Windows computers sold than any other computers, Windows computers are the biggest target to attack. Apple computers also get viruses, but much less often than Windows computers. Windows computers can be cheap computers but they are not cheaper than Linux computers.

4. The final question is: What computer manufacturer do you like? Each manufacturer has its approach to selling computers. My preference is manufacturers that do not add fancy frills beyond the basics that come with Windows or the computer operating system. Most of the frills try to sell you something, provide functions that a redundant with the operating system, they occupy screen space getting in the way of what you are doing, and they overload and slow down the computer. For example, HP computers are like Big MACs, they taste great but come with a lot of software fat. Lenovo computers are like a bank vault. They secure your data but are miserable to fix because of the security. It seems that all computers come with an annoying “dock” or application launcher. It takes up a lot of screen space and really adds little beyond what Windows itself provides. It is always cheaper to purchase a package than to build a custom computer. Purchasing custom computer parts is always more expensive than buying a packaged system from a manufacturer because the manufacturers purchase computer components in such high volume.

Once your basic strategy is determined, then it is time to find a computer. The approach here is to use the Internet to perform the initial shopping and then go to the store to make the final decision and purchase. Please go to the web site of a computer retailer near you such as Best Buy or Staples. Search their site based on the type (or style) of computer that works best for you. The site should produce a list of computers from which to choose. Sort them by “Best Selling” and check the “Customer Reviews”. Please determine how the price compares to your budget. Most retail store sites permit comparing the features of three computers side by side. Carefully select three computers for comparison.

This approach was used to compare from one retailer three desktop computers moderately priced. They ranged from $429.99 to $699.99. The $429.99 computer used a 3.3 GHz Intel i3 CPU chip, had 6 GB RAM, and a 1 TB disk drive. The 549.99 computer used an AMD 2.4 GHz CPU chip, had 8 GB RAM, and had a slower 5,400 rpm 1.5 TB drive. The $699.99 computer used an Intel 3.0GHz i5 CPU chip, had 6 GB RAM and a 7,200 rpm 1 TB drive. The differences between these systems are not likely to make the most expensive system perform that noticeably better to a user than the least expensive system. As long as the hardware features are generally in the same range the performance seems to be the same for each computer.

All systems used the latest DDR3 RAM. The computer with 8 GB of RAM may perform better than those computers with 6 GB of RAM. One thing is certain; all these computers would be decidedly faster than a Windows XP system with 2 GB of RAM. While special performance test programs can measure the performance difference between a 2.4 GHz AMD CPU chip computer and a 3.3 GHz Intel i5 CPU chip computer, people barely notice the difference. What people do notice is that AMD chip computers usually are cheaper by $100 or more than Intel CPU chip computers.

The Windows Performance Index is a measure of the combined performance of all the components of a Windows Vista or a Windows 7 computer. The Windows Performance Index is a single number that varies between 1 and 7.9. Low end systems have Windows Performance Index numbers in the 3.4 to 4.5 range. A computer with a 3.4 score perform the same as a computer with a 4.5 score to a human. To see a performance difference the Windows Performance Index would need to go from a 4.5 to a 7.5.

The Windows Performance Index is not mentioned in any advertising to my knowledge. It is found on Windows 7 computers by opening START, clicking the right mouse button on the COMPUTER menu selection and then selecting PROPERTIES from the drop down menu that appears. To see Windows Performance Index you would need to have a store sales person fire up the computer and help you view it.

Apple computers usually have hardware operates at slower speeds and has smaller capacities than Windows computers. The Apple computers perform as well as or better than their Windows competitors because they use a different and tightly controlled operating system. The software interaction with the hardware makes up for the slower Apple hardware.

The final comparison area is in the display. Monitors today use Light Emitting Diode (LED) backlighting. The LEDs use little power and should last seemingly forever. Monitor physical size contributes to visibility. A character on a 14-inch monitor is smaller than the same character on a 24-inch monitor. The bigger monitor images are more easily viewed. Monitors resolution is expressed in horizontal by vertical dots or pixels. Typically they are something like 1600 by 900 dots. Monitors with a larger number of dots of vertical resolution have a better display. Often monitors will be advertised as 1080p. The 1080p resolution is 1080 dots of vertical resolution with each line refreshed on each scan cycle. On a 1600 by 1200 monitor you can see a full 8.5 by 11 inch page when it is viewed at full size or 100% zoom. Monitors with 900 dots vertical resolution often cut off the bottom of the page when it is viewed at full size.

The final bit of wisdom to consider in purchasing a new computer is not to purchase the most expensive computer. Here is why. A client asked me to get him a computer. At the Dell web site I configured a computer with what seemed to be modest features. This computer cost $3,000. At Costco they offered a computer package that had somewhat lower performance features for under $1,000. If the client purchased a new $1,000 computer every year for three years, at the end of three years he would have better computer than if he purchased the $3,000 Dell computer. Only purchase the most expensive computer if you must absolutely have the features and performance it provides. Otherwise stay with more moderately priced computers and purchase them more often. Buying two $400 computers is better than going for a single $800 computer in the long run.

Scope of Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer Science is very broad field based on the studies of hardware and software design. Computer science covers different areas of designing, installation and maintenance of complex systems. Major subjects of the computer sciences include computer systems, maintenance of communication network and development of core digital technologies. Areas of specialties include artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine behavior. Basic aim of computer science studies is to investigate algorithms and use of computer systems to solve problems of business and government. Computer science professionals create and maintain most effective computer systems with latest technology. Computer science is one of the rapidly growing industries at present. Many universities offer associate, bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees in computer Sciences.

Major Areas of Specialization

In combination to general subjects universities offers specialization in different areas of computer sciences. These areas include software development, language development and modification, system development, algorithms, hardware maintenance, database systems, numerical analysis and information management.

Skills Earned

Online degrees in computer sciences develop number of specific skills in the students. Some important skills include the following:

o You will be able to create and apply new technology.
o Software design and analysis
o Identification of problems and solution
o Complete multitask with in defined time frame
o You will learn to work independently as well as in teams.
o Also learn how to identify errors and rectify these errors
o You will able to select the correct programming language and hardware systems to complete assigned project.
o You will effectively use operating systems, text editors and compilers in documenting of programs.

Online Degrees Available in Computer Sciences

In addition to degrees offered by traditional universities different top accredited online universities and colleges also offer online degrees in computer sciences. These degrees include Online Associate Degree in Computer Science, Online Bachelor Degree in Computer Science, Online Master Degree in Computer Science and Online PhD Degree in Computer Science. Online education has now become a good option for many people who are not able to join traditional institutes due to some personal and financial reasons. Online Education is also beneficial for working professionals who wants to gain progress in their fields and want to upgrade careers with latest knowledge. Online degrees prove more beneficial if you also join any internship program. You can join different careers after earning online degrees in computer sciences. You can join number of different careers in the field of computer science such as software designing, computer and software sales, programming, computer system development, networking manager, computer hardware professional, computer game development, graphics designer and system manager. These are some examples of opportunities available for computer science degree holders.

Career Path for Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer science consists of theoretical programming and advanced computing solutions. Computer scientists can work in three different areas.

o Computer Scientist design and build software
o Also design useful methods to solve computing problems such as storage of data in databases, transmit data over networks and new methodologies to solve security problems.
o Formulation of new and improved approaches to use

Design and Application of Software

Computer science professionals design software for various purposes including web development, interface design, security issues and mobile computing. Majority of computer science graduates join this career path. Bachelors in computer science provides gateway to enter this field of software designing and its application. Graduates can also continue their education and gain masters degree in computer sciences. You can find jobs in large or small software houses, companies providing computer services and every kind of large organization such as industry, government, banking, healthcare etc.

Develop New Ways to Use Computers

Instead of designing software computer professionals also find new ways to modernize the use of computers. This can achieve by making advancement in computer technology. Computer graduates who are involved in advance graduate work in research university, industrial research and laboratory invent new and improved ways to use computers. The basic aim of such innovations is to simplify the use of computers and computer users can enjoy using computers with new and improved devices and methods. These devices include robotics, computer vision and digital forensics. Dot-com language is the example of such progress in computer sciences.

Discover Effective Ways to Solve Computing Problems

Computing problems can be solved by developing and applying computer science theories and algorithms. Computer science professionals make use of these two i.e. theories and algorithms to discover best possible solution of severe computing problem. To join this field as career students are required to have graduate degree to Ph.D. level with current working experience in a research university, industrial research and development laboratory.

The basic aim of computer science is to explore algorithms, design efficiency and application of computer systems to solve the problem of businesses and government organizations. Computer professionals maintain and formulate effective ways with latest technology. Computer science is rapidly growing industry. You will have lot of opportunities to work as computer professional. Number of computer users is increasing day by day and that’s why development and maintenance of computer system has become important issue. More and more trained professionals are required to fulfill the needs of industry.

12 Ways That Renting a Computer Will Save You Money

If you are looking for ways to save money, computer rental is definitely something that you should consider. Not only is it far cheaper to rent a computer than to buy one outright, you can also save yourself money on finance charges, upkeep, maintenance and the headaches involved with owning a brand new laptop or personal computer.

12 Ways Renting a Computer Will Save You Money

There are so many ways to save by computer rental instead of purchasing laptops or a desktop computer that it would be difficult to list them all here. However, the following twelve ways that you save by choosing computer rental should give you an idea of the kinds of savings you are looking at.

Renting a computer is cheaper. Instead of having to come up with hundreds or thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, you can spend a set amount every month.

When you rent a computer you don’t have to worry about the pesky finance charges that so often come attached to computer credit accounts. All the costs are in your monthly rental fee.

Computer Rental is better for the environment. By recycling computers you can cut your carbon footprint on the planet.

By renting a computer you are acting responsibly from a social perspective. Computers are often made by underpaid employees in overseas factories. Reducing the need for this kind of exploitation is acting socially responsible.

Renting a computer instead of buying means you don’t have to spend money on upkeep. Anything that goes wrong with a computer rental, even with the computer hardware is maintained by the rental agency, which will make sure that it gets fixed.

When you rent a computer you don’t have to worry about upgrading your computer. Rental computers are upgraded regularly. If you are renting your computer for the long-term, you are sent upgrades as part of your rental policy.

You don’t have to worry about your computer becoming obsolete. When you are renting a computer the rental agent will make sure that your computer stays viable. If a computer that you are renting becomes obsolete, then

When you rent a computer, you do not have to buy your computer accessories separately. They come with the cost of the rental.

If you get bored with your rental PC you can trade it in for another model such as a gaming pc.

Ready for an upgrade? Say you want something more powerful than your current model, like something that manufacturers have come up with. By turning in your old model and signing a new contract you can get an upgraded computer without having to spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

You can choose to rent other equipment as well. If you should, say, want a projector or other piece of equipment, you don’t have to buy those outright either. You can add the cost of renting the projector, even if it is for a short time, to your monthly computer rental bill.

Finally, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a warranty to have your computer fixed. The rental agency keeps the repairmen on staff and keeps you from having that extra charge.

Why Computer Rental is the Smart Choice

PCs can be very expensive. You can save yourself a great deal of money by renting a computer. You can also save yourself a great deal of hassle. By choosing computer rental over purchasing a whole new computer you are not only acting responsibly for your own financial future, you are also acting in the best interest of the environment as well.

How to Build a Computer and Component Selection

I get asked the same question very often, how to build a computer? It can be very deceiving to the average person’s eyes when they glance into an open computer. There are different “pieces” to be found and quite a few wires running around from one part to the next. All of this can be quite confusing and discouraging. The best advice I can give is that it looks more complicated that what it actually is. Don’t be afraid to do some trial and error to figure things out, within reason. Of course you have to be careful and not force components in spots they do not belong, but it is difficult to mix up as most things can only go one way, and will only fit in the correct location. Over the years it is how I learned most of what I do today, trial and error. One something goes wrong, there is always a way to fix it, and sometimes it just takes some patience and research to figure out a way to fix the problem.

I started building computers around 1996, when I was ten years old, and it became a hobby of mine which led into a business about 16 months ago. Over the years there has been a lot to learn and pick up on, and that is the thing with technology and computers. Computers are always changing and updating for more performance, reliably, smaller size, ease of use and less energy consumption in more recent years to become “green” on the environment.

But that is enough with the history, it is now time to move onto the actual computer building process from start to finish. There is quite a bit to cover and there are many ways to go about the process, but I will share my personal views and opinions along the way.

To start things off you have to ask yourself what you want the computer for. It could be a basic machine for simple web browsing, such as Facebook and E-mail. Another need could be simply for a media center, a computer hooked up with an entertainment center for movie watching purposes, music, recording, and internet television as well as any other uses hooked up to a television full time. The machine may be used primarily for gaming. A gaming computer can be a touchy subject as everyone’s views are different. Some may just be happy with playing a game on lower setting, and others may want everything turned up to the max with room to spare for future game titles. The final use I will touch into would be photo and video editing. A lot of times a high end gaming computer, and a photo/video editing machine will have many similarities. You do not necessarily have to have an extremely powerful system for videos and photos, but it will certainly cut down on the time required. If someone is looking to produce lengthy videos, it could take ages to accomplish on a less powerful computer. One thing I will say is no matter what you are looking to build a computer for, figure out a budget of available funds and go from there. There is no sense in looking at very costly premium components, when there is just no budget for it. Many would be quite surprised at how inexpensive a fairly powerful system can be “now days.” I never recommend to buy the latest and greatest as it will cost a premium and will be replaced by something better in around six months’ time. That is just how the computer world works.

Once the purpose of the computer and a budget is planned out, there are a handful of main components that are required to assemble a fully functional computer. These core components include;

The chassis which houses and protects all of the components,

The power supply (PSU) which supplies power to the computer from the wall,

Motherboard which is the central location for all the components to communicate with each other,

Graphics card, which is responsible for putting an image on your computer screen that you can see and interact with,

Processor (CPU) which functions as the brains of the operation, calculating millions of operations every second,

Memory (RAM) which stores temporary information calculated by the processor for fast access,

Hard drive, or hard disk which is the permanent storage device, holding all of the user’s data and programs,

Removable storage such as CD/DVD/Blu-Ray readers and burners, USB drives and other storage devices.

The first component we will start with is the motherboard. This is pretty much the central location where everything plugs into. The motherboard is full of “highways” which pass data between all the components. There are many kinds of motherboards available, most commonly there are AMD and Intel based boards. An AMD bases motherboard must be matched with an AMD processor and vice versa. An Intel based motherboard with an Intel processor. There are also different form factors, or sizes available, which must be matched with a proper case for a proper fit. Most commonly there are Micro ATX, ATX, Extended ATX, and more recently Mini ITX which is of a very small size for when space is extremely limited, such as in an entertainment center. There are also other sizes available but these are the most common platforms I deal with. The computer case chosen must be compatible with the size of the motherboard, if the motherboard is an ATX form factor, the case has to support an ATX size. Another main factor to take into consideration is the type of socket. The processor (CPU) mounts onto the motherboard and the socket must be the same. Both AMD and Intel have their own sockets and naming schemes. For example a modern Intel machine may be a socket 1155, and AMD machine may be an AM3 socket. So if the motherboard is an 1155 board the CPU must also be an 1155. Just be sure to do your research and make sure that the chosen CPU and motherboard are compatible with each other. It is worth noting that a CPU cannot be returned after purchase unless it is defective. So a mistake pairing up an incorrect CPU with a motherboard would not be a good thing to happen

The processor or CPU is a small chip made of silicon wafers that calculates millions of numbers extremely fast. In the computer world everything is a binary system which is made up of ones and zeros. Different combinations result in different things. The CPU is usually referred to as the brains of the computer. On modern Intel processors the contact side contains a large amount of pads which make contact with pins on the motherboard socket. AMD is the opposite having the pins on the CPU itself, and the pads on the motherboard. Quite a few years ago, Intel also had the pins on the CPU but that changed over the years. I remember having bent pins and straightening them out with a tiny pointy object. That would be very hard to do now days as there can be in excess of over 1,000 pins in close proximity to each other.

A processor makes a significant amount of heat, and needs something to keep the temperatures under control. Otherwise in a matter of seconds under a lot of work, a CPU would “burn” itself up and become a paperweight. In most cases a heat sink and a cooling fan will accomplish this task. A thin layer of thermal compound is applied in between the surface of the processor and the heat sink to optimally unload heat. A heat sink will usually be made up of several cooling fins which are then cooled by a fan blowing air across. Many retail boxed AMD and Intel processors will come with a stock cooling solution which is sufficient for the average user. The manufacturer will not sell a cooler along with their product that is not adequate. An aftermarket cooler may be chosen for less fan noise, or for those who like to push their computers passed the manufactures settings, which creates more heat, resulting in a higher performing cooling unit.

In more extreme cases, there may be liquid cooling or sometimes called water cooling. Technically water should not be used as it is conductive and will create corrosion over time without proper additives. In a water cooling setup, there will still be a block attached to the top of the processor, which allows liquid to pass through the inside and keep it cool. There will then be a radiator just like an automobile, and a fan(s) to cool the liquid as it passes through the radiator with the use of a pump.

Next, we will move onto the memory (RAM). RAM stands for random access memory. It is used to temporarily store data and will lose all stored data upon power loss. Memory is very fast and is right in line with the processor to quickly pass data back and forth to be calculated. Memory comes in different forms as well. On most modern computers, the type of memory being required is DDR3. There are different speeds which memory comes in and must be matched up with the chosen motherboard as well, just like the processor. Memory comes in various capacities. Different memory kits will have a varying number of modules and capacities. I would recommend either 8GB or 16GB of memory as it is in a very good price range this day and age. For a memory hungry video editing/photo editing machine, 16GB would come in very handy or possibly even 32GB if going all out!

For the graphics card there are several possibilities. Many times the chosen motherboard/CPU combination will have integrated on board video. Which means the graphics card is already built into the computer. No additional hardware would be needed. In some cases, a discrete graphics card can be used in conjunction with the on board video to further performance. In other situations there may be no integrated video at all and a graphics cards is required for the computer to function. Current graphics cards will occupy a PCI express slot (PCIe). AMD and their A series processors are a great solution currently for integrated graphics. They perform very well and are plenty for a general use computer and light duty gaming. For higher end gaming a dedicated graphics card will be needed, and if wanting some bragging rights, many modern day graphics cards can be paired up to work with each other. Sometimes two, three, or even four graphics cards to extreme gaming performance. But most likely if you are reading this, you would not be looking into that as it is fairly advanced and requires a fair amount of knowledge to master.

Next, we will move onto the power supply, which is responsible for taking the AC (alternating current) power from the outlet in the wall, and converting it into DC (direct current). The power supply or PSU (power supply unit) is another crucial component as without it, there is no juice to get the computer running. Power supplies come in different wattage’s and efficiency ratings. Recently the power requirements of computers have gone way down from what they were a couple of years ago. What once required a 1200 watt power supply can be accomplished with an 800 watt power supply on new hardware. Of course that is just an estimate I threw out there, but you get the idea. Many general use computers will be just fine somewhere along the lines of a 500 watt unit. It is always good to go a little bigger just to allow for expansion in the future. Depending on the chosen components, various amounts of power will be required. It is always best practice to get a decent, quality unit and not the cheapest one available. A cheap unit can actually cause problems in the future with “unclean” power and may not last for a decent length of time. A quality power supply should last for many years to come and may be reused in a future build as well. In most cases a standard ATX power supply with a 24 pin main power connector will do the job. There are other cables as well to take account for such as SATA, Molex, and 4/8 pin EPS connectors which supply modern motherboard with extra power that the 24 pin connector cannot provide.

Moving on the chassis to house the computer, there are many possibilities to choose from. There are so many designs to take into consideration and different sizes. Some may have an acrylic window on the side to see all of the components once they are inside. As noted above with motherboards, the case has to match up to support the correct form factor motherboard. Be it ATX or Extended ATX, or whatever else it may be. Same cases may just be plain and simple for a nice clean look, while others may be all futuristic with their design and flashy lights. It all comes down to personal preference and what the case has to offer. Good airflow is key to keeping all of the components cool and quiet. Cases can be customized with many different size fans featuring different air flows and noise levels, again depending on personal preference. A case will last for a very long time and can be reused in multiple computer builds. I prefer a full tower chassis for my personal computers as they allow plenty of space inside and upgrade ability to last for years and years to come.

Moving onto the hard drives, there are a couple different possibilities. This is the device that stores all the data and programs, even when power is turned off, unlike with memory or RAM. Many get the memory and hard drives confused when looking into computer purchases. They are not the same thing and come in completely different sizes. There are the traditional mechanical hard drives which are very cheap now days. The cost per Gigabyte is extremely low and they work great for large amount of storage room at a very good price. More recently we now have affordable SSD (solid state drive) solutions which have no mechanical moving parts and are much faster and more responsive then a tradition mechanical drive. An SSD makes for a much snappier system, and is one of the best upgrades that can happen for many modern computers. Computers are so fast now that traditional mechanical drives act as a bottleneck in many cases. This is where the computer system has to take a break and pause while it waits for the drive to gather its data and send it out. With an SSD this process is considerably faster, resulting in a much faster overall system. I tell many first time SSD users that they will be greatly amazed at the difference in the responsiveness of their computer after swapping out a mechanical drive for an SSD. The fallback to an SSD is that they come in much smaller capacities and the price per Gigabyte is much higher, even though it continues to drop. To get the best of both worlds, an SSD drive can be used to install the operating system onto, such as Windows, as well as frequently used programs. Then a mechanical drive can be used as well for tasks like less used programs, backups, and large files that would otherwise take up way too much space on an SSD.

In my opinion CD and DVD drives are starting to become a thing of the past. They like to fail and have read and write errors after a while and can be not so reliable at time. A successful computer can be build now days without even having an optical drive installed. Just about anything you could possibly need can be download from the internet or installed with a USB device such as a thumb or pen drive. These devices are much faster and more reliable, not to mention they can be erased and written to over and over again with different data and application. Sure there are re-writable CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drives, but it is just not nearly as practical or convenient in my opinion to other non-mechanical solutions. Personally I have a computer with all my programs and data on it, which can be accessed over the network where I can then pull all that information onto another computer and install and run those programs. No CD’s or thumb drives even needed. There are a lot of external storage options to choose from, external USB/eSATA hard drives can be a great solution for performing backups or moving data from one computer to another.