Mr. Fixit's PC Upgrade and Repair
PC Buying Guide
Looking to buy a new computer but not sure which one to get?  Don't worry, I will help you pick the right PC for your needs and your budget.  Computers have
come a long way since the first home computers in the 1980's.  With today's technologies, you have a wide range of options, so how do you choose?  Many
people stick with a brand they like while others go by the price tag.  However, there is more to it than that.

I will help you make an informed decision to pick the right computer and get the most bang for your buck.  To start, I will ask specific questions to help you
determine the right PC for your needs.  Along the way, I will show how they compare from one model to the next with their pros and cons.  When we're done
you will be armed with knowlege to buy your new computer.  Ready??
PC's primary use?
You must ask yourself "What is going to be the computer's primary function?".  Is the computer going to be for 1) surfing the Web, paying bills online, e-mail
and social networking, organizing and sharing digital photos; 2) Storing and streaming music and movies, tasks like spreadsheet and document creation; or
3) Serious gaming, sophisticated graphics and photo editing, video production, and high-resolution multi-track audio recording.  If you picked #1, you are a
basic user, who is looking for an everyday type computer.  If you picked #2, you are an advanced user, who is looking for a computer with performance to
also handle your music, videos and software like Microsoft Office.  If you picked #3,  you are a power user or as often referred to as a serious gamer, who is
looking for a powerful computer to handle your games, picture and video editing.
Desktop or Laptop?
Next, ask yourself "Do I need mobility?".  There are significant differences between Desktop and Laptop computers.  Laptops are great if you need the
computer to be portable and mobile, but at the cost of lower computing power and limitations to minimize thermal, size and weight.  If you're looking to upgrade
your computer in the near future, Laptops do not have the flexibility to upgrade,  as do Desktops.  Most components in a laptop are made into a single board
called the motherboard, which limits upgrades.  In most cases you can upgrade the
RAM and the Hard Drive, but nothing else.  Laptops are great for most
Basic and Advanced users.

Desktop computers, on the other hand,  are more powerful and flexible.  Desktops can upgrade or expand their abilities and handle more intense software
applications with less concern for heat.  With Desktops, there is more air flow to expel heat more effectively and room to add/replace components, like the
Graphics Card.  Desktops are great for any user who doesn't need the portable aspects of a laptop.  All-In-One (AIO) Desktops should not to be confused with
the standard Desktops.  AIO Desktops have been around for a few years and are a combination of both Desktops and Laptops, with the exception of
portability.  AIO Desktops were rightfully named because instead of having a separate Monitor and Tower, they are in a single unit.  Like Laptops, AIO
Desktop do not have the flexibility that you have with standard Desktops. They, too, have limited upgradability.
AMD or Intel based PC?
All computers are built around the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and is the heart of the computer.  Working in combination with system memory, the power of
the processor determines the complexity of software you can run, how many programs you can have open at the same time, and how fast those programs will
run.  Today's computers are based on either AMD or Intel.  AMD and Intel have been battling it out for decades releasing newer advanced processors than
the last.

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) processors are often found in Low- to Mid-range PCs.  AMD has often boasted their processors could perform the same
tasks and have the same performance as its Intel's counterpart, but at a lower cost.  AMD has 3 processor classes; The FX series is the top of the line
powerhouse processor for serious gamers and Multi-tasking on a budget.  The A-series Processors are found in PCs for moderate users who needs an
affordable PC that can handle the average daily work load.  The E-Series processors are found in low-cost budget PCs. These are designed for low power
consumption and can handle basic work loads like emails, word processing, and web surfing.

Intel processors are more expensive than AMD processors. They are found in Mid-range to High-end PCs.  Many Windows Desktop and Laptops have one of
Intel's processor inside with the most popular being an Intel Core Processor. Intel has 4 classes of Core Processors;   The Core i7 processor is the top of the
line processor for hardcore gamers, graphic designers, photographers and videographers. It excels at serious multitasking and high-demand multimedia
creation for projects in 3D or high definition.  The Core i5 is the most commonly used processor in Mid-range PCs.  Powerful enough for most computing
tasks, and multi-tasks well so you can stream a movie while looking up the weather and sending e-mails.   The Core i3 processor is adequate for everyday
e-mail, Internet and productivity tasks. It's also fine for common activities like listening to music.  The Core M processor was designed primarily for slim-line
laptops for day-to-day surfing and e-mailing without being a major drain on battery life. However, you may still find value-priced laptops with a Pentium or a
Celeron Processor.
What about the Graphics?
Graphics are important when it comes to computers. What you see on your screen as you read this guide is produced by the Graphics Processor Unit (GPU).  
There are 2 types of GPUs: integrated/embeded and Dedicated.  GPUs are developed by 3 Manufactures:  ATI (now AMD), nVidia, and Intel.  Intel has mostly
stayed with integrated GPUs, but AMD and nVidia are the 2 major GPU manufactures.  When buying a computer, you may need to consider the GPU.  
Integrated GPUs often share resources with the CPU and the System RAM that can hinder Graphics or System performance. They are often found in low-cost
computers so they are more affordable to buy.  Dedicated GPUs are independent from the rest of the system.  They do not require the CPU to process the
graphics or use part of the System RAM to store the graphics.  They have there own GPU and RAM, which improves the overall performance of the system.

If you are a Basic user, Integrated GPUs would be fine for your needs.  Advanced users can use either Integrated or Dedicated GPUs, but if High Quality
graphics or performance is a must, go with the Dedicated GPUs.  As for power users, use Dedicated GPUs to get the most out of your PC.
How much System RAM?
The amount of System RAM, or Memory, is very important.  For every program, including the Operating System, you run on the PC requires Memory.  The
amount of RAM determine the complexity of the Software you can run on the PC.  Not enough memory and your computer grinds to a halt.  For Basic users,
2-4 GigaBytes (GB) of memory is plentiful,  Advanced users will need 4-6 GB of RAM to handle your programs.  Power users need a minimum of 6-8 GB, but
if you are a Hardcore gamer, you'll need at least 8GB of RAM to play those power hungry games.

Another thing to keep in mind but not necessarily important, most PCs will use
DDR 3 Memory which is fine for most users, but the hardcore gamers will want
to use DDR 4 Memory.
Hard Disk Drive or Solid-State Drive?
The is a common question people ask when buying a PC.  It will depend on 2 things;  your wallet and the storage capacity you will need.  Most computers are
built with
Hard Disk Drives (HDD) because they are more cost effective then using Solid-State Drives (SSD).  For example;  HDDs only cost $0.05 - $0.10 per
GB whereas SSDs cost $0.45 - $0.50 per GB of storage.  However, SSDs are 10x faster than any HDD.  The fastest HDD takes 5 milliseconds (0.005
second) to locate and read the data, but a SSD can access data in as little as 0.1 millisecond (0.0001 second).  As you can see there are significant
differences.  Some High-end laptops and AIOs will use SSDs for there low power consumption but don't expect it to have a large storage capacity.  Computers
using HDDs will have large storage capacity.

For most users 500GB will do nicely, but if you plan to store a lot of Pictures and Videos or games on the computer you'll need a PC with at least a 1 TB HDD
or more.   Watch out for laptops that use embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) as the storage media.  eMMC is similar to SSD but not nearly as fast.  They are
based on Flash Memory technology that is commonly found in Flash Memory cards like Secure Digital and Compact Flash.  They are embedded into the
motherboard and cannot be upgraded.  Low-cost laptops will often have 32GB, 64GB or 128GB eMMC for storage.  Unless you just want to surf the Web and
check emails, DO NOT buy a laptop using eMMC for storage.