Here at Microchoice, we understand that choosing the right PC for you can be tricky - especially when you're not sure what all the jargon means! What's the difference between memory and hard drive? Which numbers should I be looking at? We are here to provide the ultimate guide on choosing your PC, and set straight all of the common mistakes and mix-ups people have when looking into the technical side of things.
The diagram of the "Office Scenario" below is a very good visual representation of the 3 main core components in any computer - The Processor, RAM and Hard Drive. The Processor is the "brain" of the computer. It does all of the number crunching, and controls all other components in the PC. The RAM is the "desk" or "workspace". It determines how many things you can do at the same time without having to slow down. The Hard Drive is the "filing cabinet". It stores all of your files, programs, and even your Operating System.
A computer's processor, or Central Processing Unit (CPU), is its brain. Faster processors offer better performance – vital if you use your PC a lot, especially for gaming or video editing. Most processors these days are at least a dual-core, meaning that the computer has two CPUs which take turns working with data, so enable your desktop to run more efficiently. Processor speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a common example of a processor speed would be 2.8Ghz. However, do not be blinded by the processor speed alone! Clock speed is not a very important factor in CPUs anymore, it is the architecture which truly gives its performance. For example, an early Dual Core CPU such as the Pentium D running at 3.4Ghz would be overshadowed by the much more superior Core 2 Duo only running at 1.8Ghz.
RAM, or sometimes called Memory, is often confused with the Hard Drive - probably because they are both measured in the same units: Megabyte (MB) and Gigabyte (GB). Do not fall into this trap, as knowing the difference between the two can ultimately mean choosing the right PC for your needs. Refer again to the "Office Scenario" diagram above, and picture your RAM as your "workspace "or "desk". There is only so much paperwork and stationery you can have on your desk at one time before you need to start putting things away in your filing cabinet. Some programs that you use will require more RAM, or will take up more space on your "desk". With this in mind, having more RAM does not always necessarily mean a faster computer, it just means that your multitasking will be more efficient and that you will be able to have more programs and files open at one time without slowing down.
Again, referring to the "Office Scenario" diagram, picture your Hard Drive (HDD) as the "filing cabinet" in your office. It stores all of your information including your programs, files that you have saved including pictures and video, and also contains your Operating System.
Complete Systems + TFT Screen
This is a computer package that includes the PC base/desktop, a monitor, keyboard & mouse and all necessary cables for connecting it. If you are buying a PC for the first time and starting from nothing, you will want to shop through our Complete Systems.
USB – Universal Serial Bus
Fast and popular means of connecting USB peripherals like digital cameras, external hard drives and printers.
Optical drives are the CD/DVD drives of a computer, similar to those found on your stereo or DVD player. These drives allow you to load and install software and write (or "burn") data to a disc. Optical drives come in many formats:
CD-ROM - only reads CDs
CD-RW – Burn and read CDs
DVD-ROM - reads CDs and DVDs
DVD-CDRW Combo Drive – Burn and read CDs – read DVDs
DVD RW - Burn and read CDs and DVDs
All of our computers and laptops come internet ready and allow you to connect your broadband router/hub directly to the Ethernet port using a network Ethernet cable.
WIFI/Wireless Adapter/WiFi Ready
A PC that has a wireless adapter or is "WiFi Ready" means it can access the Internet via a wireless router. Most homes have a wireless router these days provided by their service provider such as Sky or Virgin. Not all of our PCs come with WiFi as standard, and if they don't, you will be able to add WiFi to it by using the upgrade options on the product page.
Flat-screen,LCD or TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) displays have all but replaced older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) displays. The biggest advantage is that flat screens look more attractive, save space and energy. A monitor is always measured diagonally, from corner to corner.
An operating system is what allows you to use applications and generally access all of the information you have on your computer. By far the most popular operating system is Microsoft Windows.
Security & Safety
It's vital that you take steps to ensure your computer is protected from viruses and other attacks from the Internet. Every computer comes with the Windows standard firewall and we recommend you use an anti-virus package alongside it. Our prime choice of AntiVirus has always been Bullguard and is available to add to your purchase using the upgrade options.
Below is an example of a Product Specification Table which can be found on the listing page of each and every one of our PCs for sale on our website. If you are unsure of the specifications of the PC you are looking at, scroll down to the bottom of the page to find this table.