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Desktop Computer System Selection Guide

  • What is the minimum specification for a desktop computer to suit your needs?
  • Create a custom specification checklist for you.
  • Avoid spending too much.
  • Confirm you have included all the right components.
  • Copy the results and see which desktop computer suits you.
Computer Selection Guide
Desktop Computer AdvantagesDesktop Computer Disadvantages
Expansion options available.Large Size.
Ease of maintenance.Dependancy of stable mains power.
Higher performance possible.Larger power consumption.
Larger monitors than laptops possible. Not easy to transport.

Computer System Selection Guide

Click in the check boxes or select values on the right for each row that describes your usage. Click the Get Results button to generate the computer system specification results.

Desktop Computer System Requirement

Computer Hardware Category Examples Needs Specifications You Require
light use email, Internet browsing, photos, word processing, music, point of sale Single Processor, minimum memory, minimum drive space, any video card Atom, Celeron, Athlon
1GB memory
160 GB hard disk
On main board video 
medium use + spreadsheets , databases, standard video viewing + more memory
+ more drive space
2 to 4 GB memory
500 GB hard disk
high use / all day business use + multiple programs simultaneously dual to quad processor AMD Athlon X2, AMD Phenom, Intel dual core, Intel iCore i5
virtual machine use multiple operating systems together + more memory
+ 64 bit operating system if over 4 GB memory
+ quad processor
4 to 8 + GB memory
Linux, Windows 7, Mac
Intel iCore i5 i7, AMD Phenon
high video use, computer aided design video editing, gaming, high definition playback + dedicated 3D graphics card  512 MB or more video memory
DVI and/or HDMI output
1920 x 1080 or better resolution
Keyboard USB or PS2 connectors
Mouse Optical mouse have less maintenance issues. USB or PS2 connectors
Power Surge Protection This can be on a single power point or a power board.
Web Camera Used for video conferencing.
Can include auto focus and microphone.
USB connectors. Some monitors have a web camera built in.
Backup drive backup all user files, pictures, video, documents
Also useful for copying old computer files to new computer.
For a single computer use a USB external drive.
For a group of computers use a single Network Attached Storage NAS device.
USB drive 500 GB to 2000 GB.
NAS drive 500 to 8000 GB.
Printer Print documents or photos For a single computer use a USB connector printer
For a group of computers use a single Ethernet networked printer.
Inkjet or mono laser or colour laser printer.
Inkjets are better for photos. Laser is cheaper per print cost.
Sound For music, VOIP communications, video conferencing etc. Can be headphones, headset with microphone or speakers Audio connectors assumed on all computers.
Some monitors have speakers built in.
Networking Wired Ethernet, Wireless Ethernet Wifi G, Mobile 3G Ethernet suits connection to ADSL or cable Internet or business network.
Wifi requires a broadband router that support Wifi.
3G may suit when other broadband type are unavailable.
Wired Ethernet assumed on all computers.
Wireless Ethernet G for house area.
Mobile 3G for city wide coverage.
Optical Drive CDROM, DVDROM, CDRW, DVDRW CD can hold 700 MB, DVD can hold 8500 MB
Useful for backups.
CD read only, CD read write
DVD read only, DVD read write
Display New monitor or use existing monitor.
Flat screen LCD monitors use less power than CRT screens.
Confirm the connector type for an existing monitor
D shaped 15 pin VGA connector or rectangle DVI connector
15" 17" 19" 22" 24" 27" inches
Form Factor Size of case to suit your needs Desktop, slimline desktop, mini tower
all in one, media centre PC
Software Type Software Example Free Open Source Example Internet Equivalent
Word Processor Word as part of Office 2007 Writer as part of Open Office Google Docs
Email Outlook as part of Office 2007 Thunderbird Google Gmail
Spreadsheets Excel as part of Office 2007 Calc as part of Open Office Google Docs
Presentations Powerpoint as part of Office 2007 Impress as part of Open Office Google Docs
Photo Editing Adobe Photoshop Picasa, Gimp Flickr
Video Editing Adobe Premiere Elements Avidemux
Web pages Adobe Dreamweaver Notepad++, Komposer Google Docs
Databases Access as part of Office 2007 Base as part of Open Office My SQL
Anti Virus Norton, Trend Micro AVG
User Specific Software Educational Financial Business etc

Press button after completing or adjusting fields in the top table.

Desktop Computer System Selection Results

Additional Computer System features to look out for

How to connect to the Internet?

If an Internet connection exists on the premises then the new computer needs to join the network using Ethernet or Wireless Ethernet.
Ethernet connection can be made with Category 6 cable.
Wireless Ethernet requires a Wifi card on the computer, Wifi ability on the network uses a Wifi enabled router or wireless access point. The wifi network name and password is needed for a connection.
There are multiple wireless network standards available A B G N. G is most popular and also handle B protocols. N is fastest but a relatively new standard. All wifi components need to work to one standard.
If the building is very hard to cable and the solid walls are too thick for wifi, then Ethernet adapters can use the house mains wiring as a communication medium. These are expensive and relatively slow.

For a new Internet connection the options include dial up, ADSL, cable, Fibre, mobile 3G and WiMax. Appropriate hardware and possible cabling need to be considered.
Investigate if VOIP telephony can reduce your overall communication costs.

Which Operating System to choose?

This depends on if there are any special requirements for your software choices. General computing can be achieved with Linux, Microsoft Windows 7 or Apple Mac OS X.

Cheap Computer Options

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Matthewb Homepage Computer Efficiency Section Desktop Computer System Selection Guide Laptop Computer System Selection Guide Netbook Computer System Selection Guide Netbook PC energy savings