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Desktop computer selection and installation

You might need a nerd if…

  • You know you want a new computer but aren’t sure what kind to get
  • If you feel intimidated or overwhelmed at the computer store
  • Want a custom built computer which perfectly fits your requirements
  • You’d like to talk to an expert so that you’re aware of all your options

Common Terms

All-in-One PC

A desktop computer that includes a built-in monitor. Similar to a laptop but stationary.

Monitor

The monitor is the screen of your computer

Hard Disk Drive

The hard drive stores all of your data. It is a box that contains multiple spinning platters. These platters contain data stored magnetically by the hard drive head

RAM

RAM means Random Access Memory, and is what your computer uses to store things that it is thinking about while it is on. When your computer turns off, everything in RAM goes away.

computer selection

Computer Selection 101

Purchasing a new computer is exciting stuff. Walking down aisle after aisle of glittering new computers with their gorgeous high-res screens, crystal clear sound and flashy keyboards is enough to send even the most cautious among us into a buying frenzy.   But as you look closer, things start to get confusing. There are so many different specifications to consider! One computer might have a bigger hard drive. Another might have a more powerful graphics card. Yet another might come with groovy peripherals. Don’t even get us started on the acronyms. DDR what? SATA who?   The whole business of buying a new computer can rapidly become incredibly daunting, especially if you’re new to the process. But fear not, friend! This article is going to give you a quick, nonsense-free, jargon-free and gluten-free primer to choosing the right computer for you. But before we get into that, we just want to put it out there that we’re always here to give you direct one-on-one guidance in choosing the technology that best suits your needs. Not only will we give you on-point advice, we’re also able to help you custom-build a computer that is perfect for your needs.   Fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you lickety-split!

The big decisions

There’s one piece of advice we give our customers to immediately make the whole process of choosing a computer way easier. It’s ridiculously simple but it’s also very easy to overlook. Are you ready for it? OK, here it is.

Start broad. Then go narrow.

  What we mean by that is, don’t go crazy delving into the minutiae of whether you should get a solid state hard drive or a top of the line video card before you ask yourself some really basic questions about what you actually need and what you hope to do with this amazing new computer of yours.

What do you actually need?

So let’s start with a needs assessment. It’s a good idea to sit down with everyone who’ll be using the computer to develop a prioritized, practical list of what you’ll be doing with your new computer. Will you be using it to play cutting-edge games? Will it be to run your home business? Do you intend to use it outside your home or is it more likely to sit in one place?   Bear in mind, this process isn’t just about adding more and more features to your list but also removing those you don’t need. Why? Well, the short answer is, there’s no point spending money on what you don’t need! It also means you can invest your money where it counts, going for top quality features you’ll actually use.

Your ecosystem of choice

Then you’ll probably want to think carefully about which computer ‘ecosystem’ you’ll target. This is a big decision and it’s smart to do your research here. Broadly speaking, the viable options out there right now for your average consumer are Mac or a Windows PC. Option key Three ways to make that decision are:   What’s more important for you? Options or simplicity? Windows will provide you with more options for configuring your computer. There is also more software available. Macs are built around an operating system which limits your options for configuration but which also provides a simpler user experience as a result.     What existing devices do you have? It’s also smart to think about which devices you and your family members are currently using. If you currently have an iPhone for example, it makes a whole lot of sense to stay in the Apple ecosystem and choose a Mac. Conversely, if your phone is an Android you may wish to think carefully about sticking with Microsoft and choosing a Windows PC.   Does one just excite you more? It may sound a bit frivolous, but it may just be that the idea of owning either a Mac or a Windows PC just excites you more. Both operating systems will serve you well and it’s completely cool to “follow your gut” if you can’t see a sensible and objective reason to go one way or the other. Choosing to go with Mac or Windows can be a tricky decision for a new computer owner. If you find yourself bogged down in making a decision, talk to us! We can help you make the right choice. Call us at 1-800-919-6373 or fill out our contact form.

Think carefully about form factor

Finally, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about “form factor,” which sounds fancy but really is just referring to whether you choose a desktop computer or a laptop. Again, making the right decision boils down to asking yourself practical questions rather than getting bogged down with specifications. laptop next to camera

Need help selecting a laptop? Check out our page on laptop selection and installation

Will you actually need to move your computer? Yes, we know the ads make it look cool! All the laptop commercials seem to show a successful, trendy person sitting in Starbucks, conducting their business effortlessly. It’s appealing as a concept but will you actually do that? Be honest! If the answer is yes, then absolutely, a laptop is the way to go. If the answer is a resounding no, then a desktop machine may make more sense because generally speaking a desktop doesn’t have to compromise on performance for the sake of portability.   Will the computer be for family use? Most people prefer a family computer to be a fixed machine that stays in an easily visible location in the house. It’s a sad reality, but the Internet is not a safe place for the young ones. An “all-in-one” Mac is considered by many to be the ultimate family machine because it’s simple to use, reliable and great for a fixed location. Apple desktop Will you be using it for highly intensive processing tasks? If you’re likely to be using your computer for gaming or other processor-intensive tasks, you’ll likely be best served by a fully customizable desktop PC with a large capacity hard drive and a powerful video card. So there you have it! Will thinking about the above three considerations answer all your questions about the best computer for you? Probably not. There are so many possibilities out there and they’re changing all the time. Will it give you a great start at narrowing your decision down to a manageable list? In our professional nerdish opinion, yes!  

Three ways a nerd can help you make the right decision

While the above information is going to get you a long way on your own, there are three ways our highly trained nerds can save you time, hassle and money.

1. We’ll talk with you on the phone

Let’s face it. If you go to the computer store without a really clear idea of what you want, your typical salesperson is going to dive on you like a seagull dives on a potato chip. So pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-919-6373. We’ll help you develop a clear checklist of what you need so that the salespeople can’t bamboozle you.  

2. We’ll come with you to your local store

You thought the phone thing was cool? Get this. We’re willing to offer you the full nerd-friend experience! Here’s how it works. We’ll accompany you to your local computer store and walk you through every possible computer choice, giving you a clear and simple overview of your options without the sales hype.   Not only will we help you save big bucks, we’ll make sure you choose the right computer for your needs.

3. We’ll custom-build your perfect computer

Buying a computer is exciting. In the heat of the moment, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that you need the best, top-of-the-line features when really you won’t even notice the difference if you go for something mid-range. This is why a completely custom-built computer often represents the best possible value.   At Nerds On Call, we can design that dream machine. We’ll sit down with you and together we’ll lay out the specs of that perfect computer for your needs. Then we will build it for you, from the ground up!   Choosing the right computer is not an easy decision. Luckily, your friendly neighborhood nerds at Nerds On Call know just about every type of computer there is and can steer you in the right direction.   Just call us at 1-800-919-6373 or fill out our contact form.    

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Nerds Price List

Now you too can get the answer to our most frequently asked question, “How much do you charge?” Just enter your email address and we’ll send you our Nerds on Call Price Chart.

Questions nerds often hear about Desktop computer selection and installation

Which is really better? Mac or Windows PC?

Sorry. Our lips are sealed. No seriously, it really is going to depend not just on your computing needs but your personality. Both Macs and Windows PCs are powerful, reliable and beautiful to use. Generally, Mac owners lean toward simple interfaces and want a lot of processing grunt around handling images. Windows PC owners tend to enjoy more customization options and frequently place gaming as a higher priority. But again, both kinds are great choices.

 

What is an All-in-one PC?

It’s a desktop computer that includes a built-in monitor. Think of it as being similar to a laptop, but stationary. An all-in-one is a popular option for families these days.

 

I have a fixed budget. Will you help me find a computer I can afford?

Yes! Nerds On Call isn’t about upselling you to bigger and better products you don’t need. We’ll work with you to find a computer that fits your budget and meets all your computing needs.