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What's important when you're shopping for a computer

Tech Talk

 

So, the time has come to replace your computer. You're ready to start looking at the Best Buy ads and checking out Costco and Amazon for deals. But deals on what? Computer descriptions often include something like Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 - 1TB Hard Drive, which can be confusing.

The things you should pay attention to are the processor, amount of memory or RAM, graphics capability, and size of the hard drive. Ready? Let's dive in.

The computer's central processing unit (CPU) or processor, is the engine of your computer. The processor does the calculations that make the computer work. There are two major processor makers, Intel and AMD. The current Intel processors are Core i3, i5, and i7. The current AMD processors are Ryzen 3, 5, and 7. For either AMD or Intel, think of a 3 processor as a 4-cylinder engine, a 5 processor as a V6 engine, and a 7 processor as a V8 engine.

The amount of random access memory (RAM) in a computer determines how much work it can do at the same time. Having a bunch of tabs open at the same times takes RAM, editing photos takes RAM, having your email open while you're writing a letter and streaming some music takes RAM. Generally speaking, the more RAM, the better.

Most computers have integrated graphics capabilities provided by the processor manufacturer; this is the part of the computer that sends output to the display. For most everybody, integrated graphics are fine for email, shopping, and web games. If you're doing video or photo editing or playing video games on your computer, look for a computer with a dedicated video card. These are essentially small computers with their own processors and RAM, but optimized for computer graphics.

When it comes to hard drives, manufacturers now offer solid state hard drives (SSDs) and mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs have no moving parts and boot up a computer and load programs quickly. SSDs are more expensive than HDDs for the same capacity. Computers can come with an SSD to boot up the computer and loading programs paired with a larger HDD to store data. Typical SSD sizes are 128GB and 256GB, and HDDs typically come in 1 or 2 terabytes (TBs) sizes.

Breaking down the example from the first paragraph, the computer has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card, and 1TB hard drive.

For most people, look for an i5 processor, at least 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive.

If you run a lot of programs at the same time, increase your RAM to 12 or 16GB. If you play a lot of console games, add an external graphics card. If you need (or even just want) the computer to boot up quickly and load programs fast, then look for one with both an SSD and an HDD.

And yes, this all applies to MACs and PCs equally.

CCleaner v5.33 –

if you've got it, get rid of it

Another week, another malware attack. Somehow the CCleaner program was hacked and malicious code inserted. The good news is it was only version 5.33 and only for 32-bit Windows systems. Since the price of RAM dropped about the time Windows 7 came out, virtually all computers are running 64-bit Windows. You will only be running 32-bit Windows if you have less than 4GB of RAM and an old (7-10 years) computer.

If, by some chance, you do have a computer running 32-bit Windows AND are running CCleaner 5.33, here's what to do: Do a System Restore to a date before August 15th. Once the System Restore completes, update CCleaner to version 5.35 or later.

A man and a dog go into a factory...

"The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man, and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment." - Warren G. Bennis (1925-2014) Scholar, author and pioneer in leadership studies

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at greg@tech-hachapi.com.

 
 

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