We hope our UK shopping guide for desktop computers. Below we explain the main features of desktop computers, and on the right you'll find links to the leading online computer retailers in the UK. If you're looking for a quality desktop computer at a reasonable price, our current favourite computer retailer is Micro Direct.
When choosing a new desktop computer, we would advise giving importance to manufacturer build quality and support levels. Once you have set your budget, don't get seduced by getting the most powerful computer available for the price - it won't be much good to you if it keeps crashing because the manufacturer has used cheap internal components and it is poorly put together. The PC market is fiercely competitive, and whilst no manufacturer is perfect, some manufacturers are a lot better than others, and it is best to be wary of the very cheapest deals as reliability can suffer.
Desktop computer brands we currently think are above average for product quality: Sony, Acer
What are the main types of home computer available?
The two main types of computer to choose from are PCs and Apple Macs. The rest of this page focuses on PCs, and there is a separate page for information on Apple Macs.
PCs are the most widely used and run Microsoft Windows, the latest version being Windows Vista. Apple Macs have their own proprietary Apple operating systems, the latest version being Mac OS X Tiger. People like Macs for their usability and design features. The latest Macs can run PC emulators which allow them to run PC software as well.
For both PCs and Macs you opt for a desktop or notebook computer. Desktops offer more power and features for a given price, but many people find the portability of a notebook computer more convenient.
Which processor should my new desktop computer have?
The processor (or Central Processing Unit or CPU) is the heart of your computer and performs the instructions and calculations involved in computer operation. The number of instructions the processor can perform per second is known as its "clock speed" and is stated in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz). So, the faster the clock speed of the processor the better. The processors in the fastest new computers can perform over three thousand million cycles per second and the "clock speed" is therefore over 3 Giga Hertz (3GHz).
For the best value, go for a processor speed slightly below the fastest currently available, because you pay disproportionately high prices for the very fastest processors (and processors are now so fast that in many cases you won't need the very fastest). The two main processor manufacturers are Intel and AMD.
What difference does a new computers memory (RAM) make to computer performance?
A big difference. The more memory (or RAM) your computer has, the better. Computer memory holds the current programs and data in use, and helps applications run quickly and smoothly. It also helps greatly when you wish to run a number of applications at the same time. Even if your new computer has a fast processor, its performance can be poor if the system does not have enough memory. Furthermore, popular applications such as digital photo editing perform much better with more memory. So how much memory should new computers have? Computer memory (or RAM) is specified in megabytes (MB) and we currently recommend:
512MB minimum for running Windows Vista.
What is a hard drive and how big does my new computers hard drive need to be?
This is the computer equivalent to the filing cabinet in your office, and is the storage device on your computer where you keep all your files. The size of a hard drive is measured in Gigabytes (Gb). We would recommend a minimum hard drive size of 20Gb. This would allow you to save thousands of word processing documents to your hard drives, and hundreds of digital photos and mp3 music files.
Another thing to consider is how fast the data can be accessed from your hard drive. The hard disk in the hard drive spins to allow data access, and thus data access speeds are given in revolutions per minute (rpm). Most users will want a hard drive speed of 7,200 rpm, although budget systems often come with a 5,400 rpm model.
What sort of monitor should my new computer have?
LCD (liquid crystal display) or flat panel monitor - Doesn't take up much desk space, looks cool and is light to carry. Buy an LCD with a good response time if you want to watch video or play computer games on it.
CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor - The traditional monitor style which is similar to a television screen. This type of monitor is good at displaying colours and can handle fast moving images well but is becoming much less popular now that LCD monitors are so cheap.
Monitor size is measured across the diagonal of the screen in inches. We'd recommend a minimum of a 15in monitor, widescreen monitors have productivity advantages. Even better, go for a multiple monitor setup, which can be achieved by using a dual-head or triple-head graphics card from manufacturers such as Matrox.
Can you recommend any online stores for buying new computers?
Try any of the below:
What about desktops by Apple Computers - eMacs, iMacs and Power Macs?
Apple PCs are the main alternative to IBM-compatible PCs. Many people enthuse about Apple computers, praising their great usability and thoughtful design. They're certainly very capable machines, and the internet has increased their interoperability with PCs. They are particularly good for graphic design, music production and video editing. Find out more about Apple Desktops and Notebooks.
If you think some of the information on this page is out of date, or you encounter broken links, then please tell us.
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Other Links for Desktop Computers
Flat screen monitors at FlatScreenForum.co.uk
planetamd64.com - for more about AMD 64-bit processors.
Choose the best notebook computer with our notebook computers guide.
Find out what people think of different computer manufacturers with Romulus2 at feedbackarena.com
www.elib.org - Shopping Directory
www.software2you.co.uk - A comprehensive site for computer and software products.
Would you like your desktop computers site included above?
If your site is related to new computers, you may request a link in the section above. Firstly, please place a link to this page on your site as follows:
<a href="http://www.navito.co.uk/computers.asp">Buyers guide to cheap new computers, desktops and laptops</a> from <a href="http://www.navito.co.uk">Navito UK Shopping</a>
Then contact us to request your link. Please note placing a link to us is no guarantee that we will reciprocate - we will only place a link to you if we deem your site to be appropriate (i.e. has suitable content related to desktop computers).