Tech Matters: Computer Specs Do Make A Difference

Image courtesy of Mike Rosenberg's photostream

Image courtesy of Mike Rosenberg’s photostream

We have come a long way when it comes to computers. Our smartphones have more computing power than a computer purchased just five years ago. Laptops continue to get lighter, thinner and more powerful. We even have tablets! But the one thing that hasn’t changed much is the sheer confusion that goes into making a purchase for one of these devices.

I get the questions from friends and family all the time. What’s a processor? Does it make a difference? What does memory do? My favorite one has always been, “What’s the difference between a tablet and an iPad®?” We are going to explore some of these questions in a series of posts. Today I’m going to talk about computer specifications and how they make a difference in your business.

There is a saying that any network or system is only as strong as its weakest link. For business owners, your computer and telephone are the lifeblood of your business. Good luck trying to do business without one or the other! With the importance of getting your orders in a timely manner it’s important to have a computer that performs at peak performance every time you need it. To ensure that happens you need to take three important components into consideration when selecting a computer:

·    The Processor
·    The Memory
·    The Hard Drive

The processor is the “brain” of the computer. Without it your computer becomes a paperweight. This component alone can determine the overall usefulness of your computer. It’s surprising how many consumers, willingly or unwillingly, cut corners here. The more powerful your processor, the more powerful software and tasks it can handle. Intel® (the world’s number one processor manufacturer) has different classes of processor: Celeron, Pentium and Core.

Celeron is on the bottom of the totem pole while Core is at the top. Celeron processors are great for your son or daughter to complete their seventh grade homework, but you wouldn’t want to run a business on it. The processor is only designed to handle light-weight tasks like web browsing and email. Accounting and order processing software will push it to the limit and slow everything down.

For a more optimum business experience you will only want to consider the Core family of processors. That would include the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. In order, you can consider them good, better and best. The i5 and i7 in particular are designed to complete the real heavy lifting that graphics, order processing, documentation, email, web browsing, video editing and music editing require of your system. Stick with those and you will be a happy owner!

The memory would be the next important component. Memory (or RAM) temporarily holds instructions for your system (processor) to carry out. Every action on the computer is stored in the memory at some point. When the memory gets clogged it is instantly noticeable in performance, typically ending in a very slow computer. Memory is measured in data bytes. Most commonly you will see at least four gigabytes (or 4 GB) already on the computer when purchasing. I would recommend getting a system with no less than 8 GB to handle your business applications. This will not only keep your system running smoothly, but prevent trips to your local service center due to system slow down.

Lastly, the hard drive is where you will store all of your “stuff” on your computer. Think of it as your closet. The storage is also measured in bytes. Commonly, new systems have at least 128 GB of storage. How much you need is up to you. I will say that if you have a lot of media files you may want to consider getting an external hard drive. These exist outside of your computer, but can be connected and accessed when needed by simply plugging it into your computer. Recently we have seen popularity rise in the use of Solid State Drives. These drives are much like the memory cards we use in digital cameras and smartphones. They are faster and more durable due to no moving parts, but they are also more expensive. I will say that if it’s in your budget it’s a good investment.

So, there you have it – some little tidbits on how to pick a computer to help get your business moving!

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