Build Confidence

What is the difference between an i3, i5, or i7 CPU? How much better is DDR4 memory than DDR3? Do you want an SSD or a hard disk, and if you want an SSD then what is this “NVMe” thing? If you buy whatever laptop looks best, or you just buy from Apple because everyone else does, then none of this matters. If you read all the way through these articles, you may still decide that none of this really matters to you, but at least then you will have confidence throwing down a thousand dollars of your hard earned cash for something you now understand better.

The CPU is going to come from Intel or AMD, and while some chips are faster than others they are all of equal quality. The same is true of memory, although there are more vendors. So if you buy any recognized brand of computers from Costco or Walmart, you don’t have the same worries as driving a used car home from the sales lot.

The things where vendors can cut corners are things you can see and hear. How does the keyboard feel? What does the screen look like up close and from farther back? How loud is the fan? You may want to read a few comments on the internet to see if other users have problems that take a bit more time to develop. Does the machine become uncomfortably hot with heavy use? None of these questions are appreciably different from the issues you confront buying a toaster oven or a washing machine.

However, different models of the same brand may be available with “6th Gen” or “7th Gen” Intel processors, and they may have different amounts of memory or SSD/HD alternatives. What upgrade make sense and what will be a waste of money for you? Whatever you buy, there will always be another model announced next month, and someone you know will have something he claims is better. Knowing what you have and why you chose it means you don’t have to second guess your decision.

The expert or enthusiast will read articles in Tom’s Hardware or The Tech Report. The problem with these sites is that even their introductory articles assume some technical background and they really don’t explain how things work. That is the purpose of this page and its linked to articles. The background information may have no immediate practical use, but it will increase your comfort level. If the PC is no longer a big investment in money, it is still an important tool in business or education. Knowing more about it should make concerned people more comfortable with their decisions. No technical background is assumed. Even very complex issues will be explained in terms that everyone can understand.