Section 1 - Will a desktop computer or laptop computer better fit my needs?
Desktop computers are designed for users willing to exchange mobility for performance. Desktop computers normally offer higher performance than laptop computers in the same price range, as they do not have to be built with smaller components for mobility and heat control
Desktop computers are recommended for users looking to perform operations with more intensive requirements, such as engineering, graphic design, and playing games. Users will generally not need this level of computing power for operations which have lower requirements, such as surfing the internet and editing documents and presentations.
Likewise, since they are designed to be upgraded, they can last longer than laptop computers prior to needing to be replaced with a more up-to-date model. As the case can easily be opened, it is easier to perform repairs. Considering the low price point for desktop computers, though, most users choose to purchase new computers rather than upgrading to ensure that all of their hardware is up to date.
One major disadvantages of a desktop computer is the lack of mobility, preventing users from being able to carry desktop computers to classes and activities in other buildings. Another disadvantage is the lack of an internal battery, meaning that computer cannot operate without a constant connection to a power outlet. This could likewise mean that unsaved changes to documents could be lost in the case of a sudden power outage.
Laptop computers are designed for users willing to exchange performance for mobility. Laptop computers are designed to be portable, so they are lightweight, include an internal battery to avoid the need to remain plugged into a power socket, and even include the wireless networking devices needed to stay connected in buildings across the campus.
Laptop computers, however, have some disadvantages when compared with desktop computers. As the internal components of laptop computers must be specially designed to be small, lightweight, and produce less heat, laptop computers generally tend to be higher in cost than desktop computers that have equal levels of performance.
Laptop computers will meet the needs of most users who wish to surf the internet or edit documents and presentations. However, users looking for a computer that can handle more intensive operations, such as engineering, graphic design, and playing games, may prefer the performance a desktop computer has to offer.
Due to these specialized components, laptop computers are not designed to have their internal components upgraded or repaired by users. Often, the owner must find a computer repair service that specializes in the particular model of computer or send the computer back to the manufacturer for servicing.
Section 2 - Will a PC computer or Mac computer better fit my needs?
PC computers are available through a number of manufacturers and, for the most part, are sold with Microsoft Windows already installed. As there are a number of manufacturers who make PC computers, such as Dell, HP, Sony, and Toshiba, it is not difficult for users to find retailers that carry PC hardware and software.
Likewise, with the variety of models that are available, users will find that they have many choices to meet performance needs, software needs, and budget restrictions.
However, as PC computers have a greater total number of software packages that they can run than Mac computers, they are also vulnerable to a higher number of viruses and other malware infections. However, these infections can be prevented with dilligence and preventative measures, such as antivirus software, on the part of the owner.
Mac computers are manufactured by Apple and run different software than PC computers. This fact is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Many of the virus and other malware infections that PC computers are vulnerable to cannot run on a Mac computer, offering users with a more stable computing environment. However, at the same time, the total number of software packages available for Mac computers is lower than the total number of software packages available for PC computers.
In addition, the VSU Tech Shop inside of the campus bookstore is an authorized Apple campus store. Thus, they offer a convenient location for sales and repair of Mac computers and other Apple products, such as iPods.
For users considering a Mac computer, it is wise to determine the answer to the two following questions prior to making a purchase:
1. Do I feel more comfortable navigating to files and programs on a Mac computer or on a PC computer?
2. Does the Mac run the particular software I will need for classes in my major?
Section 3 - How can I determine if a computer meets the minimum hardware requirementsfor my college career?
There are a number of hardware components inside a computer that are important to consider when making a purchase. The most critical are the components listed below:
- Processor – The processor is considered to be the "brain" of the computer. It's speed will determine the speed at which the computer can handle calculations. The higher the processor speed and higher the number of processors in a computer, the faster the computer will be.
- Hard Drive – The hard drive is the location in the computer where files, programs, and documents are permanently stored. The hard drive size will determine the total amount and size of files that can be stored. The higher the hard drive size, the more files, programs, and documents the computer can store.
- Memory – Memory (also known as RAM) is a component of a computer that temporarily holds information while it is in use by the processor. Memory factors into the overall speed of a computer and the number of programs that the user can run at once. The higher the memory, the faster the computer will be. Moreso, the higher the memory, the more programs the user can have running at once.
- Optical Drive – The three types of optical drives available (from oldest to newest) are: CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray. Optical drives will read discs of older types. Thus, a Blu-Ray drive will read not only Blu-Ray discs, but also DVDs and CDs. In addition, optical drives come in two varieties, readers and writers. Readers can only read discs. Meanwhile, writers can write data permanently to discs for storage or backup purposes.
- Ports – There are two common types of ports found on computers: USB and FireWire. A number of peripherals such as mice and printers use USB plugs to connect to a computer. Meanwhile, FireWire is commonly used for large data transfers, such as moving files from a digital camcorder to the computer. Keeping in mind the number of peripherals of each type you plan to use with the computer, you will want to ensure that your computer has a sufficient number of each type of port.