Basic Computer Features 101

When buying a desktop computer one of the first things to look at will be its use and individual budget. For example, a machine that will be primarily used for gaming should focus on lots of memory, a powerful processor, enhanced video and graphics, while a computer that will be used for Internet browsing and simple word processing will not need nearly as much frills. This computer-buying guide covers the basics to give you some idea of the important features to look at.


CPU stands for central processing unit and is the brains of the computer. It is where most of the actual computing takes place and the quality of the processor will greatly determine the performance of the computer. The processor speed is measured in GHz.

There are budget processors, mid grade and high-end processors. The high end ones maybe necessary for enhanced computer functions, such as gaming and entertainment, but overall the mid grade types are quite good and will deliver great performance for most any uses. Overall the two best brand names for processors are Intel and AMD.

RAM Memory

RAM memory is used to run programs on the computer and the more RAM you have the better the performance and speed of computing and to avoid slow downs and crashes. Gaming and entertainment need a lot more RAM than regular computer tasks for which 1GB is usually sufficient, but 2GB is really great. At least 3GB, is optimal for gaming and media experiences.

Also, it is a good idea to check and make sure that there are open memory upgrade slots so you can always add more memory as it is fairly cheap and easy to install.

Hard Drives

Hard drives are significant for the speed capacity of computers. Overall, the larger the drive the more storage space and the faster the computer. Optimal is 500GB. 

Optical Drives – CD/DVD/Blu-ray

Most computers these days come with DVD/CD burners, and even if they do not they are cheap and easy to install and come in internal and external versions. Blu-ray is the latest option for burning in high definition format.

External Ports and Connections

Ports are used to attach peripherals, such as printers, Internet, iPods and others. Most important will be to have at least 5 USB ports, one FireWire port as well as an Ethernet connection for Internet and networking. Overall, the more ports you have the more variety and options will be available to add ons.


A good monitor is essential for a quality computer experience. The older CRT models have become largely obsolete with the introduction of the LCD screen monitors, however many people still use them and they can still be found at online shopping sites. LCD screen monitors have a superior display with a reduced size due to the flat panel and their lower power consumption over the CRT models.

They come in a variety of sizes and sometimes the larger ones are a better value for the money and make the best experience for gaming, entertainment, such as video watching and are much easier on the eyes.