There’s no doubt about it, notebook computers surpassed their desktop computer counterparts in overall sales because of their mobility, small footprint and evolution into being virtually just as powerful. However, there are still several reasons to buy a desktop computer as they offer some fundamental aspects that are difficult for a notebook/ netbook / tablet to emulate. For example, desktop computers can have bigger screens, bigger storage capacity and can function as a centralized location, or a home base/dumping ground for your computing needs. Your desktop computer can also manage your home/office network, have more peripherals connected to it and can be upgraded with new parts in order to future-proof it.
Regardless of whether you are contemplating either a desktop or a notebook purchase, desktop computers continue to evolve and this Tech Tip will identify several trends that can give you additional information on what to look for so you can make an informed decision.
A Shrinking Footprint
One neat feature that computer makers are pushing more of is the need for a computer to occupy less space. Manufacturers realize that technology has advanced so much that many customers opt for more space-saving designs without sacrificing too much horsepower. For example, the Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 measures about 7” x 6” x 1” and weighs about 1 pound. Yet it boasts a 250 GB hard drive, Intel Atom 1.6ghz, built-in Wi-Fi and nVidia Ion graphics. The way PC makers pull this off is by including notebook computer parts that can fit in such a small chassis. A slightly larger variation (and growing in popularity) of this is the All-in-One PC concept where the guts of the computer are built inside the LCD monitor chassis such as the Dell Inspiron One 2305 or the Apple iMac.
More Beefy Hardware
Most desktop computers that are built now feature more generous hardware as standard such as 3-6GB RAM and 320GB-1 Terabyte (1 TB) hard drives. These were premium costs years ago. Also, more standard multimedia capabilities are included such as nVidia ION graphics and Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform (Core i7, i5, etc.), having built-in video graphics right inside the CPU for enhanced HD video playback and other multimedia tasks. In addition, triple and quad-core CPUs have become such a staple that you can pick up a reasonably-equipped quad-core such as the HP Pavilion P6650Z for a great price. Furthermore, amenities such as a multi-format memory card reader, DVD burner, 5.1-channel audio and built-in Wi-Fi have become desktop PC staple features.
Other more common features appearing on desktop computers are DVI ports if you want the option to connect a high-definition (HD) monitor, 4-6 USB ports, USB 3.0 ports and the phasing out of the older PS/2 connectors. (green-colored mouse connector & purple-colored keyboard connector) In addition, some manufacturers engineer their desktop computers to be able to function as a home media PC (HTPC). So it’s possible to connect your computer to your television and record/playback TV shows, connect and copy/save home movies from your camcorder and play it back on your TV.
More Beefy Hardware – Part Deux
As stated earlier that modern desktop computers are now configured with generous hardware, it is still possible to further upgrade a current desktop PC if you’re worried about obsolescence. For example, many new desktop computers have 4 GB CPU RAM standard and while this is plenty for most people, it can most likely be maxed out at 8-16 GB RAM. Granted, the only practical benefit for this type of upgrade investment would be if you plan to do CPU-intensive tasks like running multimedia applications like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro or computer simulations/calculations. That being said, you should perform due diligence on the prospective desktop computer(s) you’re considering and determine how well it can be upgraded (i. e. extra hard drive bays) if you anticipate your current and future computing needs will require it.
Desktop computers will continue to evolve by becoming smaller, faster and more efficient. Regardless of your reason for buying one, it is safe to say that the horsepower included with an average-priced desktop PC ($350-$700) is enough for most applications such as small business, school and simple everyday tasks.