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Desktop buying guide

Here are the 5 features to look out for when buying a desktop computer.

In a world of tablets, netbooks and laptops, sometimes it’s easier to have a static computer at home that will solve any problems thrown at it without running out of battery! From PCs ideal for homework, to performance rigs designed for gaming or watching HD movies, there are plenty of features and options available. Our buying guide will help you to understand what they all mean, so you can choose a new desktop that matches your needs.


The processor, or CPU, is the brain of any computer, managing the entire system. Processor speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). The higher the GHz of a processor, the better its computing power. There are two main brands when it comes to processors, with Intel and AMD dominating the market. Intel®’s Core™ range of processors are ideal for multi-tasking and running demanding software, with the Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 offering amazing performance.

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Graphics card

Desktop computers have a graphics card or chip that’s used to generate the worlds you’ll explore whilst playing games, or the video you’re streaming or watching on DVD. There are two types of graphics card, integrated and dedicated. Integrated graphics are suited to web browsing and office applications, but gamers, designers and video editors should consider a more powerful dedicated graphics card that’ll handle more demanding tasks with ease.


All desktops need a hard drive to store your photos, videos, games and important system data like the operating system. A 1TB (terabyte, 1,000 gigabytes) hard drive is capable of storing over 1 million photos and plenty of games, films and more, but many models are moving to using smaller solid state drives instead. What you lose in size, you gain in speed and reliability – a solid state drive has no moving parts, so is less likely to wear down over time, and they can load files much, much faster too.

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RAM acts a lot like our short term memory, remembering everything currently in use on the computer so it can be recalled quicker. For day-to-day computing tasks like managing spreadsheets and accessing emails, between 2GB and 4GB is enough, but newer games and design software will need more. Between 8GB and 16GB is more than enough to play the latest games and manipulate images and video without any stuttering or freezing, but you can go as high as 32GB for a truly powerful machine!

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Connections and ports

Desktop computers offer a wide range of ways to connect to the internet and your others devices. From USB ports for mice, keyboards, external hard drives and phone charging cables to an Ethernet port for a faster, wired internet connection, it’s worth bearing mind what you plan on connecting to your desktop to determine how many ports you’ll need. Lots of desktops will also have a slot for an SD card too, ideal for keen photographers who want to transfer photos easily.