Even if making a decision is difficult due to the above-mentioned advantages and disadvantages of notebooks and desktop systems, you will eventually end up buying one ort he other. That’s why we want to share a few tips that we think you should consider before making your purchase.
If you are leaning towards buying a notebook, you should ensure that its components are as efficient as possible. You will notice this in not only the notebook’s battery life, but also in minimized noise from the cooling fan.
New computer systems usually employ the Windows Vista operating system; Windows XP as the installed operating system is definitely out. For Vista, the notebook needs considerable RAM: 2 GB of main memory is good, 4 GB is better and even affordable these days.
Also have a look at the hard disk. In some notebooks, for example the Samsung R70-Aura T5250 Daryus, 4,200 RPM factory hard disks are included. If you have a say in the hard disk that is built into your new notebook at the factory, choose one running at 5,400 RPM, or better yet, 7,200 RPM.
Choosing a graphics card is the most difficult issue. If you will be using 3D software, a graphics card from ATI or Nvidia must be installed, but this always has a negative effect on battery life. Also consider that upgrading an underpowered graphics unit in a notebook is usually impossible. It is all the more frustrating when you have made the wrong purchasing decision and committed yourself to an integrated graphics solution.
The same is true when buying a desktop computer. The graphics card question is even easier to answer in this case: for office work, the graphics card installed on the motherboard is usually sufficient. Should you become dissatisfied with the graphics card’s performance, you can quickly and easily upgrade to a more advanced one.
Even high-end graphics options are no problem, and given the appropriate motherboard, the use of several graphics cards is possible. AMD/ATI calls the use of multiple graphics cards Crossfire, while Nvidia refers to it as Scalable Link Interface (SLI). For most users, one graphics card is more than enough, especially since using Crossfire or SLI configurations greatly increases power consumption.
Speaking of the power supply, ensure that its efficiency is 80% or higher—the higher the efficiency, the less power "lost" by the unit. Depending on usage, this could have an impact on your electrical bill. The power rating of the supply depends heavily on the components used: if you have power-hungry graphics cards installed in your computer, even an 800 W supply could prove insufficient.
Another factor related to graphics cards that must be considered is cooling. If graphics cards are cooled passively, they will not contribute to the noise your computer generates, but graphics cards with passive cooling are more susceptible to overheating in poorly ventilated cases. Overheating leads in turn to more crashes and a generally instable system.
If the graphics card has a fan, of course, it should be a quiet one. The same applies to the processor’s cooling fan. Even if the cooling fans supplied with the processor are quiet at low RPMs, at high speeds they might be annoyingly loud. Third-party CPU cooling fans can remedy this problem.
When choosing a hard disk, you can almost do no wrong: terabyte hard disks like the Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ are now available for under $ 185.51. If you are less concerned with storage capacity than with speed, you might want to consider buying a Western Digital VelociRaptor instead, for about $355.
In general, you want to make sure that the case is well-ventilated: your components will thank you!
When choosing the motherboard and RAM modules, trust mainstream components from well-known companies. Some mainboards may be incompatible with certain memory modules, which is why manufacturers provide compatibility lists. If you select the main memory using this list, then nothing can go wrong.
In addition, very fast memory, prized especially for its overclocking capability, is unnecessary for the majority of users. Though it may sound enticing to have special memory that uses extreme timings, the average user would notice little difference. Memory like this is only suitable for enthusiasts, and does not offer significantly-increased performance in normal everyday use.
If you have your computer system all planned out on paper and still have questions, please just have a look at our Forum – Building your own PC: Composition and configuration. Maybe your questions have been answered already; if not, our expert community can certainly offer additional advice.