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BuyingTips - Computer

What is a computer?

A computer, taken by itself, does virtually nothing. It is simply a means for operating the software or programs that enable the computer hardware to perform specific tasks.

Computer mainly consists of - CPU, Monitor and Keyboard.

Central Processing Unit: or CPU is the main microchip that controls the rest of the computer and does the "thinking". In another words CPU is the brain of your Computer. CPU is most important as the processor affects almost everything that you computer does. Although the processor is the most important factor in determining a computer's performance, cost and speed, there are other important factors as well.

Design and Type of Processor: More than anything, the design of the processor determines how it performs. Processors differ not only in the Clock Speed, but also by which components make up the chip, how they're arranged, and how they are connect to each other and to the rest of the computer. The generation is basic model of the processor. Different generations of processor have different levels of performance. For instance a 400 MHz processor of one Brand/Type does not necessarily perform as fast as a 400 MHz of another.

Clock Speed: Clock speed represents the number of calculations the processor can do in one second. Current systems are measured in Megahertz (or, millions of cycles per second) - the higher the number, the faster the processor executes instructions. Clock speed can be an accurate comparison of relative speed as long as you are comparing the same model of processor. When comparing different processors, other factors can also affect overall speed. Games, digital imaging, and Internet applications are actually the programs most demanding on a CPU. Productivity software like word processing and home finance dont require much processor power. Buy the one which suits your requirement best.

Bus: The bus is the electronic pathway your CPU uses to communicate with the rest of the computer. Newer systems have faster bus speeds, which means they can communicate much faster with memory and other components. Even slower is communications with some expansion slots inside the PC. The only way to ever upgrade the bus speed is by replacing the motherboard, or main system board, which is very difficult. Sometimes it is easier to simply buy a new PC than to upgrade one that's very old.

L2 Cache: To access frequently used data and instructions many processors use Level 2 cache. This is very fast memory that is placed directly on the processor and can be accessed by the processor at its full speed. This overcomes the limitations of the bus by giving the processor a small amount of memory that it can access at its full speed rather than the bus speed. More L2 Cache makes your PC faster and improve the processor's efficiency.

RAM: or Random Access Memory is the working memory in your PC. As your computer runs programs and works with data, it uses RAM to store the program information. RAM is usually measured in megabytes (MB). More RAM allows your computer to run more complex programs, multitasking and to run them faster. RAM is the second biggest factor in overall system speed after the CPU. If you work with large spreadsheets or digital images, having more RAM is a big help. There are different kinds of RAM

SDRAM or Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory- is capable of synchronizing at different speeds.

Like system RAM, video RAM is measured in megabytes (MB). Video memory is one of the most important factor on which the performance of video card depends. The more RAM that a video card has, the faster it can process and display information.

System RAM Expandable To: is the maximum amount of RAM that you can ever install in the computer.

Running individual programs does not require large amount of RAM but on the other hand if you are in desktop publishing, image editing, Internet etc an addition in RAM will difinitely be beneficial.

Hard Drive: The hard drive provides storage for your computer's programs and frequently used data. Most hard drives are rated in Gigabytes (GB). A larger number allows you to use more complicated programs. Extra hard drive space means more room to grow in the future. The hard drive is typically installed inside the computer's case. Hard drive is permanent storage or real memory for data while RAM is working or temporary memory, which is there even when the PC is turned off. Some software programs use the hard drive as temporary storage when they run out of RAM. Since this temporary storage is not "real" memory, it is referred to as virtual memory. While virtual memory keeps the system from crashing, using virtual memory slows the system down.

USB Port: Universal serial Bus or COM port is a new way used for connecting external communications devices such as a modem, joysticks, scanners and more. USB transfers data much faster than serial or parallel ports. USB ports are swappable, meaning you can install and remove devices without having to turn off the computer. USB devices can also be daisy chained, so you can add devices one after the other. For more information on Modems please visit Buying tips - Modem

Parallel Port: A parallel port is used for connecting a printer to your PC. Other devices such as scanners and external storage drives also can use parallel ports. For more information on Printers, please visit Buying tips - Printer. And for more information on Multifunction Printers, Scanners please visit Buying tips - All in One Printer

IEEE1394 Port: This port provides a fast connection for digital cameras,scanners and other devices that transfer graphics to your computer.

Front Drive Bays : The number of openings available through the front of the case for additional CD-ROM. s, CD-RW or external storage drives. For having tape drive, CD-RW or similar device, in future make sure you have enough of these front drive bays available. CDRW drives allow you to create copies of large amounts of data that you can read from nearly any computer, and you can erase and re-use the same recordable CD. Now, you can have a CD recorder inside your PC. But make sure that your system has that much free hard drive space to store data - you will record to and from CDs. For more information on CD-RW please visit Buying tips - CD-RW

Internal Drive Bays: The number of compartments for additional hard drives. You might add another hard drive in the future, make sure you have enough internal drive bays available.

Expansion Slots: It is the number of expansion slots available for future upgrades. In order to add new devices such as video cards, sound cards, you will need to have available expansion slots.

Audio Card: Allows your computer to play sounds and music. More advanced audio cards allow for richer music and more accurate reproduction of sound effects.

Speakers: Plays back sounds generated by your audio card.

Monitor: Monitors or screens as they are commonly known are visual display of what you are doing with your CPU. For more information on Monitor please visit Buying tips - Monitor

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