Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Computer buying guide. [Gadget 101]

Specs to look for:

The brand itself usually represents the quality of the products. Some computer makers like Apple, Asus, and Sony are well known for their low failure rate, and make generally computer with better build quality. Others like Dell and HP, have high failure rate and are generally unreliable (personal experience). Never hesitate to pay a couple of bucks more to make sure that your computer can last a year or so longer.

There are 3 major OS in the consumer market Windows, Mac OS, and Linux with their respective pros & cons. Having used Windows and Mac OS, here are my point of view on each OS:


  • Larger market share, thus more softwares, and is generally the standard of the industry.
  • Can be easily installed everywhere.

  • Large market share also means a popular target among hackers.
  • The user experience (UX) is generally not consistent as software generally doesn't share the same user interface (GUI)/ appearance.

-Mac OS
  • The UX throughout the OS is consistent as the share the same appearance thanks to the Cocoa framework
  • More intuitive (personal opinion). Macs are generally easier to handle*. Installing an app (or software) generally consists of dragging an icon to a folder or just a click.
  • Cannot be distributed on other hardware than the Macs

  • Macs don't have all many softwares: Macs have all the software that serves your needs (the more popular the software is, higher the chance of a Mac version of it exists): Chrome browser, uTorrent, VLC, Adobe kits, Office packs. Other softwares such as CATIA, or any other industrial softwares that you've spent hours learning at school are generally not available.
  • Macs don't have virus. Virus for Macs do exist, but are scarce.
  • Open source and FREE!
  • Much less software available than the other two. Heck, even the drivers are problematic.
  • Need the ability to "tinker" with the software.
Il n'y a pas 36, but there are two major brands of CPU makers: Intel and AMD. Go for Intel whenever you can, as they're more reliable and of better performance than AMD, and try AMD if you're trying to save cost. They're generally cheaper, and are generally backward compatible (in terms of motherboard sockets).
-CPU Speed: 2.4 GHz and up for a "normal" notebook. The core speed is generally clocked from 2.++ GHz to 3.++ GHz. Why the limit? because the faster we go, the more power we consume and the hotter the components will become. That's why cheap makers stop at the bottleneck, and started creating multiple core CPUs

-Core: The more core there is, the less burden will the CPU have. A 2.4 GHz dual core processor, works better (and more reliable) than a 3.6 GHz single core one.

-Maker specifics:
Hypertheading (virtual cores) : Create a virtual core for each physical core. A hyperthreaded quad core CPUs will have 8 processes show up in the task manager. 4 physical, and 4 virtual cores.

Turbo boost: Boost the core speed when less core is used for certain processes. Some softwares are not yet optimized for multiple core processors, as they don't take advantage of the multiple cores and generally force the burden to the first core. With turbo boost, the single core speed will be throttled. Which means that a 2.4 GHz quad core processors, can also functions at 2.66 GHz dual core.

Hard disk:
Two different categories: hard disk drive (HDD) ya olde' plateau rotatif, and solid stated drive (SSD) the coolest new kid on the block.

Memory/Storage: I bet you know this already it's the quantity of bytes or bits which can be stored in a hard disk.

Physical size: Either 2.5" or 3.5". The laptop size is 2.5", and the standard HDD size for desktop computer is 3.5". For the same storage, the smaller costs a lot more than the bigger one.

Type specific:
HDD:- Rotation per minute (RPM): generally denotes your hard disk speed and performance. Generally valued at 5400 RPM (standard laptop), 7200 RPM (standard desktop), and 10000 RPM (expensive ones).

SSD:- Controller: defines your read and write performances, and general life expectancy.

Random access memory (RAM):
RAM serves as a temporary stockage for your running programs, and processes. They'll use it for cache, read and write and other complicated stuffs (I dont know much about it). When you quit a software, it'll clear and free the RAM it used automatically.

Type: Depends on CPU support. DDR So-dimm. Standard RAM DDR3

Size: Standard configuration goes from as low as 1 Gb to 16 Gb. However, unless your producing movies, or using other kind of resource extensive softwares, 4 Gb generally suffice for standard consumer.

Speed: Speed doesn't really matter. Research shows that greater speed doesn't mean better performance.

Graphic Processing Unit (GPU):
AMD (was ATI) and NVIDIA. AMD's cards are generally cheaper and just a lil' less performant than NVIDIA's cards. However recent NVIDIA's graphic card sucks, as it costs hell lot more, power hungry, and have severe heating problem.

portable, not portable?

Bells and whistles:
dvd? bluray? sd? hdmi? usb 3.0? thunderbolt?

Things to consider:
Utilization case:

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