A Comprehensive Breakdown of the Different Types of Computers and Their Use Cases, Perfect for the Non-Technologically Savvy Buyer
All Price$ as of 03-23-2023:
As an Internet Technology Analyst, Consultant, and a business owner, I understand how important it is to find the perfect computer for your needs. Choosing a suitable device can improve your productivity, make your life easier, and save money. In this comprehensive guide, I will help you navigate the world of Windows computers, breaking down the different classifications, categories, and specifications while explaining each option's benefits and drawbacks. By the end of this article, you will be well-equipped to make an informed decision when purchasing your new Windows computer.
1. Computer Classifications and Categories
1.1 Computers for Business Use
Business computers are designed to handle various tasks, from everyday office work to more demanding applications. They are typically more durable, secure, and reliable than personal-use computers and often come with enhanced support and warranties.
Workstations are high-performance computers built for specialized tasks such as 3D rendering, video editing, or complex data analysis. They have powerful processors, ample memory, and advanced graphics capabilities.
1.1.2 Business Laptops:
Business laptops are designed for on-the-go professionals who need a portable, reliable, and secure computer. They typically have long battery life, robust build quality, and advanced security features.
Examples of Business use cases: a. Graphic Designers: Professionals who require high-performance computers with advanced graphics capabilities, such as the Dell XPS 15 - $1,489.99. b. Accountants: Professionals who rely on computers for spreadsheet management and financial software, such as the HP ProBook 450 G8 - $999.99. Or the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - $1,599.00 or HP EliteBook 840 G7 - $1,099.99
1.2 Personal Computers
Personal computers are typically used for personal activities such as web browsing, social media, email, and light gaming. They are not designed to handle intensive processing tasks or multitasking activities common in business environments.
There are two main categories of personal computers:
- Desktop Computers Desktop computers are stationary and typically provide more processing power and storage capacity than laptops. They are ideal for activities that require high processing power, such as video editing, gaming, and programming.
Examples of activities that are best suited for desktop computers include: Video editing and graphic design & Audio production and music composition
When choosing a desktop computer, consider the processor speed, the amount of RAM, and the hard disk size. For example, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Processor - $212 and Intel Core i9-11900K Processor - $342.31 are two of the most popular processors on the market.
It would be best to look for computers with larger RAM capacity, like the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 RAM - $49.99, as this will ensure that your computer runs smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, you can opt for larger hard drives like the Samsung 870 EVO 2TB Internal SSD - $149.99 to store all your files.
- Laptop Computers Laptop computers are portable and provide more convenience and flexibility than desktop computers. They are ideal for personal use and basic productivity tasks such as web browsing, email, and document creation.
Examples of activities that are best suited for laptop computers include: Basic productivity tasks such as web browsing, email, and document creation & Casual gaming and video streaming
When choosing a laptop computer, you should consider the processor speed, the amount of RAM, and the hard disk size. Popular processors for laptops include the Intel Core i7-1165G7 Processor for laptops such as these and the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U Processor for laptops such as these. In addition, it would be best to look for laptops with larger RAM capacity like the Crucial 16GB DDR4 RAM and larger hard drives like the 2TB Internal Hard Drive.
2. Identifying Your Computer Usage Category
Before choosing a computer, it's essential to determine the category of user you fall into. This will help you make a more informed decision and ensure you purchase a device that meets your needs. Consider the following categories:
- Casual Users: Casual users typically use their computers for everyday tasks like browsing the web, checking email, and streaming content. They don't require high-performance hardware or advanced features.
- Power Users: Power users demand more from their computers, running resource-intensive applications such as video editing, graphic design, or gaming. They need a powerful processor, ample memory, and a dedicated graphics card to handle these tasks.
3. Hard Drives (HDDs and SSDs)
Your budget primarily determines hard Disk size. A larger hard drive is always better, providing more storage space for your files, documents, and applications.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a newer and better technology than older Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). They offer faster read and write speeds, consume less power, and are more durable. Here are three SSD examples available on Amazon:
4. Processor Speeds and Brands
The processor is the brain of your computer, and its speed determines how fast your computer can run programs and execute commands. The processor speed is measured in GHz (gigahertz), and a higher GHz means a faster processor. However, processor speed is not the only factor determining your computer's speed.
Different categories of users require different processor speeds. Basic users can get away with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor. In contrast, power users should consider an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor. There are also different brands of processors, such as Intel and AMD. Intel processors are known for their high performance and reliability. In contrast, AMD processors are more affordable and offer better value for money. For example, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Processor and Intel Core i9-11900K Processor are two of the most popular processors on the market
5. Expansion Slots and Cards
Expansion slots are connectors on the motherboard that allow you to add extra components, called expansion cards, to enhance your computer's functionality. There are several expansion slots, including PCI Express (PCIe), the most common type in modern computers.
Here are three examples of expansion cards:
- Graphics Card: Enhances your computer's video processing capabilities, ideal for gaming or video editing.Example: MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super - $269.99
- Network Card: Adds or upgrades your computer's wired or wireless networking capabilities.Example: TP-Link Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 PCIe Card - ~$46
- Sound Card: Improves audio quality and provides additional audio input/output options.Example: Creative Sound Blaster Z SE Internal PCI-e Gaming Sound Card - $99.99
6. Laptops: Limitations and Considerations
Laptops are designed for portability, so they usually lack expansion slots in desktop computers. Additionally, laptops typically have limited RAM slots, constraining the amount of memory that can be installed.
7. RAM and Motherboards
RAM is another crucial component of a computer that affects its performance. The more RAM a computer has, the faster it will run. For instance, a laptop with 8GB of RAM will run faster than one with 4GB of RAM when running the same applications. A computer with more RAM can also handle more applications simultaneously without slowing down.
For average users, 12GB of RAM is sufficient, while power users should consider at least 16GB or 32GB of RAM. More RAM will result in a better computing experience, allowing you to multitask more efficiently.
The maximum amount of RAM a computer installs depends on the motherboard's specifications, not the operating system.
Different motherboards support varying amounts of RAM, so checking compatibility before purchasing memory upgrades is essential.
- Windows 10 OS maximum RAM available: 64 GB
- Windows 11 OS maximum RAM available: 128 GB
8. Monitors and Screens
A larger monitor or screen is generally better, providing more screen real estate for multitasking and enhancing your viewing experience. However, a smaller screen may be more suitable if you have limited space or specific physical requirements. Here are three monitor examples available on Amazon:
- Dell U4320Q 43 Inch 2160p 4K UltraSharp - $769.00
- ASUS ROG Swift 41.5" 4K OLED Gaming Monitor
- Dell Ultrasharp U2719DX 27-inch QHD Monitor - $479.99
- LG 32QN600-B 32-inch QHD Monitor - $279.00
- ASUS TUF VG27AQ 27-inch WQHD Monitor - $296.99
9. Windows Operating Systems and Software Compatibility
There are several Windows operating systems, each tailored for specific use cases:
Windows Home is designed for individual users and is suitable for everyday tasks like web browsing, document editing, and media consumption. This version of Windows comes pre-installed on most consumer-grade laptops and desktops.
Typical uses for Windows Home:
- A student using Microsoft Office365 for assignments
- A home user streaming movies on Netflix
- A casual gamer playing popular titles
Windows Pro offers advanced features for businesses and power users. It includes better security, remote desktop capabilities, and support for virtual machines. Windows Pro is ideal for small and medium-sized companies or individuals who require more advanced features.
Typical uses for Windows Pro:
- A business owner managing their company's devices with Microsoft Intune
- A software developer running virtual machines for testing
- An IT professional using a remote desktop to support clients
Windows Server is tailored for server environments and provides advanced networking, security, and management features. Organizations commonly use it to manage their network infrastructure, host web applications, and store data.
Typical uses for Windows Server:
- A web hosting company running multiple websites on a single server
- A large organization managing its network infrastructure
- A data center storing and processing massive amounts of data
Azure Services is a suite of cloud-based services from Microsoft for computing, storage, and networking. It is used by organizations to build, deploy, and manage applications and services. In addition, Azure can be leveraged for virtual machines, databases, and other services, without physical hardware.
Typical uses for Azure Services:
- A startup building a web application without investing in physical servers
- An enterprise running big data analytics on cloud-based infrastructure
- A company using Azure's AI and machine learning services for advanced data processing