wikiHow to Understand Computers

Two Methods:Knowing the purpose of your deviceUnderstanding How Computers Work

Ever tried to go computer shopping, but return home empty handed? This easy guide will offer you some guidance for which computer may suit you best!

Method 1
Knowing the purpose of your device

  1. 1
    Decide what you need the computer for. There are different kinds of computers you could buy:
    • Desktop Computer: has a computer tower, and a separate monitor. More wires, and size, built for home use. If you are using a computer at home for just checking email, or typing documents, and don't need a lot of portability, then you should go for a desktop. If you don't customize and upgrade your desktop, an all-in-one desktop would do as well.
    • Laptop: has everything built into one piece, (ex. speakers, microphone, etc.) whereas offering similar functions and capability as desktops in a portable form. If you have work to do, and use would like to use your device for personal use, the most popular option would suit you-a laptop. It's always great when you can move around, and they usually don't require anything extra to be plugged into them, because its all in one piece.
    • All-in-one: is pretty much a desktop, made slicker and lighter. Usually not meant to be carried around, though. Has most functions like speakers and webcams built in. If you need even more portability to carry around your work and data with you, a tablet-computer PC would suit you fine. Don't underestimate these machines, they're quite new to the market and offer unparalleled quality and performance for all they manage to pack inside. As a college student, or a frequent traveler, such devices would work best.
    • tablet-PC all-in-one: the slickest and most portable of all. Packs the latest tech into incredibly small spaces, often having exclusive functionalities such as being able remove the keyboard and a touchscreen. Has everything you need built right inside, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cameras, speakers, microphones, a display, USB ports, etc.

Method 2
Understanding How Computers Work

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    CPU. The CPU, aka the processor, is the heart of all computers. The choices are great, with models from Intel, or AMD. For everyday computing, the Intel Celeron is great, or the AMD Athlon. If you want to do multitasking, then a Intel Pentium or Core 2 Duo is great. For massive gaming, use Intel i7 or Intel i5. CPU speeds are measured with GHz. An everyday computer has about 2.4 GHz. Slower ones are about 1.7 GHz. The fastest today are about 4.0 GHz. You can find any processor speed on any computer Specs page. an Intel Pentium is about 2.2 GHz. an Intel Core 2 Duo is about 2.8 GHz. Keep in mind, though, that a lower model of the Intel Core 2 Duo may be actually slower than a top of the line model Intel Pentium. Their speeds vary greatly on the price, though. An easy saying is, "The more it cost, the better it will be!"
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    Reliability. Chose common brands, such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Alienware, or Compaq. Keep in mind, though, that even usually reliable brands may have an unreliable model in their lineup. Check user ratings from a variety of sites.
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    Hard Drive Space (HDD). Are you just using it for checking e-mail? A PC with about 80gb will do fine. For moderate document typing, a 160 GB hard drive would be better suited. If you use a lot of software and type lots of documents, you would be better of with a 500 GB hard drive.
  4. 4
    Understand computer terms. In computer language, MB is short for megabytes. A usual 2 page Microsoft Word file is about 2 MB. A PC game such as Garry's Mod takes about 5 GB. A GB is 1,024 MB. A TB is 1,024 GB. MB are the most common unit of storage. This will include things such as songs and TV shows. GB tend to be for bigger things such as software or movies.
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    RAM. RAM is short for Random Access Memory. That is the space when you open any program. When you open, for example, Microsoft PowerPoint, it pulls that program from the hard drive and into the RAM. Everything takes place in the RAM, even the space used for you looking at this webpage. The more RAM you have, the more programs you can open at once. The average computer will have about 1GB of RAM, which is enough to sufficiently run about 2 programs, and would start slowing down at 4. The average computer today has about 4GB of RAM. That's about 8 programs open at once.


  • Choosing a unit may be hard. Try to avoid unnecessary expenses, such as colors. Write down several units of interest and compare. First of all, eliminate any unit that has a rating that's really lower than the others. Then chose units within a price point that you consider. Finally, get the unit that offers the most of everything. Try to focus on the CPU and hard drive, as you can then work and save more things. A faster CPU is better for working quickly.

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Categories: Accuracy | Basic Computer Skills