When you buy a new computer, there are a lot of factors to consider. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t really know what to look for when they buy a new desktop computer. That’s one of the reasons we exist, as we want to help you find the computer that is right for you. But, our buying guides can only go so far to help you find the right desktop computer. In the end, you have to make the final decision, and then live with that purchase for potentially several years.
There are many common mistakes shoppers make when buying a new desktop PC. Today, we will look at these mistakes and what you can do to prevent yourself from making the same mistake when you are out shopping for a new desktop PC. My hope is that by calling these common mistakes to your attention, you will be able to identify them while you are shopping so you don’t fall victim to them and end up getting a desktop PC that you don’t like or one that doesn’t work for you.
1. Do You Need a Desktop
Now, if you have followed anything I have written about in the past, you know that I am a fan of the desktop PC. But, like any tool, it has to be right for you. There are many reasons to buy a desktop, but often desktop shoppers may be better off with a laptop instead. In the end, they find that there computer isn’t as functional as they truly wanted and don’t use it to its best potential.
Think about how and, more importantly, where you want to use it. If you want to be able to use your computer from almost anywhere in your home, or you need to take it with you on occasion, then a desktop may not be the best solution for you. In these cases, you would be better off with a laptop. However, if you prefer to use your computer in one, centralized location, such as in a home office, then a desktop may be a better choice as it offers more comfort and power for your money compared to a laptop.
2. Failing to Identify Usage Needs
This is the biggie. More mistakes are made because users don’t think about their usage needs before they buy than anything else on this list. Today, there are computers made for all sorts of different uses. There are business-grade machines that will do basic tasks very well, video edit boxes with high end processors and video cards for processing video, gaming rigs designed to power the latest high end games with ease, and even budget machines designed for the very basics in computer use. Which you buy will depend on what you need and, of course, your budget.
You need to decide before you shop how you use your computer and what you would like to do with the new one. This will help give you a guide on which types of machines you should consider. If you want to play games, a budget desktop with no video card won’t do the trick. But if all you do are business related activities, you probably don’t need to sink extra money into the video card, and you may not even need as fancy a processor to get the job done.
Do you see what I mean? If you don’t know how or what you need to use, you could find yourself overpaying for something you will never use or you may not buy a machine that’s beefy enough to do what you want/need it to do. Either way, at the end of the day it will be a waste of money, and you may end up spending more just to upgrade the machine to your needs or replace it with something better. The bottom line is know how you use your machine before you even attempt to shop for a new desktop. If you don’t, I guarantee you will regret it.
3. Forgetting Specific Hardware Needs
This is probably one of the most common errors that people make, but also one of the easiest to remedy after the fact. While shopping, most of us tend to focus on the heart of the computers. We look at the processor, memory and hard drive space along with the operating system that powers it. However, there is more to it than that. Today, desktop PCs come with a wide range of extras such as DVD drives, card readers, Wi-Fi cards, and more. Sure, in many cases these aren’t a necessity, depending on your needs they may be.
Take the Wi-Fi card as an example. Will your desktop be close to your router? If not, is your house wired with ethernet cabling that will allow you to plug it in? If not, you will need a Wi-Fi card. Without it, you will have a tough time using the Internet. Sure, this can easily be remedied later by buying a Wi-Fi card or a USB Wi-Fi adapter. However, that means another trip to the store or more time waiting for the card to come in if you order it online.
Of course, the main components are the most important aspect of your computer purchase, but you can’t forget some of these extras, either. Not only will they make your usage more fun and give you more flexibility, in some cases they could mean the difference between your computer being usable or not.
4. Focusing on Specific Hardware
I admit, this one is somewhat related to the mistake above, but worth its very own section. So often I see buyers put blinders on when they are shopping for a desktop PC. They begin to focus on one piece of hardware and only one piece. For example, they begin looking for a PC with an Intel Core i7 and pay no attention to everything else on the system. But there is more to a computer than just the processor. This is only one example. I gamer may focus on the video card while forgetting the hard drive or processor while others will focus on wireless connectivity speed while forgetting that much more goes into the speed of your Internet.
You must look at the bigger picture if you want to find success in buying a new desktop PC. Look at all the hardware on the machine and decide if it meets your needs. There’s a good chance you will be forced to make a sacrifice somewhere, unless you’re building your own machine from scratch, but if you meet most of your hardware requirements you should have a great desktop experience when you take it home and fire it up for the first time.
5. Buying for Looks
I get it. You want your computer to look good, even if it is a desktop. If you’re a gamer, this is probably even more important, as you want to show off your new gaming rig to your gamer buddies. I know what that’s like. There was a time when I invested money into the case, buying a case with an open window, LED lights, and much more.
Now I’m not here to belittle your buying decision. If that’s what you want on your desktop, it’s your money. Knock yourself out. In fact, there is a part of me that still thinks they look pretty cool, and I understand the fun in showing off your new rig to your fellow gamers. But, if you spend more time shopping for something that looks cool and not something that runs well, you are making a big mistake. Don’t get lost in the sea of sharp looking desktops and ignore what’s really important – the internal hardware. You may find a computer that truly looks sweet, but it comes with a slower processor and not enough memory for what you need to do. At the end of the day, if you buy that machine, it won’t work for you, no matter how good it looks.
Instead, shop for the specs you want or need first, and then find a computer case that looks good based on this set of hardware. Of course, you may have to make an aesthetic sacrifice, but in the end, you will be glad you did.
6. Ignoring OS Platform
Today, there are three main operating systems that can power your computer – Windows 10, macOS, and Linux. For most mainstream users, there are really only two – Windows 10 and macOS. Now, while each of these three operating systems are great systems in their own right, they don’t work for everyone in every situation. For example, macOS is a great system for creative endeavors, but not so good at gaming. Linux, on the other hand, is a great system for developers or anyone looking for a viable, free alternative. Windows excels in the world of business apps and gaming.
Unfortunately, many users purchase a computer powered by these operating systems simply because it’s what they’ve used before or their friends are using it. But, just because you have used it before doesn’t mean that it will be the best option for you for your needs. In many ways this refers back to knowing your needs that I already discussed above, but I felt that the operating system, since it’s such an important part of any system, should be mentioned separately. Remember, each operating system will excel in some areas and fall short in others, you need to pick the operating system that will best fulfill your needs, not just one that “want” or the one that your friend says you “must get.”
Buying a desktop PC can be tough, especially if you don’t really know what you are looking for. By understanding the most common mistakes people make when shopping for a new PC, I hope you can avoid making these mistakes. Knowledge is power. By combining this knowledge with the top notch reviews of some of the many desktop PCs on our buying guides, you should be able to find a desktop that’s perfect for you.
Do you have a question about buying a new desktop computer? If so, feel free to comment here or drop us a line and we will do our best to assist you.
Have you ever made one of these buying mistakes when buying a new desktop PC? If so, I want to hear from you. What mistake did you make and how did it impact your usage of the desktop PC? Sound off in the comments below and tell me about it. Let’s show everyone what making one of these mistakes can do to your computing experience.