Since extremely high performance isn’t needed for the tasks most people do, it is more important to focus on price/performance ratio, features, and aesthetics. Here is some more detailed information on each of these categories:
* Price/Performance Ratio: Even though top-notch performance isn’t needed in an everyday computer, you still want to get the best value you can. This means looking for items that are only a small amount over the price of lower-end models, and for which the next step up would command a significant financial outlay. Another way of putting that is that you want to get the item which offers the most performance or size per euro. This can be hard to judge sometimes on CPUs and video cards, but it is easy to check on memory (RAM) and hard drives.
* Features: Most computer users don’t need exotic hardware like a physics card or TV tuner, but there are items that almost everyone can use. You want to make sure you don’t leave out any features which might want or need, but avoid ones that you don’t plan to use (so that you aren’t wasting money). Here are some examples of common devices that people find useful in or with a computer: CD/DVD burner, memory card reader, system restore disc, uninterruptable power supply. There are also a whole host of external peripherals like webcams that can be purchased separately, so don’t forget to budget for those as well.
* Aesthetics: When buying a custom desktop, you have the opportunity to design a system that meets your needs for size, form factor (shape), noise level, and visual appearance. There are smaller computers that fit into a bedroom or dorm room easily, larger ones with sound-proofing, and windowed cases for showing off your hardware and adding lights. It is a good idea to measure the area you plan to put the computer before making a decision on the case, and decide if you have a preference for black or silver (the two dominant computer colors available today). If you do want a window, remember that they will almost always be on the left side of the system – so if the left side would be up against a wall or desk then it won’t be visible.
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