Checklist for Purchasing a Computer

Part of the Computers For Seniors For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you're shopping for a new computer, check for the following features to make sure it will serve you well into the future as software and graphics become more powerful and complex:

  • Memory: Your computer should have at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM for a 32-bit computer and 2 gigabytes for a 64-bit computer.

  • Processor speed: Look for a minimum of 2.8 GHz processor speed.

  • Size/footprint: If you're short on space, a minitower or laptop or even a tablet might be better.

  • Price: Set a budget that you're comfortable with — you can get pretty inexpensive computers that work for most folks these days.

  • Keyboard: Make sure the keyboard feels comfortable to you.

  • Monitor: Monitors come in different sizes and qualities. A 15-inch monitor is comfortable for most people, but if you do work with higher-end images or watch videos, consider a larger monitor as larger screens may be easier on your eyes. Consider getting a touchscreen monitor to take advantage of all of Windows 8 touchscreen features.

  • Input ports and drives: Computers might come with CD or DVD drives, USB ports for connecting peripherals and USB sticks, and ports to connect to monitors and printers. Tablet computers don't normally offer a lot in the way of input ports.

  • Wireless capability: To connect to wireless devices and networks, you need wireless capability.

  • Included software: Some computers come with utility programs, such as antivirus software, or productivity software, such as Microsoft Works.

  • Manufacturer support: Check the warranty and technical support available.

  • Graphics and sound cards: If you want to use multimedia or game software, ask for more sophisticated sound and video features.

  • A webcam: If you will be calling your friends or grandchildren over a service such as Skype, it's useful to have a built-in webcam to transmit video images while talking.

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Computers For Seniors For Dummies Cheat Sheet