Computers are an essential part of any home and business. They enable us to get our work done, communicate with others and just make our lives easier. Without them, we would all be using pen and paper more often. And things wouldn’t get done as quick as they do today.

I use my computer for both work and personal reasons. I can carry out my work on it, buy my groceries and even order a pizza for delivery if I’m feeling lazy. I think it’s safe to say that I couldn’t imagine my life without my trusty workhorse. And that’s a sentiment shared by many other people too.

While computers are great and all, the truth is they become obsolete after a while. The demands new software, and operating systems place on system resources keep growing. That means your faithful old friend will start to struggle with performing all manner of tasks.

There will always come a time when you need to get a new computer. But sometimes your needs dictate that you buy a different form of computer! Trouble is; how do you know which one is right for you?

In today’s handy guide, I will share with you the different forms of computer out there today. And I will also help you to find out which one is perfect for your needs. Ready? Good. Here we go!

Portable computers

When IBM’s “personal computer” first got unveiled, people had to sit at a desk to use it. These days, millions of folks use portable computers that they can take with them anywhere! They don’t need to carry something bulky and in a suitcase. Today’s portables are lightweight, powerful and easy to use.

If you need to use a computer when you are between two locations, a portable is the right choice for you! There are several forms of portable computer. They are as follows:

  • The most common form of portable computer is a laptop. Some people also call them “notebook” computers. They have built-in keyboards and displays. Trackpads (or “touchpads”) get used instead of conventional mice, although you can plug in a USB mouse if you prefer;
  • These devices are like laptops except they are thinner and use less power. Ultrabooks are a relatively new product, conceived by processor manufacturer Intel. They are more expensive to buy than conventional laptops;
  • If you want the size and weight of an Ultrabook but want to pay less, then you need a netbook! The only downside to netbooks is that they have smaller displays. And, as with Ultrabooks, they don’t have built-in optical drives like DVD-RWs;
  • You will doubtless have heard of gadgets like the Apple iPad. These are tablet devices. They have touchscreen displays, are lightweight and have long battery lives. Most people use them for surfing the web, running “apps” and communicating via email and online video calls. The Microsoft Surface tablet is like using a Windows-based laptop.

Desktop computers

Of course, not everyone has a need to take their computers around with them. If you are one of those people, you should instead consider a desktop computer rather than a portable. Most of today’s desktop computers come with tower cases.

The beauty about tower desktops is that they can sit on the floor by your feet. That then gives you the benefit of having more desk space! Older computers used to come with “desktop” cases, hence the term.

These cases were horizontal rather than vertical. You would usually have to put such a computer on your desk, and the display would often sit on top of it!

Desktop computers are much cheaper to buy than portables. Especially if you are looking for a basic system that is capable of running essential everyday software.

The other benefit to desktop computers is that you can upgrade any components with ease. That’s because they use a standardized “architecture.” There are far fewer upgrade options with laptops, Ultrabooks, and netbooks. And pretty much no options with tablets due to their proprietary nature!

Desktop computers also get used by gamers. There is a large community of people that play games on desktops rather than consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox One.

Chillblast, for example, sell PCs that cater just for this niche market. Gaming PCs usually have high-end components. Examples include beefy power supplies and Solid State Drives (SSDs) for extra performance.

Apart from tower and gaming PCs, you can also buy “all-in-one” systems too. These are systems where the display and base unit are both combined into one unit. A popular example of such a system is the Apple iMac.

Some people compare all-in-one systems to portables in some way. The only exceptions are the size, and that the keyboard and mouse are separate from the unit.

Other considerations

Once you have decided what form of computer you want to buy, the next step is to consider its specifications. Just like with most things in life, computers come in a range of specs. Cheaper systems usually have basic specifications. While expensive ones are all geared towards the top end of the market.

The things to look out for are as follows:

  • This is also called the “processor.” Intel and AMD are the two main CPU manufacturers for desktop and portable computers. Make sure that the computer you buy has a dual-core or quad-core processor;
  • Hard drive. These devices are your computer’s storage areas. The size of hard drives is all measured in gigabytes and terabytes. Common sizes include 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB;
  • Short for “Random Access Memory.” RAM is a temporary storage location for computers. Most systems come with at least 8 GB of RAM;
  • Optical drive. DVD rewritable drives come with most computers as standard. You can also upgrade to Blu-ray optical drives too;
  • Operating system. PCs usually have Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed. While Mac computers use the Mac OS X operating system.

Now you should have the information you need to buy the perfect PC for you!