Handyman Wednesday #8: Blog-puters

Today, I’m thankful for dishwashers.  Our awesome dishwasher here just sprang a leak.  It’s still under warranty, but we have to wash dishes by hand for a week and they’re piling up.  Truth in blogging.  Hopefully it will be fixed by Monday!

Ok, I know when a lot of you read the title, most of you will think one of three things:

1. “Computers?  Most laptops are the same, who cares.  Just buy the cheapest and move on.”

2. “I love my computer!” (Most likely you have a Mac)

3. “My computer sucks!”  (Most popular for everyone other than Mac users)

Well, if you’re in the first or third bucket, this post is for you.  First of all, to explain my background, I just bought a computer last week.  You may remember this post.   I live and breathe electronics every day at work, so I’m like an expert… or I can at least pretend.

Time to narrow my focus.  Let’s just say you’re in need of a laptop  (desktops are a thing of the past and you don’t need one…  trust me). So what is the first step?  You’ll most likely go to Best Buy / Walmart / Fry’s / Microcenter / Radio Shack to buy your computer.  FIRST MISTAKE.  Computers are customize-able and cheaper online, if you know where to look.  There are hundreds of sites, but I have a personal favorite: Dell Outlet.

They post computers every night, so only shop from 7AM – 8AM Central or the best deals will get picked over.  Also, check out their Twitter page and the Facebook page.  I got a 25% off coupon.  It looks like they have these a couple times a month, so be patient.  Yes, laptops have that big of discounts.  They also sell new computers on that site, but at outlet prices (This is what Jess and I did!)

Specs needed for blogging(These are my recomendations):


Tier 1: HP, Sony, Dell.
Tier 2: Acer, Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba.  Don’t go below tier 2 or you may be sorry.

Processor (CPU): Go with Intel.  Please.  There are many flavors.  For power that will still be useful in 2-3 years, get the Intel Core i5.  If you can afford it, the Intel Core i7 is awesome, but unnecessary for most users unless you’re running many intense programs at once (Photoshop + CAD + Gaming +Skype).  We went with the Intel Core i5 to save money and still have the power we need.

Dedicated Graphics Card (GPU):  This is the visual processor for your computer.  If you’re using Photoshop, get a 1GB GPU and you’ll notice your editing happens 5x quicker.  This was a must have for us.  Intel processors have an integrated graphics card called “HD Graphics 3000 or 4000”.  These are slow.  However, the 4000 series is much better than the 3000.

Memory (RAM):  6GB minimum.  This controls how many programs you can have up at one time.  Most people don’t need more than 6-8GB, but going with this much will “Future-proof” your laptop for 3-4 years.  If you see a MHz, go with the highest (ex: 1600 MHz is better than 1333 MHz).

Hard Drive:  Completely up top you.  I like at least 500GB of storage space for music/movies/pictures.  Don’t buy a “Solid State Drive” (SSD).  They are crazy expensive and not worth the $$$ in my opinion.  Instead, upgrade your processor or memory.  Plus, this is easy to upgrade later if you need more space.

Recap for very good computer ($500 – $700):

Processor (CPU): Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7

Graphics Card (GPU): 1GB Dedicated Graphics Card

Memory (RAM): 6-8GB

Hard Drive (HDD): 320GB – 1TB

Recap for Value Computer (~$350 budget):

Processor (CPU): Intel Core i3 (Third Generation)

Graphics Card (GPU): Intel HD 4000

Memory (RAM): 4-6GB

Hard Drive (HDD): 200 – 500GB

Really strapped for cash (~$300):

Processor (CPU): Intel Core i3 (Second Generation)

Graphics Card (GPU): Intel HD 3000

Memory (RAM): 4GB

Hard Drive (HDD): 200GB+

Hope this helps. If you have questions, feel free to post and I’ll answer.  If you disagree, let everyone know!  Jess and I got this computer on Dell Outlet for $650 new one morning (after a 25% off coupon).  It was originally $1299.

Edit:  If you can afford a Mac, get one.  They start at $1000 and go up to $2500, but they work very well for a very long time.  If you like Windows, however, this post is for you.


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