Shopping for a computer doesn’t need to be hard. First think about what you need. Are you looking for a computer to perform basic tasks or to meet special requirements? Then do a little homework, and finally go shopping armed with that knowledge. You’ll get a computer you can be happy with, and you’ll get the best value for your money.
7 The term desktop computer is misleading. Desktop refers to computers that aren't laptop or notebook computers. Computers continue to get faster and cheaper. Don't torture yourself by second-guessing your purchase, or by waiting for the next jump in power or drop in price. Don't toss your old computer in the trash (see How to Sell or Donate a Computer). Like many other electronic devices, they contain toxic chemicals and need to be recycled. You might be able to use your current monitor, printer, and other peripherals with a new computer if you're happy with them. Write down their specifications and bring your notes to the store. But remember that many computers come packaged with hardware preconfigured to work together and with the latest operating systems.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $2,000 for a general-purpose machine, although you can find desktop computers for anywhere from $400 to $10,000.
Get a CD burner so you can back up valuable data and make your own music CDs. Look into a DVD burner too if you're involved in film making or editing, but remember that there are multiple competing standards; computer-burned DVDs might not play in your home DVD player. Make sure your machine has a DVD drive if you want to watch movies on your computer. (See How to Buy Blank CDs.) Also look for an internal modem.
Buy the biggest hard drive you can afford--120 to 180 gigabytes (GB) is now commonplace. Get more than 200 GB if you're storing music and/or editing video. For video editing, you'll also need a video input/output card and a FireWire connection.