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Desktop Computers: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying

3 January 2024

Desktop Computers: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying

 

Welcome to the ultimate guide to desktop computers — your go-to resource for navigating the ever-evolving world of desktop technology! Whether you're a tech enthusiast seeking the latest innovations or a newcomer eager to delve into the realm of computing, this guide is your roadmap to understanding, choosing and optimising your desktop PC experience.

 

From sleek all-in-ones to customisable towers brimming with power, desktop computers offer a universe of possibilities. In this article, we'll unravel the mysteries behind processors, memory, storage and more, breaking down the jargon to help you make informed decisions without the headaches. Think of this guide as your friendly tech-savvy companion, ready to demystify the components and provide practical tips to help you find the perfect desktop setup that suits your needs.

Choosing the right desktop PC

 

So you need a new computer — what next? Before you start browsing, there are a few crucial things you should consider to narrow down your search.

Purpose and usage 

First things first — you need to figure out the primary use of the desktop (gaming, professional tasks, casual use) so you can select appropriate specifications and features.

Processor (CPU)

Choose a processor that meets your performance needs. Look for modern CPUs with multiple cores and higher clock speeds for better multitasking and faster processing.

Memory (RAM)

Sufficient RAM is your ticket to smooth operation. 8GB is generally a minimum for most users, but consider 16GB or more for demanding tasks or future-proofing.

Storage

Decide between a traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a faster Solid-State Drive (SSD). SSDs offer quicker boot times and faster data access, while HDDs provide more storage space at a lower cost. You can read more about the differences in our HDD vs SSD article.

Graphics card (GPU)

For gaming or graphic-intensive tasks, invest in a dedicated graphics card. Integrated graphics can usually do the trick for basic use.

Ports and connectivity

Check the available ports (USB, HDMI, DisplayPort, etc.) to ensure compatibility with your peripherals. It’s also important to consider wifi capabilities and Bluetooth if needed.

Form factor

Choose a desktop form factor that suits your space and preferences (tower, all-in-one, compact).

Future-proofing/upgrades

Assess the potential for future upgrades such as adding more RAM, upgrading the GPU, or expanding storage.

Operating system

Decide whether you prefer Windows, macOS or a Linux-based system based on your familiarity and software requirements.

Budget

Set a realistic budget considering the features and performance you need. Balance between performance and cost to get the best value for your money.

 

Need a little more direction? Check out our ultimate desktop computer buying guide for more tips, where we go into more detail about the points mentioned above. 

 

Gaming PCs 101

 

At Mwave, we pride ourselves on our outstanding selection of gaming PCs. We offer a wide range of services and levels when it comes to creating your dream rig — from fully customisable gaming PCs to crafting your dream gaming PC from scratch, you choose the elements you want and we take care of the build. We know the key ingredients to creating a machine that takes your experience to the next level — here are the tricks of the trade!

 

At its core, a powerful processor is essential to handle the complex computations of modern games. Opt for a high-performance CPU with multiple cores and high clock speeds, capable of smoothly running demanding titles and handling multitasking without slowdowns.

 

Equally crucial is the graphics card, which significantly impacts gaming performance. A dedicated GPU with ample video memory ensures smooth rendering, high frame rates and stunning visuals at higher resolutions. Consider top-tier graphics cards from reputable brands to experience cutting-edge gaming graphics.

 

Ample RAM is another critical aspect of a gaming PC. Having enough memory, typically 16GB or more, allows for seamless multitasking while gaming, ensuring smoother gameplay and preventing performance bottlenecks. Additionally, fast and responsive storage, such as a SSD, significantly reduces load times, enhances in-game responsiveness and improves overall system performance.

 

A good gaming PC also involves considerations beyond raw power. Effective cooling systems, whether through fans or liquid cooling, prevent overheating during intense gaming sessions, maintaining optimal performance and longevity of components. Furthermore, a high-quality PSU ensures stable and sufficient power delivery to all components, reducing the risk of system instability or damage. Finally, the gaming experience can be enhanced with customisable peripherals, RGB lighting and a well-ventilated and spacious case for easy maintenance and potential future upgrades.

 

Looking for some extra guidance during the process? Check out our article on how to build a gaming PC. We’ve also got plenty of advice if you can’t decide between a gaming laptop or a gaming PC

 

Desktop computers for every job

 

Computers aren’t just for leisure — they’re a crucial part of so many professions these days. No matter what field you’re in, there’s a desktop computer to suit. Here are some things to look out for when shopping for a PC based on your job.

Graphic design and creative industries

Professionals in graphic design and creative fields need computers with robust processing power and high-quality graphics capabilities. Look for a computer with a powerful CPU, dedicated GPU, ample RAM (16GB or more) and a colour-accurate display to handle demanding design software like Adobe Creative Suite or Autodesk applications.

Programming and software development

Developers benefit from computers with multitasking capabilities and efficient processing. Opt for a computer with a fast CPU, plenty of RAM (at least 8GB), ample storage for code repositories and a reliable development environment that supports multiple programming languages.

Financial analysis and accounting

Finance and accounting folks may prioritise computational power and data storage. Look for a computer with a powerful CPU for number crunching, ample storage space and software compatibility with financial analysis tools like Microsoft Excel, QuickBook or specialised accounting software.

Writing and content creation

Writers, bloggers and content creators generally need a comfortable keyboard, a high-resolution display for long hours of writing and sufficient processing power for multitasking. A computer with a good keyboard, high-resolution screen and reliable performance for word processing and content creation applications suits this field.

Engineering and CAD design

Engineers and CAD designers require computers with high-end specifications to handle complex simulations and design software. Look for a computer with a powerful CPU, a dedicated GPU, ample RAM (often 16GB+) and fast storage to run CAD software like AutoCAD or SolidWorks smoothly.

Data analysis and research

Professionals working in data analysis and research may require computers with significant processing power and storage capacity. Consider a computer with a powerful CPU, ample RAM for handling large datasets, and plenty of storage space for data-intensive applications like statistical analysis software or databases.

 

Looking for more information about finding the right work PC? Take a look at our article on computers for business

 

Pre-built vs. custom: which PC is right for you?

 

In the present age of PC shopping, there are more options than ever before — and sometimes this level of choice can feel overwhelming. There’s another layer of complexity when it comes to choosing between a pre-built or custom desktop PC. If you’re not sure which road to go down, we’ve got some advice to help you make the right decision for your circumstances.

Pre-built PC

Pre-built PCs are complete computer systems assembled and sold by manufacturers or retailers (that’s us!). These systems come ready-to-use straight out of the box, offering convenience and ease of setup for people who prefer a hassle-free solution. At Mwave, we offer a range of configurations tailored for different purposes — from entry-level models for casual users to high-performance setups designed for gaming or more intensive tasks. 

 

Our pre-built PCs include warranties and customer support, so they are a great choice if you prioritise convenience and don't want to deal with the intricacies of selecting individual components. While they may have less customisation options compared to custom-built PCs, pre-built systems provide a straightforward solution if you want a reliable and functional computer without the need for technical expertise.

Custom PC

On the other hand, custom PCs are computers built by users (you) or professionals (again, that’s us!) who hand-pick individual components to create a personalised system tailored to specific preferences and requirements. This approach allows for flexibility in choosing high-quality components like processors, graphics cards, memory, storage and cooling solutions, catering to various performance needs and budgets. 

 

Our custom PCs offer extensive customisation options — you can optimise the system for gaming, content creation, productivity or specialised tasks. While building a custom PC requires technical knowledge or assistance, it provides greater control over the quality of components, potential for upgrades and the satisfaction of owning a uniquely tailored system that perfectly matches your needs and preferences. At Mwave, we also do all the assembly on our end — so you just select your components and we do the rest. 

 

For a more in-depth analysis, check out our article on pre-built vs. custom PCs

 

Desktop PC maintenance tips

 

Regular maintenance and care can significantly extend the life and performance of your desktop PC. We’ve assembled a little cheat sheet of tips that will keep your computer running like a dream for years to come.

 

Regular cleaning: Dust and debris can accumulate inside your desktop computer, leading to overheating and performance issues. Use compressed air to gently blow away dust from vents, fans and components. Always make sure your PC is powered off and unplugged before cleaning.

 

Software updates: Don’t ignore those notifications telling you your computer needs an update! Keep your operating system, drivers and software up to date. Regular updates often include security patches, bug fixes and performance improvements that help your system run smoothly and securely.

 

Virus protection: Install reliable antivirus software and actually use it — run regular scans to detect and remove malware, viruses and other threats that could harm your system.

 

Disk cleanup: Periodically perform disk cleanup to remove temporary files, cache and unnecessary data. Use built-in tools or third-party software to free up disk space and optimise performance.

 

Check hardware connections: Ensure all cables, RAM modules and expansion cards are properly plugged in. Loose connections can cause annoying issues, so periodically check and reseat them if needed.

 

Monitor temperatures: Use monitoring software to keep an eye on your system's temperatures. Overheating can cause damage, so ensuring proper ventilation and cooling is essential.

 

Defragment hard drive (if applicable): If you're using a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), consider defragmenting it occasionally to optimise data storage and access speed. You’re off the hook if you opt for a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) — these more modern systems don’t need defragmentation.

 

Proper shutdown: Always shut down your computer properly rather than using the power button to avoid potential data corruption or damage to the system.

 

For more information about how you can keep your computer in top shape, check out our guide to desktop PC maintenance

 

Trust Australia’s desktop computer experts

 

No matter what you need your desktop computer for, Mwave is the place to get it. As Australia’s leading online tech retailer, we are committed to sourcing the most trusted brands at the best prices — because buying such an essential item should be exciting (and affordable). Our team is genuinely passionate about all things PCs, which is what sets us apart from the big chains – when you choose Mwave, you’re guaranteed support every step of the way. Whether you’re a tech rookie looking for something simple or a self-professed geek keen to build your dream rig, we’ve got you! 

 

Start shopping for your dream PC or reach out to our team if you need any assistance.

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