Functional Desktop PC Buying Guide

Functional Desktop PC Buying Guide

Looking at a new desktop computer?  While there is plenty of guides on the internet telling you which computer to purchase with varying degrees of information I rarely see any guides discussing the functional decision-making process. You may be wondering what I mean by “functional?” Functional decision-making processes focusses attention on how you are likely to use a computer to decide the priority of the technical Desktop PC Purchasing Guide for deciding how to buy a new computeraspects.  Buying a new computer often is a rather complex process for consumers with an overwhelming amount of technical information.    Sometimes it is best to concentrate your energies in understanding your needs better than worrying whether an Intel i5 series 3 is better than an Intel i7 series 2 CPU.  In this particular article I will focus on the desktop PC, mainly because I believe that a combination of a Desktop PC combined with a Tablet is a stronger choice than a Laptop alone.  More on that at a later time.

Your functional requirements should determine the Desktop PC

The process is to draw up a table of your functional needs and evaluate a range of desktop computers based on that table.   We will walk you through a process that should cover most consumers, although you should also be mindful to add your own issues into this process.  There is many different types of people using computers, so it becomes very hard to determine a single process to cover all the uses.  The point of this process is to show an alternate approach to decision-making.

Function 1 – Likely uses

What are the main uses of the computer?   Different functions need differing amounts of computing power.   By looking at this metric you can decide the priority on how technically advanced your computer needs to be.  As an example, the table below illustrates my point.  Geeks can argue for an eternity about relative weighting of the “tech rating” I used, but I generally avoid those discussions as it is relatively unimportant.  In this example I used my typical functions that I use my desktop computer.


FunctionTech Rating My Score
 Internet Browsing 1 1
 Reading / Writing Emails 1 1
 Social Media (Facebook etc.) 1 1
 Streaming Media 2 2
 Word Processing 2 2
 Personal Finance 3 0
 Photo / Video Editing 10 10
 Games10 0
Total Importance ? / 30 17 / 30


For this example if you chose to use the values I have for the tech rating, a score of anything 6 and under you can buy the cheapest computer on the market.  For a “total importance” of 9 and under you can still buy  a low-end computer.   A score of 10 to 20 requires a mid range computer and 20 and above you will get value out of a high-end computer.  By looking at the functions the computer will be used we have determined quickly in what range of computers we should be focussing our attention in terms of computational power.

Function 2 – Environmental Functions

Next we turn our attention to a variety of considerations on how the computer will be used in the environment.  We aren’t talking about taking your new computer for a stroll through the local nature park here, we are looking at the surroundings of the computers placement.  This may sound confusing but it is one of the most overlooked areas that should affect your decision-making.   Many of these items can come standard with a desktop PC, although others are optional.  By running through this table below you can see the environmental factors that can help your decision-making process.

Environmental FactorSolution
 Cleanliness – Amount of dust in the area? Dust proof case
 Is the area frequently warm? CPU and Case cooling
 Does the computer need to be quiet? Silent computing technologies
 Size of the desk area? Small form factor cases vs Tower cases
 Is your eyesight poor? Large screen sizes
 Back pain or bad posture? Ergonomic keyboard and mice
 Desk and chair height? Monitor with adjustable stand


Function 3 – Regional considerations

Regional considerations in the most part affects the priority you should place on the terms of the warranty.   For me in particular, living in Townsville, a number of the larger computer suppliers do not have local repair options.  A broken computer needing repairs is a pain in the first place, but that can become a major issue if I need to pack the desktop computer and pay for shipping for the repairs. The costs are one problem, but also the added time it takes to get a large parcel such as a desktop computer to a capital city and back can add 6 days downtime in my particular location.  If I was located in a more remote locality the cost and time increases further.  Therefore adding the terms of the warranty and the likely repair times and expenses of postage is another item to add to the functional decision-making process.  Comparing a remote computer repair warranty with a local warranty should be high on your decision-making process.

Putting it all together

Using a functional process than a pure technology process to decision-making you have focussed your energies into decisions and priorities in evaluating the different options.  We have looked at a broad brush approach to choosing how powerful a computer you need, the options that affect the usability of your new computer and importantly how computer repairs may be carried out. This approach is very different to getting lost in the technical jargon of CPU ratings, hard drive sizes and DVD burners and losing sight of the important functional needs.  Importantly most consumers can decide and test the functional requirements fairly easily.  The impact on the decision process of function need not get lost by the marketing materials and confusing sales people.


Last Updated Sep 16, 2014 @ 1:41 am