Decisions to make when buying a PC

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pcOver the years I have discovered that many people, including IT professionals, don’t really know what they want in a computer, or from their final purchases.

I have had clients buy machines from me on a whim, and come back with a list of complaints. “Oh this PC is too slow”, “I can’t play my games”, “it won’t play my videos”, and even, “it’s too complicated for me”.

As a tech and sales person I have always tried to “Make the sale”, sales being more important to me at the time. I have also noticed a trend where sales people baffle the consumer with TECHIE talk rather than discuss with the buyer what their actual needs are.

I will try to explain how to make your decision lighter and easier to make. 3 simple steps are all that’s required; Identify, personalise, finalise. I will go through each step as simply as I possibly can.


Take a moment to reflect on what your current needs would be for a PC, write them down. The question that would be is, “What do I want to be able to do with my new computer?”

This list can be quite long, but in general everyone wants to browse the internet, send and receive emails, play music and videos. These are common needs. List you common needs before going onto the “uncommon needs”.

Uncommon needs would relate to playing high-end games, writing software applications, web design, photo editing, graphic design and architecture and much more. Once you have identified your list of needs them you can move onto the more “difficult” or “technical” side of things, personalising.


When you get to this point, do a little research into the various things that you have listed in your “uncommon needs”. I will touch on a passion of mine, gaming.

There are several things that you would need to look at when wanting a PC for gaming; graphics, RAM, processor and hard disc space. Each of these can be easily researched by yourself, even as a novice.

I find Google to be a great resource as well as Wikipedia. Also identify what games you would like to play, and read the system requirements for each game, these are great guides on what to buy. The system requirements are basic needs for the game to run smoothly on your PC.

System requirements can be found either by going to the games website or looking on the back cover. Once you have identified your System Requirements you can now begin to Personalise your machine. This is the more “Technical” side of things. A few terms to remember;

  • GPU – This stands for Graphics Processing Unit, or Graphics card, these provide VISUAL performance there are two main manufacturers for these, NVidia and ATI. and
  • CPU – This Stands for Central Processing Unit, again there are two main manufacturers for these AMD and Intel. and CPU’s simply put are for over all performance in processing information in order to run the game/software.
  • RAM – Random Access Memory, there are a multitude of companies that make ram for gaming, my favourite is RAM is basically for speed!
  • Motherboard – as the term states, without a decent motherboard you won’t get the right performance you may require. For simple computers just a basic “Entry level” motherboard would suffice. Again there are many companies that make motherboards, MSI, Intel, Asus, Acer and Alienware just to name a few.
  • Portability – Do you want a laptop or Desktop? Laptops are easily carried but have restrictions on performance and cooling, where-as a Desktop (the big heavy computers) lack the ability to move easily but can have superb performance and cooling.

More information about these items can be gleaned just by using our research tools Google and wiki. Now that we have gone over the more technical stuff let’s move on to the cruncher “Finalising”!

Here is where we complete what we want to achieve! This is where we can actually decide on our “gaming machine”! You have now worked out your needs and wants, system requirements etc.
Now its time to finally start putting this together. Try not to get stuck with only one company or computer shop, there are so many here in Zimbabwe that can assist and supply all your needs.

My advice would be to get Quotations from at least (4) four companies of at least (3) three different “builds” for your Computer.

Carefully decide on your budget and what you need, specify that you want your components itemised if it’s a desktop, this will help you to make your final decision. Below is a basic list of items/components that would be required for a desktop;

  • Computer Case – Where everything gets assembled into what’s commonly known as the Tower. There are Computer cases that are specifically designed for Gaming/Cooling
  • Power supply – Sometimes included with the Case, but in many instances not included
  • Motherboard
  • Hard Drive
  • RAM
  • CPU
  • GPU
  • DVD ROM – Most DVD ROMs these days can write/rewrite (burn) DVD’s and CD’s
  • Monitor – The Screen
  • Keyboard & Mouse – Believe it or not these are also factors to include
  • Cooling – Standard CPU fans generally are not good enough for gaming, and as we live in Zimbabwe it can get pretty hot here, ask for options from your dealers.

Many companies are SALES driven and the sales people will not sit down and take the time to discover what your requirements are. Although they can be very efficient and professional, be careful when someone starts to confuse you with technical terms, having been in the sales area I know that this is a tactic to speed up the SALE process.

Remember it’s YOU that has to use the machine at the end of the day, not the sales person, and it’s you that needs to be happy with the final decision, if you feel like you have been cheated/conned when you walk away with a purchase, chances are you probably have been cheated/conned.

Good luck and enjoy your new computer!

This article was written by tech and gaming enthusiast Mark Fulton. He has experience in hardware and tech sales, loves working with computers, horse riding and rugby. He can be e-mailed on



  1. Anonymous

    Good idea in helping gadget lovers in making a decision on what to know when buying gadgets. I think you also left out one important thing that is the OS (Operating System) that are out there. Thats an important part of the decision as well.

    On RAM its best to advise that the more you have the better the performance of the device without getting into too much technical detail and recommended minimum is 8Gig.

    1. enne

      Correct me if I’m wrong but if RAM is 2 b 8GB, then the motherboard has to b 64bit since a 32bit one allows a Max of 4GB RAM. Anything more would be a waste of money.

      1. Anonymous

        Its the operating system that determines whether your system is 32 bit or 64 bit and NOT the mother board. You are correct in that a 32 bit system will only be able to use a maximum of 4gig, but the world has moved to 64 bit as standard now and 64 bit is the way to go.

  2. Dee

    Thanks for writing a great article. As an IT person, iam often always asked this question ” Where can i buy a good but cheap computer”, in response i always response with a question ” what do you need to use computer for”. Whatever response i get would help me give the person make the right decision.

  3. Zhou Taisekwa

    Thanks. Informative

  4. purpledragon

    Is it really worth it buying a PC in this day and age? Taking into account laptops are same price and dont forget with a laptop you get around four hours use when Zesa is not around. Preety useful when you get home from work and there is darkness

  5. Sandy

    Great Post…Very useful…and can u list the recommended PC configurations for Gaming…i like to play almost any game without problem…
    and if anyone looking for: Second Hand Laptops for sale in Chennai