If you’ve been waiting for Windows 10 before you upgrade your computer or just fancy something new, there’s never been a better time to buy a PC. No matter what your budget is, there are stacks of superb Windows 10 PCs in the pipeline that will suit every taste. But how do you make the right decision when there are so many options out there? This Windows 10 primer is designed to help any PC newbies out there.
Windows 10’s system requirements are quite modest: a 1GHz processor, 2GB of RAM (or just 1GB on a 32-bit device), 16GB of hard disk space and a compatible graphics card. That’s good news and bad news — good, because you won’t need a monster PC to run it, and bad, because it doesn’t really narrow the choice. But that’s okay, because we’re about to do just that.
To SSD or not to SSD?
The answer is that unless your budget’s really tight, go for a PC with a solid state drive (SSD). The difference between a normal hard disk and an SSD is like the difference between a pushbike and a Porsche: they’ll both get you there, but the Porsche will get you there an awful lot faster.
Unfortunately there’s another way SSDs are like Porsches: while the price of SSD storage is falling fast, SSDs are still a lot more expensive than traditional hard disks. As a result, PC manufacturers tend to keep overall prices down by offering smaller SSDs than they do hard disks. In other words, you can expect to receive less storage despite paying a premium.
Further Reading: Solid-State Drives: Everything You Need To Know
In today’s age of cloud storage, online apps and streaming music/video, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If you do find your SSD a little crowded you can always add external storage later. SSDs are much faster, much more energy efficient and much less fragile than hard disks, and once you’ve used a PC with one you’ll never want to use a hard disk again.
Pick a shape
Picking PCs used to be easy: if you were static you’d buy a desktop, and if you were mobile you’d get a laptop. Not any more. We have desktops, laptops, Ultrabooks, tablets, and hybrid 2-in-1 devices that can be tablets or laptops according to what you’re doing.
Desktops remain the best choice if you want to tinker or keep upgrading bits and pieces. For example, if you’re a keen gamer who plans to continually upgrade to the fastest processors and the latest graphics cards then a desktop is the perfect Windows 10 PC for you. They’re also great for power users who don’t need portability, as there’s no need to worry about battery life or how heavy they are and you can dial everything up to eleven.
For everything else, though, a more mobile device may be a better bet: they can go wherever you do, and the days of enduring poor battery life and sluggish performance are long gone. All-day battery life isn’t unusual, and even the cheapest notebooks deliver excellent performance for everyday tasks. If portability is your key consideration, head for the Ultrabook aisle where you’ll find ultra-light, ultra-powerful laptops that are perfect PCs for people on the move.
Windows 10’s Tablet Mode opens up some additional possibilities too. A Windows 10 tablet does everything you’d expect from Windows in a finger-friendly format, while Windows 10 hybrids or 2-in-1s can transform from notebook to tablet and back again – which means they’re great all-rounders if you want a device you can use almost anywhere. The way they transform depends on the manufacturer, but it’s usually the result of cleverly engineered hinges on the screen or via detachable keyboards that you can snap on and off.
Further Reading: Top 10 Reasons To Choose A 2 In 1 Laptop/Tablet
The Price is right
Once you’ve decided on the kind of PC you need, the next step is to set a budget and draw up a shortlist. Our friends at Gizmodo can help with that bit – they’ve reviewed stacks of PCs and have also put together handy lists of the best PCs for different kinds of users, such as students and gamers. (You can read up on all things Windows 10 via this Gizmodo tag.)
Naturally, you should also head down to your electronics store of choice for some hands-on time with any models you’re considering; especially if it comes with a fixed keyboard. We’ve found huge differences between different manufacturers’ keyboards in terms of comfort and speed, and comfort is the one thing you can’t tell from an online photo. Your fingers are going to be spending a lot of time on those keys, so it’s a good idea to make sure they’ll be happy.
This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK.