Buying a new PC
This is a preliminary list of notes. I have not perfumed well in this area myself so I put together these notes to help me in the future.
The underlying lesson I learned is that you generally get what you paid for. In 2014 I purchased a laptop with a touch screen, windows 8 and Microsoft office for $225. Microsoft office Home and Student sells for $139 and Windows 8 sells for $91 so that does not leave much for the hardware. Well obviously the manufacturer does not pay retail for the software but you get the idea.
I would encourage anyone getting a laptop these days to get a touch screen and give it serious consideration if you are buying a new screen for a desktop. You may not think you need it now but the additional coast is small and you will probably want it before you current screen needs to be replaced.
CPU, Central Processing unit, the working
brain part of the computer as apposed to the brain memory part which is the
Storage (Hard disk), Different users have vary different storage needs. lots of movies, music files and pictures require a lot of storage, non of these means that you probably can't buy a hard disk small enough. At any rate more space never hearts. If you are not a heavy user of storage than the default that comes with most systems should be fine. If you want to work the problem further, then a good start in deciding hoe much space you need is to see how much you are using now. Click on START (the icon in the lower left of your screen) then "Computer" then look at your C: drive, by subtracting the amount that is free from the total, you can see how much you use. If you have other drives, repeat the process. Also if you do not know what the others are used for, than that is an issue to look into.
Hard disks come in various speeds and a faster hard disk can speed everything up. The fastest ones are Solid State Drives (SSD drives). They are not disk drives at all but are like the memory in your smart phone or camera. They are quite a bit more expensive so people generally use them for just things like windows and put things like My Documents on a regular drive. Programs like Microsoft Office could go on either depending on space availability.
You may also want to have a separate hard disk for backup. It will need to be a lot bigger than the amount of space you are using on your other hard disks. I currently have 5 times as much space used on my backup hard disk as on all my regular disks combined. When it gets filled up, I just erase everything and start over including a system image of everything on my computer. A backup hard disk can be internal, external on on the cloud.
Video Card, Unless you are a gamier or video editor type person, the default would be fine. The one other type you might want something special is if you want to have 2 monitors. I have that now and it is fantastic.
Audio, I always just go with the default. These days everything comes with a microphone input hack and speaker output. Laptops all have a built in microphones. See the top notes in Speed Up Your PC for a way to get a general rating of all the components but getting the Windows Experience Index (WEI) numbers. You can get the numbers directly for windows 7 and older machines but Windows 8.1 and 10 require that you download and run a small program from a third party.
A few of recommendations:
April 2017, I just purchased a Dell desktop tower with wired keyboard and mouse, no monitor (I will be using the mouse and monitor from the old computer and I never saw the advantage of a wireless keyboard). I was looking a computer for light computing and internet browsing and reasonable speed and one that would have a long life.
Dell has billions of models, this one has an Intel Core i5-6400 Processor with a Passmark score of 6692 and 8 MB of RAM for $499
March 31, 2017 Seattle Times article recommended Asus ZenBook UX330UA with a Intel i5-7200U 2.5 GHz Processor with a Passmark score of 6691 for $699. It as a solid state hard drive (SSD) but it is only 256 MB which is fine unless you store huge amounts of Pictures or songs or large amounts of movies. Check what you are using now. They also recommended getting a Chromebook rather than a windows laptop like the one above if you want to spend less and will mostly be using it for internet access.
If you think you have gotten a much better deal than this, then check it out carefully, the salesman is smarter about this than you are.