Will a used computer work for you?

As everybody knows computers are not cheap to buy. Not only are there the up front costs of purchasing the system there is the costs of servicing and upgrading as your needs change. Is there a more affordable solution?

One solution that may fit your needs is a used computer system. Used computer systems are affordable, dependable and can be built to suit your needs. High-end computer users often trade in the parts of their systems that they have out grown when they purchase their new parts. This is a perfect opportunity for you.

When looking for used computers you have two options depending upon your computer competence. If you know you way around the insides of a computer you may wish to seek individual parts. However, if you are new to computers or just do not wish to be bothered with the hassle of building your own system then a pre-built used system is the answer for you.

The first step is to determine your computing needs. Are you going to be doing simple things such as going on the Internet and using applications such as word processors or will you be playing games and watching movies? The hardware required for either option is very different.

Lets start by looking at the peripherals available. The first option you may have is the monitor, as they do not always come with the system. If you have to purchase a monitor separately you will have to decide if you want a CRT monitor or a LCD monitor. LCD monitors have really come down in price and thus can be purchased for about the same price, or just slightly more, than a CRT monitor. This makes a LCD monitor a much better choice. With monitors the larger the viewing area the better it is. Look for a monitor that is at least 15" and supports a resolution of 1024 by 768 or more.

Next comes the CPU box itself. Every component of your system is changeable so the choices can be confusing. For this reason we will only look at the main components. The first components to look at are the main board and the processor. Ideally you want a main board that can support processors faster than the one that you intend to use. This will allow you to add a faster processor at a later date without having to buy a new main board too. The processor should be an Intel or AMD processor and run at about 1GHz. This will be fast enough for most games and applications. Another important system component is the RAM. You should have at least 256MB of RAM and ideally have 512MB or more.

Desktop computers are considered to have an open architecture design since the cards inside can be changed as you see fit. The common cards inside a desktop computer is the video, networking and sound cards although some or all of these may already be on the main board. Network cards are fairly basic and as long as there is one there it will be fine. The same is true for sound cards. Unless you are seriously into mixing music any stereo card will be fine. Video cards are a bit different, as there are so many choices available. If you are a serious gamer you will want to research video cards and get one specifically designed for games. Otherwise any video card that has 64 or 128MB of RAM will be fine for every day applications.

The last thing to consider is the drives that come with the system. On a desktop computer you will want a 40GB hard drive and enough room to add a second hard drive. The other drive that there should be is either a CD or a DVD burner. If you have an MP3 player or a digital camera a CD is the best way to archive your files and share them with friends and family.

Building or purchasing a pre-built used computer can be a complicated task but is worth the effort. The only reason the process is complicated is due to the vast number of options available to you. However, with a little research and some shopping around, you are sure to get a quality unit that not only will serve your needs now, but be expandable in the future too.

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