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Learn More About Desktop Computers

What kind of desktop computer do you need?

Built to order desktop computer


Ideal for: Customizing a computer to fit your lifestyle. You get the features you want (for instance, greater processing speed and more memory for business professionals, video card for gamers) and often save money in the process. Features that can be customized include the hard drive, processor, memory, media drive, video graphics, and more.

Key features:

  • Choose from a variety of hard drive sizes, measured in gigabytes (GB). The more gigabytes, the more information the computer can hold. 60 or more GB is recommended for users who need to store several documents, multimedia presentations, or digital images.
  • Processor speeds measured in gigahertz. The greater the processing speed, the more instructions or tasks the computer can perform per second.
  • Processor performance also varies by cache memory. L1 cache memory enhances processor speed more than L2 cache memory and is only available in Intel Pentium (rather than Intel Celeron™).
  • Choose from a range of memory (RAM) sizes, measured in megabytes. The higher the RAM, the greater the size of the software programs the computer can run, and the more programs it can operate simultaneously. Memory can easily be upgraded.
  • Media drive options start with CD–ROM only (reads software and audio CDs) and moves to DVD only (reads CDs, plays DVD software and movies), CD–RW (reads CDs, burns information and audio to a CD–R/CD–RW disk), or CD–RW/DVD–R (reads and burns CDs to either a CD–R or CD–RW disk, reads DVD software and movies and writes images or information to a DVD–R disk).
  • Comes with Windows XP® operating system. Some customizable models offer a choice between the XP Home Edition (ideal for home office, and small business users) and the XP Professional Edition (suitable for businesses seeking greater network security, automated backup recovery, and encrypted file system support.)
  • Comes with a 56K modem. Some models offer a choice between a software modem and a controller–based hardware modem. The controller modem costs slightly more, but, unlike the software modem, it doesn't divert some power from the processor when operating.
  • Choose from a variety of video graphics card options. A 16 or 32 MB card is enough for most needs. A 64 MB card (or greater) is recommended for gaming enthusiasts and users (such as designers) who work with graphics.
  • Most models come with a built–in Network Interface Card (NIC), which enables the computer to be connected to an Ethernet network. In some cases, the NIC can be left out to save some money.

What's available: Several models from Compaq and Hewlett–Packard.

Preconfigured desktop computer

Ideal for:  Business and home users who need a powerful and affordable computer that doesn't require any specific modifications to meet their needs.

Key features:

  • Hard drive size varies by model and is measured in gigabytes. The more gigabytes in the hard drive, the documents, multimedia presentations, audio files, and digital images it can hold.
  • Processor speeds vary by model and are measured in gigahertz. The greater the processing speed, the more instructions or tasks the computer can perform per second.
  • Processor performance also varies by cache memory. L1 cache memory enhances processor speed more than L2 cache memory.
  • Memory (RAM) measured in megabytes (MB). The higher the memory, the greater the size of the software programs the computer can run, and the more programs it can operate simultaneously.
  • Depending on the model, the media drive is DVD–ROM only (reads audio and software CDs, reads DVD software and movies) or CD–RW/DVD–R (reads and burns CDs, reads DVD software and movies, and writes images or information to a DVD–R).
  • Most models come with Windows XP® Home Edition OS (operating system) though some may come with the XP® Professional Edition. XP® Home Edition suffices for home, home office, and small business users. Users looking for greater network security, automated backup recovery, and encrypted file system support may want to opt for the Professional Edition.
  • Built–in 56K modem.
  • Video graphics card determines the richness and depth of screen color. Gaming enthusiasts and users (such as designers) who work with graphics may want to upgrade to a 64 MB card.
  • Built–in Network Interface Card (NIC), which enables the computer to be connected to an Ethernet.
  • Most models have several USB ports, where the computer can be attached to such peripherals as a handheld device, an external drive (such as a CD burner), a printer, or a digital camera.

What’s available: Models from Compaq and Hewlett–Packard.


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