Final Blog Posting: Shopping for Your Next Machine

mayday

Friday (May 1) is the last day of class, and it is also the due date for this assignment. For many of you, this will be the very last day of class before you entire into the “real world” of daily labor. Happy May Day! Go build an awesome world.

On Wednesday (4/29), we discussed important factors that you need to take into account when purchasing a new computer. These include:

  • computer manufacturer, product name, and product model number,
  • central processing unit (CPU) name and speed,
  • hard drive storage capacity (measured in gigabytes or terabytes),
  • hard drive type (SSD is the newest and the fastest),
  • RAM memory (measured in gigabytes),
  • video card (aka “graphics card”) manufacturer and model number,
  • maximum display resolution (e.g. 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels tall),
  • screen size (the physical size of the display if you buy a laptop; usually 13″, 15″ or 17″),
  • battery life (the longer the better), and
  • weight (the lighter the better, if buying a laptop).

You can figure out some of these details by looking inside your computer. For example, you can figure out how much RAM the machine has, you can learn the name of the hard drive manufacturer, and you can (possibly) figure out the name and model of the graphics card.

But you don’t need to open up the machine to collect this information. If you poke around in the control panel (Windows) and the apple menu (Macintosh), you will find system information windows that identify all of the components installed in your machine. And, if you know the manufacturer, the product model name and the model number, you can search Google to find the system specs. For example:

  • Asus ROG 751-JY review
  • Macbook Pro 15″ Late 2011 review

You are likely to stumble across three types of documents when you search in this way. First, you might find the official manufacturer product information sheet with all of the specifications. Second, you are likely to find pages devoted to these computers on shopping sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, or Tiger Direct. Third, you can find reviews of these systems in computer magazines. As you skim the search results, it should be easy to piece together the basic details.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Your homework assignment asks you to do two things, and then report your findings in a blog posting.

#1. Figure out the specs for your personal computer

You should know the following things about your computer:  computer manufacturer and model number, central processing unit (CPU) name and speed, hard drive storage capacity (measured in gigabytes or terabytes), hard drive type (SSD is the newest and the fastest), RAM memory (measured in gigabytes), video card (aka “graphics card”) manufacturer and model number, maximum display resolution (e.g. 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels tall),  screen size (the physical size of the display if you buy a laptop; usually 13″, 15″ or 17″), if a laptop – battery life (the longer the better), and weight (the lighter the better). You should also figure out what types of data ports you have on your computer. Do you have USB ports? USB 3 ports? What sorts of video connections does the computer support? Old-fashioned VGA cables (the kind most machines used when you were in middle school)? HDMI cables (such as the cables that connect contemporary gaming consoles to television sets)? The Apple-specific Thunderbolt cables?

You can find some of this information through a Google search, and you can find some of this information by inspecting the “system properties” of your own computer. Windows and Apple computers both have built in utilities that will summarize much of this information for you. (Google “how do i find out my system specs Apple” or “how do i find out my system specs windows.”)

After you have tracked down this information, you should be sure to investigate how processor is ranked on the benchmark charts posted by Geekbench. Jot down the number, and then compare this to the Macs and Window machines in the lab. Report this information in your blog post:

  • MANUFACTURER AND MODEL:
  • CPU NAME AND SPEED:
  • HARD DRIVE TYPE AND STORAGE CAPACITY:
  • RAM:
  • VIDEO CARD DETAILS:
  • MAXIMUM DISPLAY RESOLUTION (measured in pixels):
  • LAPTOP DISPLAY SIZE (measured in inches):
  • BATTERY LIFE:
  • WEIGHT:
  • DATA PORTS (e.g. USB):
  • VIDEO CONNECTIONS (e.g. HDMI, VGA):
  • CPU BENCHMARK SCORE:

#2. Research your dream Windows/Apple computers (assuming a $1,750 budget)

Next, imagine that your relatives have given you $1,700 to upgrade your computer. Do some research on currently available systems, and identify two different options: an Apple system and a Windows-based system. Specifically, what manufacturer and model are you looking at? What are the system specs? How much does it cost? Report the details for both of these systems.

  • MANUFACTURER AND MODEL:
  • CPU NAME AND SPEED:
  • HARD DRIVE TYPE AND STORAGE CAPACITY:
  • RAM:
  • VIDEO CARD DETAILS:
  • MAXIMUM DISPLAY RESOLUTION (measured in pixels):
  • LAPTOP DISPLAY SIZE (measured in inches):
  • BATTERY LIFE:
  • WEIGHT:
  • DATA PORTS:
  • VIDEO CONNECTIONS:
  • CPU BENCHMARK SCORE:

Last but not least, reflect on this process. What questions do you still have at this point about the insides of your computer? If somebody were to hand you $1,750 tomorrow for purchasing a computer, which of the two systems would you purchase and why?

This blog posting is due on the class blog no later than 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May 1. 

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