Buying a computer system/Choosing a desk top computer

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Question
Hello
I need to replace a computer system which gave up the ghost after nine years.  We already have a MacBook, but I personally prefer a PC model.  Usage is for surfing, emails, word, excell and perhaps some photo editing in the future. Would also like to start streaming off the internet (we have a four year old HD TV however it is not a smart tv).  Not sure what I should be looking for in the way of a system or the peripharels I will need.  I read where I should get  1 Tb hard drive (conventional or SSD ?)  and 6gig of RAM. What processor model or graphic card ( or anything else for that matter) I have no idea. W e have  a new printer so one less thing to worry about.  Also all the wires/ cords drives us  batty.
We typically like to keep our systems for good while so durability is an issue
Would appreciate your suggestions  including makes if at all possible.

Thanking you in advance for your time and help

Regards
Richard

Answer
None of your wants will require a very expensive or complicated system - even the HD streaming, as modern integrated graphics will be very capable of that, as well as all dedicated cards. Unless you're interested in heavy 3D gaming, I probably wouldn't bother with a dedicated graphics card as modern IGPs are very component, and will produce a cheaper and lower power (in terms of electrical consumption) system. If you wanted to go with an Apple, the Mac Mini would be a fine choice. If you want a Windows-based machine, you could either install Windows on an Apple system (I would suggest dual-booting it with OS X and Windows if you pursue that route), or go with an out-of-the-box Windows PC from Dell, HP, or Asus. Something like the Asus VivoPC or HP Pavilion MiniPC would be a fine choice.

On the hard-drive, there's no real reason to go for 1TB unless you have that much data to store - that's pretty much all that dictates disk size requirements. For Windows itself, as well as many of the applications you've mentioned, you will only require around 50-100GB of storage, so anything larger (which is very typical these days) would be suitable. If you have a significant amount of photos (thousands or tens of thousands) you may need more storage, but there's no reason you couldn't use an external or network attached drive for that kind of large storage.

On the RAM, I would consider 6GB to be perfectly acceptable, but 4GB to be a more realistic baseline. More won't hurt anything, but if you aren't doing any extremely demanding tasks (nothing you've mentioned leads me to believe you are, unless your Excel work involves multi-hundred MB databooks), the differences from 4GB to 6GB (or more) will be largely immaterial as you simply won't need (and therefore Windows will not use) the extra memory. Having said this, RAM tends to be cheap these days, so if it's a trivial up-charge to add more memory, I wouldn't shy away from such an upgrade.

On wiring, I'd need a little more information about how your existing devices connect, but largely newer computers tend to be pretty straight-forward for connection. For the most part, peripherals rely on USB, as opposed to the myriad of connections that PCs even 5 years ago tended to use. For connecting to your TV and monitor(s) you will likely use HDMI or DVI (they can be adapted from one to another very cheaply as needed), or DisplayPort. With more information about your other hardware and peripherals I can provide a more directed answer as far as connectivity goes.

-bob

Buying a computer system

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Bobbert

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

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I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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15+ years of experience

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