Optimizing & Buying Windows 7 PCs
When first removed from the shipping box, Windows 7 PC performance is abysmal, not to mention the extremely annoying vendor crapware popups that continuously impede trying to get any actual work done. Furthermore, as with all Windows systems, Windows 7 is extremely insecure out of the box because all user login Ids have full administrative privilege by default. I take care of these issues and many more when I optimize a Windows 7 PC.
Optimizing a Windows 7 PC
Here's what I do to optimize
a Windows 7 PC, new or otherwise:
All of the above work takes 4 to 5 hours, depending upon the extent of data copying and custom program installation required.
Buying a New Windows 7 PC
OK, so now that you know what should be done to optimize your new Windows 7 PC, which is the best PC for you to buy right now, anyway?
As to recommendations of what brand of PC to buy, I basically recommend Dell PCs for most people. Do note however that the Dell Latitude business-class laptops are built better than the Dell consumer models and can be purchased as refurbs from the Dell Outlet for not too much more than new BestBuy Dell consumer laptops. The Dell refurbs are new for all practical purposes and Dell's factory warranty on all of their business-class computers is three years as opposed to one year for their consumer models.
But if you want to buy something less expensive and get it quicker (like right now), then BestBuy does carry some good Dell laptops at decent prices. BestBuy also carries some good, inexpensive Dell desktops as well. BTW, don't buy a service plan, extended warranty or anything else except for the PC itself from BestBuy. Throw away any free antivirus software they insist on giving you, and don't let the Geek Squad EVER touch your computer!
I highly recommend that you do NOT buy an HP laptop. Statistically, they are extremely unreliable and I personally see a large number of prematurely dead and dying HP laptops come into my shop which are not cost-effective to repair and therefore must be replaced.
Finally, if you can afford it, the new Panasonic CF-53 semi-ruggedized laptop is a great PC and should last for many years given the way it is built. The CF-53 is a great choice for anyone who transports their laptop a great deal in less than ideal conditions. Like the Latitude, the Panasonic Toughbooks all have a builtin three year factory warrant.
As far as PC specifications in general, start with at least the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system. Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is even better, and under no circumstance settle for the Starter, Home Basic, or 32-bit editions. Fortunately, this isn't a big issue as almost all retail PCs in the U.S. use the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit edition. On the other hand, the Professional edition is usually only available on business-class PCs.
For home users, I recommend an Intel i3 or i5 processor and I'm not a big fan of the AMD chipset. You also want 3-4 GB of RAM. Laptops should have a minimum hard drive size of 320 GB, with 500 GB being preferable. Desktops should have a minimum hard drive size of 500 GB, with 750GM being preferable. At this point, I'm not sold on 1 TB or larger hard drives as I'm not yet convinced of their long-term reliability, especially the laptop drives. Also, 7200 RPM drives are preferred over 5400 rpm drives as the 7200 RPM drives will provide much better system performance. However, be forewarned that sometimes 7200 RPM drives will produce a noticeable hum or vibration in some laptops.
All PCs should come with integrated HDMI digital video and sound output so you can hook them up to modern flat screen monitors and TVs. Also, I'm not a fan of dedicated graphics processors in laptops: such processors draw too much power, generate too much potentially damaging heat and are not needed unless you are a serious gamer, which by the way, if you are a serious gamer you should be looking at a desktop anyway. So I prefer integrated graphics rather than dedicated graphics in laptops.
All PCs should have a multi-layer DVD reader/writer.
Screen size and weight selection on laptops depends upon primary usage. If you aren't going to be transporting your laptop a lot, then weight isn't a big issue, and you might as well get a 15" screen. For travel laptops, you want the weight under 6 pounds and probably a 14" screen. BTW, I always thought the so-called tiny netbooks were a gimmick: expensive, underperforming, tiny screen, tiny keyboard, and extremely poor build-quality.
Also, eschew other gimmicks on laptops such as touch screens, fingerprint readers, bluetooth, builtin WWAN, TPM, etc. These are just more useless things to go wrong. And speaking of gimmicks, avoid the so-called all-in-one PCs like the plague. They have all of the disadvantages of a laptop in terms of repair-expense and proprietary parts issues and none of a laptop's portability advantages.
On laptops, Intel wireless chips are preferable to anything else, especially proprietary chips like the Dell wireless chips. The Synaptics touchpad is preferable to the Alps touchpads, but you should be using a laser mouse anyway, preferably a wired mouse which is less troublesome than wireless mouses. BTW, avoid everything made by Logitech: their software will eat your PC.Laptops should have at least four USB 2.0 ports and desktops even more.
Finally, if you're interested in tuneup issues for older systems, check out my Windows PC Tuneup, Why Is My Computer Slow? and An Epidemic of Malware: Removal and Prevention articles.
Please don't hesitate to call or email me for a free consultation regarding system performance improvements, tuneups, optimizations, or any other PC issue for that matter. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how fast and annoyance-free I can make your system.
My fee is $40.00/hr for home users and $45.00 for businesses. Most tuneups on older systems take 3-4 hours, though if you have a system that is heavily infected with malicious software or other very difficult issues, it may take additional time to clean the system. I have 15 years experience with PCs, and 40 years total computer experience, including bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science. Please see my web site for additional information.
Alternatively, be extremely
wary of the big box stores "PC repair" departments. Since they often
have minimal knowledge, they are unable to remove most modern viruses,
and thus claim that the system must have the OS freshly reinstalled,
though this is completely untrue. They'll often charge an outrageous
price for a retail copy of the OS for reinstallation, even though free
OEM install disks are available from companies like Dell. They'll also
wipe out your data by not copying it before wiping the hard drive, and
they won't tell you that before hand. And finally, they won't reinstall
the factory drivers after reinstalling the OS, leaving you with a
crippled computer. And, believe me, this is a best-case scenario. The
worst case I heard was a client who had a big box store lose her
laptop! They talked her into accepting a used computer in lieu of the
one they lost!