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2. Buying Considerations

3. Computer Hardware Options- CPUs and System RAM

4. Disk Drive Options

5. Video Cards, Monitors, Sound Cards, Modems, etc.

6. Additional Features - Printers, Digital Cameras, Scanners, Networks

7. Recommended Software

8. Recommended Computer Systems

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Desktop Computer Hardware Requirements

College Computer Buying Guide

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Computer Buying Primer

Recommended Computer Software

Windows Operating System

For a single processor system the choice is pretty simple; Windows Millennium Edition or Windows XP. Windows 2000, and its predecessor Windows NT are used for running business applications in a secure environment.

If you have Windows 3.1 or newer versions, even on diskette, you can buy the upgrade rather then the full version. Windows Me and XP have the added features of system file deletion protection, enhanced networking, and system restore protection.

During the install, Windows 98 and Me will ask for verification of purchased Microsoft products, simply insert the windows 3.1 diskette and the install will continue. The upgrade version has all the features of the full version.

If you want to use two CPUs on one motherboard, then Linux, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Professional is a must.

For those that haven't upgraded to Windows XP yet, you might be interested in our article, Windows XP Upgrade Guide.

Office Suite

There are various office suites like Corel Office (with Word Perfect and Quattro Pro) and Microsoft Office (with Word and Excel). The most compatible and most used is Microsoft Office.

Antivirus and Firewall

A good anti virus program is a must these days. Buy one that also protects email and downloads from the Internet if you are going online. You do need to download the latest antivirus information at least once a month.
If you have a high-speed Internet connection (cable or DSL) then you should run a firewall program. Firewall programs keep hackers from gaining access to your computer.

More information on antivirus and firewall programs can be found in our articles; InfoHQ Computer Maintenance Tips, and Fighting Back Against Email Spammers, Internet Hackers, and other Web Thieves.

Desktop Publishing

There are various desktop publishers, Adobe Pagemaker ($500 ), Microsoft Publisher 3000 ($90) and QuarkXPress ($770 ). Unless you are a professional Desktop publisher, I think Microsoft Publisher is good enough. Possibilities include making fliers, brochures, booklets, newspapers and small magazines.

Photo Editing

Again lots of different choices with different options, Photoshop 6 ($600) for professional graphics users or Paint Shop Pro ($100).

Recommendation: Paint Shop Pro 7 or Photoshop 6 ($600)

Printshop / Creativity

These programs allow you to make greeting cards, banners, labels, crafts and come with lots of clipart (color drawings and pictures). Various different titles like Print shop and Printmaster. Windows XP also has a very good picture printing utility.

Recommendation : We have had good results with Printmaster Platinum, cost $60.

Basic Bookkeeping

Quickbooks 2003 (Business) $100, or Quicken 2003 (Personal) $40.


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