Introduction

There are many factors that contribute to the performance of a PC or device. Hardware and software are two elements that can affect performance. The information below will give you a brief overview of the important hardware choices that are usually available when you purchase a PC or device. This will help you when picking the device that’s right for you and your needs. The hardware components we will cover are processor, graphics, hard drive, and memory. All of these components work together and affect the experience you have with your PC.

Processor 

Processor

The overall speed of the computer and how fast it is capable of processing data is managed by the computer processor (CPU). The more data that the can be processed in a given amount of time, that faster the computer will get things done. There are several things to look for in a processor that affect processing data. Frequency (clock speed), number of cores (like more lanes of traffic to process data), cache size, and any other special technologies that may be built into the processor affect overall performance. Dell uses Intel® processors in most of their PCs. Intel offers a wide variety of processors for various types of computers and devices. Laptops, desktop, tablets, 2-in-1s, servers, etc can all feature a different processor. Some names you may have heard are Intel® Core™, Pentium™, and Atom™. Typically Intel® Core™ processors are the highest performing out of those three. Pentium processors are generally found in mid to lower priced PCs and Atom processors are found in PCs and tablets that requireMakes good performance with low power consumption giving you longer battery life in a smaller size. Each of these processors has different specifications for frequency, number of cores, cache size, and special features. The higher frequency, more cores (dual or quad), larger cache size (built in memory) and special features like Intel Turbo Boost (extra boost of performance when you need it) and hyper-threading can improve the speed of your PC or device.

 
line

Memory

The memory (called RAM - random access memory) in a computer stores information that you use on a regular basis so it can be accessed more quickly than pulling it from the hard drive. RAM is located closer to the processor and also has no moving parts allowing for faster speed and performance. The information stored in memory is constantly changing based on the way you use your PC and what you regularly do with your PC. A computer with more memory will be capable of storing more data that you need to access quickly. Overall speed will generally be improved with more memory. Typical sizes of memory are 2GB, 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB. Be sure to identify how much memory comes with the PC you are selecting

 
Memory
line
Hard Drive Hard Drive 

There are two primary types of hard drives available on most PCs for storing information. There are traditional hard drives with internal moving parts and SSDs or solid state drives which have no moving parts. Tablets typically only feature flash memory and do not offer hard drive options. The speed at which your PC can read or write information to your hard drive, influences the performance.

  • An SSD has no moving part which makes it faster, more power efficient, and more durable than a standard hard drive.
  • Opening programs and files, powering up, and moving data can all be improved significantly with an SSD.
  • SSDs typically have smaller storage space than standard hard drives, but having better performance and lower power consumption may be the better tradeoff. With that benefit, SSDs can be more expensive than standard hard drives as well.

 When selecting your PC, be sure to understand what hard drive options may be available.