Most modern computers come with a slew of technical features and specifications. Features differ from one computer to another and are commonly highlighted by sellers and retailers to promote the computer to customers. Knowing how each feature affects a computer's performance and value will help you make an informed decision.
The processing power of a computer is one of its main selling points; it determines the computer's speed and efficiency in handling software. Factors that determine the processing power include the motherboard, processing memory and graphics processing unit. The motherboard is responsible for running all the tasks on the computer. Processing memory space determines how many programs the computer can run at a time. The graphics processing unit is responsible for running all images, video and multimedia on a computer and is a crucial feature for demanding tasks such as video editing and graphics design.
Computer storage includes the hard drive and removable drives. The hard drive is the computer's main file repository. The speed of a hard drive's rotation also determines how fast the computer can access files and is noted by revolutions per minute, or RPM. Removable drives are secondary forms of storage, including compact discs and memory sticks.
The display is generally separate with desktops and integrated with laptops. Differences in display include size and resolution; higher-end devices usually have a bigger screen size and greater contrast ratio for high definition displays.
The operating system is a distinct computer interface. Different operating systems can offer completely different sets of software and program compatibility. For example, the native Internet browser for Windows is Internet Explorer; Safari is the standard for Mac-based computers. Despite having the same basic functionality, each program differs in user interface and task efficiency.
Most computers have built-in network connectivity, although some require external devices. Computers can connect through a wireless network, through a hard-wired network cable or both.
Laptop computers are largely dependent on the battery for power. The battery differs in the number of cell packs; a greater number of cell packs usually means that the laptop can last on the battery alone for a longer period of time. For desktop computers, the power source typically has to be connected to an outlet at all times.