Laptop or Desktop? Laptop with at least 8GB of RAM, 500GB-1TB HDD at 7200RPM, 1920x1080 screen, intel i5-i7 processor at least 2.3Ghz, newer dedicated graphics card. I've actually seen a couple of things that would suit me but I'm still not sure. I need some more suggestions to compare and make a decision.
My budget for the new computer is: $400 or less if I get something right this minute but I'm happy to save up for something about $600-700. I absolutely need something before 2017.
What are the primary uses for this computer (IE: mail, web browsing, programming, games, etc)? Web surfing, email, casual gaming, word processing, listening to music, app testing, playing with Linux on virtual machines, and watching movies ocassionally.
What software do you intend on using on the computer? Couple of memory heavy apps (Chrome, Spotify) and newer PC games that need higher graphics. I don't think I will need something like Photoshop until next year but I would like to have the resources available if I need it.
Do you play games? If so, what type of games? Causal puzzle and hidden object games, the Lego games, simulation games, browser flash games, etc. I want to play something like Batman Arkham Asylum without a lot of lag but I should probably get a dedicated gaming PC for that later. Right now I want to be able to play Portal, which was I able to do on a much older laptop that's dead now.
Do you tend to have a lot of programs running at the same time, or do you close every program when you are done using it? I tend to leave the computer on to download things like Linux isos or podcasts and so I can have music playing out in the air. Sometimes I'll have a lot of tabs open in Chrome or documents in my word processor open at once while playing music. So spikes of high activity but generally I'm just watching Youtube, checking email, reading or listening to audiobooks while doing other chores.
Do you store a lot of pictures or music on the computer? I have a 500GB external storage drive that I plan to upgrade to 1TB once I buy the laptop.
Will you be overclocking? Unless it makes Simcity 4 run faster, nope.
Location for online shopping/shipment/prices? Amazon, eBay, NewEgg, Overstock, manufacturer websites (have a family member's employee discount if we buy from HP) if things are on sale.
How many monitors are you planning to use? I have a TV I can use as a monitor with an HDMI port and a bigger monitor that still uses VGA. I think I'm getting rid of the VGA monitor.
Do you need peripherals? OS? I still like having an optical drive but it's optional. I'm about 60/40 on whether to stick with Windows 7 or move on to 10-- I was mostly happy using Linux for the 2 years or my Windows computers were dead but it doesn't do everything for me quite yet. I have a lot of older files and programs I need to sort through to rescue some data but once that's done I can move on! A comfortable egronomic keyboard and touchpad to work with, not too heavy to carry around and durable beyond the standard warranty. I've had a bad lemon in the past that I had to rescue with Linux.
Any particular reason why you are upgrading? It's been a long time since I've had a new computer, like a decade ago parents bought me something for school without my input, and Microsoft's concerted effort to bump everyone on Windows 7/8/8.1 to 10 kind of blindsided me and some of the projects I've been trying to work on. There's a little bit of money to work with if we get some nice discounts so trying to grab something now before 2017.