I always get into this “philosophical” debate with IT pros: When buying new Windows 10 devices, what kind of configuration is recommended? It’s certainly not “buy the cheapest possible PC you can find” because there are still some truly awful PC devices sold.
To be clear, I’m not saying they are awful from a quality perspective, but rather they are awful from the perspective of their specs. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car today if you found it only gets 2 miles per gallon (mpg), you shouldn’t get a new PC with specs that would belong in the previous decade. So what specs are important? Let’s focus on three:
- Mass storage. This is absolutely, positively the most important item. No more spinning drives – only SSDs. (You can check out benchmarks for those too.) Spinning drives should never be used as the primary drive on a device, unless maybe it’s a device you are giving to a person you don’t like. And while you can probably get by with 250GB SSDs, you’ll get more life out of the device with more. (Can you use 128GB? Yes, but you’ll eventually regret it. And with 64GB or less, you’ll regret it even sooner, if not right away.)
- RAM. It’s shameful if you get less than 8GB of RAM (and therefore also a shame if you aren’t using a 64-bit operating system on it to use that RAM), because RAM overall is so cheap.
- Processor. Processor manufacturers (Intel and AMD, since these are the only mainstream processors in commercial devices these days) have confusing product names, overlapping product lines, and pricing that is all over the place. Personally, I typically look for Intel Core i5 or i7 processors from the current generation (e.g. Intel Core i5-8xxx – yes, there are 9th generation ones available now, but those are still high-end) or the previous one (e.g. Intel Core i5-7xxx). But you can leverage benchmarks to get an idea of the relative performance of other CPU choices. (I typically look at https://www.cpubenchmark.net, but there are plenty of other contenders out there.)
There are other factors to consider as well, especially for laptops: weight, screen size, screen resolution, battery life, durability, etc. While I have opinions on those too (my eyes like 14” or bigger screens with 1080p or higher resolutions and batteries that can last four hours or more), I don’t think those matter nearly as much.
Yes, I have been spoiled with the devices that I have used over the past 15 years (Surface Book and Surface Laptop most recently, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbons before that). And I have more of a preference for higher-end devices as I still do work that can stress a PC (disk, RAM, and PC). There are plenty of reasons to go for the higher end. (My current PC has a Core i7-8650U, 16GB of RAM, and a 500GB SSD.) But nothing I describe above should be considered “high end” – those are typical information worker configurations.
p.s. I have quite a few PCs at home too, for myself and the family, with both laptops, tablets, and desktops. My most recent purchase: An Intel NUC NUC8i7VK with 32GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD, and an Intel Core i7-8809G processor. And the fun but rather pointless LED cover:
Categories: Windows 10