PC Buyer’s Guide
Each year, the editors of Computerized Investing offer their suggestions for those looking to buy a new PC for investment analysis, along with the most common computer-related tasks. They issued their recommendations in the November CI Online Exclusive, which is available at the Computerized Investing website (www.computerizedinvesting.com). If you are a subscriber to CI and do not receive our monthly e-newsletter, sign in to your account at AAII.com, go to the My Account area, and click on “Update My AAII E-Newsletters.” The monthly CI E-Newsletter arrives the first Friday of each month.
Define Your Needs
Before you begin looking for a new PC, it is a good idea to determine what you are looking to do with your computer and how much you are willing to spend. This will ensure you buy enough computing power to suit you for the next few years but do not spend more than you need to.
Desktop or Laptop?
The first choice you will want to make is whether you want a laptop or desktop computer. Unless you are cramped for space or need to use your computer in multiple locations, you are probably better off buying a desktop system. You generally get more “bang for your buck” with a desktop computer—pay less than for a laptop with similar features—and desktop systems are more easily upgraded down the line.
Windows Versus Mac
Today, the two most popular operating systems are Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Putting aside the discussion of which operating system is “better” or more secure, what most users are concerned about is whether Windows or Mac can run the software they wish to use, especially for investment analysis and tracking. With its overwhelming market share, the majority of investment software titles on the market today are for Windows.
If you do buy a Mac, but still want to run Windows software, you can run Windows on a Mac using utilities such as Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware Fusion. However, these still require the purchase of a Windows license.
Table 1 summarizes the recommended specifications for buying a desktop computer today that will allow you to perform the most common types of investment analysis and general-purpose computing tasks for the next few years.
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium||Mac OS X Snow Leopard|
|Processor||2.0+GHz AMD Athlon II X2, Phenom II X2; Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, or Core i5||3.06GHz Intel Core i3|
|Memory||4G RAM||4G RAM|
|Video Card||dedicated ATI or NVIDIA DirectX 10-capable graphics||ATI Radeon dedicated graphics|
|Sound Card||built-in audio||built-in audio|
|Network Adapter||wired Ethernet||wired Ethernet|
|Monitor||22” widescreen LCD||21.5” widescreen LCD|
|Price*||$625 - $1,000||$1,199|
|*As of October 22, 2010.|
Technology is constantly evolving and advancing, so don’t be surprised that a system you buy today will quickly be relegated to second-class status in a matter of just a year or two. The systems we have recommended here should suit your needs for the next few years. However, the ultimate choice is yours to make.
For a more detailed discussion of the choices that go into buying a new computer, be sure to read “Computerized Investing’s Annual PC Buyer’s Guide” at the CI website.