Are you ready for a new computer? Here's my latest recommendation on what to look for. Find what you like the feel of and then shop for the best price! Here are some more recommendations:
First, consider what you'll use the computer for and make sure those functions work well. For a laptop, considerations should be made about weight, size and quality of screen, battery life, feel of keyboard, and overall feeling of durability. We never expect to drop our laptop, but we typically do so over the course of its use. We also spill milk and soda and coffee! Who knew that not all motherboards have a plastic covering to protect it from spills??!
Apple vs. PC? This is personal preference. I am an Apple fan. I own a Mac and iPhone. I also own 3 PCs. But Macs are about $500-$600 more in cost ($1200+). Unless you have a specific reason you are wanting a Mac (which I could give you several), the best bang-for-your-buck (short and long term) is a quality PC!
The stereotype is that mac users are more "hip" and tend to be younger,
where PC users are more sophisticated and older.
For Desktops or Laptops, I recommend Lenovo and Dell highly, Acer moderately, but never recommend HP. The former are more durable and the parts are made to last longer. You can likely find a sale at Best Buy or Office Depot for around $500 for the (minimum suggested) specs I recommend below.
When you are shopping, sales people can give you information (but are not incredibly helpful for much more) on the following specs, which I list as a minimum requirement for 2018:
RAM (memory) of at least 8GB. You'd be smart to have 12GB of RAM but 8GB is sufficient. Be careful about paying to have them upgrade a machine. They usually charge double what memory costs.
CPU with Intel i5 processor or faster. i7 and i9 are faster if you need to do more multi- or heavy tasks. The i3 series is okay, but it's probably not worth the savings in downgrading to. The CPU (or central processing unit) is the part of the computer that you are investing in. The CPU isn't upgradable, so you get what you get. A note about AMD: These processors are usually better suited for gamers, except the latest release of the Ryzen series.
Solid State Hard Drive (SSD). These are hard drives much like what's in your smartphone, with no moving parts, which stores your data. SSD's will last longer and are a lot faster. This comes with a cost. Compared to traditional hard drives (HDDs), they have less space for the money. In comparison, a new 128GB (gigabyte) SSD (Solid State hard drive) compared to traditional HDD (Hard Drive) could be $100 more and it would have 1/4 of the storage space. As long as you don't expect to store lots of video or pictures, a smaller SSD of 256GB would be fine for normal operations.
If you have questions on any of this or want to add your two cents, let me know! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org