What you do with your desktop or laptop computer has a direct relevance on what your preferred configuration should be in order to fit into your budget. It is not necessarily obligatory to shell out for the most expensive system you can possibly afford, as for many users that might provide a system with capabilities which they are likely never going to be able to utilize. Scaling your system to your habitual requirements will not only save you money but will also provide you with a more satisfying user experience.

Conduct a survey of your habitual uses

The first step in arriving at the perfect computer configuration is a thorough assessment of what you do with your computer on a day to day basis. If you do absolutely nothing on your PC other than write emails, a few articles or reports, and surf the web, then that hexa Core i7 rig where the microprocessor alone costs $1200 is a complete waste of money. However, if you’re the type of power user where you are encoding videos, applying filters on a 5 GB Photoshop file, and running Folding@Home in the background, then that hexacore might be panting just to keep up with you. Therefore, classify yourself according to your needs on a five star categorization:

  • 1 Star – Basic web surfing, downloading, simple Office suite use
  • 2 Star – More extensive Office suite use such as large spreadsheets
  • 3 Star – Occasional video encoding, some graphic manipulation, basic gaming
  • 4 Star – Regular video and graphic work, advanced gaming, extensive multitasking
  • 5 Star – Heavy duty everything while folding, bitmining, and Gawd only knows what else

Now that you are comfortable in your star classification, here are some suggested computer systems that would fit you like a glove with the approximate retail prices (for desktop alone):

  • 1 Star – AMD A4-3400, 3 GB RAM, 500 GB Hard Disk, APU Graphics, 32 Bit OS: $400
  • 2 Star – AMD A8-5500, 4 GB RAM, 1 TB Hard Disk, APU Graphics, 64 Bit OS: $500
  • 3 Star – Intel i5-3470, 4 GB RAM, 2 TB Hard Disk, HD2500 Graphics, 64 Bit OS: $700
  • 4 Star – Intel i7-3770, 8 GB RAM, 2 TB Hard Disk + 128 GB SSD Boot Drive, HD7770 Card, 64 Bit OS: $1200
  • 5 Star – Intel i7-3930K OC’d to 4.1 GHz, 32 GB RAM, 2×2 TB Hard Disks + 256 GB SSD Primary Data + 128 GB SSD Boot Drive, GTX680 4 GB Card, 64 Bit OS: $2700

You can go much further but at a far greater cost

For a 1 Star user to get the 5 Star configuration would be just tossing good money down the drain, while the opposite would create frustration to the point where the computer might get tossed out the window. Note that even the 5 Star configuration can be improved upon by going with double the RAM, larger SSDs, a more powerful video card, and upgrading the CPU to the mighty i7 3970X but that would nearly double the price while achieving a performance bump that would be noticeable only in benchmarking utility tests.

Gamers will want to max out their video card specs

There are, of course, a nearly infinite number of factors which will allow you to further customize these basic suggested configurations. If you’re an avid gamer but do very little else with the system you’ll find that the amount of CPU power and RAM capacity are nowhere near as important as a state-of-the-art video card. As long as your CPU doesn’t bottleneck your entire system, you can shoehorn a great video card such as a Radeon HD7970 into even the 3 Star system and you’ll be just as happy as you can possibly be while fending off attacks of evil zombies with your machine gun. If your idea of gaming is to play solitaire then even the 5 Star system can be set up with the standard HD Graphics and save yourself the expense of the video card outright. You’ll never tell the difference in your daily use.

Don’t take a Yugo onto a F1 Ferrari racetrack or vice versa. Fit your PC to you!