5 questions to ask before buying a desktop computer for school and uni

Need a computer for university? It doesn’t have to be a laptop. Desktop PCs will give you more power for fewer pennies – find the right one for you with these 5 questions…


1. Are you Apple or Windows?

The first and most important thing to consider is which OS will best suit your needs.

Microsoft Windows: Word, Excel and PowerPoint are built to run on Windows PCs. The general controls and layouts are familiar and easy to use, and there’s no shortage of choice with countless PCs available from different manufacturers. Plus, Windows 10 has overhauled the Start button with some super-useful features.

Mac OS: Only runs on iMac and Mac mini, which are loved by creative types and cool kids and perfect for Adobe Creative Cloud. But Macs are equally handy with Word and Excel. If you’re an Apple fan, the iMac will sync with your iPhone and iPad. The latest version is macOS Sierra which has some cool new capabilities designed just for desktop.


2. How much desk space do you have?

Student halls aren’t known for being spacious. If yours is on the small side, you might want to consider an all-in one desktop.

These look completely different to traditional tower PCs but offer most of the same benefits. The components are built-in to the monitor, so you don’t need to find space for a big bulky box.

The iMac is a great example of an all-in-one desktop, and is particularly loved by creatives.

Check out the iMac

But there are some fantastic all-in-one Windows PCs too, such as the Acer C22 – check it outAcer C22

3. What subject are you studying?

We ask because creatives using design software like Adobe Creative Cloud, or always-online multitaskers, need more power than, say, English or History students who will mostly write essays in Word. 

The main spec to look at here is the processor, which is like your PC’s brain. Match your needs to the right Intel Core processor:

  • Everyday essay writing and web browsing, look to Intel Core i3
  • Design subjects that use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, look to Intel Core i5
  • Multitaskers who want to stream Spotify, work in Excel and chat online, look to Intel Core i5
  • Video editors, spreadsheet masters and creative power users, look to Intel Core i7


4. Are you annoyed by slow computers?

When you’re on a deadline and your PowerPoint presentation won’t load, it can be seriously frustrating. The same can be said when you’re trying to load a game, or shut down your PC at the end of the day.

You need SSD, or solid state drive, in your life. Put simply, it makes everything faster.

‘What you’ll notice straight away is just how quick it starts up,’ says YouTuber Ash Tailor. ‘You’ll notice this speed immediately when copying files, loading programs and much more.’


5. Do you have a huge iTunes archive?

Lots of people have fully moved over to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music for listening to music. But if you’ve still got a colossal iTunes full of MP3s, and thousands of photos, you’ll need to think about storage. 

You may want to consider a PC with a traditional HDD hard drive. PCs that use HDD drives are usually cheaper and have much more space to save things than an SSD. But they’re also slower and noisier.

The best of both worlds: Combine a faster SSD PC with an external hard drive to store all of your files. These slim, lightweight devices plug into your PC via USB and can be found for less than £50.

Don’t rule out the desktop – find your perfect PC now