How to buy the best family PC
After a new family PC? Before you spend your hard-earned cash, here’s what you need to consider…
How much space do you have?
Where’s your computer going to live? If you’re limited in terms of space, you may want to look at a slimline model or a mini PC with a box that fits on top of your desk, rather than the traditional tower model.
All-in-one PCs have all the hardware components built into the screen, so there’s no need for a bulky tower. They’re easy to set up and move around the house if necessary.
What do you need it to do?
There are three main things you need to consider when looking at a computer’s technical spec:
- Processor – your computer’s brain. More powerful processors can handle complex tasks faster.
- RAM – your computer’s short-term memory. The more RAM, the more files can be loaded at once.
- Hard drive size – your computer’s long-term memory. Where all your files and programs are stored.
For everyday computing – web browsing, working in Office applications and email – a dual-core processor like the Intel Core i3 will be adequate. For a family PC, we’d recommend a minimum of 4GB RAM along with 500GB of storage. But many PCs now come with a 1TB HDD as standard.
If your family excels at multi-tasking or you want some extra power for photo or video editing, then you’ll want a fast Intel Core i5 processor. It would also be worth getting a computer with at least 8GB RAM and 1TB of storage.
If you (or the kids) enjoy gaming or you do a lot of video editing, then a powerful quad-core processor such as the Intel Core i7 will keep up with your demands. You may want to look at computers with 2TB or more storage, while gaming enthusiasts will opt for 16GM RAM over the usual 8GB usually available.
Does it have all the software you need included?
Most family PCs will come with Microsoft Windows 10. You may also receive additional packages such as trial versions of Microsoft Office, internet security software or other programs.
If the software that comes with the computer is a trial version, this normally means you will have to pay for the full version when the trial expires. This is typically a month after you first register it.
What can you connect to it?
In addition to your monitor, keyboard and mouse, it’s likely that you’ll need to connect a number of devices to your family PC. Printers, speakers, external hard drives and digital cameras typically connect with USB cables.
One advantage of desktop PCs over laptops is that they tend to have more USB ports. Most desktops come with at least four, and high-end gaming PCs may have up to 12.
Our pick of the best family PCs:
Family PC on a budget: The Lenovo IdeaCentre 310S has 1TB of storage for family documents and media files and is a reliable, all-around PC for everyday computer tasks.
Space-saving PC: Its all-in-one design, easy setup and wireless connectivity mean the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 AIO can go anywhere in the house. It’s powerful enough for photo and video editing as well as everyday tasks, and the Full-HD screen and cinema sound are perfect for streaming Netflix or other online content.
Top performance: With two powerful processor options and a groundbreaking fanless thermal design, the Lenovo Desktop AIO 330-201GM will meet all your family’s needs quietly, smoothly and efficiently.