Home Computer Review

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Why Buy a Home Computer?

To get the most out of streaming video, downloading music or researching for a school paper, you need enough computing power to make it doable. A good home computer needs to be a versatile machine that fulfills the many needs of your family, all without costing as much as having another child. The best home desktop computers have solid processors, abundant storage for music and photos and useful support should anything go wrong. Home computers like the Velocity Micro Vector, the HP Envy and the Dell XPS offer a variety of upgradable options so you can create a home computer that is perfect and powerful enough to do exactly what need it to do. To learn more about home computer technologies and to find the best one for you, read our latest articles on home computers.

Home Computers: What to Look For

Home computers come with many different options and configurations, so you’ll want to find the configuration that is right for you and your family. When you’re looking at your options, it’s important to understand something about the computer’s performance, memory and storage, design and help and support to find the best desktop computer.

Performance
The processor is the brain of the computer. It provides the power your home computer needs to perform its tasks. The processor should be the foundation on which you build the rest of your computer. Most Intel processors will provide a good base level of graphics and audio capabilities for your PC. Look for a processor that has multiple cores and higher speeds, as both of these features will improve the computer's performance. Dedicated graphic and audio cards can increase the base processing power for audio and graphical performance. If you opt for graphical upgrades on basic systems, you will generally get enough power to do beginning-level gaming on your home computer.

You might not think wireless computing is important for a desktop computer; however, a good wireless card allows you to get high levels of internet performance without running another wire to your desktop PC. The best home desktop computers are compatible with 802.11ac wireless technology. Systems that use this wireless standard let you access ac-wireless networks that are more than twice as fast as networks set up with older n-wireless technology. Plus, ac Wi-Fi technology is reverse compatible, so you can run an 802.11ac device on an n-network or an 802.11n device on an ac-network. Additionally, Bluetooth technologies are useful for connecting to printers, keyboards, mice and other peripherals wirelessly. Look for a computer that has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 technology.

Memory & Storage
Home media files, such as music, movies and photos, take up large portions of hard drive storage space, and you’ll need a desktop PC with the proper amount of storage to hold all of your files. Even better, look for a system that can grow with you and has room for expansion. Many tower computers have open hard drive bays that allow you to add an additional hard drive in the future for further storage space.

Memory is also important. RAM is the lifeblood of any good home computer, and a lack of RAM will bog down your computer's speed. Generally, 8GB of RAM is enough to run a majority of basic programs smoothly. For heavy photo or video editing, you’ll want about 16GB, and anything above 16GB is generally only needed if you want to do high-end gaming.

Optical drives are important for both storing and retrieving information. Blu-ray drives let you watch Blu-ray movies on your computer, and most optical drives include a DVD burner for creating CDs and DVDs.

Design
The size of your home computer's tower will influence where you place it in your home, with smaller cases and multiple ports offering a greater variety of computer placement options. Look for computers that have USB ports on both the front and back of the tower. This gives you more options for how to connect peripheral devices to your computer, and it can help prevent the jungle of mish-mashed cables extruding from your PC.

The types of ports on your desktop computer are also important for determining what types of hardware will be compatible with the system. HDMI ports allow you to connect to both HD video and sound to displays. Memory card readers let you access the data on memory cards without having to plug an adaptor into a USB port. USB 2.0 ports are good for connecting low-performance peripherals like keyboards and mice, while USB 3.0 are best for higher-performance peripherals like external hard drives and media devices that need quicker transfer rates.

Help & Support
Purchasing a computer is a large financial commitment, so the support you receive with this purchase is important to consider. A warranty gives you assurance that if something goes wrong on your computer, you will have a way to fix it, and the best manufacturers offer support you can actually use, as opposed to a sea of technobabble. Look for companies that have invested in simple, helpful and informative support tailored to meet your needs.

To get the most out of a home computer, it is important to find one that has sufficient performance capabilities and enough storage and memory for the programs you want to run. The right computer for you will be designed to fit into your home and provide you with help and support should something go wrong. With these principles in mind, finding the right PC for your family won’t be too daunting.

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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Velocity Micro Vector HP Envy Dell XPS Asus M HP Pavilion Lenovo K Mac Mini Asus CM Acer Aspire Dell Inspiron
Velocity Micro Vector HP Envy Dell XPS Asus M HP Pavilion Lenovo K Mac Mini Asus CM Acer Aspire Dell Inspiron
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Ratings
9.78
9.32
9.10
8.88
8.55
8.38
8.25
7.90
7.73
7.50
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9.75
9.75
9.75
10.00
9.25
9.25
9.75
8.75
9.00
8.50
9.75
9.50
8.75
8.75
9.75
7.50
8.50
8.75
8.25
8.75
8.25
8.75
8.25
8.00
7.25
8.50
8.75
9.75
7.50
8.25
8.25
7.50
7.75
8.00
7.25
8.00
7.50
7.25
7.00
9.50
 
Performance
Base Processor 4th Gen Intel i5 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i5 4th Gen Intel i5 4th Gen Intel i5 4th Gen Intel i5 3rd Gen Intel i5 3rd Gen Intel i3 3rd Gen Intel i3 3rd Gen Intel i3
Upgradable Processor 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 3rd Gen Intel i7 3rd Gen Intel i7 4th Gen Intel i7 3rd Gen Intel i5
Processor Speed (GHz) 3.0-3.5 3.4-3.5 3.3-3.4 3.0-3.5 3.0-3.5 3.0-3.4 2.3-2.6 3.3-3.4 3.3-3.4 3.3-3.4
Base Video Card Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GT635 Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Upgradable Video Card AMD Radeon R7 NVIDIA GeForce GTX645 NVIDIA GeForce GTX650 NVIDIA GeForce GTX660 NVIDIA GeForce GT625 AMD Radeon HD 8670   NVIDIA GeForce GT620 NVIDIA GeForce GT640  
Operating System Windows 8.1/7 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1/7 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 OS X Windows 7 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1
Base Audio Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated
Upgradable Audio Sound Blaster Recon3D          
Wireless Networking (Wi-Fi) 802.11ac 802.11n 802.11n 802.11ac 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n
Bluetooth 4.0
 
 
 
Memory & Storage
Primary Base Hard Drive 1TB 2TB 1TB 2TB 1TB 500GB 500GB 2TB 1TB 1TB
Upgradable Primary Hard Drive 1TB SSD 256GB SSD 2TB 4TB 3TB 4TB 256GB SSD 4TB 2TB  
Secondary Base Hard Drive 1TB 1TB      1TB    
Upgradable Secondary Hard Drive 3TB 3TB      256GB SSD    
RAM (GB) 8-16 12-32 8-16 2-32 6-16 4-32 4-16 4-32 8-16 8-12
Base Optical Drive 24x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW 24x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW   24x DVD +/- RW 8x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW
Upgradable Optical Drive 12x Blu-ray Burner Blu-ray Player & 16x DVD +/- RW   Blu-ray Burner Blu-ray Player & 16x DVD +/- RW Blu-ray Player 8x USB SuperDrive    
Base Dual Optical Drive 24x DVD +/- RW 16x DVD +/- RW       24x DVD +/- RW   
Upgradable Dual Optical Drive Blu-ray Reader Blu-ray Player       Blu-ray Player   
Design
Height (inches) 13 16.2 16 16.5 15.35 17.97 1.4 14.2 14.9 14.45
Width (inches) 7 6.8 7.3 6.9 6.9 7.12 7.7 6.8 7.1 6.89
Depth (inches) 15 16.7 17.5 15.8 14.48 15.74 7.7 15.8 15.8 17.32
USB 2.0 3 8 4 6 4 2   6 8 4
USB 3.0 4 4 6 4 2 4 4 4 4 4
HDMI
DVI
  
 
Memory Card Reader
 
Help & Support
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
Max Extended Warranty 2 Years 3 Years 4 Years 1 Year 3 Years 3 Years 3 Years 1 Year 3 Years 4 Years
Phone Support
Email Support
Driver Download
Live Chat