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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Designing and Specifying PC Systems and Components ]

PC Types

Let's begin our look at designing and specifying PCs by examining the types of PCs available on the market. Most PC buyers don't realize the great number of options they have available to them as they begin their purchasing decision. In fact, there are several entirely different categories of PCs that differ greatly in terms of various characteristics.

In the pages that follow I describe each of the most common kinds of PCs you can select from when shopping. The types described here have not been listed in any particular order. For each of the main types I provide the following information (for types that are really special cases of others I do not have the specific categories though):

  • Description: A general description of the PC type.
  • Advantages: The best aspects of this type of unit. Obviously these are generalities, since much depends on the specific unit, not just its overall type.
  • Disadvantages: The key drawbacks of buying this type of unit.
  • Notebook Availability: All of the PC types described here are available as desktop models, but not all are commonly seen as notebook designs. For each type of PC I mention whether or not you can usually find that type as a notebook system.
  • Most Common Sources: The vendor or manufacturer sources usually associated with this type of unit, listed in no particular order. The type of PC you buy is often related to the source--while some kinds of systems are available from a variety of sources, some require you to purchase them from a particular source type. This means that to some extent, you choose a PC type and a source type at the same time. You will at some point want to read up on sources here, and also check out this table, which cross-references PC types with the sources where they can usually be found.
  • Recommended Uses: The PC use profiles that best or most commonly correspond to this type of machine.
  • Cost: The usual cost range for this type of machine. In some cases this can vary greatly within each class of hardware.
  • Special Considerations: Things to keep in mind when considering or evaluating this type of machine.

Next: New Retail PCs

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