Here's a checklist of considerations to factor into determining what computer to buy for Rutgers.
Consider your Budget
Consider what your school requires, recommends, or prefers
- Don't buy more than you can afford as the price of technology continues to fall rapidly.
- The prices of viable notebook and desktop computers are not dramatically different. However, notebooks are typically more limited in their ability to be upgraded after purchase and more costly to repair than desktop computers.
- If you must finance the purchase of a computer, consider talking with the Office of Financial Aid on your Rutgers campus about loan options that can be a part of financing your education.
Consider what resources will you have access to on campus
- Talk to the school or departments you are most involved with about what computer technology they require or recommend.
Determine your technology 'life-style'
- Rutgers provides common computing resources for its students, such as computer labs, wireless network access, and dorm network connectivity. To learn more about what resources are at Rutgers, visit http://oit.rutgers.edu for links to computing resources on each Rutgers campus.
Your Shopping Options
- If you believe you might want to take a computer with you to the library, classes, or labs, you should consider the practicality of a notebook computer. Recognize there are tremendous differences in the weight of different notebooks.
- Do you anticipate loading music, movies, or games on your computer? If so, you will need to invest more in the capabilities of the computer you are considering (see below.)
- Consider options for convenience, such as a printer or an external hard drive to store large quantities of music or movies, or to make copies of important files, just in case anything should happen to the originals on your computer.
Prioritize Your Computer's Options
- Your affiliation with Rutgers can save you money on a computer purchased direct from the manufacturer. You can shop for personal computers at http://findtech.rutgers.edu. The University PC Purchase Cycle has additional discounts on systems meeting institutional specifications.
- Investigate the warranty on the computer you are considering. Most new computers come with a one year warranty, which may not be enough for the time you intend to use it. Some warranties may not cover all parts or the labor charges necessary for a repair in that time. Specific kinds of damage, such as accidental screen damage for notebooks, a repair that can practically cost the price of replacing the system, may require additional coverage. Consider getting a system with a three-year warranty that includes all costs for parts and labor. Extending a one year warranty to three years can raise the price for notebooks considerably, but may be worth the investment.
- Investigate the manufacturer's repair policy to determine if you will have to follow specific procedures should your equipment need repair while it is covered by a warranty. Some vendors require shipping broken equipment back to their repair facilities, or require users to do some repairs themselves. Other manufacturers' repair policies may differ based on where the equipment was purchased.
- Know what repair facilities exist around Rutgers for the computer you are considering. Each Rutgers campus has computer repair facilities either on the campus or nearby for various manufacturers' products. Check http://findtech.rutgers.edu for links to repair options across Rutgers.
- Check your property insurance to see if your new computer will be covered for theft. Notebooks are stolen in this country at an alarming rate, so you should know what the implications are for you under such circumstances.
- You are probably going to need some software with your new computer. Here again, Rutgers should be able to help you save some money on more common applications, such as computer security, personal productivity, and applications from Microsoft. Visit http://software.rutgers.edu for software available to the Rutgers community at institutional prices.
Apart from subjective considerations, such as screen size or weight for notebooks, there are specific hardware components that can affect your satisfaction with a new computer's performance.
- The amount of RAM, or the computer's main memory capacity, is currently the most important factor determining how well a computer operates overall. Investing in more memory will generally mean the computer will operate more smoothly. Adding it after the purchase can be difficult and may not be an option in certain notebooks.
- Having "dedicated video memory" is the most significant factor in determining whether movies or games play smoothly. A more economical solution of "integrated graphics" in systems with Intel iCore processors has proven a reasonable alternative for most video based activities, provided there is sufficient RAM available (see point 1.)
- The size of the computer's hard drive is not as important as 1.and 2. as new computers typically have very large drives and an external drive can be added to virtually any new computer.
- Processor speed is less an issue than the other factors as the performance of new computers are much more influenced by points 1.and 2.
Now you should have an idea of what kind of computer would be best for you, what options you have for purchasing computers as a student at Rutgers, and what components of a computer are most important to consider. Good luck in your search, and welcome to Rutgers!