Anyone active on Super User has encountered the infamous shopping requests before, and you can’t really blame them for trying: They don’t know what they need, and here’s a website about computers where people understand all the latest gadgetry, standards, and most importantly, the endless acronyms.
But we’re missing the most crucial part: We don’t understand their needs.
After spending an hour or two working with several others in the Super User chatroom to help a user make heads or tails of how to translate his needs into hardware, it became clear that for all the questions about how to understand and judge performance vs. needs for individual components of a computer, they were extremely spread out over the site, which made them as a whole hard to find, especially if you didn’t know what you were looking for.
Super User needed a new community wiki. This week, the community is collectively wondering and defining How do I know what hardware to buy to meet my needs?:
- How do I find out if a given CPU will be enough for a certain game or application that I want to run?
- How do I find out if a given graphics card is powerful enough for a certain game or application?
- What is important when looking at motherboards?
- How much memory do I need?
- How do I know how much wattage I need for a power supply?
- What size case do I need?
- What relevant standards do I need to read up on and be aware of?
- What “gotchas” do I need to be on the lookout for?
All of this information should still apply regardless of whether you are buying a pre-configured system or building your own from scratch. Configuring a system online at a retailer such as Dell, Apple, or HP still has a pretty wide range of systems and configurations, so making heads or tails of the options provided there is still necessary – you’re trading wide selection for the comfort of knowing that all the parts should work well together and letting someone else assemble and configure it.