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If you are looking for a new computer, there are few things you need to know so that you do not get ripped off by computer companies.

Firstly, buy your computer in pieces. This ensures that you only get what you need and you get the hardware you want. The last thing you order should be the case – not the first. Your motherboard should be the first thing you order. There is a difference between motherboards, so find out from a computer savvy person to find out which brand is better. After the motherboard has been ordered, the rest can come in any order. Sound card, memory, CD/DVD drive, Ethernet card, monitor, case, mouse, keyboard, video card, Windows, graphics, and hard drive – these are all things you will need to research and order.

When it comes to a graphics card, ensure that it has an AGP slot. If it does, you will be able to upgrade your graphics later on. May internet service providers (ISPs) will provide Ethernet cards, however if you have your own, it makes the installation of the internet that much easier. The ISPs tech does not have to crack open your hard drive to install an Ethernet card – the less your computer's side gets open, the less dust gets in.

Another thing you need to purchase is the processor and fans. The processor runs everything. The fans keep your computer cool so that it does not over heat and shut down on you.

When you purchase your software, only get what you need. Windows, an office suite, and anti-virus software are all that you should initially purchase. You can pick up your other software programs when you need them, such as games, accounting programs, or other software you are interested in.

A large hard drive – bigger the better – would be more cost effective than a smaller one as you will fill a small one up quickly. Many experts will recommend that you get a 60 gig (or G) hard drive or larger. Now available is a 300 G hard drive. Unless you are planning on using your computer for just word processing and internet browsing, a large hard drive is best.

Your new monitor should be large. Measure your current monitor from top right or left corner diagonally down to the left or right corner. That will tell you how large your screen is. If you are not going with an LCD monitor (that is a small, thin flat screen monitor), purchase a 19" monitor or larger. This allows you to view documents and other items easier as they appear larger – allowing you to sit back from your monitor for better ergonomics. If you are planning on going with an LCD monitor, 17" or larger is plenty.

Other shopping tips include not waiting for prices to go down. You decide when you need a new computer, not the price index. Do not purchase gimmicky keyboards. If you need an ergonomic one, get an ergonomic keyboard. Big fancy keyboards do not get used as much as the user things they will. A one year warranty is all you really need as any problems will crop up with in the first year of ownership.

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