Published on March 20th, 2013 | by Successblogger


How Important Are PC Specs?

It seems pretty obvious: any laptop or desktop PC is defined by its specifications. Things like processor power, RAM, hard drive capacity, and graphics determine how a device functions and what kind of usage it is suited to. In the last two years, however, no manufacturer has produced a laptop which is not suited to basic administrative functions. Applications such as the Microsoft Office suite and equivalents can run on all recent machines. Wireless compatibility is a given. So do we still need to look at specs when choosing a computer?

The answer is both yes and no, and depends very much on the intended use of the device in question:

Casual Users

Users who are mainly interested in working with programmes of the Microsoft Office Suite fall into this category as do casual users  – that is, users who are largely interested in checking their email, browsing the internet, and perhaps doing the occasional bit of photo editing.

For any of those tasks, it is not necessary to worry too much about choosing a device with advanced specifications.

Far more important in choosing a uniquely suitable device are personal preferences. Those working with the Microsoft Office Suite might favour a laptop or ultrabook, because of the presence of a physical keyboard. Folio cases, available for a range of tablet pcs from the iPad to the Lenovo ThinkPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook, can also provide a viable alternative for those who appreciate the unique portability of a tablet.

Any of the small, highly portable devices offered by manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Apple, BlackBerry, or HP will be more than sufficient for the kinds of basic computing purposes described above.


Most students will have largely the same computing needs as the average casual or Office user. More important than worrying about hard drive capacity and enhanced graphics are here aspects such as portability and available warranty length.


A device which is going to be used for large-scale gaming will require higher clockspeed, and will benefit greatly from at least a quad-core processor option to deal with large and complex gaming applications. Greater graphics card capabilities will be essential to both gamers and multimedia editors, for whom a discrete Graphics Processing Unit is often a better more functional than the standard integrated option. More than a standard 4GB RAM will not greatly improve gaming performance, but it may speed up the computer overall and will be useful for professional multimedia editors who are running several high memory applications at the same time.

Considering the above needs, therefore, an avid gamer will be more likely to find a suitable device in the form of a gaming pc, with specifications optimised for the requirements of complex graphics.

Photo and Video Editing

Similarly, specs become important when a laptop or a PC are to be used for photo and video editing.

A specs checklist for the digital photographer, for example, should include a dual-core processor, with 3D image processing requiring at least a quad core processor. Complex tasks such as photo editing will require more than average processor speed, and so a clockspeed of about 3.2GHz and above is essential. As with gaming pcs, however, a comparatively small increase in processor capacity and clock speed for a comparatively large price is not usually a worthwhile investment. Hyper threading technology on the other hand, if available, should be considered, its value vs. money ration is much better than that of slightly enhanced processor specs! Another necessary component for a photo-editing device is sufficient RAM, since the storage needs of a digital photographer will exceed those of a standard user. If the budget allows for it, investing in up from 4GB RAM and an at least 500GB hard drive will definitely pay off over time.

Knowledge of PC specs has, in other words, become the sphere of those users who are interested in specialist tasks only. All-purpose laptops, notebooks and tablet PCs on the other hand have made the basic world of every-day computing more accessible than ever, removing most requirements of technical knowledge from non-technical tasks. This simplification is a relief to non-techies, and has resulted in skyrocketing tablet sales. Simply put: someone requiring a machine capable of basic computing tasks does not need to look at specs in as much detail. This vastly reduced emphasis on specs (for comparison, one need only read any online articles on choosing suitable computing devices published before 2010!) is a symptom of the fact that computing, now, has become task-oriented and far more accessible than ever be

About the Author

Back to Top ↑