Tech stats — what to look out for

An easy informative link to send when the family ask!

The scary tech

So you are looking for a new laptop/computer/tablet/phone, you have picked how much you want to spend, and you’ve found some possibilities on Amazon or your local shop but you see a mountain of numbers and acronyms! What are they and what is best?

CPUs — Central Processing Unit

The count / number of cores — How much it can do at the same time

Basically, CPU speeds are how quickly things get calculated. The more cores the more different calculations it can do.

If you do a lot of multitasking (think multiple tabs open, multiple apps open, jumping between them) then you will want more cores. So mobiles have 8 or even 10. For most people, this is too much.

If it is a laptop, Intel make the best CPUs right now so I would suggest it, but the differences are truly is marginal and you probably wouldn’t notice.

If I had to give a number: 4 cores minimum.

The clock speed (Hz) — How quick it thinks

This is how quickly the ‘core’ calculates or thinks. If you don’t do too much multitasking, but you do play a lot of games which are more detailed than Candy Crush or Scrabble you will probably want to focus on this. The higher the number the better.

If I had to give a number: 1.8 GHz minimum (unless you are going super cheap).

RAM — Random Access Memory

Size of short term memory — How much it can remember instantly

If playing the shopping list game, most people would only be able to remember 5 items or so. It’s that type of short term memory.

Again, if you multitask a lot, you’ll want more RAM.

If I had to give a number: 2Gb minimum.

Storage or Disk Space

How much you can save

For most devices, it is offered as 32Gb, 64Gb and 128Gb. For a lot of computers, it can be much more.

If you take loads of pictures, and never delete anything then you will want more. Similarly if you’re looking at downloading lots of video games, or you want to use your new device for data intensive activities such as photo and video editing, you’ll need to somewhere to store all of this on your device.

If I had to give a number: 64Gb minimum (unless you are going super cheap).

SSD — Solid State Drives (for laptops/PCs only)

Ssd is something that makes your computer very fast. It basically makes long term memory almost as fast a short term. It will typically be in charge of loading the operating system and large and commonly used programs.

The more the better. 256 GB is good, 128GB is alright — don’t go lower else the difference in loading speeds won’t be noticeable.

Battery life

How long it will survive

Most batteries are measured in mAh. The larger the better. If two devices have the same value, check their screen size. The one with the smaller screen size will have a longer battery life.

I like to aim for above 3,000 mAh.

If I had to give a number: 2750 mAh minimum.

Best practice with charging

Back in the day for nickel batteries, you were supposed to discharge them as much as possible, and then recharge fully as that would help the life of the battery. Now everything is different. Most devices have lithium-ion batteries, and as such:

“topping up frequently extends battery life for lithium batteries.”

The things that hurt battery life include fast battery usage (using 3D gaming apps, for example), leaving it on low charge and using it, and charging infrequently. Source: https://charbycharge.com/how-often-should-i-charge-my-phone-to-prolong-the-battery-life/

Fast charge — do not underrate this. It is incredible to have your phone’s charge go from 10% to 80% in under 40 minutes.

Final notes

Don’t forget to think about the cables you already have in the house. Does the new device you’re considering have the same charging port as another of your devices? Do you want more cables that are specialised for a specific device? If you don’t care, I would fully recommend going to USB-C as they charge quicker and are, in my opinion, what all tech in the future will have. Even Apple have adopted them.

Don’t forget screen size is directly proportional to battery life — the larger the screen is (while in use) the quicker the battery will drain.

If you are really feeling empowered, you can use this handy site to find a good option. It doesn’t have all the tablets you may find in shops, but it is a good start.

Founder of EveryHour.xyz and Product Owner @ dunnhumby; just genuinely interested in a lot of things. Built racecars, built electronics, now building software

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