The overall performance speed of a computer is determined by many elements, some related to hardware and some related to software. In hardware, speed is improved by giving the electrons shorter distances to traverse to complete a circuit. Since the first CPU was created in the early 1970s, engineers have constantly worked to figure out how to shrink these circuits and put more and more circuits onto the same chip. And this work has paid off — the speed of computing devices has been continuously improving ever since. The hardware components that most contribute to the overall performance speed of a personal computer are the CPU, the motherboard, RAM, and the hard disk (even more so if you need a high performance computer). In most cases, these items can be replaced with newer, faster components. In the case of RAM, simply adding more RAM can also speed up the computer.
With respect to your computing needs, it may be the case that one type of computer may serve you better than another. As you are planning to purchase a computer, it is important to consider its portability, screen size, processing speed, and data input.
Portability refers to how easily a type of computer can be transported. If you need to have a computer at home and at work or if you travel often, then a small, portable computer would be suitable for purchase. If you find yourself in this situation, a desktop computer is not going to meet your needs. Instead, you will probably want to purchase a netbook or laptop as these machines will give you the comparable processing speed as well as portability. Depending on your processing needs, a tablet PC may also be well suited to your situation.
b. Screen Size
If you will be working with video/photo data or you plan on looking at the screen for long periods of time, then screen size should be an important consideration. A desktop computer provides room for a screen as large as you would like but remember that a desktop computer is not portable. A tablet PC is portable, but provides a very small screen size and generally is not a good computer choice for editing video, photos, or for working in situations in which you will be viewing the screen for extended periods of time.
c. Processing Speed
A computer’s processing is one of the factors that has a direct impact on the speed with which the system performs. Processing speed refers to the amount of clock cycles a processor can perform in a second. The greater your computer’s processing speed, the more instructions can be processed per second. If you run graphics-intensive programs, produce multimedia content, or use your computer for gaming, you will need a large processing capability. The data that you are going to primarily work with is also of great consideration when buying a computer. If you plan on working with multimedia content, you will want a computer with a large screen, graphics accelerators, HDMI inputs, thunderbolt inputs, etc.
Source: Derived from Chapter 2 of “Information Systems for Business and Beyond” by David T. Bourgeois. Some sections removed for brevity. https://www.saylor.org/site/textbooks/Information%20Systems%20for%20Business%20and%20Beyond/Textbook.html