Table of Contents
- 1 Who is this computer guide for?
- 2 Desktop or laptop PC?
- 3 Desktop laptops
- 4 The multimedia notebook PC
- 5 Gamer Notebook PC
- 6 Ultra-portable Professional, Ultrabook and the Apple and Chromebook cases
- 7 2-in-1 or hybrid notebook PCs
- 8 Desktop and multimedia desktop PCs
- 9 PC gamer
- 10 The mini-PC: small spaces for it!
- 11 Business PCs
Who is this computer guide for?
If you want to buy a computer and hesitate between buying a desktop PC, laptop or netbook, this computer purchase guide is for you!
Find all the answers to your questions by following the guide.
Desktop or laptop PC?
The answer, in the form of a golden rule, is in one line:”the higher your budget, the more diverse your choice and the more you will have the opportunity to taste a powerful and versatile machine” Ergonomics, thanks to the breakthrough of touch, and aesthetics also become criteria of choice. The initial question, which may seem trivial but indispensable, is this: do you need a desktop PC (fixed PC) or a laptop computer, and the first answers would not have been denied by La Palice itself:
- The notebook computer is compact and mobile and can be stored in no time at all.
- The desktop computer and its screen spend their careers near the office of the same name.
From a practical point of view, the notebook PC is recommended if you are short of space and mobility is a prime criterion, while the desktop PC requires a dedicated space.
The notebook PC with a large screen (17 or 18 inches) is not very mobile. The Desktop PC can be declined in mini PC, easy to store and transport. A desktop PC is as powerful as a laptop, but today it can be equipped with powerful components that turn it into a workstation or game computer.
Scalability is another factor to consider, and for desktop computers, scalability is a must because it’s very easy to change or add one or more components: either because one of them is no longer good enough or because you want to improve the performance of your computer. On the other hand, a laptop is less scalable, and with the exception of memory and hard disk, its hardware configuration is frozen.
Here are our recommendations on how to choose your PC based on needs, usage and budget: The computer categories discussed in this guide are listed in the left column and rated (from 1 to 5 stars) according to your needs and priority uses. To help you make an informed decision, the rest of this guide describes each category of laptops and desktops: its advantages, disadvantages and typical configurations according to your expectations and budget.
If you are looking for a laptop for an office automation activity, mainly at home
Internet surfing, e-mail, production of various documents such as texts or tables… Today, any laptop computer is capable of performing such tasks, including the cheapest models, and that’s a starting point: in an office environment, don’t invest in an expensive car with disproportionate power. 17-inch Notebook PC Keyboard The large 17-inch or 18-inch notebook keyboard is an argument of choice, especially since you’ll always find a numeric keypad, making it easy to enter numbers. Most office laptops are equipped with a 15 inch (15.6 inches) screen, 38 cm diagonal, and weigh between 2 and 3 kilos. It is a standard template, which offers a good compromise between mobility, screen readability and battery life of 6 to 8 hours. We are talking about occasional mobility.
Some models even come with a 17-inch or even 18-inch (43 to 45 cm) display, so visual comfort is their main advantage.
On the other hand, the term “portable” is exaggerated, given their weight of about 3 kilos: the term “transportable computer”, capable of traveling from one place to another if necessary, is more readily evoked, but it is unsuitable for nomadic use, for example in transport, more so than a 15-inch model, it is intended primarily for sedentary people.
This large size implies: a large keyboard, including a numeric keypad, to ensure a pleasant keystroke, which is an asset if you have to enter miles of text every day; a slightly more extensive connector, the manufacturers having at their disposal the necessary space to accommodate everything. And if you want an even bigger screen, there’s nothing to stop you from connecting it to a computer monitor or TV, via an HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort output.
The reverse side of the coin: with an even configuration, the larger the screen and the lower the autonomy, it is only 5 hours for a 17/18 inch laptop, but it is not a crucial point for a computer often immobile, placed close to an electrical outlet. The large keypad of a 17/18 inch laptop is an argument, especially since you’ll always find a numeric keypad, making it easy to enter numbers. <
Typical configuration for office automation:
Intel Celeron, Pentium, Core i3 or AMD A4 Series Processor
4 GB of memory, 500 GB hard drive or 1 TB hard drive
Desktop is not a power-hungry activity: A “small” processor, with a frequency not exceeding 2 GHz and 4 GB of memory is sufficient, the graphics circuit should not hold your attention: all variants are able to display text or a web page, count between 350 and 600 €.
The multimedia notebook PC
If you are looking for a laptop for the whole family, (multimedia and fun use)
Asus N550 Clear and precise Full HD screen, Bang & Olufsen speakers with external subwoofer, powerful Core i7 processor: the Asus N550JK is the archetype of the multimedia notebook PC.
The multimedia notebook PC requires a little more power than an office laptop, and is oriented towards playful activities such as reading movies and viewing photos (even retouching images more or less professionally). Like its office cousin, the multimedia laptop is available in several sizes, from 14 to 17 inches. the same rule applies: the larger the screen, the less mobile the computer, the lower the autonomy, the shorter the autonomy, from 5 to 6 hours. the size also conditions the visual comfort, an important point when it comes to watching movies regularly.
Typical multimedia setup
Intel Core i5/i7 processor
4 to 8 GB of memory
500 GB or 1 TB hard drive, SSD 128/256 GB
Full HD Display
Intel, NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics card
Blu-Ray drive/DVD burner
Intel’s Core i5/i7 processors (AMD is mostly present at the entry-level) dominate here, with a frequency greater than 2 GHz (or even 3 GHz in turbo mode), useful for intensive multimedia use (reading and editing Full HD or 4K movies, for example).
In this context, 8 GB of memory is not too much, the same for the SSSD, which accelerates access to the stored files, but the graphics card is still quite passive and will have a limited impact, so you can play, but not in the same visual conditions as a real portable gamer PC, opt for a screen with a good resolution (Full HD or 1920×1080 px min.) and if possible, a screen with a good resolution (Full HD or 1920×1080 px min.). Don’t forget the Blu-Ray player if you have a collection of movies in this format! 600 € minimum for a good multimedia laptop.
Gamer Notebook PC
If you are looking for a laptop to play with
Asus G751JT notebook PC The Asus G751JT contains a Core i7 processor and GTX970 graphics board, which supports the Trinity Display: the display can be divided into three different displays. Players, especially hardcore gamers, have their own laptops: these are gamers’ notebooks, made by specialists such as Alienware, Asus or MSI for example. Not only is the central processor very fast (Intel Core i7 for example) but it is associated with a high-performance graphics circuit. This is essential to process and display the most sophisticated visual effects, omnipresent in action games and shooting games. Let’s be clear: we’re talking about very hungry 3D games, such as those available on game consoles.
These are not the only features of gamers’ notebook PCs, but many technologies are implemented so that the user only focuses on the game, nothing but the game: for example, network connection optimizations, backlighting and keyboards, etc. The software can be used to control the gaming environment.
In addition, these references are equipped with specific and highly efficient ventilation systems to cope with the stress of these powerful components.
The most popular gamer laptops have a 17-inch or even 18-inch screen, which is obviously more for immersion than playing on a big screen, while the 15-inch models have the advantage of being a little more mobile. There is a specific model: the MSI GS30, a hybrid concept that combines an ultra-portable 13-inch notebook with a dedicated gaming docking station, giving you the freedom to install the graphics card of your choice, and the definition varies from Full HD to Ultra High Definition (UHD) 3840×2160 pixels.
Typical configuration for the game:
Intel Core i5/i7 or AMD FX / Ryzen 5 and 7 Processor
8 to 32 GB of memory
1TB Hard Disk Drive + 128/256GB SSD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1000 Series Graphics Circuitry
Full HD or 4K Full HD screen
No compromises are acceptable: the processor must be powerful (2.5 GHz and above) and associated with a large amount of RAM (8GB is the bare minimum) and a muscular graphics circuitry is a must, which can be doubled (SLI technology, Scalable Link Interface, from NVIDIA). It’s necessary to animate with fluidity the most greedy games and display the maximum visual effects, guaranteeing a successful gaming experience. The SSD is not completely indispensable but it is highly recommended: not only will your PC start up faster, but also the applications will install and launch faster. Players who have tasted it will no longer be able to play without this accelerator, all at a price: a good gaming laptop costs at least €800.
Ultra-portable Professional, Ultrabook and the Apple and Chromebook cases
If you’re looking for a mobile laptop, which you can take with you anywhere to work
A laptop with a screen size of less than 14 inches is called an ultra-portable, the qualifier is not usurped by its weight, about 1.5 kg. This lightness is essential if you intend to take it everywhere and very frequently, this nomadic vocation guides it de facto towards a professional use; the ultra-portable, studied to travel, generally benefits from the best autonomy, of the order of 7 to 8 hours, i. e. a full day.
On the other hand, the equipment sometimes has shortcomings: the DVD burner, for example, is external, has no space, or even absent, and the price varies greatly depending on the configuration: from €300 for a very economical and low-powered ultra-portable, focused on office automation… to over €2,000 for a powerful ultra-portable and very often design, made from “noble” materials such as aluminium. There are some special features in the world of ultra-portable devices: the ultrabook, now used in everyday language to designate an ultra-portable. It is an ultra-portable device, but its specific features are established by Intel on the basis of strict specifications: touch screen, startup that only takes a few seconds, which is often translated by the presence of an SSD, minimum autonomy of 9 hours, WiDi obligatory (wireless technology used to replicate the display of the laptop on a compatible TV), at least one USB 3.0 port…
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which belong to the Apple world and are available in 11 and 13 inches. The first one puts more emphasis on lightness, the second on power and versatility and the definition of its 2560×1600 pixels Retina screen. The MacBook Pro is also available in a 15-inch version and weighs more than 2 kilos, which makes it no longer an ultra-portable notebook, but rather a professional notebook that appeals to creative people, Apple’s preferred clientele.
The Chromebook, which is an ultra-portable made by Google, mostly available in 11 or 13 inches, the screen is rarely tactile. It is characterised by its low price (300 € on average) and its specialisation in Google’s online services (from Google Drive to YouTube). Designed to be constantly connected, it can work in offline mode, but is a simple, fairly fast computer thanks to the SSD and the very light Chrome OS system, which will appeal to Google and office automation enthusiasts.
The typical configuration of an ultra-portable device differs greatly according to the profile of the user and his or her applications, which are mainly office applications in a mobile context (multimedia being a secondary recreational activity in most cases).
Typical configuration for low power consumption and occasional office use:
Intel Celeron processor
4 GB of memory
500 GB hard drive
Integrated graphics circuit
That’s more than enough if you read and write e-mails, surf the Internet and make very light office documents, with an average price of 300 €.
Typical configuration for advanced and frequent office use:
Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 Processor
From 4 to 8 GB of memory
500GB/1TB or 128/256GB SSD hard drive
Intel or NVIDIA GeForce® graphics card
If productivity is an important parameter, don’t tolerate any slowdown and select a powerful and fast ultra-portable, what matters is the power of the processor (which will be almost exclusively an Intel model), the amount of memory (useful if you open several heavy applications simultaneously) and the speed of the hard disk, very often an SSD, the price is between €700 and €1500.
2-in-1 or hybrid notebook PCs
If you are looking for a mobile laptop PC, which can be used as a tablet.
Lenovo Yoga 3 ProLenovo’s Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a beautiful representative of convertible laptops: it can be positioned in easel, tent, tablet or classic mode and is equipped with the latest Intel Core-M and a 3200×1800 pixel screen. In the large family of notebook PCs, a final category has emerged in recent years: the hybrid or convertible notebook with a touch screen that can swivel or detach: the pivoting screen, thanks to a hinge (horizontal or vertical), can be turned 180° and looks like a display. it is a perfect configuration to look at photos, by scrolling them with your finger.
alternative: the screen can be folded down on the keyboard. the whole then forms a tablet, thicker than the average one, but practical if you have to check boxes in a form. The screen can also be removable and can be used as an independent tablet, where all the “intelligence” (processor, memory and operating system) is housed.The keyboard + screen combination is therefore suitable for text input, the screen alone is ideal for simple consultation.
In such a configuration, the keyboard looks like a docking station, with an additional connector (RJ45 for a connection to the wired network…), a second battery, which can double the autonomy (more than 15 hours in some cases), or even an auxiliary storage space, such as a hard disk.
Asus Transform BookAsus Transform BookTransform Book adopts a detachable 11.6-inch screen, storage is split between keyboard (1GB hard drive) and screen (32GB SSD). Hybrid notebook PCs are available in sizes ranging from 11 to 15 inches. 11 “to 13”, the smallest sizes, similar to ultra-portable notebooks, are the ones that most often have a detachable screen, which makes sense because beyond that, this “tablet screen” would be too heavy and difficult to handle. 14 “to 15” sizes have a screen that can be turned and reversed.
Because of their larger dimensions, these models are the most powerful, at ease in office automation, multimedia or even video games if the latter is not too demanding, while smaller models are more suitable for office applications and “light” multimedia (reading an HD movie for example).
Typical configuration for office automation:
Intel Core i5/Core i7 Processor
From 4 to 8 GB of memory
Hard Disk 500 GB
Intel Graphics Circuit Board
There is no need to ask too much in this context: a minimal configuration with a Celeron or Pentium processor is fine, the price is around 400 €.
Typical configuration for multimedia:
Intel Core i5/Core i7 processor, 8GB memory, 500GB/1TB hard disk drive and/or 128/256GB SSD, Intel or NVIDIA GeForce graphics boards
Intel’s new Core-M, designed for laptops with detachable/orientable screens, is not a luxury: it does not heat up very much, but has the same power as Core i3s, unlike Atom processors.
The SSD is sometimes used alone or in combination with a conventional hard disk drive and costs from €600 to over €1000.
Desktop and multimedia desktop PCs
If you are looking for a desktop computer, fixed but customizable at will, suitable for office automation and multimedia
Depending on your needs (storage, versatility, type of content and sources), your desires and also the progression of technologies, you will be able to stay in the running with this type of PC for a long time: switching from DVD to Blu-Ray is very simple on a desktop computer, the operation will be much more complicated if this type of PC is very simple. In addition, the case’s size allows for optimised ventilation and therefore quieter operation, which will always be appreciated (especially if you are watching a movie or listening to music).
There are also smaller PC boxes (10 cm high and barely 10 cm high) that incorporate motherboards in the mini-ITX format. mini-PCs and barebones are sometimes even smaller, but cooling and ventilation are still quite expensive. Minimum density, maximum ventilation: the “tower” format is less prone to overheating; minimum density, maximum ventilation: the “tower” format is less prone to overheating. You can choose which components you want to integrate into your PC case, which is in fact a customizable, scalable and therefore very versatile computer, the ultimate home computer.
With many years of experience in this field, Materiel. net proposes you to assemble your PC from the components of your choice: either by using our online configurator or by adding the components to your basket with the service assembly. Whether you are looking for a custom-designed computer dedicated to office automation, multimedia or gaming, Materiel. net offers you true freedom of configuration and many tips to best meet your needs.
A single box allows you to keep your existing peripherals or buy them separately, giving you more freedom of choice.
Example of desktop PC configuration
Intel Pentium/Core i3 Processor
4 GB of memory
500 GB hard drive
Intel Graphics Circuit Board
If you just surf and edit documents, choose an economical computer, in the range of 400 to 600 €. It usually contains dual-core processors with frequencies ranging from 1.6 to 3 GHz. The graphics circuit (graphics card or GPU embedded in the motherboard) is of little importance. PCs like these are more than enough to play movies, even high-definition movies, and music, so I’ll take a look at the mini PCs, whose features might be right for you.
Multimedia PC configuration example
Intel Core i5 or i7 or AMD A6/A10 processor
4 to 8 GB of memory
Hard drive from 1 to 2 TB/SSD 128 or 256 GB
Intel or NVIDIA GT/GTX graphics card
Optical drive (DVD or Blu-Ray)
Choose processors with four cores and a frequency of around 3 GHz: it won’t be too much if you regularly encode videos, in which case, thanks to the reduced access times, SSD is also valuable.
If the graphics (GPU) is up to the task, you can even expect to play in good conditions, but think of the Blu-Ray player if you already have a collection of Blu-Ray HD discs or if you are planning to do so, the price of a multimedia PC ranges from €800 to €1200.
If you are looking for a desktop computer to play with
Popular with gamers around the world, the desktop PC is the reference in gaming for many reasons:
A fixed gamer PC is not necessarily equipped with permanent light diodes but can also be a model of sobriety; a fixed gamer PC is not necessarily equipped with permanent light diodes but can also be a model of sobriety. Internal components (motherboard, processor, memory strips, graphics card, hard disk) are not clustered together and benefit from optimal cooling, also due to the size of the fans, which is greater than 80 mm, improves air circulation and attenuates ventilation noise; this cooling is crucial for the video game, which makes intensive use of the processor and graphics card, which generate a lot of heat.
Scalability is guaranteed, with several 2.5-inch slots and Sata and PCI connectors available for future components (sound card, controller card, DVB-T tuner card, video acquisition card), as well as the ability to change the motherboard, processor, memory bars, or graphics card to improve performance. If you want to practice overclocking (i. e. increase the processor frequency to improve performance), there is room above the processor to mount a large fan or water cooler kit.
PC Haute couture: Since our launch in 2000, Materiel. net has become a specialist in the design and assembly of PCs and more particularly PC gamers (and yes, we are very much a gamer!) Unlike some major brands, our desktops are not a stacking of inexpensive or over-mediaised components but a well-balanced assembly.
With a wide range of pre-assembled PC configurations, we offer a wide range of references to suit different needs and budgets – no need to adopt a super-powerful PC to play League of Legends and, conversely, don’t expect to play Battlefield with an entry-level PC. To propose you these various PC game configurations, our teams of specialists follow an efficient process: see our computer graphics to know everything in one click!
Example PC gamer configuration
Intel Core i5/Core i7 or AMD Ryzen processor
8 to 16 GB of memory
1 TB hard disk and/or SSD 128/256 GB
NVIDIA GTX Series 10 or AMD Radeon RX Series graphics card
DVD burner or Blu-Ray player
If you’re a passionate gamer and you can’t stand the slightest drop of framerate (less frames per second), don’t look at the expense and turn to an Intel Core i7 processor, which remains the best performing range in this range. On the graphics card side, the most appropriate versions are the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10xx and RX Series RadeonAMDs, with at least 2GB of memory: you shouldn’t notice any slowdown, even beyond Full HD, and if that’s not enough (for an Ultra High Definition display for example), consider combining two graphics cards (NVIDIA SLI or AMD Crossfire mode).
The budget for a PC gamer is mainly a function of the type of game and your practice: if it is necessary to count on average 800€ for a PC “gamer” musclé, PC to less than 700€ can quite suffice for light games while to play the most greedy online FPS with the settings at full time it will be necessary to aim above this average budget.
The mini-PC: small spaces for it!
If you are looking for a desktop computer that is as space-saving as possible:
The mini PC weighs just over one kilogram and sneaks into the most crowded spaces, its acoustic discretion is vital because it is often associated with the flat screen in the living room, where it acts as a Media Center (movie playback, etc.), its power consumption (about 30 watts) and another advantage when it is used as a mini web server for example.
There are two types of mini PCs:
The first was once called NetPC, but this name has become a reducer as the performance of the components is constantly evolving, often adopting an original look (small horizontal square or mounted vertically on a tripod) and comes ready to use, with the exception of the screen, asus, Zotac, MSI and Materiel. net with the Nucleus and its many variants are the specialists. the second is called “barebone” and has made the reputation of the Shuttle brand.
It looks like a small PC box (some still measure about 30 centimetres high) that integrates the motherboard in mini-ITX format and power supply. The rest of the components are to be added as you wish: processor, memory, hard disk, graphics card… It’s up to you to buy them separately and then mount them, in order to compose a computer according to your desires The price of a basic barebone is around 200 €. The mini PC is mainly designed for office automation and multimedia, the power of the barebone is modular depending on the components you add.
Example of a mini-PC configuration
Intel Celeron/Core i3/i5/i7 processor
2 to 8 GB of memory
500 GB hard drive, SSD 64/128/256 GB
Intel Graphics Circuit Board
The configuration of a mini-PC has become very versatile: the processor varies from the Atom or Celeron, ideal for office applications, to the Intel Core i3 processor and more, recommended for heavy multimedia (reading and editing UHD movies…), especially if this mini-PC is used as a Media Center.
As for an ultra-portable, buy separately the DVD burner if you need it.
Finally, check the available connectors, especially the number of USB ports, if you plan to connect various peripherals (external hard disk, DVD burner, etc.).
Example of a barebone configuration
The charm of the ” barebone ” lies in its scalability, but above all it is necessary to check the attributes of the motherboard. First, the socket determines the processor family. Then, the power of the processor depends on the use, follow our recommendations for the desktop PC, which remain valid in general terms, then check the number of slots available for adding internal components, while the smaller barebones only accept one DVD/Blu-Ray drive and one hard disk drive.
If you are looking for a desktop computer to work on
Whether portable or desktop, all computers can be used for work, but some models are really designed for professionals – they’re called workstations.
They are equipped with an operating system in professional version (Windows 10 Pro) and specific applications that improve and facilitate the functions of connection to a corporate network, local or remote administration and data security.
The guarantee of the professional stations designed by Materiel. net is 3 years minimum with return to the workshop, an important element for a professional who cannot suffer the immobilization of his machine, synonymous with loss of productivity and therefore of turnover.
There are many different types of workstations, some of which are desktop oriented, others for intensive computing, whether graphical or not.
Typical configuration for office automation or intensive computing:
Intel Core Core Pentium/i3/i3/i5/i7/i7/Xeon processor
8 to 32 GB of memory
1 to 3TB Hard Disk Drive
Intel Graphics Circuit Board
Simple desktop applications will rely on the Intel Core i3 or i5 processor and 8GB of memory. For complex calculations in a multitasking environment, e. g. for simulation, Core i7 or even Xeon are recommended and must be combined with a large amount of memory, the graphics card is a simple relay to the screen and does not matter in this context, the price varies from 600 to 1200 €.
Other computers are monsters of power and are intended for image and video professionals: they are capable of running heavy software packages such as SolidWorks, Catia or 3D Studio Max.
These are both CAO (Computer Aided Design) and CAD (Computer Aided Design) workstations with an artistic or industrial vocation, most often in the form of a standard PC enclosure. Apple stands out aesthetically with its cylindrical Mac Pro and all-in-one iMac.
Typical configuration for CAD/CAM:
Intel Xeon/Core i7 Processor
8 to 16 GB of memory
SSD 128/512 GB and 1 to 3 TB disk (with Raid protection if possible)
NVIDIA Quadro or AMD FirePro® graphics card
Apple Mac ProPlus is an expensive but very powerful Mac Pro, workstations are designed for use in the imaging industry, while Mac Pro, with its unique look and feel, is dedicated to video editing.
For image processing or video editing in UHD/4K, don’t skimp on power: a processor with four to eight cores and 8 to 16 GB of RAM will speed up complex multi-tasking operations.
On the graphics side, NVIDIA’s Quadro or AMD’s FirePro series will deliver significant power savings, and you can also take a look at the speed of the hard drive, which is backed by a Raid-secured data system if possible, which you can use in combination with an SSD to speed up application loading, and on the connector side, Firewire connectors are often required for business applications. Also think of the Blu-Ray recorder, if you’re doing large-scale archiving. A good workstation costs around 2000 €.