If you have yet to buy your first computer, you will want to have a specific purpose upon finally receiving or buying one. Having a purpose will drive motivation, fun, and gratification while also building other computer skills in the process. A nice choice for a computer newbie would actually be an Apple iPad, which is only $329 and relatively easy to navigate. From there, your understanding can translate to other computer operating systems like macOS or even Windows. Avoid old laptops though, as troubleshooting and sluggishness will frustrate you more than necessary.
If you're going to college soon and need a new MacBook, choose carefully between the Pro and the Air. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is a great choice if your student workload will involve some intensive operations like video-editing, gaming, rendering, etc. But for the majority of majors, the new 2020 MacBook Air will get the job done at a more affordable price. Plus, on the recent models, the keyboards have been fixed!
Richard is wondering if pulling the power cord on a computer (while it is on) hurts the machine. Leo says it is risky because if the computer/hard drive is in the middle of a writing process, pulling the plug could spew data all over the hard drive. Not to mention, physical damage could occur during the interruption as well. It is only okay to pull the cord when the computer is frozen solid and locked up. Unplugging is only a last resort, so always try to hold the power button first before attempting to cut off the power.
Chip is looking to build a new computer and is looking for current guides to building medium/high-end PCs. Leo recommends PCper.com and their hardware leaderboard. The leaderboard will help recommend all the right components and is a great place to start one's research. AnandTech and certain subreddits can also help with additional note-taking.
Storm bought a computer in 2007 and has been updating it until Windows 10, where it won't upgrade because of her GPU. Now she's replaced her graphics card and Windows 10 finally installed! But she wants to know if she really has a 64-bit system. She looked at the specs and sees the phrase X64, which Leo says indicates 64-bit architecture. Upgrading also depends on how much RAM she has. So if she feels limited, then go to 64-bit in Windows 10.
There are a couple of ways you can donate your computer's downtime, or unused CPU power, to benefit science. One way is SETI @ Home, which is a scientific experiment based at UC Berkeley that uses internet-connected computers to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. You just install it on your computer, kind of like a screen saver. Whenever you're not actively using the computer, it will work to analyze radio signals they're collecting. Find out more at setiathome.berkeley.edu
Sylvia wants to get a new computer but can't decide between a laptop and a desktop. Leo says that in general, a desktop is best for business. A laptop is for personal use. Since Sylvia does video and photo editing, she also should get Adobe's Creative Cloud. She'll also need a minimum of 16GB of RAM, but for video, 32 would be even better.
Serge is a gamer and has an older ATI gaming video card. He's wondering when he should upgrade it. There are two things to consider in terms of video cards. Cost, and whether the system is powerful enough to justify a more powerful video card. If the GPU is more powerful than the CPU, then he'd be "CPU-bound", meaning the CPU would be holding him back from getting the most out of the video card.
Most modern computers have sensors on them to monitor all of that stuff, but they all do it differently. There are a couple that will do this though.
Casey loves gaming, but consoles are slow behind the times. Leo says that console games have stagnated over the last 10 years, while PCs have leapfrogged into better graphics and faster processors.
Casey uses his PC for gaming, but he's getting a lot of lag. He's wondering if upgrading his graphics card would improve the performance. Leo says he could upgrade the graphics, but if his CPU isn't fast enough, it will still perform slow. They really work together.