Windows 7 Computers For The Desktop
While the combined sales of laptops and other types of mobile computers now surpass those of desktop models, the exciting features (and not to mention the much improved computing experience) of Microsoft’s latest operating system opens new horizons for Windows 7 desktop computers. Desktop computers, compared to mobile devices, have always been more diverse in terms of looks, functionality, and performance. The world’s largest maker of CPUS, Intel is marketing a new range of powerful multiple core processors that take advantage of the latest hardware designs. AMD, Intel’s main rival, also have a new line of multiple-core 64 bit microprocessors. When these chips are married to Windows 7, everyone can see why the upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7 has been well worth the wait.
In this article, we will discuss what differentiates one type of desktop computer from the other, the advantages as well as the shortcomings of each design. We will also talk about the computer brands that best exemplify the category.
Desktop units nowadays are packaged into three types of configurations. Form follows function and this is especially true for the computers found in each configuration. The first type is often referred to as compact desktop. These machines occupy a small footprint, do not have much computing power, sells for a lower price, and are used mainly for viewing multimedia content. While compact units are not new concepts, they have to wait for Windows 7 for them to really shine mainly because their performance when running on Vista leaves much to be desired. When used primarily for viewing multimedia content, compact desktops running Windows 7 have unbeatable value considering that mainstream versions of the operating system which include Home Premium, Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate already has Media Center software built-in.
Compact desktop units are priced for the user on a budget. These models are perfect for those who use computers mainly for web browsing, e-mail, and occasional viewing of videos whether online or by DVD. These computers are often underpowered for more demanding tasks like video editing and especially gaming. Buyers on the lookout for compact units with decent gaming performance will face a steep climb in price vs. performance. For example, a 400 dollar compact unit will always be outperformed by a tower computer of the same price range
The next type of computer is the all-in-one desktop. Similar to compact computers, all-in-ones conserve space by putting the screen and computer hardware in one package. Most of these computers have touch screen interfaces that are able to take advantage of Windows 7’s full support of multi-touch gestures. Similar to using an iPhone, these desktop units respond to gestures such as pinching images to zoom in, flicking web pages, or using the fingers to pan an image on the screen. These types of computers reduce the number of cables running into the unit into one – the power cord. Previously attached peripherals like the keyboard and the mouse are now connected to the computer wirelessly. Similar to laptops, the unified package of screen and hardware may constrain users in the type of modification or upgrade they could do with their computer.
All-in-one desktops blend perfectly in today’s living room. Minimal cabling reduces clutter especially in living areas that have spare and neat furnishing. This type of desktop is perfect for the bedroom too, both for traditional computing tasks as well as an entertainment center. The tradeoff for this type of packaging is that for a higher price than tower computers, you often get lower performance. This is because unified packaging requires lower performing CPUS for managing temperature and input power. Another tradeoff is that the unified package, similar to a laptop, constrains the owner on the type of upgrade or modification he may wish to perform.
Towers of power
The third kind of desktop computer is the tower. This is the packaging that is the most flexible in terms of customization. Buyers of tower models are free to choose hard disk size, the amount of memory present, the size of the screen, and other hardware specifications. Computer enthusiasts who demand the highest performance from their desktop units typically choose desktop towers. For the greatest Windows 7 experience only tower models with greater support for the new line of multiple core microprocessors (Intel will soon market the Core i7-980x with six cores) are able to deliver that kind of computing.
The tower computer often gives the most performance for the money. Everything in a tower setup is customizable. This is also the model with the easiest upgrade path. From choosing the type of graphic card, amount of memory installed, type of CPU, even the size and number of hard disks, the tower package makes these options possible. Towers are beasts when compared to compact and all-in-one models. They are bulky and the need for large volumes of air for optimal cooling creates background noise that is both irritating and tiresome. The same fan that draws in air sucks in dust and pet hair that always find its way into the computer’s innards. Of course running top performing hardware demands a respectable amount of power which could create a spike in electric bills.
Notable examples of each kind of desktop package
Two prime examples of compact desktop models are Dell Inspiron’s Zino HD as Asus’ EeeBox 601. Both brands scrimp on real estate yet offer great looks. While not designed for today’s demanding games, both models are able to deliver high definition multi-media entertainment. While rare in most compact PCs, both models feature DVD writers/readers further emphasizing their role as entertainment centers.
Dell offers exciting multimedia viewing via HDMI or VGA connections. Connectivity is made possible with two eSata and four USB ports. A card reader is able to read most popular formats. While most compact PCs use the Intel Atom processor, the Zino comes with a higher spec AMD Athlon dual core processor. For networking with other PCs as well as connecting to the internet, an 802.11n WiFi adapter is present.
The EeeBox is equipped with a lower performing Atom processor. The low specs of this brand make this computer a great choice for those wanting a budget sized unit. While priced lower than the Zino, it is still a capable media PC that is able to deliver high definition media. The attractive tilted case makes the computer a perfect addition to anyone’s living room. Connectivity for the EeeBox means six USB slots, an HDMI port, eSata for connecting an external hard drive, as well as wireless internet via 802.11n WiFi.
Sony’s VAIO L117FX/B all-in-one desktop, like most Sony products, is stylishly packaged. The 24 inch, high definition touch screen makes it tempting to get rid of that other video device in your home – the television. This model has a built-in TV tuner which accepts both cable and satellite receivers. A Blue Ray DVD player and recorder enables playback of the latest high definition movies. A one terabyte hard drive provides enough space for storing all types of multi-media files. A wireless keyboard and mouse significantly reduces clutter on the desktop. For connecting devices to the computer, one can choose between a multi-format card reader, 5 USB ports, FireWire, gigabit Ethernet as well as 802.11n WiFi. Because is equipped with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and 6 gigs of RAM, the VAIO is one of the best performing all-in-one desktops computer.
Another capable all-in-one desktop is the MSI Wind Top AE2220. While it has a lower spec than the VAIO, this unit may be a better value when price and performance is considered. A 2.2 Ghz T6600 Core 2 Duo microprocessor powers the unit, and it comes with 4 gig of RAM and a 500 gig hard drive. A 21 inch touch screen display provides high definition video playback and to provide connectivity, six USB ports are present as well as an HDMI connector, eSATA, 802.11n WiFi, and a Blue Ray DVD burner and reader.
For the ultimate in Windows 7 desktop computing performance, check out the Maingear Shift tower computer. The most expensive chip available, the 3.33 Ghz Intel Core i7 powers the unit. The operating system is stored in its own 80 gigabyte solid state drive while a two terabyte hard drive is where software and data reside. Three XFX Radeon graphic cards provide the highest gaming performance. Not surprisingly, the use of top-notch components adds up to a 7000 dollar price tag. Ten USB slots, an eSata port, two FireWire, three HDMI and 7.1 surround sound makes the MainGear Shift well connected indeed.
While the hefty price tag of the MainGear Shift excludes most of us from owning the machine, it doesn’t mean that fantastic performance is beyond reach for most computer enthusiasts. For a respectable amount of 1,500 dollars, HP Pavilion’s HPE-170t powered by a 2.86 GHz Core i7 CPU translate to very a respectable price/performance ratio. 8 gigabytes of RAM, two 500 gig hard drives and an nVidia GeForce GTX260 card provide a very satisfying gaming experience. There are nine USB slots, two FireWire, an HDMI port as well as a multi-format card reader for connectivity. Networking can be attained either wirelessly using 802.11n WiFi or by gigabit Ethernet.