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5 Tips for Finding the Best Work from Home Computer
The world has changed in significant ways since early 2020, especially when it comes to school and business. With more employees working remotely from home and schools offering more distance-learning options, there is more need than ever for more than one computer in your household.
Whether you're looking for the best desktop PC to conduct your own business or you need to equip your student with a mobile classroom tool, picking the right work-from-home computer is more important than ever before. Here's what you should know as you shop for your perfect match.
1. Know your needs
The needs of one user may differ from another, even within the same household. Students of various grade levels in the same family may have unique computer “essentials.” Older students may want to play games or create animations, while younger students can get by with simple web browsing and word processing tools.
Given this, the best place to start is with a list of all of the tasks you expect to do with your new computer. Here’s a checklist of questions to help you know differentiate between your wants and needs:
- How much memory and storage do I need? Can I do learning tasks through the cloud, such as with an HP Stream or a Chromebook? Or, will I require multiple programs running on my computer at once? Where will I keep my files?
- Do I need a touch screen? What apps will I use on my laptop that are better with hands-on features? If I use my laptop instead of a tablet, can I work effectively on a standard screen?
- What's my minimum processing speed? If I upgrade my processor, can the graphics card keep up? What dedicated graphics cards are available for the games I play or the creative tasks I need to do without experiencing lag or stutter?
- Do I need a laptop to move from room to room, or can we all work at a stationary desk? If I decide on a desktop computer, would I benefit from an all-in-one desktop that includes the monitor and all the accessories?
- How will we connect to the internet? If classes or video calls require Ethernet, what ports should I look for? Will we be watching DVDs or playing CDs for school?
- How much will I type? Will I require a full-sized keyboard?
2. Plan for the future
What you need in a computer today may not be sufficient for tomorrow. In addition to keeping software and web updates in mind, you should also plan ahead for the tasks you think you’ll need to do in the next 2 to 3 years.
School and age considerations
For example, students may not be rendering 3D models today, but if they are close to high school age, they could be soon. The HP Spectre x360 FHD convertible laptop is a solid pick for those who want to do school work on a laptop with the benefits of a tablet, too. This high-performing model is small enough to stash in a backpack and you can easily switch it to tent mode for streaming movies after finishing up homework.
Work from home
At-home workers should consider changes in their workplace and industry to determine if their PC is up to the task of meeting future business needs. An HP EliteBook, for example, is ideal for general business use, and the HP EliteBook 850 G6 notebook offers crisp, clear video calls and enhanced security through the HP Sure View Privacy Screen. It also comes with a 3-year warranty for easy servicing when you need it. You’ll also have long battery life for when you do need to leave the house.
For power users, the HP ZBook Power G7 15.6-inch FHD mobile workstation is a must-see It boasts an Intel® Core™ i7 processor and NVIDIA® Quadro T2000 graphics with Max-Q Design.
Many kids (and adults, too) enjoy gaming. And while buying a PC that’s rated for gaming will provide a way for you and your kids to relax and unwind (while sharing memories), it’s also built for video editing and other school or work tasks. The HP Pavilion TG01-0299 Gaming PC, for example, has loads of power and performance. The 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage alone is a powerhouse and offers 17 times the speed of a traditional laptop hard drive.
For gaming on-the-go (or room to room), consider the powerful HP OMEN 15-dc2008ca gaming laptop. Its Intel Core i7-10750H processor and NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1650 Ti graphics handle all of the top games, including Apex Legends and Overwatch, while making short work of school assignments, too.
3. Keep it simple
A high-performing PC with the latest components may sound complicated, but it’s really not. Some of the most robust PCs on the market are incredibly streamlined, include the best software, and work with all your favorite programs and apps. You can also expect them to work with your favorite keyboard and mouse, along with other accessories.
The best way to simplify the shopping process is to customize your PC upon checkout, rather than try to upgrade components yourself down the road. Here are some components to consider:
- An optional responsive touch screen for note-taking, creative pursuits, and gaming
- Intel i3 or i5 processors for basic computer tasks, lighter games, and streaming; Intel i7 processor for intense gaming, rendering video and animations, or 3D design work
- Graphics card that is compatible with the processor (CPU) level you choose
- Optical drive, if you plan to use disc-based software, watch DVDs and Blu-rays, burn music, or play existing physical copies of PC games
- Add-on software, such as anti-virus, photo editing tools, or professional-level operating systems (Windows Pro or similar)
- Memory, either solid state drive (SSD), hard disk drive (HDD), or a combination of the two (hybrid drive)
Don't stop with your PC, either. By grabbing all of the gear you need with your initial purchase, you’ll be ready for work or school the day you get your computer. Most HP wireless printers also come with access to the HP Instant Ink service, which simplifies ink ordering and saves you money by charging you a low monthly fee for a set number of printed pages. When you start running low on ink, HP sends you a new cartridge at no additional cost.
4. Embrace value
What's your budget for buying a PC? What features are non-negotiable? If you find that your "needs" list warrants a slightly higher price tag than what you imagined, understand what would happen if you remove some upgrades to lower the cost.
Your goal is to solve problems and do more with your time, so looking for the overall best value computer should be more thoughtful than simply picking the lowest-priced PC. A budget laptop is not a “deal” if it can’t handle the tasks you need.
Computers with faster processors, more memory, and up-to-date graphics may cost more up front but will pay off in the long run. Whether you’re buying for your education or your career, look to maximize your dollar by buying the best for your price range and investing more in the essentials. Here are some examples:
- Those in design and photography fields or education programs should invest in higher definition screens that show true colors with better resolution.
- If you work in 3D design or render videos and animations, look for upgraded processors and graphics cards.
- Prioritize enhanced and self-healing defense features for those working with sensitive business files and programs or who require additional security for their job.
- Remote learners who spend hours in remote classroom sessions should consider larger, full HD screens and full-sized keyboards.
Business and education aren’t to be taken lightly, and skipping out on needed tech may slow you down.
5. Stay connected
Whether it's a Zoom school session or an important business meeting, staying connected requires a reliable PC built to handle your needs. More and more users are looking for the best work and learn from home computers to have HD video cameras, excellent sound, and plenty of ports.
A reliable PC takes one less worry off the list when you’re about to join a video call, so look for models that come with all the extras included for the price. Consider security features to help prevent accidental broadcasts, such as easy-access mute buttons and an unhackable webcam kill switch.
If you're partial to either a laptop or desktop, you can focus on that preference and find what you need to get things done. The market is expanding in exciting ways for both types of PCs, and you no longer have to give up important features to find the right model for your price range either.
Many households have both desktops and laptops, with each serving a different role. Family “hubs” are also common, with work or schooling taking place in a single room with multiple PCs and a connected printer.
Knowing which tool is best for each task can help you make the right choice, but if you're not sure where to start, you can always reach out to HP’s customer shopping experts. They will ask the right questions to help you identify computer features to help you live your best home-based life.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.