Choosing Your Computer as a Homebased Worker

Go Back to Course Outline I. Introduction In this blog, I will guide you on how to choose the right computer for you. And we will star...

Go Back to Course Outline

I. Introduction

In this blog, I will guide you on how to choose the right computer for you. And we will start by answering the question “What is your purpose or biggest factor in buying a computer”? Most often it is the job that corresponds to your skills or experience.

II. There are 2 general categories from which we can choose from:

  1. Laptop
    1. Pros
      1. Portable
      2. With a laptop, you can really take advantage of remote work. 6 years ago, I was working while traveling in town.
    2. Cons
      1. Expensive
    3. SubCategories
      1. Lightweight 
        1. Slim, built with portability and security in mind. Often expensive for its specs. 
        2. It can do basic tasks such as word processing, checking emails, and chats. It has a battery than can last for several hours. 
        3. It is good for frequent travelers or freelancers on the go.
        4. An example is MacBook Air.
      2. Basic/Notebook
        1. This is your everyday unit. It strikes a balance between portability and functionality.
        2. It has enough power to do any heavy tasks such as video editing but battery life is short and it’s heavy.
        3. Good for freelancers who move from one place to another with a power source. Not really a good travel laptop.
      3. Heavyweight/Gaming
        1. It can be categorized as a portable desktop. It’s packed with power, features and has good quality components such as a big screen.
        2. It’s often the unit of choice for a programmer, video editor, and gamers.
        3. Due to its specs, it’s often bulky and battery life is short as heavy processing programs such as video editing takes a lot of power.
  2. Desktop
    1. Pros
      1. Easily upgradeable
    2. Cons
      1. Obviously is, it’s not portable

III. Now let’s look at some use case:

  1. Backend programmer that do a lot of virtualization. Forgive me for the technical term.
    1. It needs a lot of CPU power as well as a large amount of memory.
    2. It’s really hard to make a compromise for this job. Back when the i7 cost around USD3K+, I have an i5 CPU that I used for programming and I’m telling you, it’s a nightmare just running a server sometimes takes 6mins. And obviously, when debugging a program you do that several times a day. In fact, we have a joke in our team that you can finish a movie while waiting for the loading screen in a day.
    3. The only choice would be a gaming laptop.
    4. Now, I’m interested to hear your experience, do add a comment below.
  2. VA/CSR
    1. It’s a job that doesn’t often require a high-level specs computer, mostly office applications. Some VA tasks are focus on appointment setting, posting products, and answering emails.
    2. A VA could also choose to work in different places or meet a client. So a notebook should fit the requirement.
    3. What’s important is that there is a stable internet connection.
  3. ESL
    1. And finally, let’s take a look at ESL teachers.
    2. They often need a quiet place, so most of them are stuck in their homes.
    3. And the most obvious choice would be a desktop computer.

IV. Components

It doesn’t end with computer selection. Before actually buying your computer, consider the following components to further optimize your unit.
  • Processor 
    • It’s the main computing part of a computer. 
    • High computing tasks such as programming and video editing require high spec processors such as i7. For encoding, and basic VA tasks i3 processor would do.
  • RAM 
    • Windows is already eating around 2GB if you have an anti-virus program running and other auto-start services then 4GB might be consumed on bootup alone so I recommend getting 8GB.
    • Some laptops only have 2 slots of a memory stick. If you have a total of 8GB ram on 2 sticks, then to upgrade you need to remove one and replace it with a higher capacity ram. So I suggest that you look for a laptop which has 4 memory sticks, or 2 slots with 1 slot filled with 8GB capacity, so you can still upgrade your laptop when you have a budget.
  • Harddrive
    • HD or SSD? Most available notebooks are packed with HD or a mechanical drive. A mechanical drive is cheaper but it’s bigger, heavier and slow compared to SSD.
    • If you can choose a laptop with SSD drive then that’s better because it has a higher read/write rate, which means your programs will run faster.
    • For those who have a budget, you can select a laptop that has both HD and SSD. My laptop actually has 2 SSDs and 1 HD. 1 SSD for the main programs the other is for video storage where I also do editing and the HD as file storage.
  • Screen
    • If you can at least get an ASUS IPS to protect your eyes then that would be good.
    • For those who are in the graphics fields. It’s important to have true colors so having a high spec screen is the best. A 4k UHD monitor would be good.
In summary, here are the possible specs that you can explore
  • High - i7, 256SSD, 16GB RAM
  • Mid - i3-i5, 250SSD, 8-16GB RAM
And remember to choose a known brand with a warranty.

V. Peripherals and Accessories

After you’re done customizing your computer it’s now time to shop for peripherals and accessories.

VI. Where to buy


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