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Know your numbers

When shopping for a new PC, you’ll encounter many computer-related words and phrases that may be difficult to understand. This guide will help explain the jargon.

A unit of measurement commonly used to express processor speed, also referred to as clock speed. 1 Gigahertz (GHz) = 1 billion cycles per second. A higher number used to mean a better processor, but advances in technology have made chips more efficient and added more built-in features.

Cores and threads go hand-in-hand. Multi-core processors are single chips that contain two or more distinct processors or cores. Multi-threading allows each core to work on two tasks at once, letting you do more things at the same time for faster results.

The computer uses random access memory (RAM) to process what the user is doing as they are doing it. This includes multitasking, writing a letter or editing a photo. 2GB of RAM should be enough for most of your everyday needs, and you can always upgrade and add more RAM later.

Battery life refers to the time your notebook, tablet or Ultrabook™ can run before it needs to be recharged. This can be expressed as miliampere hour (mAh). The larger the number, the longer your device can run.

These terms are used to describe disk or storage space, standing for a megabyte (MB), a gigabyte (GB) and a terabyte (TB) respectively. A GB is 1,000 MBs and 1 TB is 1,000 GBs. To get a sense of scale, an HD movie requires at least 2 GBs and a high quality photo, about 4-5 MB.

Now that you know what the numbers mean, learn what is the right hardware performance for your needs.