Loyola University Chicago

Information Technology Services

Mac or PC?

Q: What computer should I get? Mac or PC?

You should consider your personal preference. Buy a computer that you are comfortable with and will know how to use.  Students who do not have a laptop are able to check one out for a small period of time at the Digital Media Lab.

Whether you purchase a desktop or a laptop, it is important to balance quality and performance with cost.

Most computer manufacturers (including Lenovo and Apple) allow you to choose the components in your computer. While this freedom to choose is good, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the variety of options and components that are available. Loyola's ITS staff have system configuration recommendations that you can use when considering your next desktop or laptop purchase. You may also find the following site helpful in making technology purchases, from mobile to desktop, laptop, printers and tablets: CNET Reviews

After you decide how much you want to spend on your computer, use the configuration recommendations and shop around. Loyola has agreements with Apple, Dell and Lenovo that provide discounts on personal computer purchases. Checkout the Apple and Lenovo links for packages and special discounts.

Other items you should consider are:

  • Service Plans
  • Backup Options
  • Software Packages

Q: What should I consider when shopping for a computer?

There are a few components one should consider when purchasing a computer.

  • Memory (RAM): Not to be confused with your hard drive. Random-Access Memory (RAM) is what your computer uses to run programs, open documents, and play music. The amount of RAM you'll need depends on what you intend to do with your computer.
  • CPU: The Central Processing Unit is the part of your computer that does the actual processing. Over the past few years, there's been a trend towards dual or quad core processors which behave like two or four normal processors, respectively. Faster speeds are preferable for editing media.
  • Graphics Card: Integrated graphics cards are the most common. If you are interested in gaming or video editing, consider a more powerful discrete card.
  • Hard Drives: Hard drives store your documents, movies, games, and everything else on your computer. Having a larger hard drive does not make a computer go faster, it just lets you store more information.
  • Size and Weight: The size of a laptop is measured diagonally across the screen. Keep a very close eye on the size and weight of your potential machine. If you intend to move your laptop often, a 17" monster may be too heavy, and something around 15" or 14" may be more appropriate.
  • Batteries: Laptops are powered by Lithium Ion batteries, which have a number of cells in them. The greater the number of cells, the longer the battery will last. Many manufacturers offer extended battery options, which for a mild sacrifice of weight and size, will allow you to use the laptop longer before needing to recharge.

Q: MB, GB, TB! What do all of these mean?

All of these are units used to measure file and hard drive sizes for computers. Since computers store data in binary form (using only 0's and 1's), we start with the most basic piece of memory, the bit (b). The bit can store either a 0, or a 1. That's all.

Put eight bits together, and you get byte (B). Few files are this small.

1024 bytes gets you a kilobyte (KB). Your average office document weighs in at around 20–200kb. Also download speeds tend to be measured in kilobytes per second.

1024 kilobytes becomes a megabyte (MB). Songs are usually a few megabytes in size. Also smaller flash-drives tend to range from 128MB to 512MB.

Collect 1024 megabytes to make a gigabyte (GB). Most flash-drives these days range from 1–8GB. Hard drives are often measured in gigabytes, with sizes usually in the range between 40GB and 120GB. Most DVDs hold 4.7GB.

Finally, 1024 gigabytes makes a terabyte (TB).