New computer recommendations

Updated 11/2/23:

Since you’ll likely be spending the next 5-10 years or more with your next computer, please take a few minutes now to make an informed decision about what to look for in a new computer and accessories – and get the best deal. 

Our recommended minimum new computer specifications are:

  • Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 5 processor or better. For an Apple Mac computer we recommend getting Apple’s “M” series processor rather than an Intel processor.
  • 8 GB RAM or more
  • 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or larger
  • Please read New Computer Buying Guide for more detailed information.

We don’t recommend trying to save money on a refurbished computer. Typically they won’t last as long as a new computer, and are less secure due to unpatched processor flaws and some cannot be upgraded to more recent secure operating systems.

We’ve seen the best reliability with HP and Dell brands. Keep in mind that cheaper laptops and all-in-ones typically only have a vertical screen resolution of 768 pixels, whereas higher quality and clearer screens are 1080 pixels or higher.

Click on the links below to view recommended computers meeting the minimum recommended specifications noted above at the respective retailer’s website. Some models may be available in-store. If you come across a good deal elsewhere, remember to look for specifications that are a minimum of what’s listed above.

Desktop PCs:

Best Buy – Dell, HP – SSD PC Desktops

Costco – Dell, HP Desktops – make sure hard drive is SSD or HDD+SSD

HP Store – Desktop computer towers with SSD

Dell – Desktop computers & All-in-One PCs with SSD

Laptop/Notebook PCs – regular price differences are due to variances in screen size, processor (speed), screen resolution and 2-in-1 convertibility:

Best Buy – Dell, HP SSD PC Laptops

Costco – Dell, HP – SSD PC Laptops

Apple Mac:

Best Buy – iMac desktop

Best Buy – MacBook laptop

Costco – iMac desktop

Costco – MacBook laptop

Apple – iMac desktop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

Apple – MacBook laptop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

We can setup your new computer and transfer data from your old one

Please consider our IN-HOME services to get your new computer set-up quickly and properly, vs. the chain stores offerings, or attempting it yourself:

  • Set-up and connect your new computer to your network, printer and other external hardware. If you buy from a national chain store you’ll likely notice that they don’t specialize in in-home service, or they charge much more for the option. We’ll make sure all of your external devices work with your new computer.
  • Transfer data (documents, pictures, music, etc.) and compatible programs from an old computer. Some tech services just transfer your data to a folder on your desktop – we organize your data and put it in the right folders and programs. 
  • Remove trialware and unnecessary adware. We also setup free security, backup and word processing/spreadsheet software.
  • Customization and explanation of Windows features. We’ll setup the menus, controls and buttons with familiarity of your previous computer.
  • Install initial updates. A new computer out-of-the-box is already several months behind critical operating system updates and computer hardware updates.
  • Consulting about questions you have about your new computer system
  • Recommended storage/disposal/donation of an old unused computer

Custom-built computers

If you need a computer custom-built for gaming or business needs, we recommend contacting our friends at Technology Center.

Check your email login activity to see if hackers are trying to gain access

Your email account is one of the most important online accounts to keep secure and un-hackable. There are two main reasons why checking recent login activity to your email account is a good idea:

  1. Spotting Unauthorized Access: Your email account likely contains sensitive information, personal documents, and access to other online accounts. By checking the login activity, you can see if someone else has accessed or attempted to access your account from an unrecognized location or device. This could be a sign that your account has been compromised through phishing, malware, or a weak password.
  2. Troubleshooting Login Issues: Sometimes, legitimate login attempts from new devices or locations can cause problems. Reviewing your recent activity can help you identify if there were any login attempts around the time you experienced issues accessing your account. This can help you narrow down the cause of the problem.

In short, checking your recent login activity is a proactive way to protect your email security and ensure that only you are accessing your account.

How to check your login activity for major email accounts

Here’s how to check recent login activity on the major email providers:

Gmail:

  1. Open Gmail on your computer.
  2. Look for the “Last account activity Details” link in the bottom right corner of the window and click on it.

Yahoo Mail:

  1. Log in to your Yahoo Mail account.
  2. Click on your profile icon in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Account info” from the menu.
  4. Find the “Recent activity” section and click on it.

Outlook.com / Microsoft:

  1. Log in to your Outlook.com or Microsoft account.
  2. Click on your profile picture in the top right corner.
  3. Select “View account and profile.”
  4. Under “Security info,” click on “Recent activity.”

Important notes:

  • The information displayed typically includes the location (city and country) of the login and the type of device used. However the location may be incorrect if using a VPN or mobile network.
  • If you see any suspicious activity, it’s recommended to change your password immediately. Also consider adding two-step verification to make it harder for hackers to access your account even if they know your password, and adding it before hackers do.
  • Email provided by Internet Service Providers AT&T and Charter/Spectrum do not offer the ability to check your recent activity or setup two-step verification. That’s one reason why we recommend switching away from using email provided by your Internet Service Provider.

Contact us if you need help with securing your email or other online accounts.

What you need to know about “credential stuffing”

Credential stuffing is a cyberattack that exploits stolen login credentials. Online accounts with PayPal, NortonLifeLock, 23andMe, and Roku are just some of the companies that have reported recent attacks on customer accounts. Here’s how it works:

  1. Data Breaches: Attackers obtain large databases of usernames and passwords through data breaches on various websites or services.
  2. Automated Login Attempts: They use these stolen credentials in automated programs to attempt logging in to other unrelated websites or services.
  3. Preying on Reuse: The attackers rely on the fact that many people reuse the same login credentials (username and password) across multiple accounts.

Imagine a thief who finds a box of keys stolen from various houses. They try these keys on different houses in the neighborhood, hoping some will unlock doors – that’s similar to credential stuffing.

Why it works:

  • People reuse passwords: As mentioned, credential stuffing works because many people use the same login information on multiple sites.
  • Large-scale attacks: Attackers can attempt logins on thousands of accounts very quickly using automated tools.

How to protect yourself:

  • Unique passwords: Use strong and unique passwords for every single online account you have. Password managers can be helpful for creating and storing strong passwords.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Enable MFA whenever available. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step beyond just your username and password.
  • Beware of phishing attacks: Phishing attacks can trick you into revealing your login credentials on fake websites. Be cautious of suspicious emails or messages.