Finding the Best Desktop Computer for Family Use

Finding the best desktop computer for your family means juggling all the many ways they'll want to use it.At the very least, you'll need something that can get everyone online. From there, it gets tricky, especially if there are gamers or digital media fanatics in your home. While you probably can't supply everyone's dream machine in a single computer, you can find something that will be useful for most applications.

Budget Computers
If you've got young kids, the best desktop computers for you are cheap, disposable models. While kids can be some of the most technologically knowledgeable family members, they can also browse dangerous Web sites or unwittingly install malicious software that can damage or kill your computer.

When you have young children sharing your computer, the best desktop computer for your family is a low-budget machine. If the kids accidentally damage or destroy the computer, you won't have to worry about how much you spent. You should also back up the data on your family computer at least once a week if you have kids using it.

Try to Meet Everyone's Basic Needs
The good news is that just about any computer on the market will handle the Web, e-mail and word processing programs that help get homework done. Having a little extra processing power comes in handy for photo editing or watching digital movies.

One thing you don't need to spend a lot of money on is storage. USB external hard drives are cheap and offer huge amounts of storage. This is a good place to keep those digital music, photo and video files, because you can simply plug the drive into a new computer and still have them.

If you've got an avid gamer in the house, be aware that the latest releases are very demanding of processor power and graphics cards. Top-of-the-line gaming machines come with price tags in the thousands. If you've got the budget, these machines will do any other task you ask of them, including video editing and high-resolution photo editing. All that power is overkill for office and Web applications, so if you're on a budget, gaming should be the least of your considerations.

Hewlett-Packard Desktops Provide a Good Balance
HP desktop computers provide a good balance between budget and performance. Most HP computers fall in the mid-range in terms of performance, but they're reasonably priced and adequate for most family needs. With HP, you don't pay more for a name, you get decent hardware and a machine that can be easily upgraded if you want to make updates in the future.

eMachine Makes Good Budget Systems
If you're looking for a cheap desktop system that your kids can use and you won't miss if it dies, eMachine makes decent entry-level systems. You won't get noteworthy performance when you select an eMachine, but you do get a disposable computer that you can give to the kids. These are difficult desktop computers to upgrade, so think of them as a stepping stone to a more robust home computer.

Consider Dell for Customer Support
When multiple people use a computer, there's a good possibility that you'll have computer problems. If good tech support is a concern for you, consider a Dell machine. Dell makes some of the best desktop computers and backs them up with long-term service contracts. Dell systems come with a one-year hardware and remote support service contract by default, and you can upgrade to a three-year contract to increase your protection. Dell also lets you customize the features of your computer, so you'll be able to get some extra processing power without breaking your budget.

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