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How to buy the best Desktop PC

How to buy the best peripherals

By Michael Passingham

Article 3 of 3

If you've purchased a new desktop PC, you'll need some essential accessories to get you up and running. We tell you what to look out for. 

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Once you’ve bought your new desktop PC, you’ll need to pick up some accessories, depending on what was included in the box. These will include keyboard, mouse and speakers, as well as a monitor.

While there are a wide selection of peripherals for all budgets, it’s important to consider your own requirements and not be tempted for the flashy products that you simply won’t make use of. Read our guide to peripherals to help choose the right accessories for you.

How to buy the best keyboard

Wired or wireless - Most of us tend to use a keyboard in the same position, so it may not matter if you’re tethered by a wire. However, it’s always nice to cut out clutter, so one fewer wire can help keep your work station tidy. A good wireless keyboard can be more expensive than a wired option, but gives a freedom that you won’t get with a wired one.

Ergonomic keyboards - Ergonomic keyboards are designed to feel more natural to type on, and can be a boon if you spend hours at a time typing. They tend to put less stress on the wrists and forearms, helping to cut down on chronic pain and repetitive strain. They take some getting used to, as the button placement is slightly different to a traditional keyboard. If possible, try one out before buying.

UK keyboard - Keyboards have different layouts depending on the country they are intended for. This can be as small a change as the placement of the @ symbol, to the ordering of the letters being rearranged. Check that the keyboard is UK standard, especially if you’re buying online.

Media keys - For those using their PCs to play music and movies, a keyboard with dedicated media buttons can be extremely convenient. The inclusion of play, pause and volume buttons saves having to navigate to the program with the mouse.

How to buy a PC mouse

Wired or wireless - A wireless mouse is arguably more useful if it’s being used with a laptop, but if you want a wire-free work surface, then they can be a great choice for a desktop, too. As the power drain on a wireless mouse is low, you’ll find that the battery life is excellent, with one set lasting you for months. Some models are rechargeable too.

How many buttons - Most desktop mouse designs have two buttons and a scroll wheel. However, with the introduction of programmable buttons on more advanced models, there can be huge convenience to being able to add your most used keys to the mouse.

Ergonomic mouse - You’ll be using you mouse a lot, so it’s important that it feels comfortable. Ergonomic mouse designs pay special attention to the contours of your hand, with natural button placement. They’re not for everyone, and can feel a bit strange initially, but can be useful for eliminating some conditions, such as RSI.

Left-handed mouse - Most computer mouse designs will work with either hand, but this isn’t always the case, especially for specially designed ergonomic models. If you’re left handed, make sure that the one you pick feels comfortable.

How to buy PC speakers

Speaker volume and power - You’ll want to make sure that any speakers you buy are loud enough, and you don’t end up craning your neck to hear every sound. The wattage of a speaker tells you how powerful it is, and for anyone sat using a desktop PC, 10 watt speakers will be more than loud enough. However, if you are sitting further away from the speakers, you may wish to pay extra for a bit more power.  

Subwoofer - For most, a couple of stereo speakers on the desktop will do the job, but if you like a beefier sound, consider adding a subwoofer. These additional boxes add a hefty helping of bass, potentially creating a more natural sound. They should only be a consideration if you play a lot of music or watch movies on your desktop.

Stereo or surround -  Two speakers will give you stereo sound from your desktop PC, but if you’re a gaming or movie buff, than you may wish to invest in more to give you the full surround experience. 5.1 and 7.1 speaker set ups are fairly typical, but you’ll need to invest and make the space. For someone using the PC to write word documents and browse the web, this kind of set-up is unnecessary.