A minimum 2 GB of memory
That's for things like web surfing, emailing, word processing and other basic computing tasks. Bumping it up to 4 GB allows for faster performance as well as reasonable multitasking. For heavy-duty graphics or gaming, you'll benefit from 6 or 8 GB of RAM. If your budget is tight when you buy, you can add RAM to many -- but not all -- desktop computers later on.
Enough computing power
An Intel Core i3 processor will see you through everyday tasks and handle light gaming at low resolutions. You may want to opt for Intel Core i5 or i7 if you plan on intensive multitasking and more demanding programs and games. Some less powerful desktop computers will rely on other processors, such as Celeron or earlier generation Intel Core processors.
Many desktop computer ship with massive 1TB or 2 TB hard drives, sufficient to store tons of photos, videos, music or other files and documents. Others will ship with a small solid-state drive. These are much faster than traditional drives, but costs limit capacity to around 256 GB or less except in very high-end systems. That means that you might want to consider an external hard drive (covered in their own report) or cloud storage to house lesser-used or larger-sized files. Some systems have hybrid storage, including a small solid-state drive for fast boot up and quick access to often used files, plus a large traditional drive for mass storage.
Good user support
The best manufacturer websites provide troubleshooting tips, expert feedback and diagnostic tools. A one-year warranty is typical.