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Understand the jargon when selecting a new computer!

6 September 2019

Choosing a new computer can be confusing! So we’ve put together some information to help you understand computer jargon when selecting a new laptop, desktop or tablet.

If you think of something else that confuses you, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it to the list!


This is wireless technology that enables communication, data transfer or remote access/control between devices over short distances. For example, instead of having headphones connected by a cord to your computer, you could connect them via Bluetooth (so you’ll have no cord in the way).

Cloud storage

This refers to storing data (music, photos and other files) in a secure online location (internet connection is required). With access to cloud storage you are not limited by the built-in storage that comes with your computer. Both Apple and Microsoft have cloud storage available.


Cortana is Microsoft’s virtual assistant. It aims to hep you get things done. To access it you just select the Cortana icon in the taskbar and type in your command.

You can user Cortana to do things like set and give you reminders, send emails, create and manage lists, play music and podcasts, manage your calendar and look things up.


CPU = central processing unit

This is the brains of the computer. It processes and executes all the instructions and data.

GPU = graphics processing unit.

This handles the computer’s visual output as it renders graphics and images to the screen.


GB is an abbreviation of gigabyte, a measure of data storage for computers, mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc. You may have heard the slang term before… gigs. When looking at the gig of a computer, keep in mind what programs you’ll be using and what you’ll be storing (photos, music, etc).


HDD = Hard Disk Drive, or Hard Drive

The HDD is the main data storage hardware on a computer and permanently stores and retrieves data (files, images, programs, etc). It uses spinning disks to read and write the data it stores.  The bigger the size of the HDD, the more it can store.

When looking at the specs of a computer, don’t confuse RAM size with HDD size.

Did you know? HDDs were introduced by IBM and have been around since 1956!


macOS is Apple’s own operating system, used on every Mac computer. An operating system is like the engine, it’s the software than runs the computer.


RAM = Random access memory

RAM is important. It allows your computer to perform everyday tasks. It’s the main memory used to temporarily store the data and files your computer is currently using, so it can all be accessed quickly. It also helps you move quickly between open programs and tasks. Therefore, the more programs you have open and running, the more memory is used. So, close all those internet browser tabs you don’t need open! 😉


ROM = Read-only memory

ROM refers to the space you on your computer that permanently stores the instructions, operating system and software for your computer.

Operating system

The operating system (OS) is software that powers and runs a computer. Examples include Microsoft, macOS and Windows.


This is the heart of your computer and is usually measured in gigahertz, or GHz. Usually, the faster a processor the faster your computer should run. On some computers this may be referred to as ‘chip’ or GPU.


Resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up the picture you see on your computer monitor or laptop screen. They are tiny dots and there are thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pixels on a screen. With higher resolution comes more pixels, and therefore more clarity and detail.


SSD = Solid State Drive

Like a HDD, a SSD is used as the main data storage on a computer. But unlike HDD, an SSD uses the same technology as a USB, which is NAND-based flash memory. Data is stored in microchips and when you turn off the computer the data won’t disappear.

SSD vs HDD – the difference between SDD and HDD is that they store data differently. While HDD’s have been used for more than 50 years, SDD are much newer and continuing to develop. But SDDs deliver a faster load time for programs, movies and games, and use less energy than HDDs.

When selecting a new computer, you’ll see that some have a HDD an some have a SDD, so it’s your choice on which one to go with.


Streaming refers to accessing music and video content on your computer without downloading it first. Instead of downloading it to your computer or laptop, it streams from an external source (such as Netflix or Spotify). Remember, every time you stream content you’re using data.


TB is an abbreviation of terabyte, and like gigabyte a terabyte is a measure of data storage for computers, mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.


Is a type of connection to an external device. Like when you plug something into a computer via a USB cable, you can also plug something in via a thunderbolt cable.


Wi-Fi is a wireless connection with a modem or router that enables a computer, laptop, tablet or other device, like a mobile phone or TV, to connect to the internet or with each other.

What are HDMI inputs?

HDMI = High-Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI inputs are used for devices like separate screens, sound systems, media players, etc.  When selecting a new desktop or laptop, make sure it has enough HDMI inputs so you can connect your essential gear.  

Why does a laptop and a computer monitor have a Hz number?

The refresh rate of a laptop screen is measured in hertz (Hz) and refers to how many times per second the picture on screen is refreshed. High hertz can mean a smoother picture.

360° hinge

If a laptop has a 360° hinge it means you can open the laptop and move the lid all the way around, so the laptop screen and keyboard are back to back, and you can use the laptop screen like a tablet. This gives you flexibility to use in standard laptop mode, tablet tent mode or standard tablet mode.    

When you do select the right computer for you, have fun working, studying or playing on your new tech!

Looking for a new computer? We have a great range of desktops, laptops and tablets available.

And don’t forget to take a look at the top passwords to avoid and insights about backing up your computer.

Related posts:

Understand the jargon when selecting the right mobile phone!

Understand the jargon when selecting the right TV

Are you a hacker’s dream? Top passwords to avoid

Back up your computer… why, what and when!

Interested in technology?

Take a look at some of our other tech blog posts.

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