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A personal computer is, well, personal. Assuming like most people, you bought your own computer (or had some say about what it’s going to be), your choice of hardware likely reflects quite a bit about you. So, what sort of person are you — just an occasional user? A nerdy coder? A hard-core gamer?
Tell me what your hardware is, and I’ll tell you who you are.
And by “age” I mean the age of the system, not of the user (I don’t think there’s any correlation). Of course, maybe you had the same computer for 15 years and just happened to trade up for a newer model this year, so this is one of the least accurate metrics in this highly scientific post.
- Less than a year old: Cutting edge! You’re hip, trendy, and up-to-date with the latest in the world of computer hardware.
- 1-3 years old: I would say you’re just about average. Nothing to get excited about here — maybe other categories would prove you more unique?
- Older than 3 years: You’re not a demanding user. You need your computer to be there for you, but it doesn’t have to perform extraordinary feats of number-crunching and graphics.
- “No simple answer”: If you can’t exactly say how old your whole computer is, because it contains a mix of parts you’ve been carrying over from previous builds and adding to over time, well, that certainly says something, you huge nerd, you.
Desktop or Laptop
Laptops have outstripped desktop sales a while back, so sticking with a desktop as your primary computer definitely means something. Again, I’m talking about your own computer, not the one you have in the office.
- Run-of-the-mill Laptop: I mean just a regular 15″ machine, a cute little laptop you got for a good price. This is the bland option: You wouldn’t terribly mind had it been a desktop; it was cheap, and it gets the job done.
- Ultrabook, MacBook, etc.: This is what I would call a “laptop on purpose”. You actually wanta laptop. You like your technology slick, tightly packaged, and portable. You’d never crack the computer open, and you like having the freedom to work outside.
- Desktop: You like being able to pop open your trusty ATX box and reach inside to stick in a fourth hard-drive; you don’t mind being tethered to your desk because you never go outside, anyway.
Screen Size (And Count)
The screen is pretty much the primary mode of communication from the computer to us, so there’s a lot to consider here:
- 10″: Wait, is that a netbook you’re toting? Aww, how quaint! I remember those devices.
- 11″: Yes, a single inch makes a difference… With an 11″ screen, you may well be a MacBook Air user, in which case I just wanted to say your computer isn’t a netbook, so don’t be mad. Hey, and do you have an envelope I could use?
- 13″: Being mobile is important to you. You actually tote your computer around, and maybe use it in coffeeshops and so on.
- 15″: We’re still in laptop territory, but this is definitely your primary computer. You don’t have to carry it around too often, though.
- 17″: This is as big as a laptop’s going to get. You should have gone with a desktop, and you know it. Maybe it’s one of those enormous gaming laptops, which are really just desktops in disguise.
On to desktop territory:
- 19″: You’re using an ancient monitor which you’ve been wanting to upgrade forever now.
- 21″-24″: Still a single monitor, but we’re definitely getting somewhere now. You like your desktop computer, and if you’re a Linux user, you may even have a tiling window manager.
- 27″-30″: You’re enough of a nerd to know what IPS means, and you love your enormous Cinema (or equivalent) display. You secretly think people with dual-monitor setups aren’t as chic as you are.
And now, multiple-monitor time:
- Laptop + display: You’re savvy enough to plug an external monitor into your laptop and enjoy the benefits of dual-monitor productivity. You’re not addicted, though, and could quit at any time (or so you like to think).
- 24″+24″: You’re a desktop user with a penchant for ergonomics, who likes dragging windows around a vast landscape, but you didn’t want to go crazy.
- 3 monitors: I don’t even care what size your monitors are; you’re in love with pixels. Each monitor has a specific role, and one of them is probably a “Facebook monitor”. You like to turn off the lights and sit basking in the glow of the LCDs.
- More than 3 monitors: And we’re back in gamer territory; you’re obsessed with flight simulators or racing games. The only other option would be that you’re a day trader. You may rarely turn on the lights in the room — the screens provide more than enough illumination for all of your needs.
Choice of Keyboard and Pointing Device
If the screen is the main way the computer talks to us, then the keyboard and pointing device are how we talk back.
- Whatever came with your machine: If it’s a laptop, you use the built-in keyboard and trackpad; if it’s a desktop, you use the keyboard that came with it. This probably means you don’t type very much. You might be a coder, but I can already tell you’re not really into input devices.
- ThinkPad keyboard and pointing nub: These are the exception to the laptop rule. If you use a ThinkPad, chances are the keyboard was a major part of your buying decision, and that you just love those smiley keys.
- MS Natural 4000: You care about keyboard ergonomics, but you’re not about to go crazy about it.
- Happy Hacking, Filco, IBM Model M, and friends: Your keyboard looks like it was made in 1985, and that’s how you like it. The loud clickety-clack of the Cherry MX keys drives anyone near the computer crazy, and that’s how you like it, too.
- Kinesis Advantage or Maltron: You care about keyboard ergonomics, and you did go crazy about it. You spend much of your free time over at Desktority and Geekhack debating Cherry MX Red vs. MX Brown, have strong opinions about grid layouts vs. staggered ones, and are seriously considering taking a Dremel to your board to add a few extra keys.
Now, pointing devices:
- Whatever came with your machine: See above.
- Razer Boomslang, Logitech G9x, and friends: You’re a gamer! Shocking, I know.
- Logitech Trackman: You have limited desk space and/or just don’t like moving your arm around so much just to push a tiny cursor across the screen.
- Kensington Expert Mouse: You have a thing with trackballs, the larger, the better. You also don’t care much about aesthetics, and may win this year’s ugly Christmas sweater contest.
- Wacom: Ah, an artist! You get funny looks from people when you play Minesweeper with your pen, but hey, it’s fun. Let the good times roll!
If your drive is hard, that means… okay, let’s not go there. Seriously though, if you’re running out of space, chances are you’re an obsessive downloader, or maybe an amateur photographer with enough budget for a DSLR but not for an extra hard drive.
Okay, this one’s easy: Either you have discrete graphics (and know your card’s make and model), or you don’t. I don’t even need to know what card and make it is to tell you the rest:
- You have discrete graphics and can tell me the model: You’re a gamer. Maybe not an extreme gamer, but you care enough about graphics to actually think about it when getting a computer. There’s also a slim chance you do some Bitcoin mining on your GPU, so I’ll put that in as an option (Bitcoin miners, tell me about your GPUs in the comments!).
- You just plug in a video cable: In other words, you don’t know what discrete graphics are, or maybe you do know but you just don’t care. You’re definitely not a gamer, and you probably don’t do anything that has to do with 3D graphics or Bitcoin mining.
What, No Mac vs. Windows vs. Linux?
Guess what: no. I’m not even going to go there. And you shouldn’t go there in the comments either. Just tell me: What’s your computer like? Did I get my prediction right?