When buying a new computer it is relatively easy to become confused by the high volume of technical decisions that you will need to make along the way.

You just might wonder how much memory (RAM) you will need or which processor to choose or even which graphics card to pick! There is also what display to look for, which hard drive will be best for you and there are so many issues that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

Here is a simple way to at least begin reducing down the choices on offer, though, and ensure you get the best PC for your needs.

And that’s to forget about the moderate technical specifications, and fine details like the brand of graphics card just for the moment and instead concentrate on something much more central and important which is: what you will be expecting your system to do.

Take a moment to think about the sort of apps you will want to run on your new PC, as these will help to decide which features your system will need.

If you only intend to run basic tasks such as browsing the web, sending emails, and running general software like Word – then the good news is that most computers will be able to deal with your requirements.

An entertainment PC can handle basic tasks, but might also be used to watch TV and movies, listen to music, play some games and often share music and video files across a home network. Systems like this need a little more in the way of hardware power, like a bigger hard drive to store all your music and movies, as well as a big LED screen, a good sound card and surround sound speakers, but they still don’t have to be too expensive as lots of entertainment PCs are all-in-one PCs these days.

If you intend to play the latest in games with the best imaginable performance, then you will need a gaming PC. This can be much more exclusive, as not only will you need a quality screen, a good sound card and speakers, but you will also require a commanding graphics card, fast hard drive and a decent processor.

If you are not a gamer, but need to run some decent software to edit videos you will need a high end performance PC. This should include a powerful CPU together plenty of memory, and a large storage fast hard drive such as a 2TB. You may not need the large screen or powerful graphics card of the entertainment or gaming systems, which will help to keep prices down a little.

With the general spec of your new computer resolved, it’s time to think about the type of system that might be appropriate. Will it be a netbook, tablet, laptop or desktop?

Netbooks are compact notebooks with small screens), and components that are more about saving battery life than delivering high power. Be ready to accept a slow CPU, only a little RAM (1 to 2GB, usually), no DVD drive, not too much hard drive space and so on.

Laptops can seem bulky by contrast to their tiny netbook family members and they might be more than twice the weight, with larger screens and more powerful CPUs. This then means battery life may struggle to reach 2.5 hours in some cases.

Of course they can also handle much more powerful applications. If you intend on spending hours typing on the system then you’ll appreciate the larger keyboard. The built-in DVD drive makes it easier to install software and create backups, and high-end laptops can even deliver very satisfactory gaming performance.

If you don’t need a computer to carry around with you then a desktop will be your best option. These are much larger, but deliver more power for your money and are generally much easier to upgrade. If you decide you need better gaming performance, you can just buy another graphics card later on.