* this page was first written eary 2009 and will be edited every or other Season, for there is no end to specifying peripherals *

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there are several (joyful) phases involved in (considering, researching and) purchasing a computer and here I will deal with HOW to choose a computer and WHERE to buy them in Korea . more precise specifications requiring Seasonal – or at least semestral updates – will be listed on the Blog section, with Repairs on another Info.Page .

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[ The Mac ]

I should add here that all this is unnecessary if you choose a Mac, and better so if you are living in a country where the promotion & support has been keen . but the problem steps in again if you choose a notebook for traveling, especially in business . in Korea Macs are used by :

  1. graphic designers,
  2. music producers,
  3. video editors and
  4. technical “manias” who simply adore the clean “feel” of the Mac, both design-wise AND performance .

there are several Apple Stores (at least more than Sony ShowRooms – not many, but in all the right places i.e, popular neighborhoods) more frequently dispersed are SamSung and LG Electronics ShowRooms – exellent places for family and friends to lounge-on in selecting a large-screen LCD TV 😉

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( November 2010 Supplement )
following the influx of Apple iPhone 4, iPad and MacBook Air onto the Korean Penninsula, a dedicated “Apple Mac” Page will be linked on top of this BLog .

( January 2012 Supplement )
even after a succession of slim-and-sleek wonder sub-laptops in MacBook Air
the demographic of portable Mac users in South Korea has NOT changed a lot for even now

  • 50% buy for its looks and to show off in the spawning Wi-Fi cafes,
  • half of the other half buy for pure “fun”,
  • and the other half buy to develop software,

for Macs are still of no use in on-Line banking and Korea-wide business . ofcourse there are exceptions and work-arounds but read-on the separated Apple-dedicated pages on top of this BLog ..

as witness to this short-lived spectro-mania : stated-as-used but for merely a week-or-so thus clean-as-new machines abound on on-Line used-Apple communities for a good 30% off !!!

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[ Peripherals ]
system parts advance in its own timeframe prompting upgrades . main point here is to differentiate components which are globally identical (indicated with asterisk*)as opposed to those only available in Korea or Asia, usually tweaked version of original version Taiwan or China . the former you can search specs in English on any popular hardware site, where as the latter you have to seek advice within the country or local sellers . but keep in mind that even in the case of globally identical parts you have to buy within Korea to get product support . “local” here implies either Korean or Chinese OEM .

in the case :

  • CPU * second most expensive peripheral in a computer main-frame
  • RAM *
  • MotherBoard * thirt most expensive peripheral
  • Floppy Disk : defunct, given way to USB dongles . but there are programs that let you reboot emulating an FDD .
  • Hard Disk *
  • CD-ROM or DVD Recorder/Player : gradually giving way to cheaper-by-the-byte Hard Disks
  • Graphics Card : most expensive of all peripherals
  • Sound Card : now mostly included in motherboard
  • LAN : now mostly included in motherboard
  • Power : cheap local models dominate lower market
  • Case : cheap local models dominate or power-users may prefer cooling-enhanced cases from Taiwan like Micronics, ThermalTake or Lian-Li

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exterior connected :

  • monitor : LG, SamSung and local makers dominate with the exception of Dell
  • speakers : cheap local makers dominate whereas international brands come in in higher 5.1~7.1 models
  • printer/scanner/all-in-one : either HP, Epson or SamSung in order of popularity with Canon trusted by business

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[ Choosing a System in Korea ]

there are many mix-and-match possibilities in choosing computer hardware but ideally 7 choices : (1~4 are DeskTops, and the rest LapTops)

  1. fastest available technology today : for movie producers, music engineers, graphic designers and hard-core gamers,
  2. not necessarily top-of-the-line, but the best PC’s at this time-frame with high price-to-power ratio for games & movies, but still affordable to the general public,
  3. lower strength AND price version of the above for those who use PC merely for word-processing and record-keeping,
  4. compact, slim PC’s which are the wonder of modern-day technology, for those who want cute living but handicapped with limited output,
  5. those really limited by space to use a notebook as a compromised desktop PC : heavy, cheap notebooks that cost less than W1,000,000,
  6. high-powered notebooks at W2,500,000 for those who need lighter ones on-the-go but compact with the latest technology .. now this, r-e-a-l-l-y is a Wonder,
  7. sub-notebooks or even NetBooks for students or as a 2nd computer for constantly moving between home / school / work .. this category was immensely popular throughout 2008 .

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seems a daunting task to pick one of the above among the limitless variety of hardware constantly available to consumers . but thanks to the Internet and the handful of aspiring companies that make it their work to “rank” everything in order (and I’d say the margin of error is negligible compared to the price of trying to make it 100% perfect), you can glance through a price-comparing site, then go through dedicated user communities and reviews and can draw conclusion over a weekend as to which systems are popular .

I accentuate “popular” systems, because it pays back when you try to sell this after a year or two, or even three (when for sure new systems double your current power). “popular” also means that hundreds of other potential users has done the thinking for you . and unless you are of the queerest kind, you really should stick to this few variety (now remember I-told-you-so).

the first step in choosing from the ‘7’ above is whether you’ll need a DeskTop or LapTop (from here onwards : NoteBook, SubNote or even NetBook). you know yourself best so you really have to choose here . if you are absolutely lost : I will be eventually posting regualar gatherings in one of the restaurants mentioned on my site and while you tell me about your living habits and working conditions, I will be writing down your ideal set-up when coffee arrives 😉 however if you know you can get by with a DeskTop I recommend ‘2’, and if you need a NoteBook ‘7’ . because these can sell fast (like when you order pizza) and retain value because they are the most popular ones now . the actual speed and specifications I would list on the Blog section because this would change over the year . believe-me : the periodical computer systems I recommend on my Blog are fail-safe, immensely popular ones, not just the ones I personally like . but NoteBooks are changing even Seasonally for they come with most peripherals packed, so whole set-up changes, whereas on a DeskTop upgrading one or two parts may suffice . .

 

[ Price ] as post-War computing generally seem to follow Moore’s Law in doubling speed evey two Years, ofcourse to eventually reach a limit or eternity as in Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History and the Last Man’. and here Korea Tech BLog introduce a rule-of-thumb price trend that holds true from the apparition of Korean computing from the year of Seoul Olympics in 1988 when its technological ruch began with much-casual copying .

yes, as you would ideally update your computer system every two years and each peripheral along which over-lap in-between meaning : as it is too complicated to recommend ideal bang-for-buck system every Season, here is a good way to differentiate choice by its price at a certain time :

  • CPU : an affordable latest technology can be had at W240,000 and bare-bone for W90,000 while hard-core gamers would go over W400,000 (intel vs.AMD debate is futile)
  • Main/Mother-Board : sufficient power with W180,000 and beginners’ W120,000 while Deluxe models W240,000 all among a common line-up . amateurs and elites alike should stick to Asus – dependable and well-serviced in South Korea,
  • Graphic Card, usually the deciding factor of a techie machine : W220,000 for sufficient with latest model and W90,000 for general use while hard-core gamers would go over W480,000 and even filling double slots . (ATi Radeon for work and NVidia GeForce for play)
  • Power : as a multi-media World adds more HDD hard disks and even two Graphic Cards bargain W40,000 ~ 60,000 would be only for the most basic computers while serious work and play would need well over 700 Watts with W140,000 and often over W200,000
  • Case : W40,000 would cover a basic system while W80,000 for well-divided inner design and all-aluminum cases prime over W190,000

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[ Where to Buy Assembly ]

if you know your way around computers you can purchase parts in any of those listed on my On-Line Shopping Mall page, which may mean ordering different parts from several shopping malls .

however if you need consulting  – which I will offer eventually – you should do so in one of the popular computer malls distinguishable on-line with the activity on their post-board section or by the crowd in actual stores mostly located within SeonIn Sanga Building indicated in my YongSan Electronics Market page . should you need product support after purchase you can bring it to their service center instead of contacting individual part makers .

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[ for Beginners, Visitors and Expats ]

if you are fortunate enough have acquired a Korean-speaking friend, the sort who will assist you in buying AND contact support for you in times of need : it is best to buy at on-line shopping malls I list extensively on this site, or the few but imaculate on-line computer stores .

otherwise it best be your nearest super-mart, or SamSung or LG ShowRooms, or in case of NoteBooks : add  TG Sambo and Dell . but NOT any branch of Electronics Land nor any stores in the numerous Electronics District I mention on this site . first the super-marts are run by conglomerates and will always be there, as are the salesclerk . it is not their job to look after you after purchase, but you’re a foreigner living close-by, plus they need to practice English for promotions-sake . SamSung and LG ShowRooms are reputable so no question on this . TG Sambo is under-rated and some of their regional support centers double as Dell’s by contract . and Dell will look after you almost as well as you’ve been treated back in the States (that “almost” comes in for language problems – quite less, since they work for Dell).

and you guessed it : one draw-back in all of the above is that they will NOT have rock-bottom prices as on-line shopping malls or those shouting salespeople at crowded Electronics Districts .. but believe-me : if you are a stranger to this land, it is well worth it .

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” have the computing machine work for you .. while you sleep ”
– techie proverbs with a knack, by Korea Tech Blog, February 2009 –

 

( January 2012 Update ) a full FOUR years from this initial Post, a bit of computer peripherials has evolved, with some price changes . most notably :

  • ASRock has emerged as a (literally) flashier main-board or mother-board, to take place of the stable Asus, who in turn took over from tweakers’ Abit . popular full model at W160,000
  • intel HD4000 has enabled graphics to be built inside the CPU, and is now the bare limit to enjoy acceptible-quality movies . expect W240,000
  • SSD solid-state drives almost took over HDD hard disk drives, but not with flunctuating prices on both AND a universal SSD is yet to come, fully-compatible with any iBM system . further-more it does have read/write limits in the end and a hefty W160,000 for 128GB.
  • FDD floppy disk drives and CD-ROM has long been extinct, effecting booting mode . programs have emerged enabling FDD boot emulation from Windows, for HDD tweaking and CD/DVD boot emulation from USB – both quite complicated for the laymen but FREE