Hard drive is where all the data (operating systems, your files etc.) is permanently stored, memory is where the computer loads your programs from, the processor is what it runs those programs with.
Since you're planning an investment, do some research and learn about computers from here: http://en.wikipedia.org. The no. of people buying computers with zero knowledge is astounding when all it takes is an hour or two of reading (more if you're looking to be a competent consumer). Would you invest in say, a share or mutual fund without this much research? So, acquire some knowledge.
Second, do not blindly buy a laptop of any company. Decide what you want to use the laptop for (if you're sure you don't want a desktop), which will give you your system requirements. Match these against your budget and choose the models that fit this description. Laptop prices, quality and after sales service varies from company to company and depends on your location too. Apple and Sony are very good (also expensive), HP, Toshiba and Dell are OK (not HP Compaq though, they are cheaper range), then Acer etc.
Whatever you do, read reviews of your chosen model on the net, especially user reviews along with expert ones.
Finally, after lot of moral lecture, for a first time buyer, do not go for the latest(most expensive) models loaded with features. Go for something that's been around 8-10 months (the second tier), 250 to 320 GB hard disk, memory of 2 to 3 GB RAM (make sure it's DDR2 at 800 MHz at least), an Intel Core2Duo at around 2.8 GHz (I recommend anything above E6400 model), (go for Intel which is more expensive unless you're real tight on budget). Make sure you opt for security solutions and warranty.
Hope this helps.
PS-(If you're to acquire a PhD soon, I hope you're accustomed to research). All the best. If useful, rate this answer as best please.
· 1 decade ago