When searchng for computers, in particular laptops, the first model sales people show you isn't usually the best buy. In order to get true value for money ask for a high pentium or centrino proccesser. For laptops i recommend the highest proccesser you can afford, because laptops can quickly become outdated and cannot be physically upgraded unlike desktops. Also for gamers using laptops and even some desktops, look at the graphics card and make sure that firstly the games are compadible with the graphics and buy according to what u will need. 128 mb graphic cards generally run faster than 256 making them more suited to gamers, meaning faster graphical transitions, while 256mb is far better for pictures and photo editing as ithas a larger feeding channel to proccess more information although not as fast as a 128 will
proccess more. Some Graphics cards to look out for are Ati and NVidia. Also the major sales technique is to offer a computer with either shared ram or graphics. Most retailers do this to keep the cost of the computer down but by all means if you have a choice always go dedicated ram or dedicated graphics and don't forget to ask when buying a computer. Also when shopping for desktop computers some desktops for example Hp, you might be able to find exact replicas at computer repairers or smaller mobile computer companies for half the price. When searching for laptops i also advise to find a laptop with the widest viewing angle for normal purposes because theres nothing worse than a laptop which you can only see if you look straight at it. Ram is also a key factor as some programs wont work without enough ram, architectual, music editing or other massive programs require more ram even up to 1 gb for larger programs. Ram simply is the amount of random access memory the computer has to draw on for running multiple or large programs.
So when shopping for a new computer ask for the fastest proccessor, dedicated ram and graphics card, and overall if you arnt entirely sure about anything find out, because it will save you money in the long run.