It's time to start talking about ships, this time about combat ships. For combat ships the ability to deal damage is one of their most basic functions and effective turrets is the simplest metric by which you can compare the firepower of different ships. While some ships may be able to launch a few drones or have a secondary weapon, for new players a ships effectiveness with it's primary weapons is more important.
Most combat ships have bonus that increase their effectiveness in various areas. In the case of combat ships we can find their effective turrets by adjusting their number of turrets by this bonus. Below we have an image comparing two combat frigates, the Amarr Punisher and the Caldari Merlin.
So how do these ships stack up against each other in terms of firepower? The Merlin has a 5% damage bonus per a level and 3 turrets. If you had Caldari frigate at level 5, you would get a full 25% damage boost to your hybrid turrets. This would give the ship 3.75 effective turrets for an investment of 512,000 skill points. That's a big investment in training time when you are a new player, twice what it takes to get a tech 2 small turret system.
How about the Punisher? Well it doesn't have a damage bonus, it does however come with 4 turret slots. This means for the mere 500 skill points it takes to sit in the ship you get the full 4 effective turrets, more offensive firepower than a fully skilled Merlin in just a few minutes.
As you advance in skills and start bringing more tech 2 weapons and support systems online comparison's like this become more complex. However if you're just starting out, or still new enough to not have a frigate skill to level 5 you can increase the offensive firepower of your guns in mere minutes by boarding a Punisher. The effective turrets isn't the only selling point of the Punisher, with five low slots and tremendous power grid it's got excellent defensive ability as well as room for weapons upgrades.
It's not the perfect ship however, it doesn't have a spare high slot for probes, so if you're looking to do some exploring you might want to pick a different ship since stripping out a turret leaves it weaker than the Merlin no matter the skill level. If you are going to begin training into a ship, as a new player I'm going to recommend you skill into destroyers not frigates.
Both skills have a 2X modifier and take 512,000 skill points to get to level 5, however getting a destroyer to 5 will allow you to use your chosen factions tactical destroyer. These powerful tech 3 destroyers are versatile ships with near cruiser level abilities. If nothing else the tech 1 destroyers have powerful hull bonuses and excellent offensive firepower. Below you can find a list of the tech 1 gunship destroyers.
Amarr (Energy turrets)
Coercer +50% Optimal range, 8 effective turrets. 10% Tracking speed and reduced capacitor use per a level.
Caldari (Hybrid turrets)
Cormorant +50% Optimal range, 7 effective turrets. 10% Optimal range and tracking per a level.
Gallente (Hybrid turrets)
Catalyst +50% Optimal range, 8 effective turrets. 10% Falloff and tracking per a level.
Minmatar (Projectile turrets)
Thrasher +50% Optimal range, 7(8.75) effective turrets. 10% tracking and 5% damage per a level.