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Building A Pc For Grandad


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#1 deanpcmad

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 02:11 PM

Hey,

I am going to build my Grandad a PC in next the next few months as he has had his PC for around 6 years and its going slow.
Which parts will be best for the job?

Thanks

deanpcmad


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#2 usasma

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 02:24 PM

An ergonomic keyboard for the arthritic hands! :thumbsup: (just kidding, that's what my kids joke with me about - I'm 55)

What does your granddad do with the PC? What does he dislike the most about his current PC? That'll govern where to place the emphasis on the parts.

Edited by usasma, 26 January 2008 - 02:25 PM.
added the "dislike" sentence

My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#3 deanpcmad

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 09:05 AM

He hates that it is Slow and that it is Very Noisy (just like an aeroplane taking off)!
He has some printouts of the specs of his PC and once I get hold of them I will post what he has at the moment.
He is going to get some more RAM to speed things up a bit, but I said "If it doesn't speed things up then the PCs had it! I'll build one for you if you want".
So I am just looking around for some parts and that, so if anything does go wrong we have a backup plan!
We live in the UK, so no USA sites please. I know Misco, Dabs, PC World and Amazon. If there are anymore (not eBay!) then please post them.

Thanks

deanpcmad


#4 usasma

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 10:16 AM

So, you'll need a PC that's faster - that's easy enough to do. But to keep the price reasonable we'll need to know what he does with the PC. Things like:
- surfs the internet (a lot/a little)
- checks email
- works with home videos
- edits pictures
- watches movies
- does online chat (with/without webcam)
- works on documents

The hardware will have to be done in the UK (we've got a lot of UK members who can help with that) - but most of the software will be free and you'll be able to download it as needed. For starters, here's a list of the freeware replacements for common commercial applications: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic3616.html
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#5 deanpcmad

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 12:23 PM

He does these things:
- surfs the internet (a lot)
- checks email
- views pictures
- does online chat (with webcam on MSN)
- works on documents
- very rarely plays games (a great racing demo!)

And that's about it.

Which Operating System would be best? Windows XP or Windows Vista? I know that we can use VMWare, VirtualBox or Virtual PC to use Windows XP to use hardware that doesn't work/have drivers for Vista.

Thanks

deanpcmad


#6 usasma

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:32 PM

It's likely that you can save yourself a bundle by working on his system rather than building one. A few choice upgrades and I'd think that he'd be happy with it. Maybe a new processor (to the limit of his mobo), more RAM, and a newer video card (mid range). You could get him a faster hard drive - or tweak it with a second hard drive (and the pagefile there).

Most of his speed issues will be resolved with a cleaning and the addition of some of the above hardware. The most impact on a system is the CPU, RAM, and hard drive (IMO)

You can isolate the fan noise and replace the fan very easily (if needed) - or you can add variable speed and thermo-controlled fans. You can get a new case (pretty cheaply) that'll replace the old case (and will likely have better soundproofing).

The webcam should benefit from the video card upgrade - and you may want to consider a newer webcam for better resolution.

IMO he doesn't need a super system - just a good, solid entry level computer with maybe a bit of emphasis on the video. It may be cheaper to buy one than it is to build one - as the prices these days are very reasonable.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#7 FireKracker

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 01:09 PM

I agree with usasma, supplying your grandad with an elite machine would be overkill, a basic system would be ideal for his needs. I see you in the UK have a look at the following websites for deals on pre-built machines in the price ranges of 150 - 200.

1) Eclipse Computers
2) Aria
3) Scan
4) Gladiator Computers

Hope that helps!

Edited by FireKracker, 28 January 2008 - 01:10 PM.

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#8 deanpcmad

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:07 PM

Thanks for the replys both of you.

I don't think upgrades would be the best thing as my Grandad emailed me yesterday his specs:
"My pc is a Mesh with an AMD Athlon XP1800+ @1.55GHZ processor. It is currently fitted with 2x 256mb pc2100 ddr memory cards and a 40Gb hard drive."
Also he sent me one about 2 hours ago saying:
"I have only got the two slots and I did a scan with Crucial.com and it appears that I have the maximum memory I can have in this mother board. Seems crazy to me because they also recommended that I could fit 1GB memory of a different speed!!"

So would buying a new Mobo, CPU, PSU, HDD, and fans be the best thing to do? If so, then I might as well build one from scratch!

deanpcmad


#9 garmanma

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:49 PM

Thanks for the replys both of you.

I don't think upgrades would be the best thing as my Grandad emailed me yesterday his specs:
"My pc is a Mesh with an AMD Athlon XP1800+ @1.55GHZ processor.
"I have only got the two slots and I did a scan with Crucial.com and it appears that I have the maximum memory I can have in this mother board. Seems crazy to me because they also recommended that I could fit 1GB memory of a different speed!!"

It would be nice if we had the model number for a little more research
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#10 usasma

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 06:58 PM

I think he has 2 issues:
1) Performance bottlenecks - the RAM will quickly be overtaxed, especially in a mature installation of Windows. There's a lot of stuff running around inside the OS after it's been installed for a few years. Once the RAM is full, the system will resort to the pagefile - which is on the hard drive. Since it's an older hard drive, it's presumably fairly slow - further degrading performance. The solution here is more RAM - which will take the load off the pagefile - and will save you having to replace a good hard drive.
2) As stated above, a mature installation of XP will accumulate "bloat" over the years. With a lot of tweaking and trimming it can be made to run faster - but there's no one tweak that will do it all. This is a lot of work and can take much longer than reinstalling Windows. So, I'd suggest backing up his data, then reinstalling Windows. That'll give it that "new Windows" smell (sorta like "new car smell") and it'll be as fast as it was the day it came out of the box from the factory.

One "boost" may be a decent, mid-range video card. This will help because it'll take the video processing load off of the processor by having the video card GPU do that work - freeing up more of the CPU for stuff that's needed elsewhere. This won't offset the slowness of the processor - but it's not really all that slow (my son still has a P4 1.4 gHz that works just fine - except for the viruses!). You may want to upgrade the processor to another of the same socket that the motherboard can handle.

But replacing the motherboard would, I think, take you over the line where it becomes more feasible to buy a ready-built system. Of course, if you're like me, you may enjoy building one - if so, go for it!!!

I don't know about the UK, but in the US it's rapidly becoming cheaper to buy a system than it is to build it yourself. You'll save some money by reusing some of the components - but then you've got old stuff in a new case.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#11 FireKracker

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 06:56 AM

I don't know about the UK, but in the US it's rapidly becoming cheaper to buy a system than it is to build it yourself. You'll save some money by reusing some of the components - but then you've got old stuff in a new case.


Well looking at the link provided by myself your statement is very true, especially for a simple setup. It certainly takes the headache of trying to source redundant hardware such as memory etc. For around 180 you can get a relatively decent spec machine, that is free from clutter and comes with a warranty!
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#12 deanpcmad

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 02:04 PM

solution here is more RAM


My Grandad said that he did a scan on Crucial.com and he already has the maximum amount of RAM for his motherboard: "I have only got the two slots and I did a scan with Crucial.com and it appears that I have the maximum memory I can have in this mother board. Seems crazy to me because they also recommended that I could fit 1GB memory of a different speed!!"

deanpcmad


#13 usasma

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:54 PM

I suspect what your grandad read was that both slots were already populated with RAM - so he figured that he couldn't add more because of that. But it seems that the mobo will handle up to 1 gB (as he found), so that would involve removing some of the old RAM and replacing it with newer and larger capacity RAM.

To be 100% sure, get the exact make and model of the system (or of the motherboard if it's a custom build) and let us have a look see.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#14 Vaerli

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 09:09 PM

I would personally try and build a new system. Of course, you've got to buy some stuff and whatnot, but I think you could build a nice cheap one that would work perfectly fine for him.

I'm just not exactly sure where you would get the parts. I know that newegg.com is great for a lot of things, but I'm not sure if they have a division in the UK, and you probably wouldn't want to spend the cash on shipping either.

Actually, it might also be okay if you just solely reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled the OS. Of course, you would have to save everything onto another drive first that you wanted to save. A new hard drive would be good too. I think that the hard drive's age matters a lot....

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