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Starting Over


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#1 deadfan

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:56 PM

Hi, My wife and I are interested in wiping out the current info on our Dell desktop (4 years old) in order to start over. It has a Pentium 3 processor at 1 gig and has 128 meg SD ram @ 133 meg and has a 40 gig ultra ATA hard drive and uses the ME operating system.

We want to move to XP and upgrade the memory and other basics. It runs slow, has been attacked by Malware etc. and generally isn't working well. We've copied or moved all of our important data off the computer and are ready to go....

We're not computer experts but would like to start over using higher quality components. Also, I've been surfing around on music sites and quiet PC sites and would like to use the PC as a permanent home for all of our music:

good operating system (XP Home? XP Pro?)
lots of memory (for music etc.)
great soundcard (i can probably figure this one out from my music sites)
runs well and quiet
Convenient plugs/USBs/etc
Wireless capability

So, should we wipe out the current machine's memory, get a new quiet hard drive, etc. and re-install all the new stuff? If so, how hard is that to do?!!

Should we recruit a computer whiz friend? hire someone? do it ourselves?

Should we start over with a bunch of separate high quality components from Newegg or someplace

We hate to just buy a new Dell if we can build a better computer using high quality stuff for the same or similar prices.

Thanks in advance, Mike & Susan

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#2 Rimmer

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 04:28 AM

Hi Mike & Susan,
So much depends on the capabilities of the motherboard - no matter what you do to it it will always be a Pentium III machine unless you change the motherboard. If you do change the mobo you'll have to change everything else anyway (except the drives and any PCI cards) because the RAM wont fit, the PSU wont be able to supply all the voltages and the CPU wont fit.
If as a PIII it does everything you want it to in the music field then load it up with RAM get the biggest hard drive (or 2) the BIOS will support plug in your sound card and away you go. The PIII is going to be quieter than almost any P4 because it doen't need as much cooling (uness you get a water cooled P4). If you're going to network to anything you're probably better off with XP Pro.
The wireless card is just a plug-in.
USB (2) and firewire you can get PCI cards to take care of that.
But at the end its still a PIII, will that do?
Good luck! :thumbsup:

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#3 Herk

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:56 AM

The first thing to do is find out how much memory your computer will handle. Dells don't usually use the most upgradeable components. You may find that you're severely limited with the amount of memory you can install. I always recommend a minimum of 512 mb of RAM for Win XP. If your computer won't handle that, I'd think about starting over. And for people who use their computers for more than just websurfing and email, it's a good idea to make sure not to buy a bottom-of-the-line computer. You can do a lot with a Celeron, but you can do a lot more with a Pentium or a 64-bit AMD. Dual-channel memory means that you can really multitask, such as playing music without much degradation while you do other things at the same time.

If you're already going to change the hard drive and add more memory, you're well on the way to a new computer. For instance, in order to get more memory, you may have to scrap the memory you already have, and then you'll still be limited in the amount you can add to such an old board. The technology has changed drastically since you got your Dell, and it's still changing.

If you want to stay with ME, your computer will be sufficient for what you want to do with modifications. But XP uses far more resources.

#4 Enthusiast

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 11:34 AM

Upgrading older, obsolete computers rarely pays.

The thing to do with your old Dell is reformat and reinstall the ME system that came on it. Do you have a restore disc that came with the computer?

If so, choose destructive restore - wiping the drive, reformating and doing a fresh install of the op system.

More memory can never hurt.

Use the old Dell as a storage unit for backups and/or a print server, etc.

Buy new components and build a computer that will meet your needs and be expandable. You can do a really fast system for under $700 including the newest DVD writer.

#5 yano

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 08:18 AM

It all depends on how much your willing to spend. First since you want to wipe your hard drive I would recomended getting Windows XP Pro Full Instalation. It will be more than the upgrade, because the upgrade only works if you have a previous version Windows already on your computer.

When your talking about wireless capabilities, do you have a home network or just want wireless internet?

And to make sure you get the proper RAM I would check out http://crucial.com/

#6 deadfan

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 01:11 PM

Hey Gang--Thanks a ton for the responses. They are very helpful and,. if others have ideas/suggestions, please offer them as well.

We'll study the info this weekend and move ahead. It sounds like we may take the approach of starting over with the Dell ME machine and a little more memory and use the current machine as a storage or backup machine--or one for our young kids, and then build a newer one for music, etc.

Thanks again, Mike

#7 deadfan

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 01:15 PM

When your talking about wireless capabilities, do you have a home network or just want wireless internet?



I guess what I want to know is, for our wriless internet at home, if we get/build a new machine, should we consider having the wireless router built in to the computer, or should we continue to have an external wireless router?

Thanks, Mike

#8 Herk

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 02:06 PM

If you have a wireless router, keep it. It's a good hardware firewall for the machines connected to it. If one of your machines is close enough to it, you should hook that up with a cable. It's always good to have one machine hooked by cable to access the router. I'm hooked up to cable internet through a cable to my wireless router and have other computers hooked to it both by cable and wireless.

#9 Enthusiast

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 07:43 PM

Hey Gang--Thanks a ton for the responses.  They are very helpful and,. if others have ideas/suggestions, please offer them as well. 

We'll study the info this weekend and move ahead.  It sounds like we may take the approach of starting over with the Dell ME machine and a little more memory and use the current machine as a storage or backup machine--or one for our young kids, and then build a newer one for music, etc.

Thanks again, Mike

If you are going to be heavily into music and graphics consider the Media Center version of Win XP for your new machine.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/default.mspx

Edited by Enthusiast, 06 May 2005 - 07:44 PM.


#10 deadfan

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 03:05 PM

Thanks again all--

We decided to reinstall ME after all and start over. I know this is the XP board, but I figured I'd follow up anyway.

We tried to re-install with help from Dell on the phone (which was very good by the way) and learned that our hard drive has problems. Therefore, we're going to replace the hard drive and upgrade the RAM from 128 to two cards of 256 each, for our 512 max.

Can you all give us some advice on brands/vendors for the RAM and te hard drive? We figure we'll go for a large-ish hard drive.

Maybe when this is over, we'll just keep the PC for our main computer and get a XP Pro laptop for Susan (I already have one with XP Pro).

At the risk of wearing out our welcome, any recommendations for good laptop vendors/models/processors? Asg vendors just improved). I said earlier, we were thinking about seeking out the best product rather than going with the obvious big mail order vendors (although based on the support I got last night from Dell, I'm putting a higher value on such firms). I assume we'll want decent speed, memory and stuff like a dvd player/cd writer. The computer will be used for typical consumer uses: email, web browsing, maybe streaming video/music from the web, music burning, digital camera photos, word processing, very modest gaming (4 and 7 year olds).

Thanks a ton, Mike & Susan

#11 Rimmer

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 08:31 PM

RAM - Crucial or Kingston
Hard Drive - I like Seagate but Western Digital get good reviews.

I'll let those with more experience comment on the laptop choice. :thumbsup:

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#12 Enthusiast

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 07:46 AM

Do you really NEED a second laptop?

Laptops for the most part are so limited when it comes to expandability, size and capacity of hard drives and the size of microprocessors and for that matter, everything else. They run hotter and are always more problematic.


My main unit as part of a network would always be a rip roaring desktop or tower. Lots of expansion spaces and slots, much more cooling ability and of course much easier to work on and upgrade. Cheaper - non proprietal peripherals another significant bonus.

You can build a great, more capable clone for a fraction of the cost of a branded unit which will be considerable less limited on expansion capability.

#13 deadfan

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 10:13 AM

Hi, Thanks for the replies/feedback. I think we're making good progress on our end, and your laptop question helps. From a big picture perspective, let me describe what I think we want in layman's terms with the hope that it will elicit more feedback and help us to plan accordingly.

We have two kids 4&7 who use the PC for CD-ROM and some web-based stuff, and I expect their use will grow exponentially over time. For now, though, they'd be fine on a modest PC so I'm thinking they might ultimately use the Dell machine that we've been discussing.

Our main PC is in our home office (a second floor bedroom) and it is attached to our DSL service, a wireless router, a printer and a scanner. My wife and I often work there simultaneously at night -- with her on the PC and me on my laptop. The only networking is that we have the wireless router attached to the DSL service/PC; and my laptop uses the router to access the internet.

Ultimately, we would like to actually have a network so that, in addition to the internet access, any computer in the house can print to the printer (printers) that are connected to the main PC. Can you tell me how hard this is to do and whether it can be done with the same equipment we have now--meaning the PC and wireless router. Another challenge might be that my work PC is locked down to some degree and may not be able to participate in a real home "network." In fact, I'm waiting for the day when they say I can't access my firm's VPN from my laptop if I'm doing so via a wireless connection--that would be a big problem when I'm traveling.

As to the laptop, we thought we would get a thin little laptop for my wife to use downstairs in the kitchen, out on the deck, in bed etc. The goal is to leave the laptop running and connected to the internet via the wireless router (and maybe to have it truly "networked" with our PC, printers, etc.)

So, here's what we're thinking:

1. rejuvenate existing Dell 4100 with two cards of 256 RAM and a new larger hard drive, reinstall Windows ME and only the software we really use and live with that for a while.

2. figure out how to create a real network for PCs and laptops in the house.

3. buy a small but competent laptop for the house.

4. Build/buy a nice system running XP Pro to replace the old Dell as our main PC and use the Dell for the kids. The new system should do music, games and basic stuff well and have lots of space for music, video, etc.

Thanks for reading all that--any reactions/suggestions regarding the general plan, hints to creating a real network, recommendations for laptops etc.?

Mike




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