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Buying a self-configured coomputer


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11 replies to this topic

#1 jupiter

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 04:33 PM

I need a new computer - a desktop model. I have visited several sites of manufacturers (other than the big name stars like Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.). I had a configuration of a new PC from pc-infinity which gave me a lot for a very reasonable price, but just before I purchased it, I looked on the Internet to see if anyone had reviewed this company and I found a few very negative reviews. So, not being sure if this was a reputable company or if the reviews (or reviewers) were reliable, I didn't make my purchase. I've tried some other avenues, but still have doubts about trustworthyness of the sources. So, I've come to you guys. You've always been very reliable in recommendations and solutions in my experience. So can you give me some advice as to where to go or, at least, who to avoid.

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 06:44 PM

Just my opinions...

First, I don't own any Dells, never have in my 12 years of fiddling around with computers.

I don't game, I don't have any special needs for computer hardware...I don't get hung on this week's "latest/greatest" which will be obsolete in less than a year (because we have newer components coming out every day).

If I wanted a system which I did not put together myself...and which I was not prepared to troubleshoot when things go wrong...I would very simply leave it up to Dell.

The customer service is a real need for persons who aren't interested in maintaining/repairing their own systems...the warranties are a need for the same reasons.

Dell serves these needs at what I consider to be reasonable prices (for the systems that I've looked at). And...they actually seem to give their customers a copy of the O/S, which seems to be going against the trend. That disk may actually be the key to going to Dell for many users.

If you don't game, I see little reason to have a system built for you by those who are oriented toward gamers.

Louis

#3 possumbarnes

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 10:11 PM

Why are you looking for a custom PC? What's the computer going to be used for? High graphics intensive games or minor games, email, internet, etc?

I built a home office computer for a guy a few months back (AMD dual core, 2gb DDR2 mem, 250gb SATA drive, DVD burner, all in a case that could double as a server with 7 or 8 hard drives if it had to) all for under $450.

You can get a powerful refurbished PC for under $600 from TigerDirect.com. I've bought many over the past year or two and have only had to return one (it was DOA out of the box).

I all depends on what you're going to do on the PC as to what I'd recommend.
What's more irrational--a guy who believes in a God he cannot see or a guy who is offended by a God he doesn't believe in?

#4 jupiter

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 07:14 AM

My uses for the computer include:
- business related purposes (Excel, Quickbooks, Quicken, Word, Power Point, etc.)
- photo editing (Photoshop, etc.)
- video editing (Adobe Premier, etc.)
- audio recording and editing (music) (Audacity, ProTools, etc.)
- internet (email, research, shopping, etc.)
- some gaming, but not a priority
I would prefer an AMD Processor. I was looking for a system that would be upgradeable down the road so that I could make it more affordable now and improve it later, instead of replacing it.
My present computer has lasted me several years with some minor upgrades, but has now reached the end of its usefulness. My activities have expanded in the last couple years and, of course, technology has left my present system in the dust. I had hoped to purchase a new one using the same method I used last time which was to go with a major manufacturer and "customize" a model that they advertised, still keeping it within my budget. However, several people who "know" computers recommended avoiding Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. because of the components they scimp on in order to make their models more affordable. I started looking at other sources (Tiger Direct, pc-Infinity, PugetSystems, ZT Group, etc.), but became unsettled when I started finding bad reviews on a couple of them. Then I became suspicious about the validity of these reviews, so the confusion set in. I was wondering if there is a site (or sites) where one can get good, reliable reviews to give me some guidance and confidence. Or can I just get that here?

#5 possumbarnes

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 07:37 AM

You can't mark something off because of a bad review online. There are tons of people out there that if they are not 100% satisfied with what they bought, they will give the worst review possible. There are also people who submit bad reviews for the fun of it. Lots of manufacturers will review their product and put in a great review to make buyers think that theirs is the best.

I've ordered from TigerDirect for 3 years now and have yet to have a single problem. I've received 2 bad items in those 3 years and had no problem whatsoever returning them. Same goes for NewEgg.com. If you stick with the big names, you aren't likely to have issues with shipping or RMAs if needed.

As far as bad reviews on specific items, read a selection of all the reviews of the item. You'll find a lot of low reviews for something when it was DOA. You can cross most of those out and not worry about them because something that is dead out of the box could have a manufacturers defect or could have been damaged in shipping. I've never thought it fair to rate something low when its faulty right out of the box. I always wait until I actually get to use something before writing a review. There are lots of information you can find about an item in the reviews, like if it has issues with certain other software, or what kind of quirks it has that may bug some users but not others.

From what you've listed that you're going to use it for, I'd recommend any of these:
Refurbished AMD desktops from TigerDirect
Find one that you like the price and stats of and then go look at its specifications. See how expandable it is (ie. how many internal 3.5" bays, 5.25" bays, open PCI slots, etc). Find one that fits your expandability needs. The only thing you may have to do is up the memory some, but lots of these have 2GB or more of ram.
What's more irrational--a guy who believes in a God he cannot see or a guy who is offended by a God he doesn't believe in?

#6 garmanma

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 10:17 AM

I always check this site:
http://www.resellerratings.com/
Mark
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#7 jupiter

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 08:46 PM

Sorry to take so long to reply to your responses. I was out of town for a few days. I want to thank you for your responses. They did help to clear some of my confusion. I've been doing a good bit more research. I feel like I'm learning quite a bit about hardware, that's for sure. I've looked at some systems at TigerDirect. I am intrigued by their "barebones" systems. I'm sure with your expertise it wouldn't be a problem to assemble the components of a PC and then make it work, but I've never done anything on that scale. I've done some general upgrades (hdd, memory, card installs), but to do the whole thing is a bit intimidating. I can follow directions well, as far as plugging what into where, but it's the things like "how do you make this fit?","now where is the setting for that?", "how do you make this work?", that bother me. I don't think it's an insurmountable project, but what do I do if I get stuck? I guess these are just typical questions a person runs into in any project, but I wouldn't want to spend all that money and then have to go to a fixit guy whose gonna tell me I should have just gone to him in the first place. Any advice on that?

#8 hamluis

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 02:57 PM

One of the advantages of a barebones...over a self-assembled system...is that the components which are part of the barebones...(often, maybe always) come assembled.

So, if I buy a barebones that includes a case, motherboard, CPU, and heatsink...that comes to my door assembled. All I do is drop in RAM, drives, cards, and install the O/S. I use the onboard video, NIC, and sound because both of those provided options are good enough for what I desire, ditto for the case. I rarely buy a motherboard that doesn't have these onboard functions.

Louis

#9 jupiter

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 08:14 PM

That makes it sound a lot more palatable. I will have to investigate them in a more serious manner. What about things like BIOS, RAID, Master/Slave, etc. settings? Do the components usually come with decent instructions? And then, what about tools? I've seen on the TG site they sell small tool kits for about $25. Is something like this worth getting or is it better to look for a better set? I know, you're probably thinking "questions, questions questions! When is this guy ever gonna get off his butt and just take the plunge?!!" Well, with the help of all the advice I'm getting from you guys, I'm definitely getting closer. Thanks, again.

#10 hamluis

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 11:37 AM

The only tool normally needed to assemble a system from scratch is...a screwdriver with a Philips head. It's nice if the head is magnetized, but not necessary (makes it easier to pick up, install screws).

The motherboard manual (which will accompany any barebones or motherboard purchased individually) will cover BIOS screens, connections/items on the MB, etc. Too bad more users don't bother to read such before playing with systems, IMO. This will reveal all pertinent features of the MB (CPUs supported, RAM that works/is recommended, RAID support, etc.).

If users should misplace manuals, they are usually available online...along with drivers (if users misplace drivers CD).

No need for any of those tool sets for a home user, those are useful to those who repair/assemble for a living.

In today's world, you don't even have to buy a copy/version of Windows...Windows 7, RC1 is available for download/install to anyone smart enough not to buy a version of Vista today/tomorrow. Vista is done, over...except for those that love it for whatever reason and have no intent of going to Windows 7 when it's put out for public consumption (approximately 4 months is what I hear).

Master/Slave settings will pretty soon go the way of parallel ports...even though many of us still have useable PATA drives. SATA drives are just faster and cheaper and readily available to all. Not to mention the fact that solid-state drives will eventually become more universal but I suspect that SATA still will be around for some time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive

Last comment :blink: (I get wordy at times): With all the various forums (where persons donate time to try to help, not hurt) and all the documented procedures/explanations at the command of anyone who knows what Google is...there's nothing to fear about venturing into new territory. The key is to do the research...before cash changes hands.

Louis

#11 jupiter

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 09:12 AM

Thanks for the confidence-building advice. I really appreciate it. I was surprised to see what you wrote about Windows 7. I was totally unaware of it's existence. As a matter of fact, what exactly is it? A replacement for Vista? How does it compare to Vista (or XP for that matter -- I'm still using XP). I can't imagine Microsoft actually giving away an OS, so what am I missing here? By the way, back to the original topic, I will check out an online manual for the MOBO I have my eyes on - just to make sure it's what I'm looking for. Thanks for the tips on tools. That should save me some $$ right there. Did I understand you correctly in saying there is no Master/Slave setting in SATA drives? I don't think that would be too hard to figure out anyway, but nontheless. I think M/S settings also apply in DVD burners, too, don't they? Still, that shouldn't be too high of a hurdle. It's the internal settings that bother me, but that's just because I've never done that. With a good manual, I guess that, too, should not be a real problem. And, you're absolutely right about the help on the Internet. BleepinComputer is definitely the place to get real, and understandable, advice. Thanks, again. BTW, don't ever worry about getting too wordy. Too wordy is much better than not wordy enough.

#12 hamluis

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 12:18 PM

For info on Windows 7, just use Google. My initial impression of the RC1 is favorable, but I've done little more than install it, along with a few programs...I seem to spend most of my time in XP :blink: still.

If you have an IDE/PATA optical drive (BTW, you need to ensure that the motherboard has slots for such these days...you cannot assume that one is there), the optical drive should be set as Master or C/S and located at the end connector of the IDE cable.

Louis




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