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Which Desktop do I need?


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#1 eogmp3

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 11:50 AM

*****************SORRY FOR THE LENGTH OF THIS POST*******************
Hello,
I am buying a new desktop PC and need advice on just about everything. I am not unexperienced as a PC user, however, it has been a long time since i've had to think about buying my own desktop since i've been using ones provided by the company I work for, and my own maching is a laptop.

I am aware, that building one's own machine is far better from a point of view of price, unfortunately this is not an option since I simply don't have the time to launch into such a project.

General Info on Usage: I often use programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Flash at the same time. The PC therefore needs to be able to multitask. I work on large, high-resolution images in Photoshop and want to minimise processing time when saving, loading, or applying an effect. I am not a serious gamer - although I would like to be able to mess around with Doom3 (mainly out of a sense of nostalgia for Doom2). Other than that the PC will mainly be used for MP3 related use (transfering to external device quickly, ripping from cd, burnind CD-R and DVD-ROM), internet related programs, and Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Powerpoint).

1) What brand/make/manufacturer do you recommend?
THIS IS MY MAIN QUESTION

I am looking for a solid, powerful, no-frills machine. I am much more attracted by reliability and raw processing power than any gimicky "family-fun" type accessories. In the case of my laptop I opted for the Toshiba Satellite series based on the advice of a friend, and am very happy with it.

In my experience I have found Dell and Compaq PCs to be nice to look at but lacking in power and reliability. I have heard bad stories about them crashing very often when asked to multitask. Do you agree? What about other big names such as Hewlett-Packard?

I used to own a Fujitsu-Siemens which I was very happy with. Does anyone know how they are at present?

Perhaps an analogy might help (however it might open up a can of worms): if we take the example of MP3 harddrive players, I am looking for something along the lines of an iRiver H140/H340 rather than and Apple iPOD 4th Gen. Powerful, sturdy, reliable, feature-packed, cost effective. (Although I see this as an accurate analogy, it is not meant to insult. I am willing to defend it in a different thread if necessary - I'm sure there will be more than one disgruntled iPod user! - by the way I have nothing against Apple and hear their computers are excellent) Another analogy might be Linux -v- Windows (this one I can't defend as I admit to never having used Linux - just repeating what I've heard this time!!!)


2) CPU
I think I will go for a Pentium 4 as price isn't so much of an issue (within reason!) and all around it seems the best. Is this accurate? Please advice on additional aspects such as Hyper-threading and clock-speed. Is there anything else to
consider with the processor? What is the chipset?

3) MOBOs & RAM & CACHE
I know practically nothing about MOTHERBOARDS and CACHE, and all I know about RAM is that the more I seem to have the faster things seem to process. In other words: HELP ME!!!

4) Don't want to be outdated too soon!
Please let me know if there is anything that isn't usually packaged with a PC that might become important in the next year or two. Examples from the last last few months and years are Firewire connections, and DUAL-LAYER DVD Burners.

5) OTHER:
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. Any good URLs which offer comparisons etc would also be great!


WHEW! That was a long one - if anyone made it down to the end after all that waffle - THANK YOU for reading and for your suggestions!
-eogmp3

PS - If it makes a difference to your advice on manufacturers etc - I am in Europe (IRELAND).

Edited by eogmp3, 06 September 2004 - 12:04 PM.


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#2 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 12:00 PM

Go for a HP or a alieware custom built. Go to alienware.com. They will make you one and they are made for gaming and cpu hungry programs. O your in europe see if they will ship there...

#3 eogmp3

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 12:09 PM

thanks for the quick reply cowsgonemadd3

Edited by eogmp3, 06 September 2004 - 12:16 PM.


#4 JEservices

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 12:48 PM

If you will excuse me, I will generalize your question, but let me know if I am not right:

You are looking for a computer that is fast enough to handle multiple instances of applications at the same time (such as opening up one, use it, minimize it, open up another one, use it, minimize it, ect...), and you are looking for some recommendations. You prefer a name brand, primarily because you do not have the time or experience to do this yourself. You also would like some basic understanding on how everything works, in relation to speed, for the components, like RAM, HD, CPU, ect...

Before I can help you out, I need some information from you. How much are you willing to spend? Do you have the physical desk space for multiple monitors? Are you willing to purchase a new computer, and install additional equipment to make it better or do you prefer to keep the computer the way it originaly comes?

Currently I am working on a tutorial on general hardware. It does not look like it will be finished today, but I may be able to shed some light on specific questions that you have. Even though your initial post was long, which I personally dont mind, my post would probably cause an overflow if I was to explain all the different terms on MOBOs & RAM & CACHE.

With the answer to the questions above, it will give me a direction to go. I should be able to provide several links to many different computers. It would not be the intent to confuse, as it would be to inform.
We are all curious like a cat. We wonder, we ask, we learn.
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#5 eogmp3

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 01:56 PM

Your summary of my question seems correct.

In answer to your other questions:
I am looking to spend up to 1600 (EURO) which is about $1900 (US Dollar) - however this mightn't be much help in that PCs and other hardware tend to be cheaper in the US than in Europe. Shipping from the US isn't an option because of customs charges.

I don't have space for multiple monitors.

I might be willing to add devices to a new computer if the whole thing was within my price range, but would rather get an all in package if possible.

Thanks very much for showing so much interest.
-eogmp3

#6 Grinler

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 09:26 PM

Personally I like Dells. You get a decent hardware and for a good price. Their support is decent, but I have never had a problem with their equipment.

#7 JEservices

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 11:22 PM

Knowing what you will be doing with the computer, the link below is one that I would recommend. It is from the Dell site, and you can see what it will all include, and the price. I know that you do not want one shipped, but this will give you an idea on what you would typically spend for the set-up that you would be happy with.

Dell

Tomorrow, I will provide a few more links for comparable computers. The price seems to be what you are looking for, with some room to spare. This does include the monitor (which you could go bigger), but it does not include a all-in-one printer.

You mentioned about customs prices may put it out of reach for an online order, but some of the major manufacturers do have offices closer then you think. I will do a search for those that are not in the US, in hopes that you can avoid such charges.

Also, what computer stores do you have locally? I could do a search for their websites, and you will get a better understanding on the prices, and what is available.
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#8 phawgg

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 01:22 AM

eogmp3, your post appears to me to be well thought out and attractive in it's presentation. The decision to invest in a high quality system is a sound one. From what I have picked up from other folks in the UK, and from my own google & other searchs, computer equipment availability in your area is quite good. I tend to buy products used based on research & comparison if they will suit my purposes. Less frequently than in cars or consumer electronics, I even do this with computers and peripherals. When i was checking on monitors, I remember links to UK sites that offer reconditioned monitors and slight blems. 21" high resolution ones, late model ones that Consumer Reports rate high like ViewSonic Flat CRT's at significantly lower prices than retail. Funny thing was, shipping relatively heavy items like those from the UK across the US to our west coast wasn't helpful in pricing.

Which leads me to "my 2 cents worth of advice". Jason has written a very good introduction to the insides of computers. I have read a rough draft of it. He will no doubt post it soon. I think you would benefit greatly by considering spending a little more time here at BC forum. The purchase of individual components, all of which have longer warantees than most ready-made units, and assembling them yourself with some guidance... well the rewards both financially and intellectually can be significant. IT IS NOT THAT HARD NOR RISKY TO DO. You have taken 75% of the steps towards it from the looks of your post. You have a good understanding of what you want it to do for you. You have identified what you lack in understanding. You have chosen a better source for information about it than a salesman. What you lack in terminology when talking about computers you will learn in a short period of time.
The familiarity you have with the manufacturers products you mentioned just makes me think you are closer to building your own than you may think. IMHO.

I am aware, that building one's own machine is far better from a point of view of price, unfortunately this is not an option since I simply don't have the time to launch into such a project.


So, if time is of the essence, perhaps armed with good advice and specific sources for the purchase of the products lined up, perhaps you could locate someone in your area who is qualified to entrust with the assembly to your specification ?

BTW, if you've waffled through this you deserve a thanks for PATIENCE alone! :thumbsup:

spend some time here

Complicated as though it may seem, a great system is still simply the sum of a finite amount of parts:
  • (1) tower case _______________________________________________________
  • (1) mainboard _______________________________________________________
  • (1) processor ________________________________________________________
  • (1) power supply _____________________________________________________
  • (2) hard drives ______________________________________________________
  • (3) fans ____________________________________________________________
  • (1) DVD-RW ________________________________________________________
  • (1) CD-RW (optional) _________________________________________________
  • (1) graphics card (optional) ____________________________________________
  • (1) sound card (optional) ______________________________________________
  • (1) memory card (more optional) _______________________________________
  • (1) modem (your ISP needs may differ) __________________________________
  • a few cables
  • (1) monitor _________________________________________________________
  • (1) mouse __________________________________________________________
  • (1) keyboard ________________________________________________________
  • (1) multi-function peripheral ____________________________________________
  • (1) set of headphones or (2) speakers ___________________________________
  • (1) surge protector ___________________________________________________
You fill in the blanks and it all rolls into basically 3 big pieces, the mouse & keyboard, and several electrical cords plug into the surge protector. A couple dozen pieces of paper making sure if there is a problem, you get your money back or a replacement.

Edited by phawgg, 07 September 2004 - 02:12 AM.

patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...

#9 eogmp3

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 12:16 PM

Hi guys, thanks for all of your advice and the time you took to think my situation through. Sorry for not checking in sooner - I was relying on my email notification that my thread had been replied to but I received no emails.

I'm beginning to consider building my own phawgg - i wonder if there is an equivalent to Newegg for Ireland or the UK?

JEservices - thanks again - do you definately recommend Dell then? The PC in the link you gave is impressive - basically do Dell machines perform aswell as other makes with the same specifications? Are they reliable in your own opinion?

I'll definately check in more often now that i know that my notifications don't come by email - thanks again
-eogmp3

#10 phawgg

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 02:17 PM

Excellent, eogmp3, you will gain immensely from the action. At the risk only of making it seem like child's play, imagine you bed covered with 24 boxes of relatively small size. Each has come to you in the postal service over a period of a couple weeks. Each has companies product literature and registration/warranty information. Typically they are happy to do business with you, giving you free extras and standing behind the products for 3 years or so. :trumpet: The empty case looks really cool when you unwrap it. The mainboard is one you already know is state of the art within your budget. It comes in anti-static wrap with a fully illustrated instruction manual. Handle it like the new BABY it is. lol. It goes in first. Everything else at a pace you can feel comfortable with. A tiny fraction of the tools needed to tuneup your car or fix your dishwasher are in a box nearby, to use now and anytime you like in the future. What pappa wouldn't be proud?

I'm beginning to consider building my own phawgg - i wonder if there is an equivalent to Newegg for Ireland or the UK?



My first thoughts are these. Find what you need and contact the company who sells it directly. They may ship internationally. Newegg is nice, if for nothing but comparisons. They do ship to APO's. Know any US soldiers? :flowers: I do not have credit at this time. A sad reality for me, so I always pay cash to someone else to have them buy online with their credit. Thats why I am familiar with all the local retail outfits and the used equipment places. Where theres a will, there is a way. :thumbsup:
patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...

#11 eogmp3

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 03:59 PM

hi phawgg,
your post was both exciting and daunting. Are the parts very delicate? What tools will I need? Are the tools expensive? I'd love to do it, but don't want to spend all that money and end up with an inoperative box in the corner when I could have had a functional, albeit unremarkable, PC delivered within a few days.

I'm particularly scared that I will not manage the layout etc adequately - from reading a few posts I can see than the cooling fans are very important - will it be clear where to put them etc? How will I decide how to lay the parts out? Which parts should I make sure not to skimp or be mean on? I presume good quality fans are important? I don't want the thing to go up in smoke!!!

Are these concerns justified? I'm sure they might be ignorant and simplistic - but it is a lot of money and a big undertaking, from where I'm sitting anyway... but I suppose its always like that when you do something for the first time!

-eogmp3

#12 eogmp3

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 04:06 PM

Another question: In general do home-made PCs, provided that care is taken in the initial construction (ie in my case asking lots of questions at every step on this forum!!!), tend to last longer or shorter than ready made ones? Is there a lot of maintainance involved in them? Do more things tend to go wrong with them?

I will take lots of care in assembling the machine - but i don't want a constant problem with it.

I'm worried that I have no come back! If i buy from Dell and something goes wrong it is their problem - however, if I make it and it burns to bits, it is my fault. I know I will have a longer warrenty on individual parts but how will I know what is causing the problem and which part is the culprit?

I might be too much of an amateur for all this - I have no electronics training whatsoever!
-eogmp3

#13 JEservices

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 04:48 PM

It looks like you are still deciding between getting a name brand, or building your own. How about we break the advantages and disadvantages of these?

Building your own

Advantages
  • You will gain knowledge that you did not know.
  • Much cheaper then a name brand for the same specs.
  • Don't have to worry as much with pre-installed software.
  • Will often get free samples in the mail (later), when you turn in registration cards.
  • Be able to upgrade easier in the future.
Disadvantages
  • Takes more time in researching (to ensure proper parts).
  • Purchase of tools (minor, because a kit will run you under $30)
  • Can only purchase parts at specific stores.
  • Takes more time for the assembly of it (as opposed to buying name brand).
  • Dealing with multiple consumer supports (each part will have its own support).
Purchasing name brand

Advantages
  • Less complications on having compatible parts.
  • Purchase is much faster, if you pick it up in the store.
  • Assembly consists of putting the wires together, and plugging it in.
  • Deal with only one customer support-even with probelms with the OS.
  • Modern computers (less then 3 years old), most parts are upgradable.
Disadvantages
  • Unnecessary pre-installed software, that you have to remove manually.
  • Can be inferior in parts, when compared to spending the same money on a home-built system.
  • Some parts to upgrade, can be harder to find, such as cases.
  • You do not gain the same knowledge, when buying a name brand.
  • If the customer support does not answer your question, then you have to research the problem. Or you can just post it at bleepingcomputer.com, and some one will help you out. (OK-maybe that really is an advantage)
Knowing what you may face, it really comes down to if you want to spend the time. You will need more time to research the parts, having it shipped (in most cases), and putting it together, if you go with home-built. Store bought ones, will not be as fast or powerful, for the same amount of money as home-built, but you save alot of time, in the research, shipping, and assembly.

To give you an idea on how much you would save, the Dell computer on the link I provided, for about $1,145-would probably be under $900 for comparable specs on home-built. Of course, neither of these prices include shipping, and I could only estimate how long it would take for the shipping and assembly; however, if you do purchase home-built parts, most of the time, they will give you a break on the shipping, when you order it all at one time.

Until the end of time (OK maybe sooner), there will always be someone who wants to know if they should build their own. It really is much easier then you think. Those who say that they prefer to have someone else do it for them, that is their preference. It is likely based on the fact that they have not done it before.

Edited by JEservices, 08 September 2004 - 04:49 PM.

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#14 JEservices

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 04:58 PM

In general do home-made PCs, provided that care is taken in the initial construction (ie in my case asking lots of questions at every step on this forum!!!), tend to last longer or shorter than ready made ones? Is there a lot of maintainance involved in them? Do more things tend to go wrong with them?


Most parts for home-built computers are exactly the same ones as what is in name brand. Example: A Dell computer has a Western Digital Hard Drive (HD), and you can get the same one-by itself. Very few parts are made by the 'brander' themself. Because of this, the parts will work the same as far as being reliable.

I'm worried that I have no come back! If i buy from Dell and something goes wrong it is their problem - however, if I make it and it burns to bits, it is my fault. I know I will have a longer warrenty on individual parts but how will I know what is causing the problem and which part is the culprit?


You may not have a longer warrenty on parts when you buy them individually. The amount of years is usually the same, campoaring name brand, or home-built. Each part will be covered under their own warrenty. If there is a problem with it, you can send it back, just like anything else. Typically any problems come up withen the first 28 days after it has been turned on. Majority of parts have a 3 year warrentee.

I might be too much of an amateur for all this - I have no electronics training whatsoever!


You will not need any electronics training. Most of the work is done by screwing #0, #1 phillips and flathead, and placing connections in which are pre-fab to where you really couldn't put them in backwards.
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#15 phawgg

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 05:06 PM


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