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Having Computer Built - Any Advice?


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#1 alburnus

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 08:50 PM

I'm planning to have Dell build a computer for me. Part of the reason I am doing this is because it seems that over the years, the pre-builts come with more and more junk, and it's difficult to get just the features I need.

My needs are simple. I write, use a digital camera, email, and search the web. I never play games other than an occasional game of freecell.

Knowing the following:

1. I write (articles and books)
2. I'd like to organize and edit my pictures (and possibly home movies, one day), and I currently have about 2000 pictures

And other than looking around online once in a awhile and writing and receiving emails, I don't really have any other PC requirements, does anyone have any specific advice for me on what software I should have installed on the new computer? I need:

1. A very good Word Processing (and editing) program,
2. A very good (but user friendly) photo program.

I'd like it to be fast, of course, and have enough memory that it will take me into at least the next 3-4 years. I have done a little research on components, so details would be fine, and opinions about operating systems are welcome, also.

Thanks to all who take the time to respond!

Deborah

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#2 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 09:11 PM

Get dell build you one and not install some of the EXTRA software? They still may add their own software.

Anyways why get them to build you one when you can build one?
We can help and its very simple to build.

It only takes about 2 hours from start to finish to build a computer if you have never built one before. Its mostly the software that takes the longest to install.

#3 Klinkaroo

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 10:57 PM

Yeah 2 hours to build a computer 1hour and 59 minutes to install windows... :thumbsup:

And it's fun to build a computer... :huh:

#4 tg1911

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 11:22 PM

1. A very good Word Processing (and editing) program,
Open Office

2. A very good (but user friendly) photo program.
Basic - IrfanView
Advanced - Gimp

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#5 DaveM59

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 06:55 AM

I second the recommendation to build it yourself. Main reason being not to save money but because when you build it you'll never be afraid of it. You'll know it from the inside out. Also Dells aren't as cheap as they seem. I have a co-worker who just bought one and is disgusted to find that almost all the "bundled software" other than the operating system is actually trial versions. After 30 days you have to pay to keep using.

For your purposes you don't need the latest and fastest. In fact, onboard (that is, built into the motherboard) video will be sufficient for everything you want to do. Your system could easily comprise just the motherboard, processor & heatsink/fan, memory module, case/power supply, a DVD-RW and a hard drive. (This assumes you aren't on dialup, if you are you need a modem.) You will however need a _big_ hard drive, the bigger the better, especially if you get into video editing. RAM -- 512 is enough until you get into video, then a gig will help.

Operating system -- Windows XP home. Pro has additional features but they relate mostly to networking in an office setting.

#6 alburnus

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 11:55 AM

Thank you, so much, to all of you, for your valuable advice! I learned something from each of you that I did not know. I had first considered building it myself because it looks like fun, and because then I could get exactly what I want, but then a friend warned me that if anything goes wrong with it, if it starts acting up, it might be difficult to determine the problem (which I realize is often the case anyway), and that then, my machine is not waranteed, though the individual components are. But how would that help me, if I could not pinpoint the problem? Still, I very much would like to build my own, and having your help may provide me with enough confidence to try it!

Any insights into the warantee challenge, if indeed, it is actually a challenge?

Thank you!

Deborah

#7 Klinkaroo

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 11:57 AM

Well if there is ever a problem we are always there to help you. But when building a computer take care of making sure all the connectors are well pushed into the sockets (don't press to hard) but enough to make sure it is snugg. You should be fine just follow the instructions that often come with the components.

And remember Google is your friend :thumbsup:

#8 DaveM59

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 04:14 PM

It's true that there's a comfort in knowing you can simply take back your whole machine and say "give me another one!" if your computer gets squirrely. But you need to look carefully at that warranty, how long it lasts, how much it really covers. In my view the worst part of a computer malfunction is data loss, and I don't think anybody warrants against that. It's your responsibility. Then there's the question of getting support to authorize a return or repair, once the 30-day no-questions-asked return period you get from the big box stores, runs out.

I hope I'm not out of line here but I must say from all the stories I've heard and read that none of the major PC makers impresses me with their support, Dell has really gone downhill since they moved their call centers overseas. All of them indulge in penny-scrimping measures such as a recovery partition rather than a Windows CD, which limits your options in case of a crash. Some use non-standard motherboard, case or power supply designs, which force you to deal with the manufacturer even after the machine is out of warranty. Likewise the big box stores offer nice-looking warranties (actually service contracts) that add significantly to the purchase price, tie you to their facility, and rarely pay off for the consumer.

If you want a warranty that actually is worth while, and you want a PC that's really built to suit your purposes, with standard components and CDs of all included software including Windows, then I'd suggest a local "mom and pop" shop. Of course you need to do some research, make sure they'll be there tomorrow. But if you find a good one that's your bet bet. Or else build your own, learn how it works, and acquire the confidence that you can deal with any problems that arise.

Whichever route you go, put a good backup plan in place so you know that even a hard drive failure or a catastrophic malware infestation is something you can recover from. That's the most important warranty.

Edited by DaveM59, 01 July 2006 - 04:23 PM.


#9 Klinkaroo

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 04:50 PM

Yeah those dells and stuff often use non-standard parts so if all you want to do is upgrade your motherboard... well you can't...

And those hardrive with recovery partitions if you have a hardrive failure then what do you do... you don't have anyway of recovering windows...

I highly suggest you build it yourself... or the best would be if you have a friend that has already done it invite him over for a pc building party :thumbsup: no but serriously invite him over and he can help you build it and show you the basics. If you are too afraid another option is to go to a local computer store and have them build you one. This is an option that gives you all the cds and warranties for the parts and often the stores gives you a good warranty if the computer crashes and they fix it. And since you don't have to ship the computer back to some far away land you can often get it fixed quite easily.

Hope this information helps :huh:

#10 AMD010

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 05:16 PM

yes, trust me, most of the parts you will buy come with a good warranty anyway. 10 bucks says nothing will go wrong with your computer until your service plan expires, then what are you going to do?

then lets say your power supply goes out, along with it, your motherboard, if you decide to replace the stock motherboard you will spend $$$(for a piece of crap). and if you buy another motherboard you will have to buy a new copy of windows because the recovery disk will only work with your original hardware config.

also for the price dell will charge you for custom building you a computer, you can build one with way better bang for your buck.
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#11 alburnus

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 10:25 PM

Thanks everyone, very much! So much helpful advice!

That's right - I had heard that Dell support has really gone downhill, so that it now is as bad or even worse than all other PC support. It's all just a joke - at least that has been my experience over the years. (That's why I'm really glad for you guys and gals at BC!) I had completely forgotten that Dell has joined their ranks now, also. I never "met" anyone more useless than a telephone computer tech. I'm sure they are wonderful as people, but as support persons, well, my 2 year old grand daughter would afford equal aide, and be more fun, in the bargain! And she speaks English.

Deborah

#12 Klinkaroo

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 02:56 PM

I never "met" anyone more useless than a telephone computer tech. I'm sure they are wonderful as people, but as support persons, well, my 2 year old grand daughter would afford equal aide, and be more fun, in the bargain! And she speaks English.


So so true...

#13 protozero

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 06:11 PM

Well, costumer service is the easeiest part of a company to make bugets cuts from. So the emplyees are less trained, paid nothing so they don't really care. It's not that smart, and all those automated hellos and "did you know that we have a new piece of junk to sell" really piss people off, so when the people do get through to a real person, their quite angry to start with. Oh, and here's a little hilarious clip of a guy that tried to cancel his AOL connection.
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

#14 Klinkaroo

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 06:55 PM

I had already posted the full recording here but I like the interview with him at the end.

#15 .Prodigy.

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 09:31 PM

For an excellent photo program, I would recommend ACDSee. It's not so much an image editor (it does do red-eye removal and such) as an image organizer. I use it for my pictures (around 1000) and it is wonderful. There's a 30-day trial available here and if you like it I would suggest buying the full version. I'm sure it comes with more features, though I'm not exactly sure what.

As for a word processor, OpenOffice is the best you can get for free. Some would argue that it's the best you can get, free or purchased.

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