Buying new computer - want advice

Discussion in 'hardware' started by ohblu, Nov 12, 2010.

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  1. ohblu

    ohblu Registered Member

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    An older relative wants me to pick out/customize a Dell desktop PC that would be suitable for them. It's been a long time since I purchased or upgraded a computer and I haven't kept up with things. I was hoping someone could help me out with a few things.

    The computer is for someone who is around 70 and always has a lot of stupid, useless programs running. They use Weatherbug, Webshots, AOL, and some overly bloated anti-virus/anti-spyware software. They download, install, and play hundreds of childish video games. Most of them come from websites like Yahoo.

    The idea is to buy a computer that is fast and powerful enough that won't haven't to be upgraded for about 10 years and won't have any performance issues until then. But we'd also like to keep the price as low as possible. Ideally, they're looking for something around $800.


    Processor: Would it be better to just stick with Intel or try out the less expensive AMD? Does it really matter? I know nothing about AMD. If we go with Intel, would the i5 be a good choice? Will it still be powerful enough 10 years from now?

    Memory: I'm thinking the minimum should be 4 GB, but I'm thinking maybe they should go with 8 GB just to be on the safe side. Opinions?

    OS: I would go with Windows 7 Home Premium but I see that the Professional edition has some sort of XP mode. Is this professional edition worth the extra $100 for the XP mode? I don't even know what it is.
     
  2. roady

    roady Registered Member

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    The i5 750 or 760 would be a fine choice,value for money-wise.

    Hard to predict,the hardware industry is evolving quite fast,and the limits are not reached yet.....10 years ago,my 1st computer was an AMD Athlon 800 with 64MB RAM and a 20 GB harddisk = not powerful enough anymore these days....;)

    Personal opinion:install a 64bit operating system and run at least 6GB RAM in triple channel modus,however,if you plan to install a 32 bit os,4 GB is sufficient,as this is the maximum that can be used by that architecture.

    If he has a retail XP version somewhere around,he can keep the extra $ in his wallet.....if he wants to use a virtual operating system,just install virtualization software like VMWare,VirtualBox or MS Virtual PC and create a virtual OS from his retail cd......then he has the same options as running XP mode.....or you can install a dualboot system for running his older apps under XP.
     
  3. gambla

    gambla Registered Member

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    As long as your relatives don't play the latest 3D-games like "Armed Assault 2", then it could be powerfull enough for ten years. Otherwise you would need to upgrade every year. I'm not very up to date with AMD, but Intel is always a good buy. I'd recommend:

    -Intel Core i5
    -ATI HD5850 / 5870 (best buy) or nvidia GTX470/480 (very noisy)
    -2 x 2GB RAM (can be cheap)

    The prices just went down as the new Intel "Sandy Bridge" chipset is realeased soon. Imho 8GB are not needed the next years. Win 7 with XPmode is only needed if you know that you own a game or other software that wouldn't run otherwise. Hard to say.
     
  4. mack_guy911

    mack_guy911 Registered Member

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    if i were you

    i make quad core 2.6 or 2.8 ghz instead of i5 why i chose it give you better performance than i5 with cheap rate as price where i5 gives you best performance at peak only


    also its differ in term of cores and threads

    decent nvidia graphic card 9600gt/9600gts or some good gtx series if they play heavy games

    or for cheap card i chose 8600gt/8600gts old but very good


    motherboard: i prefer intel or asus ranging between price 150-200$

    6 gb ram or 8 gb ram transcend will be my no 1 choice

    or i chose 2gb *2 ram and leave rest 2 slots for future upgrade

    500 gb hardisk Seagate or Hitachi would be my preference

    cooler master cabinet with 500W power supply at least

    as for OS i chose mintlinux which is free or window xp


    i just mix things up to make it nearly $800



    i mainly put my .........more money on good cpu and mother board then on decent card and 4 gb ram then i see where i can put my extra left bugs in proper way

    because you cant change cpu,mother board or good graphic card daily but yes you can add a additional ram later if you want more performance.

    edit: like to add 4 gb ram is more than enough if you run even 64 windows if you dont use virtual environment like vmware vbox or do some really heavy gaming.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  5. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    It is impossible to predict what the hardware requirements will be 10 years down the road. My guess is the best computers today will perform about as well 10 years from now as 10 year old computers run in today's computing environment. That is, barely, if at all. Note that the graphics requirements will be HUGE!

    But of course, that's the advantage of buying a PC over a notebook, and buying smart. With careful planning, you can buy a PC that will allow for life-stretching upgrades to carry you through the years. Upgrading "every year" is not realistic, or reality but certainly a new graphics solution may be necessary in 3 or so years, and a upgraded CPU - if the motherboard will support it.

    The problem will be the motherboard, CPUs and the OS. Intel changes CPU sockets more frequently than AMD, but AMD will be forced to change theirs too, and a new socket requires a new motherboard. And a new motherboard requires a new Windows license (unless you wisely buy "full retail" now).

    32-bit is phasing out and 64-bit is here to stay (at least until supplanted by 128-bit). So it makes little sense to me to go 32-bit. And I agree 6Gb (for triple channel) and 8Gb (for dual channel) is the way to go.
     
  6. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

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    Generally speaking, someone once told me to buy as much computer as you can possibly afford, with more capacity that you think you'll ever need.
     
  7. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That's probably good advice to ensure the computer will be able to keep up with future software and computing demands. I certainly remember when 64Mb of RAM and a 20Mb hard drive was "more than you will ever need!"
     
  8. FastGame

    FastGame Registered Member

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    C'mon Mr Bill, get a grip :D

    The get a grip part :blink:
     
  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Huh? Since supporting electronics hardware has been my thing for nearly 40 years, I have a very good grip on hardware technologies and capabilities.

    Note 10 years ago AMD released the first CPU to break a whopping 1GHz with its first Athlon XP. And almost to the day, Intel released its first Pentium 4 at the blazingly fast speed of 1.4GHz - both just single core CPUs I might add. Today's CPUs typically have 4 cores with many exceeding 3GHz, some with 6 cores.

    Surely you are not going to tell us those two 10 year old CPUs can keep up with today's technologies, are you FastGame? I mean, if so, I would say it is you who needs to get a grip on reality then - especially when this thread is about offering purchasing advice.

    Prior to the year 2000, there was no such thing as DDR memory, with 128Mb, 133MHz SDRAM as the fastest you could get. It was not until 2000 before we saw DDR 266. 3D animated graphics was still in it's infancy in 2000. Today we have DDR3 2500 RAM capable of running at 2.5GHz, and up to 4Gb per stick. There were no 64-bit CPUs for home consumers in 2000.

    While it is true there are a few 10 year old computers still running today, they are few and far between. Some folks have even managed to get Windows 7 to run on a few just to see if they could. But the REALITY is, a 10 year old computer will not run today's software or meet the demands of most computer users. Therefore, since hardware technologies continue to advance almost exponentially, I feel very safe and confident to reiterate and say today's computers will barely, if at all, be able to meet the computing demands of 2020.
     
  10. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

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    Six years ago the typical off the shelf PC was shipping with 512Mb RAM, so when I ordered my Dell I bought 1GB RAM and 80GB hard drive to safely take me into the extended near future, based on my experience in 2000 when I bought a computer with 95Mb RAM and felt like king of the hill. As of now, that 1GB is being strained each time I try to update or upgrade an app, or get something new. Although this computer has never ran better, I think I'll have to go for a new one in about 2 years, just to be current. XP is winding down, and although I am not a gamer my video card needs an upgrade. A new computer is cheaper than replacing parts. Based on today, I'll be getting 6GB RAM and a much larger hard drive and more powerful video card etc.
     
  11. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I hear you. My first PC I bought and got it directly from the Gateway factory in South Dakota. It was a 66MHz DX466 and came standard with 32Mb RAM (a lot, at the time. But I was celebrating my divorce so I opted to add another 32 for 64Mb and the extra large ;) 15" monitor and all my friends were envious.

    By the way, don't shortchange yourself. That must have been 96Mb (64 + 32). ;)
     
  12. FastGame

    FastGame Registered Member

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    Well Mr Bill, lets get something straight......

    1. You don't own the patent on age nor experience ;) hmm thats a double ;)

    2. You always seem to misunderstand what people have to say :eek:

    I never said 10yr old tech would keep pace with todays best, what I did say is that 10yr old tech is better than "That is, barely, if at all"

    Now I'm not getting drawn into another Mr Bill argument. You sit down with the wife and discus how much of your retirement you can afford to lose. If its worth my time I'll fly my rich stupid a$$ in town and prove you wrong.

    To make things interesting we'll make a video (titled Mr Bill vs FastGame) and post it on YouTube :D oh and I'll make the video on my 10yr old IBM workstation :argh:

    There you go Mr Bill, if you can afford my reality the PM box is always open :ninja:

    BTW I had no problem with "this thread is about offering purchasing advice." the advice is sound, just some of the BS thrown in............
     
  13. roady

    roady Registered Member

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    Fully agree with that......even plain internetting and social (ab)use demands more power these days than 10 years ago.Flash,Java and all the antimalware protection you need to surf safely,makes most older computers running like turtles.....and then you have video editing,gaming etcetera that puts your rig under heavy load......:D
     
  14. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I did not misunderstand a thing. And it is you who are argumentative as you decided to make this personal with the uncalled for "get a grip" comment. Note my comment was about today's technology 10 years from now. It is you who obviously don't understand, as the following comment shows.
    Please don't misquote, twist my words around, or imply I said something I did not. I never said anything about 10 year old technology keeping up with today's "best". I said "in today's computing environment.". And I reiterated that when I said, "today's computers will barely, if at all, be able to meet the computing demands of 2020." Now roady understood that perfectly. Sorry if you didn't.
     
  15. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Good luck with that. There's no way you can prove to me, or anyone else who has any inkling about computers, that a 10 year old computer can process today's games, 3D animated graphics, graphics editing, or even much of today's productivity software. So please, stop wasting everyone's time. The facts are that a 10 year computer today can barely, if at all support, today's office requirements. Therefore, it is logical to assume the same will hold true of today's hardware 10 years from now.
     
  16. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

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    I totally agree. And as always, Bill's advice is wise and practical.
     
  17. ohblu

    ohblu Registered Member

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    Thanks everyone. I have a much better idea of what to get in this new computer.


    Yeah, that's what I did when I bought my computer almost nine years ago. I got the most powerful system available and timed everything just right so I got a huge rebate. My computer could use a little more memory, but otherwise it still works great. A relative bought their computer around the same time and opted for a cheap computer. They ended up regretting that decision not long after they got it. If they had gotten a Pentium 4 processor instead of a Celeron, they wouldn't even need a new computer yet.
     
  18. Fiat_Lux

    Fiat_Lux Registered Member

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    Problem most often is , when you got to "sell the idea" of what they ought to buy to the prospective buyer, that they most often starts uttering how little they really need the computer to be able to do and why it is not necessary for them to have such good a computer. Then after a short while , if they didn't listen and went with the 'o cheapo stuff they start wailing about their problems. Last time someone close to me approached me for advise when wanting to buy a laptop, that was relatively shortly after I had put together a Intel Quad core system for them, then the "song" was also : "I just need my Laptop to be able to do this or that - nothing more" , well "luckily" the person listened when I told that the cheap stuff wouldn't hold for long performance wise, so it ended up being a then relatively high end Laptop Dual core Intel 9X00 something with a M8600 Graphics card (not high end but the best to the price), two 320 GB Harddiscs and a DVD-RW/Blu-Ray reader. Result : The computer was not exactly cheap, but the person has been very happy and hardly touches the stationairy quadcore anymore (is used by another person in the household), and mostly all operations is performed on and most software run "happily" on the Laptop .
    I do however support "Bill_Bright" 's view points a lot. Both with the Quadcore and the new Laptop I gave the following message : Look , evolution is running very fast both hardware wise and software wise so what you buy now will within X number of years no longer be performing well enough or will not be able to support the new technology, so the day you buy is the day you ought start a new "lay away" plan, look at it this way : your computer will perform reasonably nicely for some years (perhaps with a few cheap upgrades) then there will be a "downhill" period and then you will want something better. With repect to the Laptop the message was very clear, and that was that I expected power consumption on newer Laptops to drop, that there would come better batteries (or fuel cells), that SSD discs would drop in price and become the "in" thing and that chipssets and CPU would become yielding higher at lower power consumption. But I also made it clear that if by buying a reasonably "nice" Laptop now then it would probably last until enough new technology had been introduced that an upgrade/switch would be worth considering....
    So when people buy a computer I think that they ought to realize that there will be a lifespan with repect to high enough "performance" and future compatability, so instead of considering their paid computer "free" then they ought to consider it like a lease and lay away (save) a monthly amount for their next PC cause logic and experience suggests that it is only a matter of time before they'll have to change/upgrade the darn thing into something else/newer instead....
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  19. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Several considerations come to mind.

    The bottom line as I see it is pretty much anything regarded as cutting edge now will be regarded as ancient technology within ten years, so I feel the emphasis should be on future-proofing as best you can.

    If you're going to build from scratch, get a really good power supply (400-450 watts or greater) and a motherboard with the capability (re: expansion slots) to accommodate future needs.

    As far as the CPU; a quad core- especially if they will be working with any form of graphics.

    I like a MB with four memory slots- better than two for upgrading options.
    -Just a personal preference.


    Anyway, good luck with the project !
     
  20. Fiat_Lux

    Fiat_Lux Registered Member

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    400-450 watts is not going to get anyone far these days - so I'll support your "or greater"....
    But I think there is a great problem at the moment when buying new stuff to assemble from scratch. A lot of the things has been in the mould for years but has hardly emerged into mainstream yet...
    DDR3 RAM has generally been implemented but PCI-Express 16X2.0 is already in the process of going to be pushed out by upcomming PCI-Express 16X3.0 , SATA 3 has emerged but is not implemented broad spectered yet , and like wise with DX 11 Graphics card , too many is still only DX 10 compatible , USB 3.0 has emerged but is also not implemented broad spectered yet, as far as I know. So too many of the already acknowledged technologies are just around the upgrade corner or has just emerged , making it more difficult than ever buying something that will last for just a while.... (Not to speak of SDD drives and the ongoing battle to bring down CPU power consumption while pushing performance!)

    And b.t.w. last time I bought a graphics card I decided to "go green" meaning I bought a "relatively cheap" graphics card that performed 25% less with 50% less power consumption than if I had just gone with my usual get most bang for your bucks attitude , but the card still needs a 550Watt PSU...
    I had to look at my electricity bill , and also I bought some mean, but cheap, refurbished top class last generation graphics cards if I should get in need of some serious power consumption... I am using a 40" screen for PC monitor, plus I have multiple PCs connected through a KVM switch so I need to consider power consumption as a factor...
     
  21. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Hello Fiat_Lux;

    I understand what you are saying; the process of building a system is far more complicated than it was only a few years ago.
    My post was to address the OP and was with the realization that if you are going to build a system now, you have to go with what is available now and try as best you can to also anticipate and provide for what is to come.

    As you stated, emerging technologies can clash and the risk of incompatibility is very real.
    Still, and with the very real possibility of encountering "buyer's remorse", you either have to get going with the project or wait until the dust settles.

    When will that be ?
     
  22. Fiat_Lux

    Fiat_Lux Registered Member

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    Sorry if it seemed as "if I came out on the wrong foot" here...
    I am not against you , nor was I against your advice "per se"....
    I just tried to air (and share) some of the many considerations I've had to make and face recently when being asked upgrade questions.....
    What you wrote generally sounded reasonably to me I just thought that the "discussion" needed an extra "angle" (mine)....
    :thumb:
     
  23. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Fiat_Lux;

    Understood and appreciated.
    Thanks.


    ohblu;

    I hope you will post with details about what you ended up getting for your relative.
     
  24. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I disagree. I think building a system is much easier these days. In the old days, motherboards did not come integrated with sound or Ethernet. You had to strap or jumper pins to tell the board how much RAM you had installed. You had to set jumpers to set bus speeds. You had to pay attention to Master and Slave settings, and drives positions on cables.

    Today, and particularly with Windows 7, putting a system together and getting it running with workable drivers is much easier than it was with XP, and even with Vista.

    But that's the way it has always been. If you are going to wait for that next generation motherboard that will have all the latest and greatest, you will always be waiting - for there there always be something new just around the corner.

    No - putting together a computer today is easy. Deciding what parts to buy, now that's the hard part. Newegg has to choose from,
    500+ Motherboards
    400+ Power Supplies
    600+ Graphics Cards
    600+ Cases
    300+ Hard Drives
    900+ RAM​
    That works out to 100s of Billions of different combinations. And yet, Windows is able to make them all work together first time, nearly every time. A major feat, if you ask me. And thank goodness for ATX Form Factor standards that dictate an ATX PSU will fit into an ATX case, and will connect to and power an ATX motherboard, and everything that connects to the motherboard.
     
  25. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Hello Bill.

    I agree with you.

    My statement regarding the difficulty of building a computer was referring to the complexity of choosing the parts among so many choices in each category.
    I should have made that more clear.

    Selecting the best MB for the processor of choice then leads to (usually) a choice of memory, the video card quandary, HDD (SSD or not), and fitting it all inside a proper case with a power supply that will serve for the foreseeable future.
    It's a puzzle not easily negotiated because of the myriad of considerations and choices.

    The actual process of assembly and testing is easier thanks in large part to better manufacturer documentation and the ever-increasing number of online and printed tutorials as well as sites such as Wilder's where help is usually only a post away.

    Later.
     
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