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Last post Author Topic: Buying New PC. Suggestions?  (Read 25378 times)

mouser

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2006, 11:45:43 AM »
i suggest you go to dell.com and play around with their configuration things, they are quite nice.

f0dder

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2006, 06:26:08 PM »
Remember that Pentium4 uses a lot of power and runs pretty hot... not a problem per se, but a thing to consider.

And I definitely agree with mouser on the monitor issue, go TFT. Also no reason for both CD and DVD, DVD drives can read CDs as well.
- carpe noctem

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2006, 10:46:34 PM »
Try this instead. 789$ and based on http://www.globalcom...47673&CatId=1489

Screenshot - 04-10-2006 , 05_30_09.pngBuying New PC.  Suggestions?

Difference is you get 19" LCD, AMD socket 939 motherboard with integrated Nvidia video card. Will be decent but sure you need more. In your own configuration I would have picked Nvidia 6200 btw. You need something like 7600GS, remember an LCD almost require you to run games at its native resolution, 1280x1024. Will be tough to find video card for this. Why I say "suffer" with whatever is possible and upgrade, might surprise you.

Also I spend a bit more on power supply - which Im sure is a cheap OEM brand but what to do! Now 500W and better prepared for coming video card. And of course also a bit of overclocking  :D Stock speed is only 2000mhz but 2400-2500 should be easy. Can fiddle with that later, plenty of speed and you can run it very very cool at stock levels. Even at oc-levels actually. Not much extra voltage needed. Biostar has a software tool letting you overclock, practially build in and so easy to do safely. Just in case you doubt the little cpu, has plenty of horsepower.

Another advantage is you get PCI-E port and will without doubt get more for the money when you upgrade video.

Disadvantage is smaller hd, only 80 hd but get another or upgrade later. Have to save where it does not hurt... On the other hand 20$ more means twice the space!

That Intel motherboard dont even support coreduo, has AGP. Nah, not good enough with latest budget increase. http://www.biostar.c...me=GeForce%206100-M9  a bit more up to date and what is in amd box.

And yes if you had both a 17 CRT and 19 LCD plugged so you could compare you would pick 19". After 1 day with that you would not be able to go back. They do not say which model it is, in their monitor section you can see there are a few at 199$. Should be ok.

XP home or XP Pro dont really matter for most people. If you know why you want Pro then get it, if not save the money. Note I did select XP Home with Phoenix Recovery because I dont know what it is. If it means you get a fixed recovery partiton full of their software I would not want it. If it is a generic tool to backup/restore/recover and it can be disable then why not. Price is the same. They also ask if you want FAT or NTFS filesystem so I guess they install XP? If that is only thing they do then ok - could be they are so nice to include a lot of crap.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2006, 01:53:00 AM by dk70 »

MilesOhToole

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2006, 02:16:04 AM »
Thanks for the replies, fellas!  Now, to pick your collective brains:

i would not recommend this:

1) you dont need cdrom and dvd drive.  just 1 will do fine.
2) CRT -> i HIGHLY suggest you get an lcd.  i recently moved to lcd and the different is dramatic in terms of desk space, convenience, image quality.

i wouldnt worry about the pci-e but i would absolutely worry about the monitor.

i also would try to decide if you are going to upgrade to xp pro for real, and if so, get a machine which comes with xp pro - you really dont want to have to upgrade it..

this price doesnt seem so great to me, but i don't know these things so it might be.

Ok mouser...you win.  I go with the LCD.  As far as the OS, I have a copy of XP Pro.  I would opt for no OS, but couldn't find the option, so downgraded to Home and saved $59.00.  Also, about the price, I will print off the final configuration and give it to my employer.  They'll call in and find out what kind of discount I (they, technically) will get.  Is it a pain to upgrade from Home to Pro?  If so, when I get the PC, should I immediately reformat the drive and do a clean install with Pro?

Remember that Pentium4 uses a lot of power and runs pretty hot... not a problem per se, but a thing to consider.

And I definitely agree with mouser on the monitor issue, go TFT. Also no reason for both CD and DVD, DVD drives can read CDs as well.


That's why I hang out here, f0dder.  Indespensible folks like yourself...I didn't realize a DVD drive could read CD ROM's.  I know, that's probably rudimentary to you guys.  I've been out of the loop for some time.

All information duly noted.  Thank you!

Ok.  I think I'm following your line of thought here.  I see why you chose that PC; because it supports PCIe cards, offers upgrade to dual core and the best system for the price.  But will I see any difference right now, in a gaming experience, without a dual core processor?  And, if not, how soon would I really need to upgrade it?

Thanks, guys.  And sorry about the initial price limitation of $500.00.  I honestly thought my budget restricted me to it.  After careful consideration (skipping rent payment for a couple of months and acquiring the taste for dirt :P) I can comfortably double it.  Also, I have to keep in mind it'll be a little less than the price shown.

mouser

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2006, 02:23:22 AM »
i know you are getting contradictory advice here but i would not worry about a dual processor, and not worry about upgrading, and not worry about graphics card being agp or pci-e.

i think you really have to question the idea that you will be upgrading these things- probably you wont.

as for winxp home to pro, ok your explanation makes more sense.  it's probably not such a hassle to upgrade.

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2006, 03:50:31 AM »
If he catch interest for gaming he will be upgrading video card no doubt. AGP situation will only go from bad to worse compared to pci-e. Unless big price difference chose pci-e for sure. Integrated video solution will work and is about the only way to get other goodies. A decent video card which can play newer and coming games at 1280 will blow budget. 7600GT would be nice for this but 219$ more. I think you can survive with integrated chip for a while then upgrade for may be 150-200$ when you cant wait any longer  8) As said the only disadvantage with LCD is you often need more power from video card. With CRT you can adjust resolution more easily. Still go LCD.

They have another amd solution with dual processor, newer am2 socket - but a question of money. May be 100-150$ more expensive for same configuration. Does come with a dvd drive and hd is 160gb http://www.globalcom...66225&CatId=1307

app103

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2006, 05:32:37 AM »
My question about the CD & DVD drives is are they burners? You will want that ability. Go for a DVD drive that can burn it all. Then if you want an additional drive, get a less expensive additional dvd drive that can read it all. Handy for copying disks. But it is not necessary to have the second one. You can copy disks without it by creating an image file and burning that.

I would opt for a built in card reader that can handle most kinds of cards over having a second CD/DVD drive.

One thing you will also want...a BIG CASE...and plenty of PCI slots.

That will become important when you start adding more hard drives and more cards. You will need to have a case big enough for it to all fit without being cramped.

A cramped case can cause cooling problems and is harder to keep clean inside.

And make sure that XP Pro CD you have isn't an OEM that needs a specific brand of PC in order to install it. Otherwise you will be out of luck and stuck with XP Home, or need to buy a new copy of XP Pro.

Make sure you get a real Windows disk with that PC...none of that restore partition crap and none of that special disk that will only work in that PC...or restore disks that wipe out everything and can't do an OS repair.

f0dder

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2006, 07:39:47 AM »
Quote from: dk70
Remember an LCD almost require you to run games at its native resolution, 1280x1024.
Not really - in games you won't generally notice running at non-native resolutions, that's mainly visible when dealing with text. And I doubt you'll find any video cards, even integrated, that can't deal with that properly at native resolution :)

Quote from: dk70
And yes if you had both a 17 CRT and 19 LCD plugged so you could compare you would pick 19".
Personally I'd pick a 17" TFT with decent refresh rate, then add another when I got the cash. Two monitors rock, and 1280x1024 on a 17" is just fine.

------

Don't worry much about XP Pro vs. XP Home unless you know you need Pro. Iirc the differences are in some domaing logon stuff and support of EFS (encrypted NTFS files). There's a chart somewhere at Microsoft showing the differences. Both Home and Pro require activation and has "call home" crap, you only get rid of activation by a "corporate" or "volume license key" version, but you can't afford that :)

Unlike mouser, I'd definitely worry about PCIe vs. AGP. The price difference on a motherboard should be almost non-existant today, while AGP cards are getting scarcer and more expensive.

You won't need a dual-core processor right away, most games don't take advantage of it, and some even fail (unreal tournament engine games) until you tweak a bit. Dualcore does make the whole computer experience smoother, but unless you do heavy computational tasks it's a bit much of a luxury to pay for.

Quote from: app103
One thing you will also want...a BIG CASE...and plenty of PCI slots.
Agreed. A big case with good airflow so you don't get overheating problems.
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: October 04, 2006, 07:45:52 AM by f0dder »

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #33 on: October 04, 2006, 12:54:37 PM »
If scaling is no problem then more reason to get the 19". How it behave probably depend on panel type, driver, game - monitors are not created equal. Also some can see things others cant. Integrated should be good for some 800x600 gaming at least.

I dont think case can be replaced but should be ok. Small since format is micro-atx, only room for 1 fan. I saw a picture somewhere. If video card have arctic cooler or similar there should not be any heating problems. http://www.arctic-cooling.com/vga1.php Some brands have cards with such coolers installed, cost a little more but not much. Heat is directed out of case - takes up 1 extra port for the outtake but noting to do about that.

The 350W power supply will work but there was another picture where it showed 17 or 19 amp for 12v line. Close to minimum requirement for a modern computer. All these integrated gadgets are economical. Dont know specs for 500W but it should be more ready for a better video card - even if you start to overclock cpu a little. If lower quality it could be worse but most likely same brand/model. 

Mizraim

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #34 on: October 04, 2006, 01:13:22 PM »
Personally I'd pick a 17" TFT with decent refresh rate, then add another when I got the cash. Two monitors rock, and 1280x1024 on a 17" is just fine.

I agree. I would take the two 17" over a 19" anyday.

f0dder

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2006, 06:07:32 PM »
It might be problematic fitting an "artic cooler" cooled card in a micro-atx casing, they are somewhat larger than normal cooling solutions (I have one, and even though my case is fairly large, it does give some problems with regard to harddrives).

I'd only go for micro-atx for VERY low-power CPUs, like the VIA Epia. It certaily was NOT a good idea for a P4 celeron based system I built, runs way too hot for my liking.

As for power supply, it's far more important to get one with stable voltages than a high watt rating. My 400W is plenty for two optical drives, 3-4 harddrives, GF6600, dual-core AMD64. If you get a PSU with unstable voltages, well, your whole system stability will be affected - 500W won't help you much, then.

Building computers is a complex task, main reason I only build computers for myself, and direct other people to Dell and whatnot.
- carpe noctem

mouser

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2006, 06:30:34 PM »
all this minutia talk is a good example of why, unless you love wallowing in this stuff and spending days and days of time obsessing, you should go to a site like dell and just use one of their configuration things to configure a reasonable pc and be done with it, imho.

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2006, 09:37:48 PM »
Case is small but not too small. Look at pictures http://www.tigerdire...p;Tab=1&NoMapp=0 There is room for video card. Space behind pci-e slot. Anyway, I dont think super cooled video card is a must though, just nice idea for efficient cooling.

If you look at extra cost for 500W it might be one of better quality. Hard to say and perhaps they switch brand/model as they please. Their customers do not want details. More fun paying up for better monitor but I would spend the extra on power supply, especially because of future video card - increase load a lot, much more than integrated chip. No doubt 350W power supply will work out of the box as will case. Can upgrade later if standard turns out to be too weak but easier to pay up now and be 110% sure to get prepared for gaming computer ;)

Mizraim

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2006, 09:46:41 PM »
all this minutia talk is a good example of why, unless you love wallowing in this stuff and spending days and days of time obsessing, you should go to a site like dell and just use one of their configuration things to configure a reasonable pc and be done with it, imho.

I agree with mouser, www.dell.com has some excellent PC customising features, and you can clearly see all at once the overall cost.

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #39 on: October 04, 2006, 10:10:19 PM »
I think he said shop is picked because of rebate so that is why there are no alternatives mentioned.

Fixed solutions are rarely best buy - even when they do offer choices there are limitations. Important to be aware of them - to get most value or even prevent buying wrong parts for what computer will be used for. You have to investigate a little.

f0dder

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #40 on: October 05, 2006, 03:29:04 AM »
Fixed solutions are rarely best buy - even when they do offer choices there are limitations. Important to be aware of them - to get most value or even prevent buying wrong parts for what computer will be used for. You have to investigate a little.

Unless you know what you're doing and are willing to spend a lot of effort, "boxed" solutions are quite a reasonable alternative though. Spend a bit extra, get a bit less for the money, but... peace of mind.
- carpe noctem

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #41 on: October 05, 2006, 04:00:28 AM »
Sure, but I meant pick best box or modify configuration best possible. Like with this computer. Only good with choices.

MilesOhToole

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #42 on: October 06, 2006, 08:30:37 PM »
Thanks to everyone for their input.

Tuesday I'll plan on ordering THIS  PC, thanks to dk70's suggestion:

¤AMD Athlon 64 AM2 3500+ Processor

¤1GB DDR2 PC4200 Non-ECC Memory (1GB x 1)

¤160GB 7200RPM 3G SATA II Hard Drive

¤16X DVD+R/RW-R/RW Dual Layer Drive

¤3.5" 1.44MB Floppy Drive

¤SoundBlaster Audigy SE Sound Card

¤GeForce 7300GS 256MB PCI-Express

¤500 Watt Power Supply

PC Total is $664.95.  I decided to save $40.00 and go with this monitor for $159.99.

Grand total (not subtracting my discount/plus shipping) $824.94

Is that a little refined from the first post?

Thanks again for your help, guys.  You've all provided me with a cornucopia of expertise and insight.

Least I can do is make a donation here...wish I could repay you all for your help.  And thanks, mouser, for an exceptional site!


JavaJones

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #43 on: October 07, 2006, 12:42:23 AM »
Wow, I stayed out of this thread because I knew I'd have to run off at the mouth if I got in here. But now I'm here, so here I go. ;)

I'm really dismayed to see so many people recommending Dell, quite frankly. I dunno, maybe you all have good personal experience with them - that counts for something. But from my own experience as a computer consultant having worked with at least 20 customer's Dells systems, as well as reading many articles, forums, reviews, and other opinions online I have to say I think Dell is crap. Their prices are decent *if* you're not building your own system, but that's about where the advantages end. They bundle a ridiculous amount of awful, awful software on their machines, which is near impossible to totally get rid of without reformatting. If you do reformat most of the time you're given an OS disk or restore partition that includes the software installed by default and no option to not install it on restore. If you format and install with your own OS disk *it will not be supported*. They may still support the hardware, but if they ever get wind you're using a non-factory OS forget about software support. All this is not to mention their attrocious reputation for support. There are stories littered all around the 'net on how bad it is, and sites like ResellerRatings.com (Dell ratings link) also paint a fairly dismal picture. Here's some articles and other links for ya:
http://www.computerw...10801,103959,00.html
http://www.short-med...endednews.php?n=5280

So, shame on you people. ;) Fortunately it looks like your options are limited anyway, lol.

I'd also like to speak up on CRT vs. LCD. LCD's are good for most people, but they're not for everyone. I am really surprised serious gamers can deal with them, even now at 2-5ms. I have seen 2ms in person and *there is still ghosting*. I compared a 21" 5ms LCD alongside a 21" CRT and the difference was definitely noticeable. My roommate bought the 21" LCD and used it for a week full time with game playing and although it was a lot better than we'd seen before, he ultimately had to take it back because the ghosting was still too much. It's close to being *ok*, but it's still far from great.

And that's not the only problem. Excessive brightness is another, to where many people actually turn down the brightness on their LCD's to near 0 just so they're not blinded (manufacturers use really high brightness numbers to seem impressive, but really it's *not* a good thing). Also LCD's *can't* reproduce true black, so if you're a graphics person they can really be crappy and throw off your perception of dark images and scenes. And despite big advances in this area LCD's still have viewing angle problems too. They look ok from non-ideal angles, not all color distorted like they used to be, but they still have a noticeable loss in brightness and contrast. Finally there is the resolution issue. They are just not good at non-native resolutions, not compared to CRT anyway. So unless you like the native resolution of the panel you get, you might not be happy with the overall experience. They do try to aim the native resolution at fairly average levels, but if you like particularly high or low you're out of luck unless you can find a really high-end (or low-end) LCD. Good luck finding a reasonably priced 19" that does 1600x1200!

That being said the space and power advantages are great. So if none of that stuff really matters to you, if it's just a PC to surf the 'net, edit documents, watch movies, etc. then no worries. Go for LCD for sure because the slimmer size alone will be worth it.

Now, Miles I do think you arrived at a pretty good system and good budget after all that. I agree that the bigger power supplies are not necessarily better, but given an assumption of equal quality/brand, the higher wattage one is probably better (just gives you more headroom). It also looks like you fixed all the previous problems, including adding a DVD writer and getting rid of the separate DVD and CD-ROM (this drive will take care of all your optical disc needs), going for PCI-E, and getting a decent low-end card. So bravo! The price is even decent. I think you've found a good deal and you will surely be happy with that machine. And you'll be saved from all the nasty software Dell "gives" you. ;)

- Oshyan

mouser

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #44 on: October 07, 2006, 12:48:30 AM »
just to clarify, i don't know anything about dell, and am not really advising buying from them or not.
i was basically advocating making a decision up front, do you want to buy different parts from different places and worry about compatibility issues and put together a custom pc by yourself (which some people love doing), and prepare yourself for the real risk of encountering issues you have to deal with, OR
do you want a nice easy web page where you can configure a system which you know will be designed with components that work reasonably well together, and have a single company to deal with if something is wrong.

so basically i just think that's the very first question to answer, and then you can move on from there.  if you identify yourself as the type that wants a single company with configurable system wizards, then you probably don't need to be worrying about power supply sizes, etc.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2006, 02:08:25 AM by mouser »

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #45 on: October 07, 2006, 01:22:19 AM »
Budget changes again  8) Did you forget XP or found other solution? New video pick will be much easier to use with games, still budget, even the more expensive cards on their list will be considered budget by some, but way better than 6100. With some help www.tweakguides.com I think most new games will run ok - perhaps scaled down to lower resolution but they run.

You want more headaches? Ok, External sound card might be better with some games as in more fps but integrated is not useless. So since on not without limits budget may be take advantage of that and spend more on the important video card? ATI 1300Pro is better http://techreport.co...et-gpus/index.x?pg=1 Use selection box at bottom to see benchmarks where it is compared to 7300GS. 10-20% faster overall for 10$ extra? No sound card almost let budget get away with that. Video card must have highest priority when it comes to games. So what about 1600Pro then  8) With no soundcard that will be 30$ more. Faster again and about to leave budget card label. GeForce 7600GT cost so much more it is another question but I would consider 1300Pro or 1600Pro. 1600Pro not really in same class as the other 2. Difference is bigger than that of 7300GS vs 1300Pro. As is extra cost... Must put foot down at some point but since video is so important I would do what it takes to get 1600Pro. Same you did when picking 160gb hard disk, extra cost but double capacity. Hope you see what I mean - priorities.

ATI or Nvidia you should not pay so much attention to. You can live with both, how many fps per $ is what matters.

Good thinking about the monitor! You do not want to mess what is inside box but have to set up monitor anyway so might as well look for alternatives. Looks ok, best buy if good.

No matter this is a ready to go computer I would still do own check of components. Like running a ram-tester, checking bios settings. I hardly trust myself and external sources I believe only want my money  8) All this is very easy and painless or I wouldnt say it - but return with later questions, many here can guide you through. 5-10 minutes of demonstration and you could build own computer. Basically all you need is a screwdriver, same shop and Dell uses. They dont do much more so when box arrives dont be afraid of tinkering a bit and dont put up with things that only work 50%. Dont experiment though... 

JavaJones

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #46 on: October 07, 2006, 01:47:03 AM »
Oh I heartily agree Mouser. But Dell is very, very glad that you use *them* as the example to represent that option, and I think it's a bad idea to do so. It's playing right into their marketing plan, really. It just doesn't jive with what I know of how you approach most things - focusing on good free or cheap alternatives in software, for example. Dell is the Corel of the PC world. ;)

Fortunately there are lots of decent alternatives with way better ratings and reviews and overall reputations. Puget Custom Computers, ABS, MonarchPC, etc.

- Oshyan

f0dder

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #47 on: October 07, 2006, 05:41:31 AM »
I'm staying away from ATI for a while - their drivers suck. I had some very nasty problems because of ATI.

JavaJones: I don't see ghosting problems here - 8ms speed on one monitor, 12ms on the other. But I'm on 17" not 21", which probably means a lot. Games do look different than on a CRT, but it's only really noticable on fast moving stuff like FPS, where it doesn't really matter. And the monitors are so much nicer for coding, writing, browsing etc. Unfortunately TFTs have spoilt me, so now even 85Hz CRTs flicker to me :/. But unless you're doing graphics, screw CRTs :)

As for Dell... I've only good good experiences with them, but I've shopped for "corporate" PCs and haven't got a crapload of lame programs installed. Wouldn't be surprised if the screw over home users, just about every company does that :). Oh, and Dell are available in multiple countries, so it's pretty easy to refer to :)

dk70: assemling a PC is easy-peasy, buying a pre-built gives you peace of mind and the option to say "shit doesn't work, fixit".
- carpe noctem

dk70

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #48 on: October 07, 2006, 06:46:34 AM »
True but in most cases problem can be fixed locally - with some basic knowledge which Im advertising for. Dont have respect for these plastic components  8) Not even talking about overclocking but lets say video card is not properly installed, needs to be pushed 0.01mm furhter into slot. Solution is open case and do it yourself not sending computer to shop. My theory is this approach translates into better computing - somehow people who know what they use, how things look like, works, run into fewer problems. Not the same as every fixed computer setup or purchase is bad. Not all have interest even if building is easy. Best to dig in at some point.

You can find same oppinions about Nvidia drivers f0dder. You are talking about 2.5 year old drivers and a documented known problem (see ATI knowledge base) which I think still is relevant today for some cards. Depend on chipset as well perhaps. Anyway, we are in 2006, PCI-E, new stuff :) Both Nvidia and ATI have made crap cards and crap drivers. Not really much to do about it.

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Re: Buying New PC. Suggestions?
« Reply #49 on: October 07, 2006, 06:50:17 AM »
You can find same oppinions about Nvidia drivers f0dder. You are talking about 2.5 year old drivers and a documented known problem (see ATI knowledge base) which I think still is relevant today for some cards. Depend on chipset as well perhaps. Anyway, we are in 2006, PCI-E, new stuff :) Both Nvidia and ATI have made crap cards and crap drivers. Not really much to do about it.
I've had unstable nvidia drivers, but never something that resulted in massive data corruption... and yeah, the issue became documented, but they didn't check for it and they didn't fix it for at least 6 months... so fuck ATI, really.
- carpe noctem