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Author Topic: Buying New PC. Suggestions?  (Read 19247 times)
MilesOhToole
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« on: September 28, 2006, 07:19:20 PM »

What suggestions would you fine people make for me to purchase a PC?  Difficulty:  My budget is around $500.00.

Listening to Clark Howard on talk radio, he's just about discouraged me from Dell.  What do you guys think?
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Deozaan
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2006, 09:41:09 PM »

$500 for a desktop PC isn't too bad of a budget for the average PC user.

Personally, I would buy the parts off of TigerDirect.com or NewEgg.com and put them together myself. However, I can't in good faith recommend that to you because I am not sure of your computer knowledge. For one, you might not know how to put the parts together yourself and for two, you don't get a service contract with technical troubleshooting if you do it that way. I guess you can buy them separately, but most PC manufacturers (Dell, Gateway, HP) bundle them with the sale of the system. Of course you would still get the 1-year hardware manufacturer's warranty, but that might not suit your needs.

What do you plan to use this computer for? Besides word processing, e-mail, and the internet?

Here's a system from TigerDirect for about $470 including shipping but has a $90 mail-in rebate (Expires Saturday the 30th), which would bring it down to $380. This does not include a monitor, but TigerDirect also has a sale on a 19" Flat Panel LCD monitor for $190, which would put you a bit above your $500 budget but not into the $600s.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2006, 09:48:37 PM by Deozaan » Logged

dk70
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2006, 11:37:05 PM »

Would be best if motherboard had PCI-E slot. Most of these cheaper boxes use onboard video, which can be ok for anything but latest games, but should you upgrade in X months it will be a lot easier to find good PCI-E card than AGP. AGP are even more expensive - they are on their way out, availability might be a problem too. So a little extra cost today will be saved later. Seems like there are many options to pick from so should be possible to squeeze in.
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mitzevo
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2006, 01:29:01 AM »

What suggestions would you fine people make for me to purchase a PC?  Difficulty:  My budget is around $500.00.

Listening to Clark Howard on talk radio, he's just about discouraged me from Dell.  What do you guys think?

Well for starters.. it would be good to know what you plan on doing on this new computer... Are you just going to be using the internet? Or do you plan to play games.. (if you do then you wont be able to get a solid gaming computer for $500)

Do you know any thing about computers? Do you know any thing about your requirements for RAM, hard drive space, etc?

I think you should explain more about the problem.. before any one can give a good answer.
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f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2006, 01:56:38 AM »

Yup, we need some usage specs.

If it's just for a bit of word processing and internet usage, just about anything will do. Personally I'd go for a core2 duo and at least 512 megs of ram, graphics card depending on needs (but definitely PCI-E, although onboard with possibility of PCI-E expansion is an okay option too if you don't know if you'll be doing games).
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2006, 06:08:29 AM »

a lot of people are asking you what you intend to use it for, but as Deozaan alluded to, another major issue is how comfortable you are with tinkering vs. how much you want to buy a complete system with a good warranty policy.  one of the real advantages to buying a complete system from a company like dell or gateway is that when something breaks you know who to call and where to send it.

another thing to consider of course is a laptop - the prices of laptops have come down so much lately that you really could get a reasonable laptop for not much more than $500.
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mitzevo
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2006, 07:58:26 AM »

yeah, theres a brand new (or so they so) PCG-K33 Sony Vaio laptop on ebay that Deozaan found after tryna find out the details of model ohmy  mad for about $30... WTF.

Mine happens to be the same model and I was tryng to sell it (not really trying just seeing if any one was interested) and Deozaan finds this $30 one... what the hell..

it's probably stolen, i mean who would sell it at that price? it would make a better gift.. jesus.

* mitzevo angry
« Last Edit: September 29, 2006, 08:10:18 AM by mitzevo » Logged

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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2006, 01:22:29 PM »

Thanks for the replies, fellas.

So, let's say I do want to be able to play games.  Maybe not in ultra-high resolution mode, but a moderately solid system.

Mouser, you're post got me to thinking.  I was considering building one myself, but if something goes wrong, I'm not sure I'll know what component is faulty.  Of course, I do have this 500MHz Dell I'm typing on right now, as backup to get online and possibly figure out any technical problems.

Deozaan, that barebones system looks quite promising.  Other than RAM and the OS, what else would I need to complete it?
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pfflyer
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2006, 01:38:57 PM »

I am hoping to buy a new pc within the next year (I hope!)

I have been looking at the manufacturers below:

http://www.abs.com
http://www.asus.com

You might be able to find something in your price range from them.  Their systems are often listed on newegg.com which was mentioned above.
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tinyvillager
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2006, 01:39:56 PM »

I've been buying these powerspec Pc's for about ten years now,and love them.

http://www.powerspec.com/

I buy them from
http://www.microcenter.com/

There pretty tricked out for around the $500 (US) mark,without monitor btw.

I've had my latest PowerSpec® 8734 for a couple of years now,it came with this for about $400-something

PowerSpec® 8734
Processor   
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT Technology at 2.80GHz

OS   
genuine Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional Edition

System Board   
Biostar P4TSV

System Memory   
512MB composed of 2- 256MB DDR400 SDRAM 184-pin DIMMs

Diskette Drive   
3.5" 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive

Hard Drive   
80GB 7200RPM Ultra ATA/100

CD-RW Drive   
52x32x52x CD-RW Drive

Video   
Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 Chipset

Sound   
Integrated 6 Channel AC'97 Audio CODEC

Modem   
56K PCI Modem MDP 7800

LAN   
Realtek RTL8139C(L) Integrated 10/100 Ethernet Adapter

Keyboard   
Standard PS/2 Keyboard

Mouse   
2-Button PS/2 Scroll Mouse

Speakers   
Stereo Speakers

Warranty   
On-Site Limited Warranty

__________________________________

Later i up the ram to 2gig,it can handle 4
Slapped in a second hard drive 300 gig
Changed video card to 9600 radeon
I've switched out cd-rom/dvd-roms drives a couple of times-i burn alot so you'll have that-got a dvd-burner
and a cd-rom/dvd-reader.  

All in all i'm very happy with Powerspec,i don't know where you live but if it's in the US check out
http://www.microcenter.com/ they've always treated me with respect.

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mouser
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2006, 01:48:30 PM »

here's another peice of advice:
if it were me, id rather have a lower power cpu and a bigger lcd monitor.
i don't notice cpu power much but the screen is something you look at constantly.
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2006, 01:53:27 AM »

Tinyvillager, thanks for the link.  I'm bookmarking those sites.

here's another peice of advice:
if it were me, id rather have a lower power cpu and a bigger lcd monitor.
i don't notice cpu power much but the screen is something you look at constantly.

Haha.  Now that's a great example of unconventional wisdom!   Thmbsup
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Deozaan
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2006, 05:38:36 PM »

Deozaan, that barebones system looks quite promising.  Other than RAM and the OS, what else would I need to complete it?

Maybe this is an oversight but it looks like the only thing you would need is a keyboard, mouse, speakers and OS if you got the barebones and the monitor. If you have your OS installation disc from your old computer, I think it is legal to install it on the new one, especially if your old PC isn't in use anymore. But I might be wrong on that. You'd have to read the EULA.

Of course, to play games you'd want a better video card than the integrated one, and as people have mentioned here, PCI-Express is the future of that, but this system only has AGP. Which isn't bad, necessarily, but might make it harder to upgrade later. As for video cards, I swear I saw this on this site somewhere else before but I can't find it, so I'll link directly to Tom's Hardware - The Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money. Tom's Hardware compared the cards in price ranges and offers the best ones available for the budget.

here's another peice of advice:
if it were me, id rather have a lower power cpu and a bigger lcd monitor.
i don't notice cpu power much but the screen is something you look at constantly.

That's why I suggested a 19" LCD. For game playing and watching videos, you'll want to get a monitor with very low response time. The first LCD I got was about 15ms, and I could still notice ghosting, especially with dark/red colors. My current one is 2ms and I don't notice any ghosting that's not visible on any CRT. The average right now (I'm guessing) is about 8-12ms. It just depends on how sensitive your eyes are.

I don't know about you, mouser, but I use my PC for all kinds of different things that push its CPU/RAM/Video limits. So a big monitor is very important, but I also need good processing power. Of course any of these things can be updated at a later time (especially a monitor), unless your motherboard prevents you from your CPU/RAM/Video card.

It's also important to note that while many computers have the physical space to put up to 4GB of RAM, Windows SP2 (32-bit) does not recognize more than 3GB. But that's probably not affordable in a $500 budget.

Sometimes what I do is buy a decent computer and not worry about a couple things when I know I can upgrade later when I have more money. For instance, I first bought a computer with 512MB RAM, then my brother bought a new computer and I split the cost of a 1GB with him and gave him my 512MB and I used the 1GB for my own computer (saved him, and myself some money!).
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f0dder
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« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2006, 09:08:10 AM »

Make sure the computer has pci-e and not AGP! It's getting harder by the day to find AGP video cards.
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2006, 05:33:52 PM »

Thanks for the advice about not buying a PC that uses AGP.  I didn't know it was being phased out.

I work for my local EOC (emergency operations center).  They have a corporate account with Tiger Direct (or globalcomputers.com, actually) and said they'd get me a custom built computer at a discount.

Tomorrow I'll place the order.  Anything specifically (like PCIe) I should ask for?
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2006, 05:37:34 PM »

its true that agp is being phased out, but im not sure how much you care about that - it's not like it really effects you except if you wanted to upgrade one day to a faster graphics card, and by then in a few years youll want to upgrade the whole thing, so i'm not sure it matters.
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mouser
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« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2006, 05:38:40 PM »

like i said before id be more focused on the monitor to tell the truth, since that is where they are likely to cut corners to bring the price down.
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f0dder
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« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2006, 06:04:08 PM »

If you can get a core2duo CPU for a reasonable price, go for it - kickass performance and low power usage (and thus heat generation). Speficially core2duo, not just "core" - stupid intel for having confusing naming schemes. If that's too expensive, probably go for an amd64 (should be cheap, and lower power usage than pentium4).

If you want affordable graphics but still okay performance, a GeForce 6600 should be okay - and cheap by now, since it's "last year's model".

512meg ram, or a gigabyte if you can get it cheap. Less than 512 is going to be a pain.

Humm... there's probably more. Do you need a monitor, dvd burner, etc?
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2006, 06:19:41 PM »

its true that agp is being phased out, but im not sure how much you care about that - it's not like it really effects you except if you wanted to upgrade one day to a faster graphics card, and by then in a few years youll want to upgrade the whole thing, so i'm not sure it matters.


Noted.  Hmm...so AGP isn't to be crossed off the list entirely then.  Thanks, mouser.

f0dder, I was planning on the AMD Athlon 3600+

Oh, and forget about the budget being $500.00...I have (just don't tell my wife)

I don't really need a keyboard or mouse but must have a new monitor.  The one I'm using is a 17" Gateway EV700 that's defective.  It's darkened so bad that I had to download a program called Monitor Calibration Wizard to brighten it back up.  I'm thinking about a 17" LCD, depending on the price.  I don't have any space limitations, so a CRT monitor would be OK, too.
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f0dder
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« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2006, 06:25:02 PM »

The thing with AGP is that it *is* being phased out, and greedy corporate bastards have realized this, so "new" AGP cards are often more expensive than their PCI-e counterparts - at least here. And pci-e has been around for long enough now that it shouldn't be an extra expense to get a board with it.

17" TFT is great, I've got two of them. Do mind the refresh rate if you're going to watch movies or play games... well, shouldn't be a much of a problem with today's TFTs, unless you're picky. But not higher than 25ms or you might get bad ghosting.
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app103
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« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2006, 08:15:56 PM »

A tip from my dad was to buy a major brand...refurbished.

It's cheaper than totally new...and you'll get more bang for your buck.

My daughter's laptop carries an original price tag of about $3000...my dad paid $1500, including a 2 year extended warranty.

My desktop has an original price tag of about $1200...my dad paid about $800.

Both are HP's.
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f0dder
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« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2006, 05:33:27 AM »

"Refurbished" has a bad sound to it, though. Especially "refurbished harddrive".
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app103
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« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2006, 07:20:15 AM »

"Refurbished" has a bad sound to it, though. Especially "refurbished harddrive".


HP's refurbs are good. Someone sends something back that is under warranty and they replace with a new pc. Then they take a look at what is wrong with the one sent back, replace the defective parts, wipe the HD's and reset the OS, and then test it, repackage it and resell it.

They don't actually fix individual parts...they replace them with new.

Often times you are getting a little more than you were supposed to.

In the case of my desktop, it was supposed to be 3.0 ghz with 512mb ram...turned out to be a 3.2 ghz with a gig of ram.
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2006, 11:24:47 AM »

Ok fellas, check this out and tell me what you think.  I've "built" a system online at globalcomputers.com (where my employer will get me a discount).

Here's the specs:

¤Intel Pentium D 840 3.2 GHz Dual Core Processor

¤Windows XP Home (to be upgraded later to Pro)

¤1GB DDR400 PC3200 Memory

¤250GB 7200RPM 3G SATA II Hard Drive

¤52X CDROM

¤16X DVD Drive w/Cyberlink Software (whatever that is...)

¤ATI Radeon 9500 256MB AGP (I know it's AGP, but the system I'm working with didn't offer a PCIe card)

¤Integrated 10/100 Network Adapter

¤3.5" Floppy Drive

¤17" .27 CRT Monitor

Price (before my employee discount) $759.97

The system I built upon is THIS one.  Let me know if you think there's anything critical to upgrade or downgrade at this point.

And thanks again.
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mouser
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« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2006, 11:40:03 AM »

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.
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