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Computer recommendation

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jfrancis, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I'm looking for a new PC. Preferred specs are Pentium 3.2 GHz processor (or above), 2 GB RAM, two hard drives (one 74 GB 10,000 rpm; one 250 GB), twin optical drives.

    I've looked at Dell, Alienware and others, but get put off by the mixed reviews of most builders that I read about.

    Anyone with good experience of buying a custom built PC that can offer a recommendation?
  2. John, not sure about the optical drives but I've been really happy with Gateway. We use them at work, in fact my laptop is 4yrs old and never a problem. My wife has the 17" laptop and never a problem and my home desktop is a 2.4Ghz with never a problem. Guys at work have Dells and they've had issues. Most of the other true geeks there build their own, but I can vouch for Gateway.
  3. Well if you want the best then why not let Ron Reznick build one for you? That will be one superfast computer ....
  4. faenix


    Jun 21, 2005
    Bayside, NY
    building your own computer will save you lots of money in the long run. Remember, computers are thw worst investment.
  5. IxLr8

    IxLr8 Guest

    Ya, I would do the build your own deal if you're inclined that way. I like AMD stuff here and the speed never ceases to amaze me.
  6. Before I switched to Apple computers (dual G5s) I was building my own PCs every couple of years. Some excellent resources for finding out who has good mother boards, etc... are
    Although I haven't read these sites for a while, they should all have articles about building custom PCs. They usually have lists of the components they recommend in a PC in three different price ranges.

    I would not buy a Dell, Gateway, etc..., but that's me. I wanted the best bang for my hard earned money. If you do buy custom, try to buy as many of the parts locally even if they cost a little more. That way if a component fails, you can bring it back to the store instead of shipping it and waiting for a month until you get a replacement.

    Hope that helps.
  7. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
  8. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Love to . . . but I suspect it will significantly exceed the $2-3K budget I have for this project.
  9. The answer would depend on your needs and abilities ...
    If you are not computer savvy and need help and support Dell would be a good solution as they have 7/24 help and onsite service available for up to 3 years. I've owned 2 Dell laptops and was quite happy with the service and support.

    If you are computer savvy I would recommend building your own, you get to put in the components you want and you have a good idea of how its built should you have any problems and need to troubleshoot.

  10. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    New PC

    I have purchased several desktop computers and laptops from Dell and have always been quite pleased with the quality and service.

    That would be the easiest. When I decided to become more specific, I contacted a local computer store that offered custom building and defined what I wanted in a computer.

    The best way is to build your own. I am currently using one I built that has a 3.6Ghz CPU with 4 GBs of DDR2 RAM and two 300GB SATA hard drives. For components it is hard to beat www.newegg.com. They are fast, reliable, trustworthy and have competitive prices.

    IMO, if you aren't going to build your own, buy Dell.
  11. I have my computers built locally and to my specs. Any problems and they fix it free and quickly.
  12. Hey Chris, nice shot of The Swimmer. Where is it? My avatar is of a statue I call the "Scottsdale Cowboy" which is on Main street in Old Town Scottsdale at the turn about west of Scottsdale road. It's just past Malee's on Main. If you haven't been to Malee's, it's a great Thai restaurant. Here's my take on Malee's.

    Gordon, great point. I forgot to mention that one. I think that would be my first choice as well. My second choice, depending on how tech savvy you are, is to either build your own or get a Dell. I don't know anything about the quality of service for Alienware, but many of my friends and family use Dell and are happy.

    Of course you could always go Apple. Although, if you want a beast of a computer like a dual G5 PowerMac with 2Gigs of Ram, etc... I'd wait until the switch to Intel is complete. But if you wanted a Powerbook or iMac, buy now.
  13. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    I think your specs are on the low side. My workstation outspecs that box and it's over 2 years old:
    Pentium 3.2 GHz HT processor 800MHz FSB
    4GB dual-channel RAM
    1.5 TB of data storage
    16x dual layer DVD burner.

    And my box is slow for my needs. I think you should get one of those dual core processors, (I would).

    I'd go with alienware... They concentrate on gaming computers - the most demanding and cutting edge applications on the market. Their computers are usually well priced and on the bleeding edge.

    Why would you need twin optical drives?
  14. Where did you get your 1.5 TB of storage? What do you have and how is it broken out (i.e., 3x500GB HDDs, internal, external, brand, etc...)?

    What do you think your bottle neck is Gregory?
  15. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    4x250GB IDE + 1 250GB SATA + 1 300GB IEEE1394 (firewire) + 1 200GB IEEE1394.

    I think the bottleneck is in the processor speed. It's really noticible with processor intensive tasks such as decoding RAW, NR, stuff like that. HT doesn't really work as well as a true dual processor system, I should have taken the time to actually setup a DP system, but I was kinda in a crunch and the MBs are a bit hard to come by locally.

    My system is tweaked so that it doesn't runs only a minimal set of tray icons (there's like 1 thing in the startup routine) and it's liquid cooled, but not overclocked for stability reasons (it's my main graphics processing workstation).

    My internet box is more typical with 2GB RAM, 80GB HD 3.0GHz P4 processor, but it's tweeked to run optimally too. I'm surprised at how some people set up their systems. I know lots of people that have similarly configured systems that run waaaaaayyyyy slow. Luckily for me, people no longer ask me to fix their computers as I quit IT a while back and few people know of my background.

    Now they ask me to take 'snapshots' for them :/
  16. Gregory, what did you optimize? Did you MSConfig (or services.msc) a few things to not start at boot time? What's are some good resources for someone looking to tweak their system? Thanks.
  17. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    Hi Kim,

    Yes, one of the things I do is go through the services and change the startup options of services I don't use.

    But there are several other things I do too, such as turn off indexing services (I don't do local searches, ever), create a permanent swap file, place swap discs on fast dedicated swap drives, fine tune network performance, tweak BIOS settings (be careful with BIOS tweaks, record what you change and backup your data before you do - a wrong change could prevent your computer from starting, or worse yet, corrupt your data), driver settings, application preferences (many apps hook into the system and add to the processor load unnecessarily), and stuff like that.

    Other things I do is disable application help screens and stuff that keep poping up (supposed to make using an app easier, but I just find them plain annoying). That MS paperclip dude is my pet peve, annoys me to no end.

    As far as the best resources for stuff like that, I really don't have any. I usually go by trial and error, and/or do internet searches on specific issues.

    Every system is a little different and different users use different things, so I don't really belive there's one 'optimal' setting for every computer (otherwise, Microsoft would have defaulted the system that way). It's a balance of what you need, your resources how you work.

    One of the biggest issues I find with most people's computers is that they start out fast when they buy it, but get progressively slower as they use it. The main reason for this, is simple upkeep.

    Installing applications, as I mentioned, pops dumb icons and stuff into the system tray that most users have no idea what it does and never use it. This not only lengthens startup time, but also slows down overall system performance. I delete everything from the startup sequence (in the registry 'load' and 'run' and the startup folder). On my main workstation the only apps I have starting automatically is the color cabration LUT loader and an app to eject the CD from the keyboard).

    Other issues also arrise from installing/uninstalling apps - they leave footprints all over the system. Use a registry cleaner to delete dead references in the registry (I sometimes go through it manually and delete stuff). A bloated registry can cause slow load times and can also become unstable if it gets too big.

    Spyware is another biggie. Use an app like spybot to remove spyware, as they leach system resources and track your surfing behavior.

    General cleanup works well too, purge temp folders, and miscellaneous temp files and stuff like that -ccleaner is a good app for that.

    After you clean up your system, run a virus check (some systems actually have viruses running that the user doesn't know about), and then run a disc optimizer.

    Another thing I get rid of is stuff like the "my search" bar on IE and other things that plug in and clutter the browser.

    Here's what my browser looks like - Opera (the world's fastest browser) is my main one, in the background, running at 150% magnification. Firefox is in the foreground) - essentailly just the bare essentials. I never use any of that other fancy stuff, so I get rid of it.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    There's a lot more, but all this stuff is just from the top of my head. I don't have any books or anything, so I wouldn't know what to recommend with respect to that. Maybe someone here can recommend something?

    Hope that helps a little. Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
  18. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I assume this is your livelihood. 1.5 TB of data storage is a lot even by today's standards - at least for a reasonably advanced hobbyist like myself. Point taken on the dual core processor. I'll look into that. I want dual optical drives to make copying CDs and DVDs easier.

    I really like Alienware's specs, but I was put off by many reports of people having enormous difficulties in actually getting the mail-in rebates that they advertise.

    Today I spoke to a local custom builder that will put a machine together for the cost of the parts plus $80. Of course he makes money on the parts too, but that's what I would have to pay to assemble it myself. $80 seems a small price to pay for avoiding any potential problems in getting it running.
  19. John (jfrancis), I hope this is all helping(?). Although it's not all directly helping you decide which computer to get, it will help later on (assuming you didn't already know all of this stuff).

    As far as the local builder, does he offer any type of warranty on his work? If yes, than $80 seems like a good price for the warranty alone.

    Gregory, thanks for the answer. I'm a Mac guy now, but in my Windows days I did many of the things you mentioned but not all. I had a few helpful sites I used for optimizing my windoz boxes.

    Black Viper (BV) had a website dedicated to describing services and what happened when you turned them on and off, etc... BV has recently disappeared from the web. Someone backed up his site: http://www.dead-eye.net/WinXP Services.htm, but I can't be sure they didn't change anything. Another site that describes XP's services is The Elder Geek on Windows XP Services.

    As far as spyware goes, I used spybot and ad-aware as each program would usually find stuff the other didn't. Plus, both programs are free.

    Many people don't defragment their hardrives either. This can be a huge source of slowdown as well and it's easy to do. Which disc optimizer do you use?

    I've been a Firefox user for a long time. I've switched many people to in place of IE. I've also switched a few over to Thunderbird (Mozilla's email program for those unfamiliar with it) in place of Outlook Express. The Microsoft programs are just too full of holes, that when discovered go unfixed for months, unlike their Mozilla counterparts (or Opera for that matter). Plus the Mozilla programs are free. For those that didn't know, Opera offers a free version of their web browser, although it displays ads in the screen. I think the ad-free version is around $30.

    I used to run Zone Labs' Zone Alarm as well. Although it may use some of your resources, I like knowing both what's coming in AND going out of my computer.

    Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has written about some of these issues on a basic level in a few of his articles. Here are a couple:

    Other than that, some of the sites I posted earlier also have information on optimization and maintenance. Here they are again: http://www.tomshardware.com/index.html, http://www.anandtech.com/, http://www.sharkyextreme.com/, and http://arstechnica.com/index.ars.
  20. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Yes - it is helping very much. Good discussion. This builder (actually a chain of small computer stores here in central FL) offers a one-year warranty and he's only 10 minutes down the road.
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