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  1. #11
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    A $400 box would be quite sufficient here. 2mb of Ram, whatever the slowest dual-core you can get for next to nothing is, and a modern, but not super fast graphics card. Something like the $50 Ati 2400. Why would you want a $200 card that drinks power and is noisy, for browsing the web?
    Point taken on the graphics card, but not the processor. I'd say that getting the slowest one is a bad idea... I'd suggest buying the one that's one or two steps down from the one you consider too expensive. The one right at the point before the cost spikes significantly.

    The problem is, you have to make sure it can surf the web and write documents on Vista and Office 2007. This isn't XP anymore, much more demanding even for basic tasks.
    I have a desktop with a slower processor than that, an X1950 and 2mb of ram. As a barebones kit it cost me $250. It flies the above tasks, because I'm not gaming.
    2MB? I don't see any reason to be that cheap. I disagree, still think she needs at least 2GB, but at most 4GB.

  2. #12
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    Point taken on the graphics card, but not the processor. I'd say that getting the slowest one is a bad idea... I'd suggest buying the one that's one or two steps down from the one you consider too expensive. The one right at the point before the cost spikes significantly.


    2MB? I don't see any reason to be that cheap. I disagree, still think she needs at least 2GB, but no more than 4GB.
    Haha, yeah, typo. 2gb :P

  3. #13
    Senior Membrane spirilis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    My laptop monitor keeps dying. It's time to get rid of it and get a desktop (yes, I'm sure I want a desktop). I'm a PC user who will not be swayed to Apple. Any advice for purchasing a new desktop?

    My purposes for the computer involve:
    *Writing a whole heck of a lot of papers for my new Humanities degree (but good-bye lab reports!)
    *Storing music
    *interacting online

    Thoughts:
    *I HATE slow. I'm assuming a new PC will come equipped with Vista and I don't want to be dragged down. Enough processor power to not bow to Vista. I don't need enough to kick Vista's rear end to Mars and back, but enough to hold ground and not frustrate me while I'm researching for a paper/writing a paper/watching Youtube/listening to iTunes/IMing/reading forums/going through multiple brower tabs. I usually have 30 tabs open on two windows of Firefox.
    *Ideally buy a computer that will last a long time. (i.e. will not be so obselete that it won't be able to keep up with typical functions in a decade from now)


    How much computer do I need? I vaguely recall there being a difference between "Core 2 Duo" and "Dual-Core"... is there one? (Is Core 2 Duo the name? Please explain.)
    How are you looking to purchase this new computer? From a major vendor, build it yourself, have a friend build it for you, buy from a small vendor (which basically just builds it for you and provides strawman "support")? Are you open to any of the above?

    I'd recommend purchasing from a major vendor for support reasons--gives you a phone# to call if stuff breaks. Looks like the technical specs have been discussed heavily around here; for what you've described of your requirements I'd say a dual-core (ie Core 2 Duo) proc with 2GB of RAM, and as much hard disk space as you can afford. That should support massive multitasking. For even better multitasking the quad-core processors can be a good choice. But if you're going crazy like that, might as well consider 4GB RAM too. It's all about your budget at this point.

    For the graphics cards I have no opinion but I'd pay close attention to the monitor you buy--look for high contrast ratios and high resolution (I'm a fan of ~20-22" widescreen LCD monitors) since you will be staring at this for hours and hours.

  4. #14
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help, all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
    How old is your laptop?
    Bought August 2004. It's a Toshiba Satellite, whose battery I have long since killed, which is not worth replacing IMO because the monitor keeps dying. (I can hear the drive functioning... but the screen just dies.) It started happening during Winter semester and I'm too chicken to let that be my computer while I'm writing a bunch of papers this fall. Not trash by any means, it does have a P4, but NOT reliable when my GPA is counting on my laptop.

    As it works out, my (ESFP?!) sister is BFF with some uber-nerd guy who builds his own servers in a half hour and can apparently get parts for wholesale. She is going to try to hook me up, so it sounds like things will work out nicely.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  5. #15
    Senior Membrane spirilis's Avatar
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    yeah, you need something reliable Sounds like a promising supplier you have there!

    And of course remember, the most important thing on your computer is your data. Be sure to back it up frequently, to either an online data store or an external hard disk, flash drive, or similar. Hardware can be purchased, the only copy of your thesis rough draft on your crashed HDD cannot...

  6. #16
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    Bought August 2004. It's a Toshiba Satellite, whose battery I have long since killed, which is not worth replacing IMO because the monitor keeps dying. (I can hear the drive functioning... but the screen just dies.) It started happening during Winter semester and I'm too chicken to let that be my computer while I'm writing a bunch of papers this fall. Not trash by any means, it does have a P4, but NOT reliable when my GPA is counting on my laptop.
    For the time being, see if anyone you know has a old CRT monitor lying around. There is probably a VGA port somewhere on the laptop (the blue one), plug the monitor into it, and there is a basic key combination you can hit to make it display on the external monitor instead of the laptop's monitor. (Usually Fn+F3). That should solve your problem, as odds are that the video chip/board in the laptop is fine, it's just a flakey monitor.
    I-95%, S-84%, T-89%, P-84%

  7. #17
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    I recently upgraded my box, so I had a lot of catching up to do on current technology, but after doing that I think I can offer a few comments and suggestion on this.

    If the goal is to run Vista reasonably well for word processing, music and web browsing, you don't really need a very powerful processor for that, and the video card can be low end too. What you do NOT want to skimp on is the RAM, 2GB should be plenty tho (for non-gamers), but going for 4GB would not a bad idea (note that Vista32 will only see like 2.9 to 3.2GB of that or so (from what I understand this is due to a technical factor that affects all 32 bit opperatign systems so its not a flaw in vista, but a mathematical limitation (Vista64 does support more memory, but I would stay clear of that unless you have a specific reason to use it)). The other area I would invest a bit more in would be the hard drive, a 750GB HD will not cost a whole lot more than a 250GB or 320GB drive, and it may seem like overkill to have that much space, but since you did list storing music, I'd recommend getting a 750GB (or larger, but after that the price will start to escalate a lot) hard drive.

    CPU.
    Ars Technica (a good resource for tech stuff whose recomendations I put a lot of weight in) recommends an AMD Athlon64 X2 4600+ or Intel Pentium E2160, E2200 and E2220 in their "budget box", but I've seen good prices on E7200s. If your buying a pre-built box, look for an "Athlon64 X2 ####" or "Intel E####" in the processor specification. - If I'm not gaming, processor use rarely exceeds 5%, its not the OS that CPU hungry, its the specific apps (or games of course) you use with it (thats on an E8400 for reference, but I think any of the above should handle Vista very well).

    Memory.
    Anythign with 2GB or more should run vista very well.

    Video Card
    Although the videocard is not that important for non-gaming stuff, I would recomend getting a low end card that supports DirectX 10. I bought a Nvida 9600GT for my system (cheaper than an 8800GT, but not quite as powerful (or power hungry)), its probably a lot more power than you need tho since your not planning to play games on it. Any Nvidia card with the format of 8#### or 9#### should be fine for your needs. ATI cards have a more complicated numbering system, so its best to check indiviual cards to see fi they support directx 10 if you are considering a system with an ATI card.

    HD.
    Aside from a size target of 750GB, the only important thing here is to look for SATA (most new drives are). If you are building your own, you also want to make sure the motherboard supports SATA II drives or you could have a bit of a headache installing it. If the system is pre-built, compataibility should not be an issue there.

    Monitor/Display.
    Pretty much your preference, but if you get a LCD flat panel display (which are also faily much standard on new systems now), you might want to take note of what resolution you prefer working in and try to find one where that is the "native resolution" so it does not need to resample the output going to the monitor (which in some cases can cause minor image imperfections).

    OS.
    Since Aero has been mentioned, its worth noting that the "basic" version of vista does not include that (its the fancy UI with the transparecy and all that), so you want to get at least "Vista Home Premium" if you want the Aero interface.

    Anything else in the specs is pretty much bells and whistles, but some nice things to look for are front panel USB and headphone ports, built in support for E-SATA (external SATA drives) and you might want to pay attention to the DVD specification to make soure you are gettign one that records (DVD-R, DVD-RW etc as opposed to just a DVD ROM) since those are pretty cheap these days they should be standard.

    Those are just my recommendations, and even then the only one I think is really important is the memory, Vista is memory hungry, so having more memory should give a more noticable impact than any other component (with 1GB to 2GB where you should see the worthwhile difference). If you are working with a system builder you trust to be knowedgable, they can probably make a good optimized cheap build to do what you want, but if your doing pre-built dell/gateway etc, the above specs should help you get a box that does not suck.

  8. #18
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    I have just bought an iMac with 4 Gigs of RAM and 2 Teras of Hard Drive with a fast processor to match. And yes, a 24 inch screen.

    It is truely a beautiful machine. It is so beautiful I think I have died and gone to heaven.

    I maxed it out because I am starting to make video but so far I am not even touching its potential.

    Here it quietly sits in front of me making no noise and following my every instruction. Surely something will go wrong. But not yet. Hey, maybe never.

    They didn't tell me heaven would be like this.

  9. #19
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    I have just bought an iMac with 4 Gigs of RAM and 2 Teras of Hard Drive with a fast processor to match. And yes, a 24 inch screen.

    It is truely a beautiful machine. It is so beautiful I think I have died and gone to heaven.

    I maxed it out because I am starting to make video but so far I am not even touching its potential.

    Here it quietly sits in front of me making no noise and following my every instruction. Surely something will go wrong. But not yet. Hey, maybe never.

    They didn't tell me heaven would be like this.
    Oh yes, I've bought a Dell 24" glossy 1080p monitor. It's so nice on the eyes browsing the web etc

  10. #20
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    As it works out, my (ESFP?!) sister is BFF with some uber-nerd guy who builds his own servers in a half hour and can apparently get parts for wholesale. She is going to try to hook me up, so it sounds like things will work out nicely.
    Very good. You should probably listen to him instead of us, actually.

    Of course, now I want to ramble about processors... more just to hear myself talk than anything else.

    I've realized that I probably went over with the graphics card, since that's the lowest one I've tested Vista on... was afraid to use anything less based on what I had heard about Vista's ridiculous requirements.

    But I still recommend an E6850 or better as a processor. Unless your budget is severely cramped, there's no reason to go cheaper than that.

    E6850: $190 (3.0GHz, 2 cores, 6MB cache)
    Q6600: $200 (2.4GHz, 4 cores, 4MB cache)
    E4600: $120 (2.4GHz, 2 cores, 2MB cache) *cheapest option*

    Is it worth $80-$90 dollars to lose that much performance? That's very little money you get for the increased performance, especially considering how much higher-end processors go for, how much they use to charge for them in the past, how much you typically spend on other components in a system, and how important the processor is.

    You can choose whether to go for more cores, or more speed. No need to go as low as possible. I'd recommend the more expensive E6850 or Q6600, and wouldn't think it was such a bad idea to go a little higher if your budget isn't too tight.

    I really don't understand all these people asking you to go as cheap as possible on the processor.

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