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Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 06:17 AM   #1
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Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

OK guys, I need a new PC. My current machine is a 700Mhz toshiba M500 with 1G ram and standard on-board video card...nothing fancy, but it does most of what I generally want: Internet browsin, MS Office and occassionally dabbling in web page creations using frontpage, dreamweaver, (Studio MX) and for browsing and printing my digital pics....besides being 5 years old and likely to expire soon, it is really, really slow when I use adobe photoshop CS. Which I want to use more and more.

So I want to buy a new, very fast machine, primarily to make Photoshop run much, much faster, plus everything else I mentioned above.

Anyone ever buy one of these?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...SubCategory=10

Can anyone interpret the gobbleygook about chipset, processors etc and tell me which of these 3 is the "best" for me. My budget is about $2000, but of course I don't want to pay a lot for things(features) that won't benefit me.

Any other equivalent brands to look at? That give me just as much, or more, *punch* for my $$$$.

Thanks.

-farmerED
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 08:37 AM   #2
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

tomshardware.comhttp://www.tomshardware.com/index.html

is a good place to look for geeky hardware comparisons/shootout articles. I usually try to go for about an 80th percentile machine and then hang on to it for at least 5 years.

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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 10:05 AM   #3
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Couple of things:

Almost all the improvement in recent graphics cards has gone towards 3D performance, and none of the applications you list would benefit from that. High end graphics cards are expensive. You can save some good money by getting a cheaper card.

Is 1Gb enough RAM? Are you swapping a lot in your current setup? You can tell when eg you open "too many" images in photoshop and the program is constantly accessing the hard drive. If that's the case you'll benefit from more RAM, and the speed improvement will be huge. (When a computer doesn't have quite enough RAM it will use the hard drive as extra RAM. That is referred to as swapping. Hard drive access times are on the order of 8ms, while RAM access times are on the order of 10ns.) Getting faster RAM will also be a great benefit to Photoshop, since many of its operations do something simple to every pixel in the image.

Back-ups. A simple backup scheme is to get a large USB hard drive. Every week (or however often you feel like) you copy all your latest pictures onto this backup drive and then unplug the HD. That way when your HD fails you will still have your data. All HDs fail, it's just a matter of time.

Noise. You may want to spend some extra money for larger and more fans. That means the fans don't have to spin as fast, which means less noise. (Like everything else, you can take this to extremes with cases designed for noise damping, or even water cooling systems.)

I guess I don't want to research an entire machine for you, but these are some things you ought to keep in mind. If you have any specific questions, let me know.

Tim
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 10:50 AM   #4
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Like N said : Photoshop- memory and fast hard drive more important than graphics card.

Maybe some Dell bashers here but we've been buyin them for ages. Work horses. Our blade servers crank away in underventilated 110F ovens production tools.

Dimension 5100 with 2.8Ghz latest P4, 2Gb DDR2, 250Gb 7200RPM ATA hard drive and bunch of other decent stuff (minus monitor) about $1,400. 50 gazzillion on-line pricing options. Call em and sometimes you can get a few additional $ off.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 10:56 AM   #5
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

OK, didn't realize that a better vido card wouldn't solve my problem..probably is a memory issue. I am maxed at 1G on my current machine, so I'll still need to upgrade, but now at least I know I don't have to spend $$$ for a 3D state-of-the-art memory card aimed at gamers (which I never use).

Probably going to 2G or more, and upgrading from 700Mhz to 3000 is a good start. I get confused with the all the 64bit/dual core/800MHZ side bus issues...hardware was never my forte'.

Thanks.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 01:40 PM   #6
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Wow, those are expensive systems. If you don't already have one consider budgeting $300-$500 for a nice 19"-21" LCD display. I don't think you need to spend $1500 on a PC these days (unless you're an extreme gamer). Last year I picked up a AthlonXP2800+ w/ 1GB for $500. 12 months later you can probably get a 3200+ w/ 1GB a big HD and DVD/RW alot less than those 64 bit systems. Send TH an email -- he always knows where the good deals are.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 02:52 PM   #7
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

You are probably right...as some of the previous responder pointed out, a high-end graphics card isn't going to improve the Photoshop performance, and I confirmed this elsewhere on the web...more memory, and more CPU speed will help more....perhaps I'll ratchet my budget down, and get machine not spec'ed out for gamers...

I will consider using the extra money for a nice flat/lcd monitor too
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 02:58 PM   #8
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

I agree with JB that even $1500 is quite a bit of money for a new system. I wouldn't go with the $500 budget systems because I like having the higher quality components. Partly this is because it'll make it easier for me to update the box down the road (for instance I wouldn't be surprised if you can't upgrade a $500 cheap box to more than 1Gb or RAM). Partly because I'm somewhat of a hardware snob. (I do live well behind the state-of-the-art though).
Check out this link if you think you may want to build your own machine. At any rate it is a good read to get some idea of what's out there:
http://arstechnica.com/guides/buyer/...ide-200506.ars

You might like the hot rod with less audio/video and more RAM, but even the budget box with more RAM will be a huge step up over what you're currently using.

Tim
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 04:05 PM   #9
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
Originally Posted by farmerEd
I will consider using the extra money for a nice flat/lcd monitor too
Ours is a Sony 19". The only thing I'd replace it with would be a 21". The contrast, colors, and footprint are what monitors should have been years ago!
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 05:30 PM   #10
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

To find out if your RAM is the bottleneck, run your slow app, go to task manager, look at your Peak Commit Charge.* *If that number is higher than your total physical memory, you are swapping to disk, and you need more RAM.* * That's usually the best bang/buck performance improvement you can get, but I'd be surprised if you were swapping with 1GB physical RAM.

The second best bang/buck is faster disks.* * Get a system with a large fast SATA drive, and you should be happy with the speed.* *You can effectively double the speed by configuring two drives as RAID-0, but I doubt you need that much disk bandwidth with your apps.

Very few apps are CPU bound, so don't sweat the processor.

As far as monitors go, I absolutely *love* my Dell 2405 24-inch LCD.* *Best monitor I've ever used.

Check the "outrageous deals" section of Dell's small business site to establish a baseline before you look anywhere else.* *Dell usually has the best deals.

outrageous deals


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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 05:41 PM   #11
 
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
As far as monitors go, I absolutely *love* my Dell 2405 24-inch LCD. Best monitor I've ever used.
Wab,

I have used a LCD 15 inch Monitor for over 4 years now and I am absolutely sold on LCDs. I have a 32 inch LCD TV, but sit about 12 feet away from it.

How far away do you sit from your 24 inch computer monitor? - My laptop is only 14 inch and when I upgrade I am going to get one of those cool 10.6 inch 'mini laptops'.

So, I guess what I'm asking is what do you gain with a 24 inch Computer Monitor over say a 15 inch one?

A serious question.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 05:54 PM   #12
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
So, I guess what I'm asking is what do you gain with a 24 inch Computer Monitor over say a 15 inch one?
CT, there are several important monitor attributes to consider:

1) Resolution
2) Physical dimensions
3) Brightness
4) Color rendering
5) Aspect ratio

The 2405 is WUXGA resolution (1920x1200), which is pretty much the highest rez you can get in a consumer LCD.* * That means you can fit much more information on the display than, say a 1024x768 (which is probably the rez of your 15-incher).

The problem some people have with high resolution is that the fonts are smaller due to the higher DPI.* * The larger dimensions (24-inch diag in my case) make the individual pixels larger, so the fonts are larger, which makes it easier to read.* * *So the combo of higher rez and larger area means that you don't need to sit closer or farther away than you would with your existing monitor.

Monitors vary a *lot* in terms of both absolute brightness and eveness of lighting.* *The 2405 is the brightest LCD I've ever used, the lighting is perfectly even, there is no "light leakage" or dead pixels (both problems plague a lot of other LCDs).

There's quite a bit of variability in terms of color rendering as well.* *The two main parameters are color depth (number of bits) and color temperature.* * The 2405 has deep, warm colors.* *If you like cooler colors, you can adjust, but I find the 2405's colors to be perfect for viewing life-like photos.

Finally, you generally have the choice between "normal" and widescreen aspect ratios.* *If you watch a lot of DVDs, you'll want widescreen.* * More games and other apps are taking advantage of widescreen as well.* * The 2405, in particular, can also serve as an HDTV monitor due to the rez and aspect ratio.

If you are a gamer, you'll also care about pixel response time (and the 2405 is fast enough for gamers).
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 09:32 PM   #13
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
So, I guess what I'm asking is what do you gain with a 24 inch Computer Monitor over say a 15 inch one?
1.* You can open two pages (or two separate documents) side-by-side and see the entire page.
2.* Scroll-free spreadsheets.
3.* A television converter card with picture-in-picture display.
4. Full-scale Windows Solitaire...
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 10:06 PM   #14
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
1.* You can open two pages (or two separate documents) side-by-side and see the entire page.
2.* Scroll-free spreadsheets.
3.* A television converter card with picture-in-picture display.
4.* Full-scale Windows Solitaire...
Well, technically, you can get those benefits with a high-rez 15-inch monitor.

I guess I'll put all my cards on the table. The only reason to get a 24-inch WUXGA LCD is ... life-size porn!
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-11-2005, 11:31 PM   #15
 
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

I would have thought that 24 inches is bigger than life-size.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-12-2005, 05:06 AM   #16
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Two monitors! Don't have to be big. 2000 and XP support the extended desktop. We're all laptopers at work now but it should work fine with a desktop. Don't laugh, it's great, way better than one big monitor. Have your web/outlook connection open on one with your applications on the other. You can be wearing your headset for skyping at the same time and feel like command central !
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-12-2005, 10:50 AM   #17
 
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

If you have a home network and a laptop that is on that network, there's software that will let you use the laptop's monitor as a second monitor. I don't have experience with this, but I've read about it. Here's a link:

http://www.maxivista.com/
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-12-2005, 01:15 PM   #18
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I would have thought that 24 inches is bigger than life-size.
Almost lifesize for me.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-12-2005, 02:25 PM   #19
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Whew, I'm glad somebody else responded to Al. I wasn't going to touch that one with a 2-ft pole.

FWIW, I also use two monitors: a 24-inch widescreen and an 18-inch 4:3 aspect. That way, I can completely indulge my limited attention span by websurfing while watching a movie, or playing a game while crunching a spreadsheet.
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??
Old 08-19-2005, 03:45 PM   #20
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Re: Calling all tech-hardware geeks/PC purchase??

Thanks everyone for the advice, especially nords who sent me this privately:

Quote:
"$836 AR before adding some ram (which is hideously expensive as its dual channel so he should be absolutely SURE he needs more than 512MB/1GB), comes with the dell ultrasharp 20" lcd which all by itself often sells for ~$600
What a deal, $836...by time I finished adding the options it only came out to $2500....oh well, its been five years since I bought the last one.....and that 24 inch monitor sure sounded nice...should be here in a few days.

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