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Ideas for a Cheap Desktop?
Old 11-17-2009, 12:06 PM   #1
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Ideas for a Cheap Desktop?

I'm looking for an inexpensive desktop for my MIL. All she does with it is read email a few times a week and an occasional web search. Her current machine is a creaky old Dell with 256K RAM that is mind numbingly slow. Lately she has had to restart it a number of times to get it to work (whatever that means - she lives an hour away).

My thought is to get an off lease Dell with no monitor, but with XP, so she doesn't have to learn anything new.

Anyone want to step in to CFB's shoes and make a recommendation?
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Old 11-17-2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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Let's start here and you can modify our responses from there.

Intel Dual Core 2.5GHz Bare Bones Computer System New - eBay (item 130324845778 end time Dec-12-09 06:27:12 PST)

Bare Bones Computer - Compare Prices, Reviews and Buy at NexTag - Price - Review
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Old 11-17-2009, 02:45 PM   #3
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Overstock.com has a pretty good selection of used desktops at a reasonable price.

Overstock.com: Online Shopping - Bedding, Furniture, Electronics, Jewelry, Clothing & more
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Old 11-17-2009, 03:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'd forgotten about Overstock. My goal was to get a computer with XP for $200 or less including shipping.

I was looking at this off lease Dell:

http://www.dfsdirectsales.com/StoreCatalog/ctl641/cp/si4338479/cl1/dell_optiplex_170l__2800mhz__1024mb__80gb__win_xpp __cdrw_10100_nic__1_mb_vram?&path=c641-def-USD-230%23%23-1%23%23-1~~c641-def-USD-11867%23%233%23%23at~~f260||62656c6f772024313939~~ nf92||31303234&hits=50&sortby=%2Bprice+%2Bname&off set=0

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by travelover View Post

As you mentioned that your MIL's computer needs are very basic (email and occassional web surfing), I'd think the one on your link should work. I did notice the desktop you are looking at only has a CD, but if your MIL doesn't really have a need for a DVD drive then I'd think that should be fine. Also, it looks like that desktop comes with a restore disc which also is a convenience. Additionally, the increase from 256K to 1GB or ram will be a big help.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:46 PM   #6
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Depending on how literally you mean "doesn't have to learn anything new" and on whether or not you're willing to be a little bit technical, you could try loading Puppy Linux on the old Dell and it might be serviceable for several years. Cost would be $0 but would probably involve a few hours of your time and probably a trip over there.

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Old 11-17-2009, 10:09 PM   #7
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Overstock is a good suggestion. If you find nothing there there's always the local Goodwills, Salvation Armys and resale shops for something cheap and made with real wood (what a novel idea!); of course, your access to great resale depends on the size of your area, also.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:12 PM   #8
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If you find nothing there there's always the local Goodwills, Salvation Armys and resale shops for something cheap and made with real wood (what a novel idea!); .
Yep, a real wood computer would be very novel...
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:48 AM   #9
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I agree if you just install linux she will be able to surf the net and read email on her current machine for years to come. If you don't want to do that take the opportunity to give her your old one and buy you a new one. If you have an old that is....
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:31 AM   #10
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OMG, thanks REWahoo...I read it fast as if she was looking for a desk and not a desktop.

I can suggest this: A friend of mine purchased a number of computers for her, her kid, etc. at a pawn shop. She gets $1K computers for like $300 that way, and never seems to really have any problems with them either.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
As you mentioned that your MIL's computer needs are very basic (email and occasional web surfing), I'd think the one on your link should work. I did notice the desktop you are looking at only has a CD, but if your MIL doesn't really have a need for a DVD drive then I'd think that should be fine. Also, it looks like that desktop comes with a restore disc which also is a convenience. Additionally, the increase from 256K to 1GB or ram will be a big help.
Thanks for the second opinion. We are leaning this way, as her needs are very basic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
Depending on how literally you mean "doesn't have to learn anything new" and on whether or not you're willing to be a little bit technical, you could try loading Puppy Linux on the old Dell and it might be serviceable for several years. Cost would be $0 but would probably involve a few hours of your time and probably a trip over there.

2Cor521
A good suggestion and I'd try it on my own computer, but that would make her head spin. She literally has written step by step instructions just to access her email.

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Originally Posted by heyduke View Post
I agree if you just install linux she will be able to surf the net and read email on her current machine for years to come. If you don't want to do that take the opportunity to give her your old one and buy you a new one. If you have an old that is....
Right, I thought about upgrading my own computer and giving her this one, but it is working great. DW has an extra Apple iMac, but again I can see this freaking MIL out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidflower View Post
OMG, thanks REWahoo...I read it fast as if she was looking for a desk and not a desktop.

I can suggest this: A friend of mine purchased a number of computers for her, her kid, etc. at a pawn shop. She gets $1K computers for like $300 that way, and never seems to really have any problems with them either.
I'm glad there is no wood in computers as I'm sure I'd have termites sent by spammers.

The pawn shop is not a bad idea, either. I was thinking I'd snatch something up in Craigslist, but nearly all are very old or sold by small scale dealers - at prices comparable to Dell outlet.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelover View Post
I'm looking for an inexpensive desktop for my MIL. All she does with it is read email a few times a week and an occasional web search. Her current machine is a creaky old Dell with 256K RAM that is mind numbingly slow. Lately she has had to restart it a number of times to get it to work (whatever that means - she lives an hour away).

My thought is to get an off lease Dell with no monitor, but with XP, so she doesn't have to learn anything new.

Anyone want to step in to CFB's shoes and make a recommendation?
We had a barebones XP machine with similar slowness problems. After I installed the service pack 3 (XP upgrade) the machine crwled along and just couldn't do anything.

Before I laid out ~$250 or more for an upgraded machine I tried the memory upgrade. For less than $40 I bought an extra gigabyte and (really easily) installed it myself. What a night and day difference. The machine was made to go really fast - runs better than it ever had. Everything loads in a jiff now.

Google memory upgrade tutorial to see how simple installing memory is.

I think were good for another 5 years.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:55 PM   #13
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This should work fine. It is an older machine but will do most internet and email well. CPU intensive flash animations may cause it to lag, but it should play youtube vids and CNN news type vids smoothly. I have a dimension 2300 with about 75% of the CPU and memory as the computer you linked, and it works fine as a basic internet/email/photo organizing/basic game computer. And word processing, spreadsheets, music, etc.
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:07 PM   #14
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eMachines EL1300G-02w Refurbished Desktop PC at CircuitCity.com
If she has a LCD TV connect this up and problem solved for $169 plus shipping.


Refurbished Desktop Computers, CircuitCity.com
Noticed they had a batch of computers "off-lease" which would meet your criteria here/.
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:09 PM   #15
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We had a barebones XP machine with similar slowness problems. After I installed the service pack 3 (XP upgrade) the machine crwled along and just couldn't do anything.

Before I laid out ~$250 or more for an upgraded machine I tried the memory upgrade. For less than $40 I bought an extra gigabyte and (really easily) installed it myself. What a night and day difference. The machine was made to go really fast - runs better than it ever had. Everything loads in a jiff now.

Google memory upgrade tutorial to see how simple installing memory is.

I think were good for another 5 years.
Yea, I wondered about that. I updated my own machine and saw a noticeable improvement, but thought this one might be too old to benefit (I'm no techie). Crucial has a neat capability to look inside your computer and make a specific memory upgrade recommendation, nice for the technology challenged, like me.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:01 PM   #16
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I have a Dell laptop that came with 256K and it was running really sluggish. I upgraded the RAM to 2GB and noticed a big improvement.

You may want to find out what CPU your MIL has on her creaky Dell to see if you want to go the upgrade route or off lease route. If, it's a really old pentium, you may want to go the off lease route. Also, if you choose the upgrade route, you would want to make sure the computer is free from spyware, malware, etc. as that can also make browsing really slow and erratic.

You mentioned your MIL lives hours away. Do you have to make a trek over there each time to work on her computer? If so, another possibility is to remote control her machine to avoid the trip.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:55 PM   #17
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I have a Dell laptop that came with 256K and it was running really sluggish. I upgraded the RAM to 2GB and noticed a big improvement.

You may want to find out what CPU your MIL has on her creaky Dell to see if you want to go the upgrade route or off lease route. If, it's a really old pentium, you may want to go the off lease route. Also, if you choose the upgrade route, you would want to make sure the computer is free from spyware, malware, etc. as that can also make browsing really slow and erratic.

You mentioned your MIL lives hours away. Do you have to make a trek over there each time to work on her computer? If so, another possibility is to remote control her machine to avoid the trip.
Latest is that MIL's machine won't even turn on, so I'm thinking maybe it is a hardware failure. I ended up ordering an off lease IBM with 1G RAM for $139 including shipping from Tiger Direct. Hopefully I'll get it before Thanksgiving and can install it when we are there.

The remote control is a great idea and one that I had not even thought of. I've never done this, but I'm sure I can figure it out - sure would save a lot of messing around in the future.

I really appreciate all the help from everyone.
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:18 PM   #18
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Yep, a real wood computer would be very novel...
You mean like this?





Nice, huh?

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Old 11-19-2009, 10:20 AM   #19
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... The remote control is a great idea and one that I had not even thought of. I've never done this, but I'm sure I can figure it out - sure would save a lot of messing around in the future...
There are several remote control applications out there. Two that I've found very easy to use are CrossLoop and Teamviewer. For the most part, after installing their program on both computers (yours as the helper, and the other person's computer who needs help), when the person that needs help runs the program a randomly generated access code shows up on the screen. That person then gives that access code to you and you enter that code while running the program.

I've used both programs before to help a friend from 250 miles away. Of the two programs, I like Teamviewer more. With it, you can even set it up to remotely restart the other person's computer whereas CrossLoop requires the person to be their.

Remotely you can save both time and gas .

Can read more about them here:

CrossLoop - Affordable Online Computer Help - Technical Support Services

TeamViewer - Free Remote Access and Remote Desktop Sharing over the Internet
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:07 AM   #20
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Wow, thanks very much easysurfer. It even looks like software is free.
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