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Looking for a DeskTop
Old 03-25-2010, 05:48 PM   #1
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Looking for a DeskTop

I have been looking for a new desktop. I don't do major graphics work or video work. I don't really need speed, but who does not want it. I have been looking at two machines, an Asus and an HP. Major difference is the main chip, Hard Disk size, and Memory. I am leaning toward the HP. I welcome comments. You don't find Dell on my list as I have not found one from them similar. I have owned everything from Osborne to Kaypro, to IBM's. Mac is out, pleas don't turn this into a Mac is better than PC. It may or may not be, but PC is my choice because of about $3,000 of software I presently have.

I know the I7 is faster than the AMD Phenom X4, but not by a lot. I know Bunny did not like AMD, but I don't know why. They do seem to run hot in laptops. Does anyone have a similar PC and can tell me what the noise level is? Comments welcome on graphics card.

From what I can find the bus speed for the HP is 4000 and Asus 1333. Not sure if that is a true comparison.

Asus refurbished $799
Intel® Core™ i7
2.66GHz
1066MHz
8MB on die Level 2
9GB
24GB
  • Type of Memory (RAM)
DDR3
SATA (7200 rpm)
1TB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX260
Up to 896MB (shared)


HP $629
AMD Phenom™ II X4
2.6GHz
4000MHz
2MB on die Level 2
8GB
16GB
  • Type of Memory (RAM)
DDR3 SDRAM
SATA (7200 rpm)
750GB
ATI Radeon HD 4200
256MB (shared); up to 3067MB total available as allocated by Windows 7
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:13 PM   #2
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Noise comes from fans and drives. Since they aren't mentioned, no comment.

If you aren't a gamer, graphics are probably irrelevant. Just buy the cheapest, or better yet buy the parts and build one for a lot less.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:16 PM   #3
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Rustic23, I agree with CFB that Intel is the way to go. AMD is fine, really, but they go out of their way to obscure the comparison by using different terminology. The FSB is actually a major consideration when buying a computer. It is the pipeline thru which all the key components communicate. Good schematic. And as you can see, no matter how good the graphic card is, it still has to pass thru the Northbridge and communicate with the CPU via the frontside bus. The ASUS is a better choice of the two computers you have listed.

The graphics card comparison is enough to send me to the ASUS also. Here is an independent lab assessment of the HD 4200. TomsHardware

On the other hand the Nvidia GTX 260 is a pretty nice graphics choice. See here and these folks are computer nerds giving it 4/5 rating and tons of sales. NewEGG

Easy one in my opinion: ASUS. If you get it, boot into the BIOS and change the FSB setting to 1667 and you'll have a 3.0 GHz machine. It'll run a bit hot but lightning fast.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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Rustic, if CFB were around I'm sure he'd suggest you buy a larger fire extinguisher - several of them.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:55 PM   #5
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Ahhh, here is a nice look at the question of Intel vs AMD, perhaps CFB wrote this.
CFB Guide to INTEL vs AMD

Now that comparison reminds me of a few others of that nature (un-answerable):
1. Better airplanes Concorde or Boeing?
2. Best beer?
3. Best car in 1969, Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro?

Easy huh?
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:32 PM   #6
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Most of those specs are going to only be minor upgrades from a basic laptop. You do want an Intel, because they are cooler, and laptop heat is a huge issue (durability/feel on your lap).

The way to get a really fast and quiet laptop is to get a SSD hard drive (2-3x faster, silent, significantly longer battery charge). Since most basic setups don't come with an SSD, you will have to buy one, put the 1TB loud platter drive the laptop comes with in an external enclosure so you can use it as a data drive, and then put the SSD in there as your OS drive. SSD drives are expensive, $80 for a 30GB, $120 for a 60GB, and $250 for 120GB. They are much more worth spending extra money on though rather than marginal upgrades to other parts of the laptop. You can expect SSDs to completely replace platter drives over the next couple years.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:43 PM   #7
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Plex, agree, but looking for a desktop.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:11 PM   #8
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Rustic, the advice Plex gives is a good idea even though you are going for a desktop, if you got a 30GB SSD and just "ghost" the installed software onto it to use for operating system (about 12GB) and the "programs", that ASUS system would scream.

Keep the mechanical HD in for storing data files.

As some will doubtless point out, the "affordable" SSD are based on MLC technology for read/write so they will wear out fairly quickly, I think the MTBF is 1,500,000 hours.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:02 PM   #9
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I just bought a computer (desktop) this week. I looked at some similar computers to what you looked at but ended up with a Dell Studio SX8100. I find that having a video card with shared memory just really has a negative impact even if the other specs are relatively fine. [We actually had 4, yes 4, computers die in our house in a period of 10 days, all for different reasons]. The computer I replaced which was the household "spare" computer had shared video and even though the other specs were OK it was often painful to use. So finding something with at least some dedicated video memory makes a big difference in my experience. I did decide to go for an Intel i7 rather than the AMD.

Anyway, with the two choices given I would go for the ASUS (FWIW, I don't think that price is all that great for a refurbished computer).
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:21 PM   #10
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Ah, its a desktop. Not much difference it what I would recommend. The Intel would still be an advantage over the AMD, but not by a whole lot. The setups you mentioned are expensive for what you are getting, if it is a desktop. Same advice with the SSD, except I would put the data drive in the 2nd hard drive slot that a desktop has, rather than bother with making it into an external, the data drive will be fairly quite, since you will rarely use it, but it will be much more quite in the desktop case.

If I were to build a computer now, I would first go to Dell outlet and buy this for ($390+50 S/H+25 Tax - $70 Ebay Coupon) = $395. They have about 60 of these available.

Inspiron 545(System Identifier: ZRAPTJTH)

  • Inspiron Desktop 545 MiniTower
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium
System Price:$389.00
Operating System
Genuine Windows 7 Home PremiumMemory
6 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz (4 DIMMs)Hard Disk Drive
640 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)System Color
Piano BlackCertified Refurbished
Certified RefurbishedHardware Upgrade
Dell 19 in 1 Media Card Reader
125V Power Cord
USB Keyboard
Optical 2-Button Mouse
No ModemProcessor
Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core Processor E5400 (2.7GHz, 2MB, 800MHz FSB)Software Upgrade
Windows Live
Microsoft Works 9.0
McAfee Security Center, 30 Day
64BIT Operating System DVDChassis Type
Mini TowerBase
Inspiron Desktop 545 MiniTowerMedia Bay
16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability

I would then go get a decent dedicated video card for $50, 400-500W Corsair power supply for $50, and a 60GB OCZ Agility SSD for $120. I would then install these into the computer (It would take me about 2-3 hours, nothing tricky, half of that time is just installing Windows 7 on the SSD).

Total system cost with upgrades = $395+50+50+120 = $615. It would be very reliable, medium end gaming PC, and as such, would smoke the pants off of normal setups. This is fairly similar to what I did with my 1.5 year old desktop, except I don't have an SSD yet because they were $600 for a 60GB back then and still working the bugs out of them at the time.

Disadvantages are it would have slightly less computing power, but would read/write about 3x faster (which is most of the user experience), the power supply would be much less likely to fry the computer during heavy use, and the graphics card would be better. It is also a little less expensive.

I have had a low wattage power supply fry a system before (about $1,000 of damage), it is one of those components you can't skimp on if you ever expect to do any heavy use. Basic desktops usually come with an inadequate power supply.
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Old 03-26-2010, 01:15 AM   #11
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If you're not doing anything fancy with your PC, you might want to go with this super-LBYM model:

Newegg.com - Acer Aspire Revo AR1600-U910H Intel Atom 230(1.6GHz) 1GB DDR2 160GB NVIDIA ION LE graphics Windows XP Home - Desktop PCs

Yeah, it's a little slow, but likely adequate as long as you're doing the usual web-surfing and light office apps like most folks. Not only is it cheap, it's practically silent and uses less power than a CF lightbulb...

If you want to step it up (faster, wireless, more memory, win7), you could try this one instead:

Newegg.com - Acer Aspire Revo AR3610-U9022 Intel Atom 330(1.60GHz) 2GB DDR2 160GB NVIDIA ION graphics Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - Desktop PCs

Good luck...
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plex View Post
If I were to build a computer now, I would first go to Dell outlet and buy this for ($390+50 S/H+25 Tax - $70 Ebay Coupon) = $395. They have about 60 of these available.
Krex Computers, Inc is, also, a good place to go to -- to build your own or to have them build it for you.

http://www.microcenter.com/ is another option -- particularly if you live near one. They will show you how to build your own.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:55 AM   #13
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I just got a new desktop last month when my old one fell over and died. I looked around a bit and finally went with a ZT Systems from Costco for $599. 8G RAM, 1 T HD, AMD processor, 64 bit Windows 7. I do some work with photos but no games so I couldn't care less about the high end features people debate. I like Costco - they are the Ben and Jerry's of retail.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:51 AM   #14
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Zero, that mtbf may be unexceptionable. It works out to 171 years running 24 hours a day. Not sure that is good enough.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:19 AM   #15
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I'm just curious what the $3,000 in SW is if you don't consider yourself a power user? With OpenOffice available, I have not even purchased MS Office for the newest computer in our home.

I know you said 'desktop', but do you already have a laptop? I'm pretty sure that my next 'desktop' is going to be a laptop, with a 2nd monitor and an external keyboard. Laptops have enough power for me, I find two screens better than one, and then you have something portable when needed. Just a thought.


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Old 03-26-2010, 10:29 AM   #16
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Here's another decent deal with some commentary at slickdeals:

REFURB Gateway SX2800 Desktop Quad Core Q8200 4GB 640GB HD DVDRW HDMI Vista Prem 64-bit $289 shipped ABCB (12.8%) @compusa - SlickDeals.net Forums

$300 or so for a fairly nice desktop build. It does have Vista though... And it is refurbished, which may mean brand new, just a canceled order or someone ordered it, then sent it back unopened.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:22 AM   #17
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Erd50,
I have two laptops and a desktop. An Asus 1000he, a HP game laptop that DW uses most of the time and a desktop. Software Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Expressions Web, two Video editing packages, backup software, five or six games, and a bunch of downloaded stuff. I also programed databases for several years and have four databases based on Access. Most, if not all of these programs can be duplicated on the MAC or Linux, I just don't want to pay the price or learn the alternative program.

If Windows was not in the picture, I would keep the machine I have and reformat the whole drive to a Linux Distro.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:37 AM   #18
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Thanks Rustic23. BTW, that question from me was not any kind of 'back door' approach to try to get to the OS choice question, you were clear about that in the first post. I was honestly curious about $3,000 in SW as I have nowhere near that, and wondered what it would be. I use some open source stuff for some of those, but I'm pretty sure they are clunkier, slower, and not as feature rich as their commercial versions, and would require some re-learning. Good enough for me for my occasional use, but that's a personal choice.


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Old 03-26-2010, 11:49 AM   #19
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If I could find a web editing program that ran in Linux that was a easy as Web Expressions, I would most likely go Linux. Right now this disktop dual boots and I use Ubuntu about 70% of the time with Open Office, and Gimp.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:58 AM   #20
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just goto the delloutlet...you can get a very suitable item for $400 every day

or bump this one's memory up bit:

em Identifier: ZRBL88J9)

  • Studio 540 Mini-Tower: Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q8200 (4MB L2, 2.33GHz, 1333FSB)
  • Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
System Price:$539.00
Operating System
Genuine Windows Vista Home PremiumMemory
4 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz (2 DIMMs)Hard Disk Drive
640 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)Video
256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 supporting HDMIMedia Bay
16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capabilitySoftware Upgrade
Windows Live
64BIT Operating System DVD
Microsoft Works 9.0
McAfee Security Center, 30 DayHardware Upgrade
No Floppy Drive
USB Keyboard
Optical 2-Button MouseScratch & Dent
Scratch & DentBase
Studio 540 Mini-Tower: Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q8200 (4MB L2, 2.33GHz, 1333FSB)
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