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New Computer purchase 2010
Old 11-09-2010, 06:53 PM   #1
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New Computer purchase 2010

I seem to be locked up in pulling the trigger on buying a new computer.
Using the computer for web surfing, photo editing, spread sheets, email.

Requirements:
Desktop
Windows 7, DVD RW, USB ports, flat screen monitor, Graphics card, speed over 2.5G, 4G ram.
Most hard drives offered these days seem plenty big.

Would like to get this for about $500 - $800.
I was thinking of ordering from the Dell or HP factory sites.

For a little extra $, I could get something faster, more reliable and upgradable, if I know what I am doing (which I do not).

One thing that I find to be a stumbling block is how to rate the dozens of microprocessors that are offered on the lower end computers.

Factory sites vs big box stores?
Computer recommendations?
Thoughts on microprocessors?

Help (!) me pull the trigger and buy something.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

Free to canoe
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:57 PM   #2
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Hello free to Canoe - Check out the "Which desktop is right for you" here Amazon.com Desktops, Servers, & Accessories: Desktop computers, servers, accessories, components, drives, storage, lcd monitors, and more
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:15 PM   #3
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I found when looking for a computer a few months ago that I wasn't happy with computers in the price range you are talking about because the graphics and video memory were inadequate. Many people overlook this and find that the lack of separate video memory really degrades performance.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:26 PM   #4
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I really like my inexpensive Dell desktop computer and have never felt it lacking for my purposes in any way.

Oddly, I bought it a few years ago at Best Buy. I had decided on what configuration of Dell I wanted at the Dell website, and priced it on the website (including my federal employees' discount). It wasn't much, maybe around $500-$600.

But before I ordered it, I discovered that Best Buy had very nearly this same particular inexpensive configuration of Dell at the time, and it was on sale for even less. So I bought it there.

Anyway, I'd recommend Dell. Look for sales. As for microprocessors, I always choose Intel.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:29 PM   #5
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We are so close to Thanksgiving that I would research some of your picks so you could be ready if one was a Black Friday special .
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:39 PM   #6
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You might want to watch the deals posted on FW and SD.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
I found when looking for a computer a few months ago that I wasn't happy with computers in the price range you are talking about because the graphics and video memory were inadequate. Many people overlook this and find that the lack of separate video memory really degrades performance.
Thanks. I have been regretting not getting the graphics card in the past. Won't make the same mistake. Video memory?

OBGYN65
Working the link as we speak but the computer is going slooooow.
Guess I need a new one.

Moemg
Black Friday. Good idea.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:52 PM   #8
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If I was to buy a new computer (not at the moment, hopefully, as I'm still trying to put some life back into my old laptop) I'd look for one with a "quad core" processor. I like AMD processors but either AMD or Intel would be fine. Was over at a friend's house in August. Her husband and a friend of his had built a computer that was quad core and I noticed how swift the computer ran.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:59 PM   #9
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You might want to watch the deals posted on FW and SD.
FW?

SD?

Free to canoe
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:33 PM   #10
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FW?

SD?

Free to canoe
These are deal shopping sites

Fatwallet.com
Slickdeals.net
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Free To Canoe View Post
I seem to be locked up in pulling the trigger on buying a new computer.

One thing that I find to be a stumbling block is how to rate the dozens of microprocessors that are offered on the lower end computers.

Free to canoe
I can't keep up with the various terms and names. I found this site helpful:

PassMark - CPU Benchmarks - List of Benchmarked CPUs

While it appears quite geeky (OK, it is geeky), it's pretty simple. Search for the processor type (I just use the browser 'find' command) and look at the first column, conveniently labeled in non-geek terms "higher is better".

The T4400 in my cheap ($380) laptop has got 1508 o' dem 'higher/better' thingies.

This site will give you some info on Power draw, which relates to heat and battery life and electric bill. For TDP (watts), "lower is better". I got 35 o' dem watt thingies for my T4400.

Mobile Processors - Benchmarklist - Notebookcheck.net Tech

-ERD50
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Free To Canoe View Post
Thanks. I have been regretting not getting the graphics card in the past. Won't make the same mistake. Video memory?
Video memory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In general I find it better to get a card with dedicated memory..that is memory that is dedicated to be used only for the graphics card rather than sharing the memory that is used overall for the computer. You want that 4G of RAM to be apart from the dedicated memory for your graphics card (that is you want the graphics card to ahve its own dedicated memory other than the 4G of RAM).
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Old 11-10-2010, 04:53 AM   #13
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A couple of suggestions to begin with:

HP Deals, Computer Coupons and Bargains - GotApex?

Laptop Repair Chicago | Krex Computer & Laptop Repair
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Old 11-10-2010, 07:43 AM   #14
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I am in the same boat,Staples seems to have the best prices on HP's with a pretty much stock configuration. You would have to watch trying to add a video card to Hp's in this price range around 500,since they only have 250-300 W power supplies.
You can configure on the HP site,but their video cards are made special for HP possibly with lower power consumtion than a card you would buy in a store. With the HP 6610F at least you have the latest ATI intigrated graphics on the mother board. Not sure you need dedicated graphics card,if you do not play games or will do heavy video editing,Staples HP's also do not have an HDMI port if you are looking for one,but do have Wifi.

The Dell xps 7100 looks to be real nice with a 450 W power supply but the price is more,nicely configured at $734 on the dell site.

I like to buy from brick and morter store,if the computer is for some reason DOA or has some other defect you can exchange, as opposed to the hassle of online return or some other form of service.

I am leaning towards the Hp6610F at Staples on sale this week for 449, should be good enough,but not real expandable due to restricted power supply.
I only know what I have just read in reviews,not a computer guru,both above computer have AMD CPU.
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Old 11-10-2010, 07:51 AM   #15
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Can't help you with the desktop, but I myself am looking at purchasing a new laptop - I'm leaning towards a Toshiba with an ASUS a close second. I currently have a Dell and it has been a workhorse (even after being physically bounced many times). My issue is the software - I use Mozilla and Thunderbird for email....I've run into compatibility issues with anything Microsoft and anything else - so much so that I've turned off the auto updates.....Microsoft is very sneaky about re-jiggering all of your 'defaults' - it gets tiresome having to reset all of that stuff. Problem is, a lot of other software relies upon the underlying Microsoft kernel and Explorer setting - sigh.
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Old 11-10-2010, 07:54 AM   #16
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Specs are indeed confusing.

I use my computer for similar tasks as you do, so let me share my specs. My computer meets my needs and is very responsive. It is also about 3 years old, so you'll have to translate some of the specs.

OS: Windows Vista. From what I've read, Windows 7 is better & more efficient, so should work just fine on my set up.

Processor: Intel Core2 Duo T7250 @ 2GHz with L1 cache of 64K & L2 cache of 2MB. Larger cache sizes are also important for speed. Dual processor cores are important for performance.

Memory: 2GB.

Graphics: Mobile Intel Express chipset. This is the basic graphics chipset. Unless you're doing fancy 3D graphics or playing graphics intensive games, you don't need a high-end graphics card. Go with the default.

Hard Drive: 500GB. I upgraded to this larger drive in the last year because my photographs & music ate up all the space on my last drive.

Optical: I have a DVD RW drive. Pretty basic one, I think.

Monitors are inexpensive - get a big one. I connect my notebook to a really good, but old, 19" CRT - but one of these days, I'll get a big flat panel.

Desktops usually have more processing power than notebooks for the same cost, but I like the portability. My normal usage is connected to an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. But, I can disconnect and take it with me really easily. I don't have any fancy docking station, just a couple of cables - one usb & one video.

All the best.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:04 AM   #17
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If you have the time and any inclination, it's really worth taking a look at Tom's Hardware for the build-your-own quarterly articles. They build a low, mid and high end rig and compare/contrast them. If you have any interest, I'd recommend looking at the last one. The low end was $400, has the full parts list, and the have good articles on building if you haven't done it before. The software setup on your own is a little more time consuming, but you don't get all the crud and clutter from a branded system, and I find it lets me stretch the life and performance a couple of years. Add to that, you can upgrade parts a couple of years out to extend the life once you have some idea of what you are doing, and even with building a new computer, you don't have to repurchase perfectly good parts from the previous one - I have some harddrives, a CD Drive, a floppy Drive etc from much older computers that I've never needed to replace (actually, I did replace the harddrives about 6 months, ago, but they lasted 9 years first, and didn't require me to buy a while new computer, and I still use them as extra backup)
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:09 AM   #18
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I just bought a new desktop from the Dell Outlet. I recall CFB recommending it as a source and indeed, I found my bargain. Of course, the stock is constantly changing, so you need to watch for your configuration. Windows 7 and 4gig RAM really speed things up, even for casual use.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:30 AM   #19
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I was browsing the Office Depot the other day, they were clearancing out a bunch of desktops/laptops. I was shown an HP 65xx series desktop, had Intel Dual core, win 7, 1TB hard drive and 6 gb ram, but no monitor. It was a display model, priced at $499 , but they offered me an extra 10% off for the display. I got my current model HP Pavilion w/Pentium 4 back in 2005 just like this for $80 (after rebates) new, display model. If you're looking now, the stores are trying to get rid of inventory since newer models are about to come out for new cycle. Browse Office Depot, Office Max and Staples to see what display models may be available and don't be afraid to haggle. They really want to dump this inventory, you should be able to get at least 10% if not more. I used to build my own custom desktops, but desktops are so cheap now, unless you're building a high end machine, it's not worth it. I like HP desktops, but buy Acer laptops, so far, no big issues with either brand. Also, you'll get better pricing from a retail store if you combine store sales/coupons than from the website, unless you're really good at web deals/internet coupons too.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:22 AM   #20
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If you have the time and any inclination, it's really worth taking a look at Tom's Hardware for the build-your-own quarterly articles.
I agree. Here is a quote from one of the recent articles that may provide some food-for-thought to this thread:

Quote:
Enthusiasts have a different mindset from the general public with regard to performance. While Joe down the street equates value with how cheap his PC is, real power users know that performance defines what their PC is worth. It doesn’t matter how inexpensive something is if it doesn’t work well, and a functional product certainly has no value if it isn't fast enough to perform its intended task.

While Joe certainly wouldn’t be foolish enough to put his child on the freeway with a moped, he might be tempted to buy that $300 discount PC for his little-Joe-gamer. Enthusiasts know better.
Their URL, BTW, is Tom's Hardware: Hardware News, Tests and Reviews
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