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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-28-2006, 05:13 PM   #21
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

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Originally Posted by Nords
Part of the problem is educational, which those of you coping with parents or parents-in-law have learned they will never overcome. My FIL has a couple other computer misapprehensions:
- His 56K modem is faster than our DSL connection because his computer boots to the desktop faster than ours.
- All these gigahertz really make his Internet go faster.
- His 60ish buddy plays a lot of online games with younger gamers who are always giving him viruses. "These kids today..."
- "(Insert spouse name here), you don't need DSL to read the Washington Post."
- "DSL costs WHAT?!? Do you know how many (insert 1950s relic here) I could buy for that money?!?"
- Our 19" LCD monitor has a bigger screen and therefore is more dangerous than his 15" CRT (which has approx 400 lbs of lead shielding). "Geez, these monitors today. All my retired buddies from the CBS monitor room are dying of cancer."
- IE 6.0 is a waste of time, based on a two-year-old C|Net review.
- FireFox is too new-fangled. (I don't use it either, but my excuse is that I'm too lazy & distracted to bother switching.)
- RAM is so expensive.
- Nothing in the world is important enough to exceed 20 MB of storage. (Yes, that's MB, not GB, because he hasn't checked the size of the 3.2GB hard drive he's using.)
My late FIL was convinced that his digital hearing aids worked better with his cellular phone because they were both digital.

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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-28-2006, 06:25 PM   #22
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

These problems don't just arise with the elderly. My daughter spent a month in Mexico and was having problems with text messaging. I asked her one day if she had digital or analog service down there (all she had to do was look at her cell phone) and she said she wasn't sure. When I talked to her the next night she told me she had "diagonal" service.
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eMachines power supply
Old 07-30-2006, 07:15 PM   #23
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eMachines power supply

Question for Nords, I think.

I just picked up a new eMachines computer (to replace our 8-year-old Win98 home machine...) and then noticed that that seems to be a brand with which Nords has extensive experience. The power supply is 300 W. Is that enough, or should I plan on it dying soon? There is a card modem that I could remove to save on a little bit of power, but it does not seem a very heavily loaded machine. (DVD/CD-R, hard disk, multi-card reader, no graphics card, and about 300 USB ports which, however, would only be connected to things with their own power.)

But it actually runs OpenOffice in real-time! Yay!
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-30-2006, 10:55 PM   #24
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

I have been finding that name-brand machines come with a ton of software that I don't want but will have to pay for eventually. Standard procedure is to get rid of all the stuff and install only what I want, which includes free but great stuff like ZoneAlarm, AVG, Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice (later I install Office 98 for which I have the original disks) and a few little things that I find useful. I have to go through this on the kids' machines, too.

See the following article:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/124883-16/article.html

I have a fondness for Win 98 myself (actually 98SE). I have the disks, you see, and built my own machines for a long time. It is interesting taking them for repairs and the tech at the counter calls out, "Hey! Get a load of this 8-bit sound card!" Everything (printers, etc.) wears out though and sometimes no drivers or bad drivers for 98 anymore (e.g., memory sticks), so the house is full of XP these days.

Even so, I prefer to buy a box from a local outfit these days. I don't get all the pre-installed stuff that gets in the way, and the parts are upgradable.

I have not heard good things about e-machines. One tech told me they "invented 'proprietary'", making self-repairs difficult.

Just bought a Lenovo Chinese IBM laptop. The Acer finally got too flaky to use. The Levono looks as sturdy as the IBM Thnkpads ever were, and it was about $600 last weekend up here in Calgary. Took days to weed out the junk I don't want. WordPerfect and a few things are still in there. It looks like a solid machine.

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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-31-2006, 09:33 AM   #25
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

E-Machines are fine for what they are, but you're getting what you pay for. That amounts to a poorer quality power supply, an offbrand motherboard, memory and modem, and a lower end video chip.

The power supply probably puts out less than its rated and the power probably isnt as 'clean'. Cheaper PS makers often rate their units as the peak possible momentary output on average across a whole batch. Based on my first hand experience with emachines PS units and their compadres, you're probably seeing 200-220 as a sustained figure. Which means a cd/dvd drive and a hard drive. You stick a pair of hard drives, a cd and dvd drive, and a modern graphics accelerator in there and if it even boots up you'll be on borrowed time.

The occasional PS weakness, and the off brand stuff will lead to frequent flaky stuff like odd hangs, crashes, non-reproduceable errors, bad cd/dvd burns and so forth.

Considering stepping up from an emachines box to a feature comparable HP/Compaq/Dell unit is usually less than a hundred bucks, thats a hundred bucks well spent. You'll save that in the first year or two by not having to deal with "what the heck was that?" problems.

Ed - I hate to be contrary, but thats not my experience with the thinkpads. I've still got a pentium 3-500 model from about 8-9 years ago and I looked at the current model over at the store. No comparison. The newer thinkpads dont have the nicer keyboards and I didnt think the display quality was any different from the other products in the store, but the price sure was in the stratosphere. I didnt think it was worth it, the obvious quality benefits the thinkpads used to have seem to have gone by the cost cutting wayside. The toshiba keyboards felt better and the sony displays looked a lot cleaner. But then I havent taken any of them apart so...
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Re: eMachines power supply
Old 07-31-2006, 02:13 PM   #26
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Re: eMachines power supply

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpp
Question for Nords, I think.
I just picked up a new eMachines computer (to replace our 8-year-old Win98 home machine...)* and then noticed that that seems to be a brand with which Nords has extensive experience.* The power supply is 300 W.* Is that enough, or should I plan on it dying soon?* There is a card modem that I could remove to save on a little bit of power, but it does not seem a very heavily loaded machine.* (DVD/CD-R, hard disk, multi-card reader, no graphics card, and about 300 USB ports which, however, would only be connected to things with their own power.)
But it actually runs OpenOffice in real-time!* Yay!
Have you been shopping with my FIL?

300W should be reliable enough if there aren't extra hard drives & other power-suckers or hot, dusty conditions. *

I don't have any proof yet, but I think that my power-supply problems were caused by plugging the computer into a circuit that had a GFCI breaker in the panel. *I don't think it was the fault of eMachines.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-31-2006, 03:21 PM   #27
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

I'll help ya. I bought two of them. Both ate their power supplies within a year. I bothered to replace one PS. That machine smoked its motherboard less than six months later.

One of my BIL's bought an emachine 2 years ago. Power supply smoked a little over a year later.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-31-2006, 05:54 PM   #28
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Thanks for the feedback, guys. I thought I was being all Unclemick, WebTV and Norwegian widows, but then I stumbled across this thread and realized I was Nords' FIL. Except we do have ADSL.

I guess I will avoid any internal expansion of the machine, making heavy use of the USB ports instead, and see how much time I get out of it. The previous machine was a rock-solid, reliable Fujitsu, and still runs fine, but 400 MHz is just not tolerable anymore. I hate to throw it away, but I can't think of anything useful to do with it. It doesn't even run Linux well (that OS has really bloated up lately), which was my original retirement plan for it. I'm planning to strip the harddrives and put them into USB enclosures for the new machine.

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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 07-31-2006, 06:05 PM   #29
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Well, my FIL and I went over Microsoft's website and verified that indeed the IE7.0 beta and Messenger programs are free downloads to "help you connect", but you still need to dial a phone number. I think he understands the difference now. *Sigh.*

NEWSFLASH!!! Just got a phone call-- he bought a computer!!

Strangely enough it's the same model as our computer-- Compaq Presario, AMD Athlon 3700 64-bit CPU, 1 GB RAM, 200 GB HD, a graphics card, a 17" LCD monitor, and a printer. $600 from Circuit City.

He says he needs a "UBS" cable for the printer. Maybe it's easier to put a USB cable in a plastic bag, label it "UBS", and give it to him. Nah, I should explain the acronym.

I wonder how long it's going to take to update WinXP on a 56K modem. And then to download his WMConnect software. I think I'll lay low for a couple weeks.

We were talking about buying them a new computer for their 50th anniversary (less than two years away). Maybe instead we'll buy them a DSL account...
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 12:23 AM   #30
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Quote:
Ed - I hate to be contrary, but thats not my experience with the thinkpads. I've still got a pentium 3-500 model from about 8-9 years ago and I looked at the current model over at the store. No comparison. The newer thinkpads dont have the nicer keyboards and I didnt think the display quality was any different from the other products in the store, but the price sure was in the stratosphere. I didnt think it was worth it, the obvious quality benefits the thinkpads used to have seem to have gone by the cost cutting wayside. The toshiba keyboards felt better and the sony displays looked a lot cleaner. But then I havent taken any of them apart so...
Hmmm. Well, time willl tell, I suppose. I use an outboard keyboard normally. The built-in one is for travel and emergencies only. The display is adequate for my needs, as is the speed (once I ripped out the Google on-board database and other deritus). The price was right, too. $600 CAD ain't too bad and I needed it urgently.

Our family doesn't have very consistent luck with laptops. Both kids prefer desktop machines for school now. My bro's daughter had dismal experience with HP and Compaq machines a few years ago when she was still in school. A tech at Big Oil where I worked panned HP, too, and HP was our standard.

The big positive thing was that the tech who helped me showed me what connector to buy to be able to connect up the old laptop hard drives as aux drives and get my data back. I have two more or less kaput machines at home that have stuff I REALLY want on the drives. I didn't have them backed up well enough. These memory sticks and XP make it much easier. They are used a lot in my industry.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 09:10 AM   #31
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

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Originally Posted by Nords
AMD Athlon 3700 64-bit CPU
Hope you both keep a glass of water and a stick handy, or have good fire insurance.

Buying the in-laws their ISP makes a handy annual holliday gift...
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 01:04 PM   #32
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Don't listen to CFB. He must still have stock in INTL. The Athlon64 is a great processor and much more efficient than the Intel alternative. Power consumption of the P4 and Pentium-D is significantly higher. Intel should have these issues fixed with their latest processors, but they are very expensive. For a $50-100 desktop processor I don't think you can beat the Athlon64 for efficiency.

From Silent PC Review : 'The power efficiency of AMD Athlon 64 single and dual core processors is excellent, even for their highest performance models. The Intel desktop processors suffer from inefficiency, even on the 65nm die.'

I just built a new desktop system and selected the athlon64 for this reason.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 02:51 PM   #33
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

I dont think you've read any recent reviews...

The new Intel stuff (core 2 duo) is eating the best AMD has to offer, at a lower cost.

Not one single share of INTC, even among the funds I own...

But those AMD chips might catch fire on you...and the TEETH!
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 03:10 PM   #34
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
The new Intel stuff (core 2 duo) is eating the best AMD has to offer, at a lower cost.
RIght, that's at the high end -- $200-$900 for the processor alone. For a budget PC the Pentium4 and PentiumD is no match for the Athlon64 when in comes to efficiency. However, my older AlthlonXP does run hot!! But the only machine that actually burned up was a Dell notebook w/ Pentium III.

Didn't this Dell Notebook have an Intel chip!




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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 03:45 PM   #35
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Must be reading different reviews...everything i've seen says that dollar for dollar the intel chip is faster. And the prices on the older intel line has been cut so far that you can buy more performance in a 'low dollar' machine than anyone feasibly needs.

Good time to be a PC buyer though.

Unless Intel makes batteries now, that laptop fire wasnt their fault.

AMD's warranty department did do a healthy business replacing their processors that lacked thermal protection...not a big profit in that business though...

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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-01-2006, 06:05 PM   #36
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

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Don't listen to CFB. He must still have stock in INTL.* *The Athlon64 is a great processor and much more efficient than the Intel alternative.* Power consumption of the P4 and Pentium-D is significantly higher.* Intel should have these issues fixed with their latest processors, but they are very expensive.* For a $50-100 desktop processor I don't think you can beat the Athlon64 for efficiency.
Actually I'm the Intel stockholder-- nice dividend yield below $18, and I think I'll buy a little more this week. AMD is heading full-tilt for the M&A cliff and they won't even see Intel's price reductions coming until it hits them in the bottom line. Of course I consulted TH after I'd read a BW article and done my due diligence, and he's no shill. Intel managed to cough Core 2 out on time so we'll let the Darwinian nature of competition take its course...

I think that an Athlon 64 in a WinXP system is like trying to drive a NASCAR vehicle on a one-lane country road. You could do it, but it makes no sense and you wouldn't pay money for it! We bought the Athlon 64 with the rest of our system because it's cheap. I'm sure that's the same conclusion my FIL arrived at...
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-02-2006, 09:54 AM   #37
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

I thought about this a lot last night and to be fair, I shouldnt be talking about these AMD processors catching fire or the processors biting people.

The case on most machines is thick enough to ably prevent both of those hazards in most cases.

That having been said...

Clock for clock and (with these price cuts) the older pentium-m and core duo's are going to get really cheap and they're great performers with excellent power consumption. Buyers in the market for a cheap system should eyeball these...and the P-M's are finding their way into some desktops too. Even desktop buyers might want to consider a laptop with an external monitor and keyboard...I went that route and dropped my computer energy consumption by 75%...

The core 2 duo's coming out have up to 40% better performance than an equivalent priced chip either from the former intel or current amd line. And given intel's run by a sales guy now instead of a manufacturing guy, watch the price war heat up further as intel seeks to get back all of its market share.

And Nords' point is well taken...browsing and email ran pretty well on a pentium-3. Digital video editing, format conversion and FPS twitch games can use the power but even a low end chip from either company is capable in these high end areas.

Vista's going to be a big pile of slow code doo-doo (thanks microsoft!), but more people will have trouble with the graphics requirements than the cpu requirements...at this point, many 'integrated graphics' chips arent going to cut it. That requirement may drop.

Lastly, dont get fooled by the 64 bit routine...all 64 bit does is let you address a brazillion gb of memory instead of 4gb (in the average system). Unless you need more than 4gb of ram, aside from some other minor performance enhancements that have nothing to do with 64 bit, you may actually get lower performance from a 64 bit part than an equivalent 32 bit part. A 64 bit processor has to do a lot more work to execute 64 bit instructions, and unless you're making use of that extra memory, thats all overhead.

With a 64 bit operating system, 64 bit drivers, 64 bit applications, 10-20GB of ram, and 2 hours of digital video to convert from AVI to WMA? Well...you'd like that...it'd convert in about an hour instead of the 2-4 hours it'd take to do on one of todays mid range rig. Most any other app? Not very interesting.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-02-2006, 12:06 PM   #38
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
With a 64 bit operating system, 64 bit drivers, 64 bit applications, 10-20GB of ram, and 2 hours of digital video to convert from AVI to WMA? Well...you'd like that...it'd convert in about an hour instead of the 2-4 hours it'd take to do on one of todays mid range rig.
Damn. I have been doing my best to ignore the whole 64 bit issue until you wrote that. From now on, every time I hit the button and see "estimated time remaining 2 hours 30 minutes" I will know if I had me a 64 bit machine I wouldn't have to put up with this slow crap.

Where's my checkbook?

Modified to add this question:

10 to 20 Gigs of Ram? They got MoBo's that will hold that?
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-02-2006, 01:10 PM   #39
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Quote:
Clock for clock and (with these price cuts) the older pentium-m and core duo's are going to get really cheap and they're great performers with excellent power consumption. Buyers in the market for a cheap system should eyeball these...and the P-M's are finding their way into some desktops too.
Next year this will be true. I just built a desktop system with the goals of: reasonably fast, inexpensive, and low power consumption. The pentium-M and duos are fantastic, but they are pricey, few motherboards areavailable, and those that are are expensive.. The low cost intel desktop processors are too hot (inefficient). The Athlon64 is perfect -- fast, inexpensive, efficient. System cost is around $450 for Athlon64 3200 with 1GB memory, 250GB HD, firewire, dual head video, DVI, optical audio. You can't build a -low power- system with those specs and price using a pentium. I tried. I wanted a desktop system instead of a notebook because they are durable, expandable, and if it breaks I can fix it.

Right now Intel has better mobile processors and high end desktop processors with the Conroe. In the $100 range AMD is better if you care about power consumption.

No use for 64 bit.

I hope that AMD can continue to keep the pressure on. Competition is good for customers. I pretty sure that AMD has had thermal protection since the AthlonXP. Mine automatically shut down when the fan died.
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Old 08-02-2006, 01:36 PM   #40
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Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas

10 to 20 Gigs of Ram? They got MoBo's that will hold that?
Lots of server boards will...most desktop boards top out at ~8GB...for now...
Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
You can't build a -low power- system with those specs and price using a pentium.
I sure can!

Quote:
I hope that AMD can continue to keep the pressure on. Competition is good for customers.
Some competition is good for some customers. We're seeing a bit of the problem with what excessive 'competition' brings. Really fast cpu's, everything else has fallen behind, development tools 5 years behind, and no software to make use of all these cycles. And more frequent CPU bugs and 'issues'.
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