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Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 09:49 AM   #1
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Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Hi guys...after years of buying just pre-configured dells, I am ready to try and assemble a new machine on the cheap...but really don't even know where one goes to find bare-bones boxes to buy?

I'd like a very fast CPU, lots of ram, decent memory card, but I already have all the software, speakers, keyboards mice and monitors I need...seems a chunk of what you pay for w/dell is all the "stuff" I don't need.

So where can I locate a reputable company to sell me a fast and cheap "box" that I can add back in the stuff I already own?
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 10:12 AM   #2
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

I refitted my PC with new motherboard, processor and RAM last November and I bought from these guys...

http://www.monarchcomputer.com

I had no problems. Everything came in a nice retail box with instructions and a Windows drivers CD. They even threw in a free 4 month subscription to Napster and two free games which I never used =) Here's my last order
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Thermal Grease, Shin-Etsu G675, apply combo(cools cpu better) $14.00

Combo AMD Athlon 64 ( 939 ) Tested and Setup $0.00

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AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2Ghz, 512k cache, 939 pin $279.00

CORSAIR 1GB (2x512) TWINX1024-3200XLPRO - DDR, XMS3200, 2x64Mx64, non-ECC, 2x184 DIMM, unbuffered, 2-2-2-5, 32Mx8 DRAMs, PRO series with activity LEDs $274.00

MB-CPU COMBO 90 day WARRANTY FREE $0.00

FAR CRY ( FULL VERSION ON DVD ) ATHLON 64 PROMO $0.00

HALF LIFE 2 FULL VERSION FREE WITH PURCHASE COUPON $0.00
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

newegg.com is the only place to buy stuff like that. Of course there's everyone else.

No I don't work for them, but they are just an elite company. Fair prices, but more importantly great customer service and satisfaction (verify at resellerratings.com).

I buy all my pc stuff from them, and i'm a do-it-yourself tweaker who's upgrading something on an every-other month basis or thereabouts.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 10:27 AM   #4
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

I've had this site bookmarked for a long while. The tested motherboard bundles looked interesting. I haven't bought though.

http://www.jncs.com/jnmain.php
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 12:19 PM   #5
 
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Can you really save money over a Dell?
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 12:43 PM   #6
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Can you really save money over a Dell?
Yes, but it's not about the money!
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 12:46 PM   #7
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Can you really save money over a Dell?
Most of Dell's margins are in upgrades. * It's hard to beat Dell's prices for a low-end basic config, but if you're looking for a high-end machine, it's almost always cheaper to build it yourself. * *Unless you find a killer deal from the outlet (which is what I always shoot for).

In any case, I agree with az: newegg.com is where I usually get components.

Keep in mind that "high-end" has become kind of crazy. * It's mostly about the graphics card(s), so unless you're an intense gamer, a low-end config is probably what you want. * *The latest high-end CPUs are dual-core, which is a really dumb (and expensive) feature for 99% of users (who typically only run one CPU-intensive process at a time). * *You might really want to get another Dell -- you just don't need to configure one with monitor, speakers, extra software and stuff.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-11-2005, 12:53 PM   #8
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Take a look at Fry's *- www.outpost.com

I've done upgrades like you propose, and quite cheaply. * You end up doing some work, but it can be quite fun solving the problems (transplaning a hard drive and existing OS to new hardware and solving compatibility problems). *
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 10:30 AM   #9
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
The latest high-end CPUs are dual-core, which is a really dumb (and expensive) feature for 99% of users (who typically only run one CPU-intensive process at a time).
I'd be a little hesitant to go this far.* Some productivity applications are already multi-threaded (meaning they can utilize a dual cpu system) and a few games are too (quake 2-/doom 3).* *Since dual-cores will become the standard within a year or so, newer applications and games will likely be designed to take advantage of the new dual-core cpus.* Granted, there will be some lag time there, but if you plan on keeping your system over 2 years, it might be worth it to be future-proof.

In fact, the wave of the future will be to continue to add more and more cores since they are finally hitting a limit on abiltiy to raise clockspeed.* 2 cores is just the start.

Some of the entry level dual core cpus are not completely unreasonable pricewise for someone wanting to buy a relatively powerful computer that's a little futureproofed.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 01:51 PM   #10
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
Some productivity applications are already multi-threaded (meaning they can utilize a dual cpu system)
Multi-threading is different than multi-processing, and I don't believe dual-cores provides any benefit to multi-threaded apps. The dual cores appear as two different CPUs to the underlying OS, so all the OS can do is schedule different processes on each core, which provides an extremely marginal benefit over traditional time-slicing unless you are running multiple concurrent CPU-bound processes.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 02:30 PM   #11
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Multi-threading is different than multi-processing, and I don't believe dual-cores provides any benefit to multi-threaded apps.* * The dual cores appear as two different CPUs to the underlying OS, so all the OS can do is schedule different processes on each core, which provides an extremely marginal benefit over traditional time-slicing unless you are running multiple concurrent CPU-bound processes.
That's not correct.* There's no difference, even functionally, between the new dual core cpu's that just came out and the multiprocessor motherboards that you can plug 2 cpu's in that have been around for years.* *Programs can, and eventually will, utilize both cores to run a singular application.* *Programs that can do this are dubbed "multithreaded".* This truth you'll find in just about any major review of these new cpu's (see anandtech.com).* *In fact, the article i just read on them (just yesterday) said the dual cpu motherboards will/can now have essentially 4 working processors provided you plug 2 dual cores into them.

Now it is true that multithreaded applications thus far, have been very inefficient and that's why you only see 10-30% improvement in Quake 2 or some commercial applications that are out now that are multithreaded.* But this is only because of inperfections in the programming itself.* *Theoretically, the potential is 100% improvement, and someday, they'll get darn close to that.

Yes, they can also be used to run two separate, floating point intensive apps at the same time without a serious performance hit.* But i agree with you, not a lot of people do that on a regular basis.

Quote:
The dual cores appear as two different CPUs to the underlying OS
this is true but...

Quote:
so all the OS can do is schedule different processes on each core
But a program supercedes the OS, and a program can be written to look for the presence of 2 cpus and use them both at the same time (usually to run different aspects of the program, i believe). A program that can do this is a "multithreaded" one.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 02:52 PM   #12
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Not all multthreaded programs benefit. There must be at least 2 threads that can run independently and both consume significant CPU resources. The program must also be designed to take advantage of multiple processors/cores.

Video encoding is a good example. http://graphics.tomshardware.com/vid...divx50-09.html

Recently I've been converting iTunes .m4a files to .mp3 for download to my mp3 player. This is another application that could benefit from multiple cores/processors. Don't know if it does since my PC only has one. As multiple cores become more common more apps will be designed to take advantage of them.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 03:02 PM   #13
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
But a program supercedes the OS, and a program can be written to look for the presence of 2 cpus and use them both at the same time (usually to run different aspects of the program, i believe).* *A program that can do this is a "multithreaded" one.
The difference between multithreading and multiprocessing is sort of subtle techinical detail, so forgive me if you already understand this, but basically the difference is that processes running on different processors (or cores) don't have an easy "light-weight" method of communicating to other processes.* *Each process is in a protected memory space, so they have to jump through some hoops (provided by the OS) to communicate to other processes.* * The app has to be specifically designed to do this.* *Most aren't.* *Even multithreaded apps aren't typically designed to do this.* * An app has to be specifically written to be a *multiprocessing* app to take advantage of dual cores, and *very* few of them are.

Edit: Hmm, my technical understanding may be out of date (it has been known to happen to retirees and managers).

In the old days, the multiple threads of a multithreaded app shared the same address space, so it wouldn't generally be feasible to schedule the threads of one app across different processors (which don't share address spaces). However, XP appears to have a mechanism for a new-fangled concept called "simultaneous multithreading." I don't know the hardware-level details, but in theory, this allows multiple threads of a single app to be scheduled across multiple CPUs. Anybody should feel free to fill me in on the technical details if you know them.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 05:38 PM   #14
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Each process is in a protected memory space, so they have to jump through some hoops (provided by the OS) to communicate to other processes.* * The app has to be specifically designed to do this.* *Most aren't.* *Even multithreaded apps aren't typically designed to do this.* * An app has to be specifically written to be a *multiprocessing* app to take advantage of dual cores, and *very* few of them are.
In my first response on this i conceeded that most apps today dont use them efficiency.* I went on to say, but they can and eventually will be designed to do so.

...

JB, if a mulitithreaded program doesnt benefit at all from multiple processors (be them located separated on the motherboard, or integrated into one chip), i'd question whether the program can claim to even BE multithreaded.* *The only point of an app being multithreaded is so that it can benefit from multiple processors.* PC's with only one processor (that doesnt support hyperthreading) can only process one thread at a time.

Quote:
Recently I've been converting iTunes .m4a files to .mp3 for download to my mp3 player.* This is another application that could benefit from multiple cores/processors.
If that's all you're doing, ... not reallly.* *Even if you're just browsing on the side, a meer P4 that supports HT technology would be enough to allow you to do both things without any hitches.

Multiple processors (either located separatly or both on the same die) are only going to show benefits either 1.* for persons running 2, floating-point intensive applications*at the same time (converting itunes to mp3's is one floating point intensive application;* you need one more) OR 2. for applications that support multithreading (because the programmer designed them to support it).


....

I cant go real in-depth on this stuff either.* This is just cursory discussion of these processors.** *My bottom line opinion is that I think they're worth the money and will just make your computing experience smoother if you like to do a lot of stuff at once, or if you want to be future proof for some upcoming multitreaded, and 64-bit applications we'll be seeing in a year or two.* I believe the bottom line opinion you'll see at the techy sites like anands and toms will also be a thumbs-up for them.

The entry level X2 at newegg is like $550 dollars. That isnt exactly cheap, but that's also state of the art technology, and I can assure you single core chips will eventually be a thing of the past. I'm not sure what hurts more, just ponying up for the latest technology, or buying a new, but already obsolescent PC.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 06:22 PM   #15
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
The only point of an app being multithreaded is so that it can benefit from multiple processors.
Bzzzt. Thanks for playing.

You've probably noticed that your application is usually just sitting there waiting for input from you. Multithreading was invented to free apps to do other work while waiting on some event (input from you, print job to finish, disk to return data, etc). It works great on single-CPU architectures. Multiprocessing is a different animal, and performance of multiprocessing apps will scale with multiple CPUs.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-12-2005, 11:53 PM   #16
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Another newegg.com vote. They ship quickly. Get an Asus motherboard and an AMD chip and use your current case, speakers, monitors, etc. and save a lot. If you don't care about cutting edge graphics, get a motherboard with on-board graphics.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-13-2005, 07:41 AM   #17
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Bzzzt. Thanks for playing.

You've probably noticed that your application is usually just sitting there waiting for input from you. Multithreading was invented to free apps to do other work while waiting on some event (input from you, print job to finish, disk to return data, etc). It works great on single-CPU architectures. Multiprocessing is a different animal, and performance of multiprocessing apps will scale with multiple CPUs.
Bzzzt. there is no such thing as a multiprocessing app. They are called multithreaded apps. But everyone gets a prize here!

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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-13-2005, 07:44 AM   #18
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

This straight from Anandtech's front page review of the new dual core AMDs:

"Why does Intel want to encourage dual core adoption?* To guarantee a large installed user base, of course.* The problem today is that the vast majority of desktop systems are single processor systems, meaning that most developers code applications for single processor systems.* To encourage a mass migration to develop multithreaded applications, the installed user base has to be there to justify spending the added time and resources in developing such applications.* As we just finished mentioning, Intel's approach is the quickest way to ensure that the exodus takes place."

....*

"The vast majority of desktop application benchmarks will show the single core AMD CPU as a better buy than the dual core Intel CPU.* Why?* Because the vast majority of desktop applications are single threaded and thus, will gain no benefit from running on a dual core processor.*

Generally speaking, the following types of applications are multi-threaded:

Video Encoding
3D Rendering
Photo/Video Editing
most types of "professional" workstation applications
However, the vast majority of other applications are single threaded (or offer no performance gain from dual core processors):

office suites
web browsers
email clients
media players
games, etc.
If you spend any of your time working with the first group of applications, then generally speaking, you'll want to go with the dual core CPU.* For the rest of you, a faster single core CPU will be the better individual performance pick.

But once again, things get more complicated.* Individually, single threaded applications will make no use of a CPU able to execute multiple threads. But, run more than one of these applications at the same time and all of the sudden, you're potentially dispatching multiple threads to your processor and thus, potentially, have a need for a multi-core CPU.
"

sound familiar?* For those that dont know, Anand is one of the most highly respected hardware sites (arguably Toms and HardOCP are equilivant).* *
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-13-2005, 10:02 AM   #19
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

I've been using mostly NewEgg (internet) and Fry's Electronics (retail store) lately. By the way, in stores and online "barebones PC" typically refers to a case, power supply and motherboard where you throw your own CPU, RAM and drive in.

Fry's is a goofy place. You need to know beforehand what a good price is because some of their stuff is good and some is high. I usually check online prices (NewEgg or pricewatch) and then go to a local store and if the local store's prices are close after adjusting for shipping I buy local. I don't chase the absolute lowest price in any case, though...I stick with stores I know and try to stick with brands I know.
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?
Old 07-13-2005, 12:40 PM   #20
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Re: Where to buy a bare-bones PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
Bzzzt.* *there is no such thing as a multiprocessing app.* * They are called multithreaded apps.* But everyone gets a prize here!
Well, I explained the difference to you in an earlier post, but you don't have to take my word for it, the net will explain it to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiprocessing

Now, I do have to inject a bit of Mea Culpa here. It does turn out that XP will schedule multiple threads of the same process across multiple processors. I didn't think it would, because that would involve cloning the process state information on the second processor, which is a relatively expensive operation. So, while XP will use both cores, in some cases it may actually slow things down more than if it ran the threads on a single CPU. The bottom-line is still the same: very few people will benefit from multiple cores or multiple CPUs.
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