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Build new computer or buy?
Old 09-20-2018, 06:13 AM   #1
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Build new computer or buy?

Friends:

My current computer seems to be getting a bit sluggish. It's a 3-core AMD system I built 7 or 8 years back. I run 2 investment software packages at the same time (Schwab Street Smart Edge and Ameritrade's Think or Swim).

The Schwab software loses its data connection from time to time.

Other than that, it's mostly internet browsing , email, MS Office and the like. I confess I often have 20 or so browser tabs open.

Now I'm again facing the build vs buy question. I like the case I own, and somewhere along the line I picked up a nice 650 watt power supply. I think everything else would have to be new.

Now that I am retired and without a regular income stream, I wonder if buying might be more economical. The system I built was not the latest-greatest, and I wouldn't probably build the latest-greatest, either. I do need to run two monitors, one of which will be some kind of wide format.

Likewise, if buying, I'm open to lease returns and the like.

What's the verdict - build or buy?
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:11 AM   #2
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I went through a similar decision recently. In my case, the change was in preparation for when MS pulls the plug on Win 7. My old computer was on Win 7 but could not run Win 10 so I had to get a new system. After a long internal debate in my own mind on whether to go Linux or Win 10 , I went ahead and got a used machine that already had Win 10 installed.
I also considered the option of building vs buying used, but among other things, buying used with Win 10 installed was a big deciding factor. Otherwise, I'd have to buy a copy and that would've put me about $100 in the hole already as for cost.

You mentioned an issue you have is the data dropping. I wonder though is that computer hardware related or internet connection issue? Years ago, I thought my router and/or DSL modem were bad so replaced them. Still the internet would cut out. Ended up, once I switched away from DSL to Cable modem, problem went away. Also, if you have an internet issue, might it be as simple as bad wi-fi if you are using wi-fi instead of hard wired?

Oh, one more thing about buy vs build. To be most accurate, I bought used but then upgraded that to what I like since I reused some parts (power supply, internal swap drive bay, DVD burner, 1 TB SSHD, 1 TB HDD) from my old machine.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:26 AM   #3
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I like to have mine built, but it is not cost effective. If cost is much of a consideration at all, start shopping for a mass produced computer or, as easysurfer did, look into used. I’ve always had mine built by a company the specializes is quiet computers. Mine is a fanless model and I really like it. SSD main drive, lots of memory and very fast boot up. And it’s quiet.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:39 AM   #4
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Thanks, Gents.

My internet connection is hardwired (Comcast cable). It does have a my own router and a 10/100 switch in the line. It surely could be the connection and not the machine, though.

Easysurfer, when you upgraded your system, did you find the parts all fit properly? I know that some manufacturers use non-standard parts. I'm thinking especially of power supplies.

And is it hard to find a commercial system with a spare external 5.25 bay these days?
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:48 AM   #5
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Thanks, Gents.

My internet connection is hardwired (Comcast cable). It does have a my own router and a 10/100 switch in the line. It surely could be the connection and not the machine, though.

Easysurfer, when you upgraded your system, did you find the parts all fit properly? I know that some manufacturers use non-standard parts. I'm thinking especially of power supplies.

And is it hard to find a commercial system with a spare external 5.25 bay these days?
I ended up getting a used Dell Optiplex 980 MT (midtower) from ebay that had Win 10 Pro already installed. Price was about $100. I used Macrium software to clone the system to the 1TB SSHD I already had as what came with the computer was only a 250GB drive.

As for non-standard parts. For that computer, the only issue I had was the power connector to the motherboard. Dell uses a smaller connector than the one for the power supply I had. I didn't find that out until I tried connecting then realized, no go . But there was a simple work around by picking up an adapter from Amazon ... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As for the spare 5.25 bay, that's one reason I prefer midtower sized computers instead of smaller desktops. A better chance of having an open bay. Besides the power connector, no problems for me fitting the other parts.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:52 AM   #6
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I ended up getting a used Dell Optiplex 980 MT (midtower) from ebay that had Win 10 Pro already installed. Price was about $100. I used Macrium software to clone the system to the 1TB SSHD I already had as what came with the computer was only a 250GB drive.

As for non-standard parts. For that computer, the only issue I had was the power connector to the motherboard. Dell uses a smaller connector than the one for the power supply I had. I didn't find that out until I tried connecting then realized, no go . But there was a simple work around by picking up an adapter from Amazon ... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As for the spare 5.25 bay, that's one reason I prefer midtower sized computers instead of smaller desktops. A better chance of having an open bay.
Are you using the on-board video? Would it work for two wide-format monitors?

Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:55 AM   #7
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Are you using the on-board video? Would it work for two wide-format monitors?

Thanks!
I re-used an old graphics card. I just use one monitor and don't think on-board would work for two monitors. My thought is you'd need a card that supports two wide-format monitors.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:29 AM   #8
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I wouldn't get a new machine today. Refurbished are a much better value. I got a Dell Optiplex 9020 i7 (Haswell) for $95 for the living room TV. The machine is plenty fast. I threw in a small SSD and it flys. I have seen 120 SSDs for $20 on sale. Kept Win 10 on it since I don't put private stuff on it.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:42 AM   #9
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Computers don't wear out and "sluggish" is not a symptom of a computer problem. If your computer is running more slowly and you are using basically the same applications that you ran when it was new, it will probably benefit from a good computer tune up. This involves getting rid of unneeded files, cleaning up the startup list to eliminate unnecessary applications that automatically start and slow your boot process, and a clean-up of the registry. It is also worthwhile to uninstall any programs that you are not using. Any of many small computer shops can to this for you, but I'd start by downloading the free Glary Utilities program and trying to do the work yourself. Or seach for "free utilities" and see what you find. I have used CCleaner, among others.

OTOH if you have added resource-intensive programs like image processors, etc. then it may be that your computer is running like new but the new programs demand more resources and thus slow things down.

OTOH #2 if you just want something new to play with, then refurbs or Craigslist are your friends.

For myself, I dread getting a new computer because I am looking at two solid days of work to get all my application programs installed and probably several hours while Microsoft finds and loads a bunch of updates that I don't need.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:45 AM   #10
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Doing a clean install of Windows 10 should help things. Go to the Media Creation Tool on the web and it will create a bootable USB for a fresh install. It should automatically activate, somehow it knows.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Slow But Steady View Post
Are you using the on-board video? Would it work for two wide-format monitors?

Thanks!
Are you using a graphics card presently for your two monitors? If so, I'd think you can probably reuse the card.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:48 AM   #12
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Doing a clean install of Windows 10 should help things. Go to the Media Creation Tool on the web and it will create a bootable USB for a fresh install. It should automatically activate, somehow it knows.
Good tip. I did the same when on the used computer I bought with Win 10 installed. Nice to start fresh.
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Old 09-20-2018, 09:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
Computers don't wear out and "sluggish" is not a symptom of a computer problem. If your computer is running more slowly and you are using basically the same applications that you ran when it was new, it will probably benefit from a good computer tune up. This involves getting rid of unneeded files, cleaning up the startup list to eliminate unnecessary applications that automatically start and slow your boot process, and a clean-up of the registry. It is also worthwhile to uninstall any programs that you are not using. Any of many small computer shops can to this for you, but I'd start by downloading the free Glary Utilities program and trying to do the work yourself. Or seach for "free utilities" and see what you find. I have used CCleaner, among others.

OTOH if you have added resource-intensive programs like image processors, etc. then it may be that your computer is running like new but the new programs demand more resources and thus slow things down.

OTOH #2 if you just want something new to play with, then refurbs or Craigslist are your friends.

For myself, I dread getting a new computer because I am looking at two solid days of work to get all my application programs installed and probably several hours while Microsoft finds and loads a bunch of updates that I don't need.
I admit, part of the "need" comes from OTOH #2, want a new toy. Also, we had an insurance claim that destroyed an old refurb Lenovo box I bought, and the insurance company will give me about $370 replacement cost if I replace it. A refurb box and a solid state drive would take care of it.

I have also added the two stock trading programs. I imagine they're quite data-intensive, but not CPU-intensive.

Right now I'm not running two monitors, but I want to. the current video card has one VGA, one DVI-D, and one HDMI. I own an HDMI KVM switch that I want to use to switch between my main system and other systems I use occasionally. It looks like nowadays systems are moving toward display port, though. I hope there are adapters.

The current system is running Windows 7, so it will go into the backup slot if I buy a new box. An even older system, but with the same case, is now in the backup slot, so I would build into that case if I decide to build, which seems unlikely based on everyone's recommendations.
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Old 09-20-2018, 09:51 AM   #14
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However, if you do decide to build a good site is https://pcpartpicker.com/.

I stumbled on that site when I was deciding to build or buy. With the site, you can pick out potential parts and get a general idea of what a system build with those parts could cost.

Also, a nice feature is when you have a saved parts list, there is enough smarts to tell you if something is not compatible. For example, a motherboard with a certain CPU.

Plus, it is fun too to see what builds other folks made. If you have, say a CPU in mind. You can search on the CPU then see what folks' system builds use that CPU.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:12 AM   #15
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This crypto craze has distorted the pricing of video cards and memory. Once that cools off the prices should come down.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:22 AM   #16
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... I have also added the two stock trading programs. I imagine they're quite data-intensive, but not CPU-intensive. ...
That kind of a program is unlikely to be much of a load at all unless you are doing fancy stuff like Fourier Transforms. If you bring up Task Manager it should be able to show you if any of your programs are CPU hogs. I don't remember the details of Win7 Task Manager any more tho

Actually the most likely CPU hog suspects are real-time antivirus programs. If you have added one of those that might be your problem. IMO viruses are overrated as threats. Have you noticed that all the alarming warnings about new viruses come from companies that sell antivirus software? Most exploits begin with successful phishing, not with viruses.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:33 AM   #17
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That kind of a program is unlikely to be much of a load at all unless you are doing fancy stuff like Fourier Transforms. If you bring up Task Manager it should be able to show you if any of your programs are CPU hogs. I don't remember the details of Win7 Task Manager any more tho

Actually the most likely CPU hog suspects are real-time antivirus programs. If you have added one of those that might be your problem. IMO viruses are overrated as threats. Have you noticed that all the alarming warnings about new viruses come from companies that sell antivirus software? Most exploits begin with successful phishing, not with viruses.
Some of nags to upgrade on free antivirus programs are almost as bothersome as the viruses .
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:42 AM   #18
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If you plan to buy one, make sure you have a good power supply and graphics card. My primary PC is a 8 Core AMD 3.8GHz that I bought back in December 2014. I updated the graphics card and sound card and had to upgrade the power supply. Recently I replaced two 23" 1080P monitors with one 32" 4K monitor. The only performance issue I have is when editing 4K video files. It does take time to render 4K videos. Other than that this PC is fast.

If I were you, I would do a custom build buy or build it yourself. Don't buy those cheap Dell or HP desktops. If you want a high performance ready built computer, you will have to go with brands like Alienware(Dell) or Asus gaming PC or others. If I was in the market for a PC today, I would buy one based on an AMD Threadripper 1950X CPU.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:54 AM   #19
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I'd be more inclined to buy a laptop.

I haven't built a desktop machine in about 10 years. The reason for the building my own machines was to customize them for gaming. As I started to game less, I've transitioned to workstation style laptops which provide enough horsepower for the analytics type stuff and a keeping a zillon browsers open (I do that too) but with the added benefit of portability.

If you need dual screen, you can add a docking station/port replicator for quick connections at your normal desk. The only complaint is that you typically have to spend a $150 for a new battery every couple of years.
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:30 AM   #20
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I'd be more inclined to buy a laptop.

I haven't built a desktop machine in about 10 years. The reason for the building my own machines was to customize them for gaming. As I started to game less, I've transitioned to workstation style laptops which provide enough horsepower for the analytics type stuff and a keeping a zillon browsers open (I do that too) but with the added benefit of portability.

If you need dual screen, you can add a docking station/port replicator for quick connections at your normal desk. The only complaint is that you typically have to spend a $150 for a new battery every couple of years.
X2 on the laptop.

I built desktop systems in the past, now have switched to laptops HPs were the ladt 2.
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