Advice on getting a new computer.

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Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby sunspot » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:15 pm

I've had the same computer since 2002 and it's coming close to getting a new one. Lately, I've been having problems with it shutting down. I've checked for viruses,cleaned it and it continues to crash. Supposedly, the problem is my graphics driver. I have an ATI Radeon 9200 and downloaded an upgrade to see if it would help. Since then, it continues to periodic shut down on me. I'm thinking about getting a new computer anyway. Does anybody have any suggestions on good, reasonably priced computers?
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby AciDBatH666 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:42 pm

Try rolling your video drivers back a version or two. May help.
As far as "reasonably priced"... THe best route is to build one yourself. I built a powerhouse of a machine for gaming and Solidworks (Drafting) for under $800, and half of that price was the video card. I'm all about budget builds. I've had my setup since '05 and it's still runnin strong with several upgrades.
If you don't know anything about computers and computer parts, call up some friends and see if they'd could give you suggestions and help you build it. Newegg helps keep it reasonable. Putting it together isn't very difficult. I've got a lot of computer knowledge but never put one together and me and a friend built mine with hardly any hiccups. It does help to have a friend that knows computers to get over those little glitches tho. And lets face it, EVERYONE knows someone that knows too much about computers.

That's my suggestion. If you want more bang for your buck, build it yourself.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby JHern » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:01 am

It depends on what you need it for, and how important it is to have something that is reliable...

If you don't mind working on it a lot, fighting viruses, having occasional break-downs and loss of data, unreliable software that crashes, and zapping prams and such, stick with a Microsoft Windows based system. You can indeed put a decent one together for cheaper sometimes if you build it yourself.

If you want something more reliable software-wise, but a ton more gadgety and (initially) a high learning curve, go with the same kind of box but run Linux instead. Lots of free software out there for this system, so you'll save money in the long run. And you'll learn a lot about computers along the way.

If you want reliability and usability in hardware and software, as well as all the capabilities and gadgetry of linux/unix, nicer keyboard, mouse/mouse action, graphics cards, and displays, you'll have to pony up for a Mac. That'll cost you another 200-300, but worth it if you really need your computer to work all the time without hassles, or if the time you would otherwise spend working on fixing your computer is worth more to you than 200-300 bucks.

Its like a car. It you commute around a lot, and spend lots of time in it, and need it to work all the time, you wouldn't buy a Ford, even though its cheaper. You would buy at least a Toyota, or Honda, or whatever you could get your hands on that you won't have to worry about breaking down a lot, or giving a lot of TLC to keep running.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Lithicon » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:15 am

Yeah, I was about to say. I'm one of those people, LOL! I've built every pc I've owned, and wouldn't have it any other way.
New Egg Is by far one of the best places to buy hardware for a build. I priced a computer once for a friend that just really didn't have money to spend. Entire pc, with everything for $450. After the initial build, they wouldn't have to purchase anything else. No monitor, or any periphrials. Now, I don't suggest this, as it was only to be used for basicly the least amount of gaming possible, but could run some older titles and I'd have to say probably WoW or something equivilant with everything on low at the least.

Just using that as an example. If you have a little bit of know how, and aren't afraid of looking inside your pc, and know actually know what's what. A little research goes a long way, and just because it cost more, doesn't mean it's better. I promise you that.
If you're just really not wanting to build one, Hp has good computers. Dell isn't so hot anymore, but offers some decent pricing. But, you'd get the same amount of computer for less building it yourself.

If you just can't get help building it, I'd offer to help you get an idea of what you're looking for, and try to get you on a path to purchase what you need. But, as far as building it, well that's something I can't really offer to help with. That's entering IT guy status, and I wish I could get a job building pc's.... I'd be the most content person evar.... :P Long as I got to play DG on my spare time.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby SkaBob » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:32 am

If you try to fix your PC's graphics drivers, use Driver Cleaner Pro to make sure the old ones are gone. There're a lot of things that won't get cleared out just by uninstalling and installing new ones.

Other than that, don't spend more than $600 is my only advice on a new one.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby curt » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:17 am

When considering the purchase of a new computer, it is really important to take into account what you are going to be doing with it. Yeah, building your own box is a lot of fun, and you definitely get the bang for the buck. But if you're not going to be doing any serious gaming, editing video, or some other high performance task, that bang really isn't worth it. This argument is also true for the apple line. There are a lot of benefits to the mac. The interface is cleaner and more intuitive, the system is more reliable, and you don't have to worry as much about virus. But you pay for it. I think they're absolutely worth it, but I am a photographer and use the computers pretty heavily.

All that being said, in my opinion, if all you're going to do is use it for the Internet and office tasks, there is no real reason to chase the high powered machines. You can get a nice PC cheaply these days that won't have any problems running a web browser and word processor. Considering that this type of machine can be had for under $500 these days, it may be worth the price not to deal w/ the hassle of making your own.

Also, now is a really great time to thing outside the box a little bit on your computing solution. Could a laptop be a better solution than a desktop? Maybe you just need a laptop, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and your monitor, and you'll essentially have a desktop, but it would be portable if you need it to be. Perhaps you could set up some kind of server in your house and get a netbook to access it w/ (along side treating it as a desktop). I'm just throwing out suggestions here, not necessarily recommending any one of them,just saying now is a great time to get outside the box a little bit.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Leopard » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:37 am

I've scored nearly-modern used macs on craigslist for a few years now, and no problems with them -- not your average teenage whacker original owners. It's not my fastest machine, but I have a dedicated audio-production mac that I got for $150 ... I haven't bought a new mac since 2005, and that's what I do fairly intensive graphic work on. Got a dedicated portable drawing laptop for $250 a couple years ago. This was a freak score, but I got my dad a much nicer powerbook for $300, maxed out on all upgradeable specs. That model is considered a steal at $450, fully stock. I've also parted out and flipped a few good finds.

Just sayin, if you are enticed by mac gear, there are super cheap routes to get a 2-5 year old machine that can run modern OS just fine, even some intensive stuff like audio and imaging.

My next machine will be the ridonkulous audio box, and I'm looking at a refurb Win7 machine and dual widescreens for $800 or less.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby sunspot » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:29 pm

Thanks for the suggestions.


Also, now is a really great time to thing outside the box a little bit on your computing solution.


I've thought about getting a laptop. A lot of people that I know have a Mac. They swear by it. One of things that has been brought up in my conversations about laptops from Mac is the customer service. Apparently, it's great. I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.


On a side note, I think there should be a thread that deals with optimizing your computer. Somebody like me who is ignorant in that aspect with greatly benefit from discussion like that.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Jeronimo » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:58 pm

I'll throw my two cents out there as someone who has spent a lot of time and money building his own PC rigs over the years.

Don't be afraid to buy a Dell or HP or something like that. They make good machines for very competitive prices part for part.

My next machine is going to be a Dell. Maybe.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby SkaBob » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:14 pm

sunspot wrote:I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.


these are two common misconceptions about Macs.

1. It's not "a little extra". A buddy of mine decided on a macbook when he was looking at laptops a year or so ago. He paid almost 2.5 times as much as a PC with the same specs.

Which brings me to 2... You're buying a PC in a fancy case that runs Apple's software. The only increased "quality" comes from the metal case.

Every part inside is the same as those inside a Dell, other than the chip that lets their software know "I'm an Apple!"

Incidentally, that buddy of mine sold his macbook and bought a netbook for almost 1/4 the price he paid for the macbook, and he's never been happier.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Jsw » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:40 pm

SkaBob wrote:
sunspot wrote:I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.


these are two common misconceptions about Macs.

1. It's not "a little extra". A buddy of mine decided on a macbook when he was looking at laptops a year or so ago. He paid almost 2.5 times as much as a PC with the same specs.

Which brings me to 2... You're buying a PC in a fancy case that runs Apple's software. The only increased "quality" comes from the metal case.

Every part inside is the same as those inside a Dell, other than the chip that lets their software know "I'm an Apple!"

Incidentally, that buddy of mine sold his macbook and bought a netbook for almost 1/4 the price he paid for the macbook, and he's never been happier.


Yeah, I've never been a "Mac person", mainly because they are super pricey and I always liked to play computer games(which for a long time rarely came out for Macs, i guess* Besides - Who the hell wants a mouse with one button?).

I'm sure maybe its different now, But I don't really do any gaming anymore anyway. I just like to screw around on the web and write a word document here and there. So a basic PC/laptop is fine by me, mainly because I'm not willing to throw down Mac-type $$$ on a porn projector. 8)
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby emiller3 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:22 pm

sunspot wrote:I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.

If that's really the way you feel, get a Mac. That's the way I felt, and I got a Mac, and I haven't looked back. Windows XP SP2 machines worked fine, but I love Mac OS X.

It's true, Macs have the same Intel guts as a PC. There's nothing special under the hood. They used to have special stuff under the hood (IBM guts), and they were slow and second-rate performance-wise, IMO. Now they just have special stuff on the outside, the track pad and solid aluminum body, stuff like that. But, you can't just dismiss how excellent their Operating System is when comparing the two types of machines. Also, keep in mind that machine specs don't tell the whole story on performance, my iMac with a 2.0 GHz core 2 processor performs just as snappy as my work machine with XP and a 3.0 GHz processer, all other things being equal.

I'm a computer guy by trade (software, not hardware), I know how to program in a Unix environment, install obscure distributions of Linux, all that junk. I know a little about hardware and have experience building PCs. If you can't fix your current graphics card, then I wouldn't recommend building your own computer. Like Jeronimo said, don't be afraid to buy a Dell, and spend the extra money on a warranty. It'll be fine. I've only seen one Dell line (Inspiron 5150 I think) that was really terrible, everything else has been a good experience. If at all possible, wait for Windows 7, or find a deal on an XP machine.

For Macs, the best thing, if you have a local, non-Apple, authorized Mac retailer, go find a deal on a new previous generation Mac. These stores raid Apple's old supply when they introduce new machines, and you can get a couple hundred bucks off of brand new machines. If not that, maybe you (or someone in your family) qualifies for the education discount from apple.com?

Keep in mind that if you get an iMac, you might want the extended warranty, because if your hard drive goes (like mine did after 2 years), it takes a little skill and determination to get it swapped out. Might be better to go with the MacBook.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Lithicon » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:47 pm

First off, this is going to be long.................

Mac's are nice, and like mentioned earlier, the entire thing is exactly what's in every other pc on the planet. So, the extra price doesn't really make sense to me. :?

Netbooks-
If you want a laptop, buy a netbook or something that is totaly worth the prices on them. They don't have cd roms unless you get atleast a 12-13". But, the 10" are very nice and 11.6" are even better. The size is up to you. The price range is all fairly the same. They are the best affordable way to browse the net, watch pron, and do pretty much anything you need to do aside from gaming. While most of them don't have CDroms, they are still wonderful for watching movies from netflix and what not. But, if you're traveling, and want to have the net around, these are perfect. MOST have around 6+ hour battery life. Which is fantastic. All the way up to 10-13 hours batter life.
Laptops-
While most of us do want a cd rom, they're nice to have. Get something in the 12-15" range. Still affordable and does more than you'd probably ever need for close to the same price as a netbook. With the option of watching movies anytime you want, with usually slightly lower battery life, around 3-4 hours depending on how you run it.

Desktops-
Then back to the desktops. As I mentioned earlier, HP and Dell do offer some reasonably priced computers for what they are. You can build a pc for the same price OR CHEAPER, and it would perform just as well as most of the relative counterparts from HP or Dell. Since, they have to make a profit. Mainly because you can choose everything, and it's very easy to build a PC for $350, as long as you have a monitor and periphrials.

I have a Pc sitting here right now, with a 40 dollar motherboard, 60 dollar ram, and a 120 dollar cpu, and the case cost me 50 dollars with a power supplly. Hard drive cost you another 40-60 depending on how big you want. I put a graphics card in it I had lying around. BUT, it has built in graphics so it would play any videos, and maybe a few games. Has built in HD audio, 5.1 surroud. Not the best, but it works. Ok, so around right there is 330 dollars and that is a machine that will do ANYTHING, you wanted to do today on it. EXCEPT gaming. This thing has been running strong for right around 2 years now. Throw a 100 dollar graphics card in there and I know you could play WoW all day and be as happy as ever. Shipping will cost you maybe 60 total, if even that, not sure haven't ordered a lot of stuff lately. Mostly depends on what you order, and where it's going. 60 might be high.
Now, that's just an example. YOU CAN BUILD FOR CHEAPER, I promise. I've seen as low as 300 for everything you'd need, with built in graphics and sound card. Even graphics cards that will perform just to have video, will run you around $10 if you don't find a motherboard with built in graphics.

Comparison.
Netbook, 250-450 depending on size and what you want it to do.
Laptop 400-1k depending again.
Desktop 300 for a bare bones system. Or 400 for something basically the same as a HP or Dell low end system. The option is up to you.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby JHern » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:04 pm

SkaBob wrote:
sunspot wrote:I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.


these are two common misconceptions about Macs.

1. It's not "a little extra". A buddy of mine decided on a macbook when he was looking at laptops a year or so ago. He paid almost 2.5 times as much as a PC with the same specs.

Which brings me to 2... You're buying a PC in a fancy case that runs Apple's software. The only increased "quality" comes from the metal case.

Every part inside is the same as those inside a Dell, other than the chip that lets their software know "I'm an Apple!"

Incidentally, that buddy of mine sold his macbook and bought a netbook for almost 1/4 the price he paid for the macbook, and he's never been happier.

This isn't true at all. You're comparing a Ford Focus to a Tesla Roadster, and complaining that one costs so much more than the other. But they're both cars, right? Wrong comparison.

You get what you pay for. We have both PCs and Macs around, and the PCs are such a trash heap in comparison that there is no reason to even bother with them.

I've seen brand new MacBooks on sale recently for $800. I'm not sure what kind of POS a PC would be that costs 2.5X less ($320), but I would avoid it like the plague.

Used Macs are also good. My very first personal computer was a used Mac that lasted for 10 years before it ever had an issue.

That being said, if you want all the bells and whistles (and keep in mind that with a Mac, you get the very best components and quality), then you will pay a lot more. The laptop I'm using right this second cost $2200 (a MacBook Pro with Intel Core 2 Duo, and the works), but I don't think everyone needs this kind of machine. The display itself is worth about $600-700 alone (super high quality, high contrast, brilliant color, etc.). The keyboard is the coolest, most responsive and accurate thing I've ever touched (probably worth $200 by itself). The disc drive does everything, even wipes my ass. Powerful and high quality/low maintenance wifi, bluetooth, audio, video, and other capabilities abound. This is one mean machine. That's why it costs $2200.

A MacBook is a cheaper version, and is a great machine. I had one of these before my present laptop, and it was my mainstay for 4 years. It also does just about everything. Just that the construction is plastic, instead of aluminum. The display is not as fancy, and lower resolution. The processor slightly slower, memory smaller, and hard drive space diminished. But that gets it down to $1000-ish (plus or minus a couple hundred depending on options). And it will still be a far better machine than any PC laptop. Period.

Every time I see somebody with a PC laptop any more I feel kind of embarrassed for them. These are such shabby, clunky, noisy pieces of garbage. And the operating systems you can run on them are famously crappy, virus prone, and high maintenance, with the exception of linux (but few use that).

People who think PCs and Macs are at all comparable have absolutely no ground to stand on.
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Re: Advice on getting a new computer.

Postby Lithicon » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:30 pm

JHern wrote:
SkaBob wrote:
sunspot wrote:I know it may be a little extra, but having something that is better quality may be well worth the extra cost.


these are two common misconceptions about Macs.

1. It's not "a little extra". A buddy of mine decided on a macbook when he was looking at laptops a year or so ago. He paid almost 2.5 times as much as a PC with the same specs.

Which brings me to 2... You're buying a PC in a fancy case that runs Apple's software. The only increased "quality" comes from the metal case.

Every part inside is the same as those inside a Dell, other than the chip that lets their software know "I'm an Apple!"

Incidentally, that buddy of mine sold his macbook and bought a netbook for almost 1/4 the price he paid for the macbook, and he's never been happier.

This isn't true at all. You're comparing a Ford Focus to a Tesla Roadster, and complaining that one costs so much more than the other. But they're both cars, right? Wrong comparison.

You get what you pay for. We have both PCs and Macs around, and the PCs are such a trash heap in comparison that there is no reason to even bother with them.

I've seen brand new MacBooks on sale recently for $800. I'm not sure what kind of POS a PC would be that costs 2.5X less ($320), but I would avoid it like the plague.

Used Macs are also good. My very first personal computer was a used Mac that lasted for 10 years before it ever had an issue.

That being said, if you want all the bells and whistles (and keep in mind that with a Mac, you get the very best components and quality), then you will pay a lot more. The laptop I'm using right this second cost $2200 (a MacBook Pro with Intel Core 2 Duo, and the works), but I don't think everyone needs this kind of machine. The display itself is worth about $600-700 alone (super high quality, high contrast, brilliant color, etc.). The keyboard is the coolest, most responsive and accurate thing I've ever touched (probably worth $200 by itself). The disc drive does everything, even wipes my ass. Powerful and high quality/low maintenance wifi, bluetooth, audio, video, and other capabilities abound. This is one mean machine. That's why it costs $2200.

A MacBook is a cheaper version, and is a great machine. I had one of these before my present laptop, and it was my mainstay for 4 years. It also does just about everything. Just that the construction is plastic, instead of aluminum. The display is not as fancy, and lower resolution. The processor slightly slower, memory smaller, and hard drive space diminished. But that gets it down to $1000-ish (plus or minus a couple hundred depending on options). And it will still be a far better machine than any PC laptop. Period.

Every time I see somebody with a PC laptop any more I feel kind of embarrassed for them. These are such shabby, clunky, noisy pieces of garbage. And the operating systems you can run on them are famously crappy, virus prone, and high maintenance, with the exception of linux (but few use that).

People who think PCs and Macs are at all comparable have absolutely no ground to stand on.


Seriously? I disagree here. A core 2 duo is in most laptops today. The hardware comparability is exactly the same. The QUALITY of the hardware is just as good as any mac. The macbook is EXACTLY the same specs as the cheapest macbook Pro, except the MACBOOK ACTUALLY HAS A 250 gb hard drive. The pro doesn't. The pro cost 1200, the regular macbook cost 800. Seriously, the only difference is the case is grey, and slightly slimmer than the macbook.

There are NETBOOKS with Core 2 duo's that cost 600 dollars. The size is pretty much the same. I fail to see how a mac in quality is better than a Laptop of equal value. To upgrade a Mac is expensive, upgrading a pc CAN be expensive. And honestly, If you have any idea of what you're doing, maintenance on a pc is rare. I leave all my pc's on 24/7. Quality parts. I will agree that the OS probably isn't the best with windows based systems. But, then again it goes back to doing stupid stuff. Go on unsafe sites is like going in a bad neighbor hood. You know there is a possibility of getting hurt, but you still do it.
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