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Buying new computers - need geek help

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Buying new computers - need geek help

Postby Sticky Spice » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:36 am

I will defer to my wife since she knows a lot more than I do - here are our questions (although she wrote it from my point of view?):

We are buying two new computers. We've looked at several AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 and Pentium D 930 models/bundles. What we *think* we understand (from reading and from salespeople) is that even though the X2 4200 has a lower clock speed than the D930, it's still a faster, more efficient and overall better machine, especially for gaming (which I would like to try). My wife is interested in graphics and office work, music, watching TV on the puter, and general use. Which of the two processors would you recommend for each of our purposes?

As far as the X2 4200 goes, we've narrowed it down to two bundles that are similarly priced. One is an HP bundle and features ATI Raedon XPress 200 graphics with up to 256MB shared video memory. The other is a Gateway bundle and has NVidia GeForce 6100 with up to 128MB shared video memory. (Both have PCI Express x16 expansion slots). Are these graphics cards/capabilities sufficient for gaming and is one better than the other? Aside from the graphics cards, both systems have identical specs -- but are the two brands (HP/Gateway) comparable in quality?

The Athlon X2 4200 bundles are considerably less expensive than the Pentium D 930...but we've looked at three of the 930s also: HP, Gateway and Sony Vaio. Any preference of those three as far as the manufacturer goes?

We were kind of leaning towards the Pentium D 930 for my wife and the Athlon 64 X2 4200 for myself...until a salesperson who seemed very sharp told us that the X2 4200 was better in all respects (not just for gaming). So we may buy two of those systems instead of one of each, but we sure would be grateful for some input from those who are smarter about these things than we are.

We plan to keep our computers for many years (we are still using a 333 MHz Compaq Presario running Win95, bought in 1997). I'm sure even the dinkiest value brand would be a huge improvement. But we want to try to get the most up-to-date features we can afford and hopefully purchase machines that will lend themselves well to upgrading in the future. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thanks guys! She's smarter than she gives herself credit for ;-D
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:02 am

I do not own a dual core yet. I think that the price isn't worth it yet due to the lack of software support. I don't have any personal experience yet but a majority of the reviews of the dual core systems favor Pentium because of hyperthreading which provides benefits to running multiple applications simultaneously.

Perhaps in a graphics scenario where you run a lot of intensive apps (like 3DMax and Photoshop) together there is some real benefits to a dual core system. Although for a gaming setup I would definitely say a dual core system is a waste of money.

Game designers are not yet supporting dual processors and since normally when you play a game there is only a single app running you miss out on the major benefits of dual core. Also due to the current limitations of dual core you can attain higher clock speeds in a single. Currently a well-designed top-of-the-line single core gaming machine will outperform a well-designed dual core. I know that seems counter-intuitive but it's the truth.
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Postby acsguitar » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:14 pm

Personally i will never buy a Pentium chip again. They are super hot and they don't game as well as AMD chips.

The X2 4200 is a sick gaming chip and being a dual core I'd expect it to give off a lot of heat. However, way less heat then the Pentium ones.

Also, those graphics cards are not very good.

If I were you I would buy a custom built pc or learn to build it yourself.

For example buy all the parts you would need and then take it to a shop to have them build it.

That way you know you are getting quality parts. HP, Gateway, and Sony make crappy PC's. In fact all the major brand pc builders don't really make great PC's.

How much are you looking to spend.

I have an AMD 3500+ with 1 gig of ram 100 GB harddrive and a top of the line 7800gt video card. CD/DVD burner and a flat panel..

This cost me a total of around: 800 bucks maybee...And it runs all games at pretty much the highest settings.

you don't need a dual core yet?

Let me ask you this. Are you going to be burning dvd's and playing games at the same time. And if so is it really a neccessity that requires that powerfull of a chip.

IMO you will not need the power that you are spending your money on.

I play alot of games and i don't need near that much power.

I'd say for like 700 bucks you could get a sweet computer.

And AMD X2 4200 is totally unneccessary unless you are a hardcore gamer or hardcore graphics/video editor.

Don't get ripped off by a salesmen cause thats why they will do.

I can spec you out a computer if you tell me exactly what you want to do with it.

Now I used pentium chips for a while but I'm now an AMD guy. Would I say you made a big mistake if you went for a Pentium, no not really. I wouldn't do it but not a huge mistake. Pentiums can encode video quicker then say and AMD. But AMD chips game better.

However, i would warn you against buying a PC from a Name brand as they use cheaper parts in order to convince you that you are getting a deal.

Anyways don't buy either is my advice
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Postby bronxxbomber » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:48 pm

I also agree that AMD chips are better than Pentiums, but at the same time unless you're doing high-end graphics or digital imaging you might need so much power. Not that you shouldn't get it, but for what Gateway will charge it probably won't be worth it. And besides a good processor a good video is essential for gaming. I suggest the best route to go is build a pc yourself. Trust me, building a pc is a simple process and if you get all you your parts from http://www.newegg.com it comes with great prices & deals, quick delivery and warranties for everything.
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Postby acsguitar » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:52 pm

bronxxbomber wrote:I also agree that AMD chips are better than Pentiums, but at the same time unless you're doing high-end graphics or digital imaging you might need so much power. Not that you shouldn't get it, but for what Gateway will charge it probably won't be worth it. And besides a good processor a good video is essential for gaming. I suggest the best route to go is build a pc yourself. Trust me, building a pc is a simple process and if you get all you your parts from http://www.newegg.com it comes with great prices & deals, quick delivery and warranties for everything.



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Postby Phatferd » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:10 pm

My mom works for Gateway...

I was thinking of building my own PC the next time I needed to upgrade it. I hear its simple and I know more about computers than the Average Joe. I consider myself an intermediate computer dude...

What scares me about builing my own is all of the "little" things you have to buy that just increase the cost. Including the operating system...
You have no frame of reference, Donny. You're like a child who walks into the middle of a movie...
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Postby Coppermine » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:29 pm

Not long ago, it was much cheaper to just buy a custom PC from dell than to build one yourself. You have to look at it as Dell having a huge discount for all those little pieces of hardware, and a lot of it they slap their own name on anyway.

But newegg.com has convinced me that building your own could be cheaper; but that depends on certain things.

I had a recent newegg dilemma actually; I wanted to buy some more memory... a gig to be exact. My Inspiron has two DIMM's, one free, so I though a single stick of 1 GB RAM would give me a nice boost to the 512 I have in there now. But newegg only sells 1GB memory for my PC as two 512 sticks. In other words, do your research. Plan out the whole PC, write down the components and the costs and then compare it to a PC you can have custom built on Dell or Gateway's website (I would definitely recommend Dell over Gateway). In any case, if you want to go through the trouble of building your own PC, you might as well go through the cost analysis too.

By the way, I got my RAM from micron's Crucial.com site. I probably paid a little more, $130, but Dell was selling the same thing for $200.
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Postby Phatferd » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:36 pm

Coppermine wrote:Not long ago, it was much cheaper to just buy a custom PC from dell than to build one yourself. You have to look at it as Dell having a huge discount for all those little pieces of hardware, and a lot of it they slap their own name on anyway.

But newegg.com has convinced me that building your own could be cheaper; but that depends on certain things.

I had a recent newegg dilemma actually; I wanted to buy some more memory... a gig to be exact. My Inspiron has two DIMM's, one free, so I though a single stick of 1 GB RAM would give me a nice boost to the 512 I have in there now. But newegg only sells 1GB memory for my PC as two 512 sticks. In other words, do your research. Plan out the whole PC, write down the components and the costs and then compare it to a PC you can have custom built on Dell or Gateway's website (I would definitely recommend Dell over Gateway). In any case, if you want to go through the trouble of building your own PC, you might as well go through the cost analysis too.

By the way, I got my RAM from micron's Crucial.com site. I probably paid a little more, $130, but Dell was selling the same thing for $200.


I would never buy Dell (I had one and it sucked and every single one of my friends who has had one always has issues). I also would never buy from Dell.com or HP.com, Gateway.com, etc...If you are going to do that you might as well build your own, it will be cheaper and better, however, I think the choice comes down to buying a stocked pre-built computer or building your own...

You can find some pretty decent pre-built computers for like $400 and if you want to play video games then drop $200 on a new video card and you're still at $600...

A good processor and motherboard is like $300 then add at least $150 for a decent video card and another $100 for windows and $80 for RAM and you're at about $630, and you still have the burners, power supply, tower and other small things to throw on top of it...
You have no frame of reference, Donny. You're like a child who walks into the middle of a movie...
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Postby acsguitar » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:44 pm

Using Newegg is the way to go..I've built probably 10 computers via newegg...

its the way to go...as for buying software...well...yea I don't have issues with that
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Postby Phatferd » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:54 pm

acsguitar wrote:Using Newegg is the way to go..I've built probably 10 computers via newegg...

its the way to go...as for buying software...well...yea I don't have issues with that


All of the prices I use are using Newegg, I just don't see the point of building your own computer when the price of pre-built computers are soooo cheap right now. Even if you do some basic upgrades to imrove the pre-built computers you're still ahead.

I think building your own computer used to be cheaper, however, it's not really the case anymore with the computer market where it is now.

I think that building your own computer is one of the best things you can do because it teaches you how things work and you will be able to fix most of your own problems and it just feels good knowing you built something.

Another thing to consider with building your own PC is that you won't have technical support or anything when something goes wrong. You can't just bring your computer into circuit city, best buy, frys, etc...
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