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Rich
04-12-2007, 03:30 PM
I'm in the market for a new home computer and although I'm pretty computer literate, it's been awhile since I shopped for one. It will mostly be used by my wife and kids for email, the internet, and some software, but no major gaming programs. I don't want to break the bank, but I am willing to pay so it doesn't become obsolete in a few years. A guy at work suggested I get the following at the minimum:



AMD x2 Dual Core Processor 4400+ or above (over an Intel processor)
2GB Memory since Vista's minimum requirements are 1GB
250GB Hard Drive minimum


Does this sound right? Too little? Too much?

I inserted this information on the Dell website (I have a Dell now) and it came in at about $1000, including monitor and printer, but I don't know if that's a good deal or not.

Finally, I want to make sure to be able to transfer stuff like photos, documents and Outlook addresses to the new computer from my old computer, which is running Windows ME. Any recommendatons for the best way to do that? Dell seems to be pushing the Belkin cable for the job, but I don't know if it will work with ME or if I even need to buy something like that to do this sort of thing.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Indoor66
04-12-2007, 04:11 PM
I don't believe AMD has the dual core processor. I believe that is proprietary to Intel.

Rich
04-12-2007, 04:15 PM
This is what I was referring to:

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10442_7-6389077-1.html

billybreen
04-12-2007, 05:14 PM
I don't believe AMD has the dual core processor. I believe that is proprietary to Intel.

Sorry, but I think you are confusing dual core with Intel's "Core Duo" brand of chips. AMD has dual (and even quad) core chips all over the place. It's pretty standard these days.

billybreen
04-12-2007, 05:22 PM
I wouldn't be doing my duty as a tech nerd if I didn't suggest that you get a Mac, probably an iMac for your needs. For a small chunk of change you can get Parallels (www.parallels.com) and run Windows on the same system, at the same time, with excellent performance.

It's a much better base operating system, the hardware and software are built to work seamlessly together, you are safe from the security and privacy headaches of Windows, and you get a humane interface that works the way you expect it should. The savings in time and annoyance from not having to deal with security breaches and adware is enough to justify the higher cost.

I don't make this recommendation lightly. I've used every major consumer operating system released over the last 10 years, and I always have a Mac, Windows, and Linux machine on my desk at home and at work. The Mac has on a strong Unix foundation, treats security as a first-class concern, and has a gorgeous and intuitive interface. Given that you can concurrently run Windows (safely contained in a virtual machine) with no performance hit, it truly is the best of all worlds.

GDT
04-12-2007, 06:15 PM
AMD x2 Dual Core Processor 4400+ or above (over an Intel processor)
2GB Memory since Vista's minimum requirements are 1GB
250GB Hard Drive minimumDoes this sound right? Too little? Too much?

I don't have any experience with Vista, but what I've read seems to suggest 2GB is a good minimum.

I like AMD CPU's but from what I've read, the newest Intel's are better for high performance.

That hard drive sounds small to me, but I have over 300GB just devoted to iTunes alone. I look at what you're actually using now and maybe multiply by 2-3? That's an unscientific guess.

Here's a link to a site which routinely specs out budget, fast and ultimate boxes, FWIW: http://arstechnica.com/guides/buyer/guide-200703.ars


Finally, I want to make sure to be able to transfer stuff like photos, documents and Outlook addresses to the new computer from my old computer, which is running Windows ME.

Can you burn a CD on your old PC? I would think that's the easiest way to transfer files. Otherwise, you could also try one of the external backup hard drives (http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?pfp=cat3&product_code=338216&Pn=My_Book_Premium_Edition_250GB_Hard_Drive). They can backup your entire old PC for safety's sake and then once you're sure you have everything you need, you can use it to backup your new PC. You do need USB, but ME is supported. Good luck!

snowdenscold
04-12-2007, 08:23 PM
Otherwise, you could also try one of the external backup hard drives (http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?pfp=cat3&product_code=338216&Pn=My_Book_Premium_Edition_250GB_Hard_Drive). They can backup your entire old PC for safety's sake and then once you're sure you have everything you need, you can use it to backup your new PC. You do need USB, but ME is supported. Good luck!

External hard drives are the way to go I say. Laptops and desktops come and go, but if you can get all your important info put into a nicely organized system on one - then you have so much more flexibility. I then copy all my irreplaceable docs and photos (and my music as well since I only have 12 gigs) onto the current hard drive. My hundreds of gigs of movies and TV shows stay external. This also means I can reimage my machine easily and with no worries.

About a year ago this time I was able to get a 500-gig external HD for $190 online. I haven't looked at sizes/prices since (though I'm about 65% filled up now)

Edit: clarification: it was a regular IDE HD that would usually be internal - I just happen to own 2 hard drives enclosures - so just pop it into that and then connect to computer via USB.
I used to have a true external 120 gig that didn't require external power, but it crashed on me - still kinda upset about that. Luckily, I now (and then) never have anything I can't afford to lose in only one location.

DevilAlumna
04-12-2007, 09:29 PM
Hi Rich,

Are you looking for a box computer, or a laptop? Since you didn't specify, I'll assume desktop.

First, WAIT UNTIL AFTER APRIL 22!!! Intel's dropping the prices on their top processors, including up to 40% for their quad-core processors. Although I'm not a hardware guru, my husband is quite the fanatic; he says the new Intel technology is much better than AMD. (He's a Microsoft software engineer, I trust him.)

Second, look for refurbishments and save a ton. Again, the hubby just got a refurbished Dell laptop with all the beels and whistles he needed, normal price - $2400; refurbished - $1300.

Third -- there are more companies than Dell; don't forget to look at Lenovo, HP, and Toshiba (great laptops!)

Fourth -- Set a budget, and stick to it. It's really easy to add $50 here and there, and next thing you know you're spending $500 more than planned.

As for guidelines --

Get the best processor and most RAM memory you can afford. Make sure the memory is upgradeable.

Get a video card with at least 512MB dedicated memory for Vista use.

As for harddrive size, I agree with Snowdenscold -- for storage purposes (pics, less-frequently accessed files, etc.,) go for an external drive. Costs are roughly $0.50/MB and dropping, so you can pick up a Terabyte of storage now for under $500 off the shelf at your local Best Buy.

For active storage, how much depends on your usage. If you're heavily into media (or will be, with all the Vista media center capabilities**), you'll want at least 200GB. If not, 80GB is probably plenty for general home use.

As for moving files, GDT's got it right -- go ahead and get that external hard drive. But, other options include getting a USB card reader, and use a SD or CompactFlash memory card (they go up to 4GB, now, I think). It all depends on how much you want to move. (Though, I'd offer that now is a good time to look through all those old files, and purge. Do you really need that word doc from 1998?... :) )

Lastly, once you think you've found a good machine for a reasonable price, THEN go read all the reviews. Google the model number and the word "review" and you'll get all the info you need. Do this to confirm that the model doesn't suck, didn't get recalled, or have some other commonly noted annoying feature that will just drive you bonkers.

You didn't say much about Monitors and printers, but those should not be afterthought purchases -- a bad one can be just a total drain on your overall computer morale. We just got a networked Ricoh color laser printer for about $400, and it's awesome. I can look up the model number if you're interested. Consider getting a dual-monitor setup -- studies show office workers are more productive when able to view more information at once; and Vista + Office 2007 have great features for multi-monitor usage.

Thanks for giving me a chance to get all excited about getting a new computer myself!

** Do you have an XBOX360? If so, with Vista, you can use it to stream movies and videos off your computer to your tv!

Rich
04-12-2007, 09:39 PM
Wow! That's a lot of information and I'm glad you seem really, really psyched about my new computer. Yes, a desktop as you guessed.

But I just want to make sure my 5 and 8 year old kids can play some CD-ROM games, play on the net, and so my wife can send emails and surf a bit. I think a quad core processor (although waiting until April 22 seems reasonable if other prices will drop), a laser printer, and dual screens is a bit over the top, but the other information is definitely appreciated.

DevilAlumna
04-12-2007, 11:19 PM
Yeah, okay, maybe I got carried away. :D

To go in another direction, with all the "early adopters" jumping up to Vista-ready hardware, there are more and more perfectly good used machines heading to the ebay/craigslist realms -- you could probably pick up something decent (1GB mem/128 MB video mem/60GB HD minimums) for under $200. Windows XP is a perfectly fine operating system and will be for at least a few more years; no need to upgrade all the way to Vista Ultimate at this point, or get all the hardware required to run it.

Highlander
04-13-2007, 08:24 AM
Another cheaper way to transfer your files is to move your old hard drive over to your new computer. My dad did this and quickly moved everything from his old machine to his new one without having to buy an external drive. If you are even a little technically savvy, it is not difficult at all to do. I didn't even bother mounting it last time, just cabled it up for the transfer with the cover off of my PC.

On that note, I have had bad experiences with external drives. The one I've used I've had to reformat twice, and it constantly comes up with errors. A surface scan shows that it is OK, so it may just be a lemon. However, as a result I'm not as sold on external storage. Plus I hate all the cables hanging off my pc.

I agree with the sentiments to add as much RAM and CPU speed as you can. I last bought a computer in 2003 or 2002, and did this. My system still performs very well for my needs. It's a bit too small for Vista, but 4-5 years out of a computer is not bad IMO.

Reisen
04-15-2007, 01:57 AM
If you see this Sunday, April 15th, check www.woot.com as fast as you can.

They have a pretty decent HP AMD X2 system for $380. The site is legit, and that's not a bad little box for less than $400 shipped.

Ralph-Wiggum
04-15-2007, 08:28 AM
Definitely go Intel Duo Core (or Quad Core if you really want to) - much better bang for your buck than AMD chips and they run a lot cooler as well.

And, as previously mentioned, if you don't mind going the refurbished route you can save a ton of money. A couple of months back I got a "refurb" from Dell Outlet for $600 less than the same computer would cost new. I put quotes are refurb because I'm fairly certain the computer was returned for non-mechanical reasons - it was listed at a "scratch and dent" meaning that the cases has some minor asthetic defects (none of which I've noticed) and the original build date was only a week or two before I placed my order. So far it's been working great.