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Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

Old 01-03-10, 08:34 PM
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Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

I'm looking for a new desktop. Mine is ungodly slow (it takes up to ten minutes to boot up and load itunes, and it took about 5 minutes to shut down the game Wizard 101). I don't know what's wrong with it, I've tried everything I can think of short of reformatting it and I really don't want to do that.
So I'm looking for a new desktop. Problem is, it needs to be cheap. Yet decent. Budget is no more than 500 including tax and shipping, and would be better around 400-450.

Not a huge PC gamer, the most recent PC game I have is Left 4 Dead 2, and prior to that, Heroes of Might and Magic III.
Walmart, oddly enough, has this one:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...ct_id=12347221
2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 dual-core processor
6GB DDR2
750GB SATA hard drive rated at 7200 rpm
SuperMulti DVD Drive
no monitor
for 398. That sounds pretty good to me, but I'm not sure, and not familiar with the quality of emachines. (I do have good flatpanel monitor, so I'd rather spend money on specs than a monitor, but I wouldn't be averse to a bundle deal that comes with a monitor.)

Alternately, Best Buy has this one
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/eMachine...99123700050007
Pentium® processor E5300, 4GB DDR2 memory, double-layer DVD±RW/CD-RW drive, 750GB hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce 7050 graphics
which does come with a flatpanel monitor.

I think those are both "integrated" video cards so I won't be getting lifelike HD, which is fine.

My current machine is
Pentium 4 2.8 ghz
512MB ram (mistake I know)
120 GB HD
128 MB Radeon X300/X500 video card

I'm also not resistant to a laptop, but I haven't seen specs like I"m looking for in my price range.
Any opinions on the two systems listed above, or suggestions in general?
I know a lot of people build their own - is that a reasonable option for someone who's never done it before?

thanks in advance
Old 01-03-10, 09:31 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

For a long time, buying an emachine was just a headache waiting to happen. Maybe they've gotten better, I don't know. But I do know that if you can be patient and watch the deal sites/forums, you can usually find a similarly configured Dell or HP for maybe only a little more.

Unless you want an excuse to buy a new machine or you want a second machine, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars if you just fix your current machine. I still work with some old P4's with 512MB of ram. They're not snappy by any means, but they're still very usable.

Did your performance problems start suddenly just recently? Or has your machine just been slowly taking longer to boot and load software over the years?
Old 01-04-10, 02:57 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

Check this one out:

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...b=1&vw=classic

See if you can get one without a monitor if you don't need one. I do like that it comes with an E7500 which is the lowest power CPU I would recommend.

Also, this is the business version. Maybe they have a home version that's cheaper, like this:

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...=DDCWRA1&s=dhs
Old 01-06-10, 09:35 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

No, it's been performing worse over a period of time.
Part of it is, yes, I want something new, and part of it is that I am tired of fooling with it.
X, not bad. Seems like the Small Business store has either better deals or better discounts. I think this one actually came from there as well, instead of from the Home site. I will have to see if I can find one without a monitor - although this PC is still usable, and once I transfer stuff across I can reformat it and let my boy use it, and he will need a monitor. It seems like the monitors are pretty well priced in those Small Business bundles.
Thanks for the feedback, I'll keep looking - looks like a namebrand could be gotten for just a little bit more, possibly even including a monitor, so that's worth following up on.
Old 01-06-10, 09:42 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

since flash is going the GPU acceleration route, a nice graphics card is going to be important
Old 01-06-10, 09:47 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

OK...I've not kept up with the PC industry (once I buy one, I purposefully avoid it for at least six months, since they're instantly out of date).
You recommend a nice graphics card, and X recommends a certain power supply rating.

What specs or features should I be looking for?
I know the basics - much RAM, big HD - but where's the sweet spot in RAM? What about chips? Is Celeron as good as AMD as good as Pentium? What clock speed (I think that's what that's called)? What is a "nice" video card? I'll admit I don't understand the various names/numbers on video cards.
Old 01-07-10, 02:33 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

Originally Posted by dtcarson View Post
OK...I've not kept up with the PC industry (once I buy one, I purposefully avoid it for at least six months, since they're instantly out of date).
You recommend a nice graphics card, and X recommends a certain power supply rating.

What specs or features should I be looking for?
I know the basics - much RAM, big HD - but where's the sweet spot in RAM? What about chips? Is Celeron as good as AMD as good as Pentium? What clock speed (I think that's what that's called)? What is a "nice" video card? I'll admit I don't understand the various names/numbers on video cards.
I would say 4GB of RAM is the sweet spot if you're in a 64-bit OS, 3.5GB for a 32-bit OS. IMO at least (hell I've used Win 7 x64 on a 2gb system (minimum req) and had no issues.)

Celeron is the "cheap" level Intel processor, but there are many versions of it going from the terrible (the original Celerons) to pretty decent if you're going cheap (The Celeron T1800 for instance.)

AMD is a company like Intel, so they also have numerous classes of processors (Athlon, Phenom, Athlon II X2 & X4, Phenom II X2 & X3 & X4). I recently built a new machine with an AMD proc and am extremely happy with it (Phenom II 955 Black Edition Deneb X4 quad core processor.) 2 Cores is preferrable to 1 as it keeps multitasking smooth on most PCs.

Both of the machines you listed are actually pretty decent for general use. However, both integrated video cards are unusable for games. I'd recommend a $50 add-in with PureVideo or similar HD video processing. Though preferrably something like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814127440 .

HDD requirements vary, I'd stay over 250gb @7200rpm. After that it depends on what you're doing with the machine.

eMachine has a bad rep but they're currently own by Acer who I've had surprisingly good luck with.

Last edited by RichC2; 01-07-10 at 02:43 PM.
Old 01-07-10, 03:04 PM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

eMachines originally started out as complete crap, then gateway bought them, so they were a little better crap, then Acer bought gateway and that is about an even exchange for me gateway = acer in quality at the time of purchase

Keep in mind Acer in the USA is still considered a low end brand, eMachines is consiered the low end of Acer.

In computers these days, you really do get what you pay for. I use to make and sell my own computer for years, there was money to be made. Today, I can't make any money at it so I don't do it anymore. Knowing the margins are shot by competition, when you buy a cheap computer, you get a cheap computer. A corner has been cut somewhere to deliver that price, you have to ask where it was cut?

Today, I wouldn't buy anything will less than 4gb of ram and a 500-640GB hard drive (depends if you store a lot of music/movies or not).

I flip flopped between intel and amd processors, I am currently back on the Intel bandwagon. A dual core is fine, but try not to go less than 2.8ghz. I would really try to stay at or above the Intel E7500 as listed on this chart

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115056


Video cards have a lot of price variance, it really depends on the most powerful requirement you have. if you want to play a certain high end game, you will need to buy the card that can drive it. If you have nothing in mind, then built in video might work for you.

Some video charts for you

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/g...hmarks,51.html

Watch the big names (Dell, HP) and find something on sale. You are buying the support of the company more than you are buying a piece of hardware. Driver support, warranty support, etc are all worth a little bit of money.
Old 02-03-10, 09:28 AM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

I agree, support is an important consideration with a PC. The few times I've had to contact Dell support, they took care of me (of course I would have preferred not to have to contact them, but oh well.)
OK I think I found what looks to me to be a deal:

Somewhere on the Dell home website:
Inspiron 546 MT
Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit
AMD Athlon™ II X2 240 (2.8GHz, 2MB) (upgrade to AMD Athlon™ II X2 250 (3.0GHz, 2MB) for $40)
4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz- 4 DIMMs (upgrade to 6GB for $45 - is more better?)
20" Dell IN2010N HD Monitor with VGA port and cable
ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB AT4350
750GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
16X DVD+/-RW Drive (upgrade to Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW w/ dbl layer write capable for $30)
Sound Card Integrated 5.1 Channel Audio IS
Security Software McAfee SecurityCenter, 15-Months (don't really want it, but it doesn't save $ removing it)
Dell Online Backup 2GB for 1 year
589.00 +tax +discounted shipping (List price is allegedly 858)

Is that build any good/worth it?

I'm not sure how the AMD processor compares to the Intel "Core Duo" or whatever, and I upgraded the video card which seems to be pretty reasonably reviewed on Tom's Hardware (but as far as i can tell, it's hard to search by a specific item there and see how it ranks).
It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but it's discounted a good bit (off list price) and has the RAM, HD, and upgraded video card I was looking, and what looks like a good/decent monitor.

It's funny - I actually get a discount through my company, but the current discounts are not as good as the deals on the Home site - and the lower priced (400-600) systems on the Small Business are really low tier (80GB HD, for instance).

Secondary consideration: What about games - from both a hardware and software/OS perspective? The games I currently own and would like to play are Left 4 Dead 2, Guild Wars, Diablo 2, the aforementioned Wizard 101 and Disney's Toontown, Fallout 1/2/Tactics and the Heroes of Might and Magic/Might and Magic series (thanks to GoG's Christmas sales). This is perhaps a little out of scope here but will I run into issues/difficulties with Windows 7, or the system being "overpowered" for some of those games?

Thanks again for any advice/feedback - as you can tell I don't do this much.
Old 02-03-10, 10:19 AM
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Re: Feedback on desktop specs/quality/price

if you don't mind refurb, this is a decent deal. keep in mind 90 day warranty..

~$330

HP Pavilion

Athlon II X4 620
6gb Ram
500gb HD
Windows 7
DVDRW
Media Card Reader
Integrated NVidia 9100
http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1845057

i'm not sure about the power supply, you'd want something decent if you want to add a good video card later.

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