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Old 10-22-03, 12:34 PM   #1
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Help with computers

Is there an online primer and comparison about purchasing a home computer that isn't "add" based?

I will be purchasing a computer for home use, and I"m trying to figure what I need, and what is extra.. and etc.

Anyone?
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Old 10-22-03, 12:38 PM   #2
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what do you need? a pc for word processing and web surfing and maybe a digital camera hookup or will you be editing home movies etc.
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Old 10-22-03, 12:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by djbowen1
what do you need? a pc for word processing and web surfing and maybe a digital camera hookup or will you be editing home movies etc.
A split between office items (wife and daughter), web surfing (family) and picture storage, and web page creation.

I
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Old 10-22-03, 12:53 PM   #4
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What is the difference between ultra ATA/serial ATA/ and RAID? for hard drives?
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Old 10-22-03, 01:08 PM   #5
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ultra ATA is pretty standard, serial is a little newer, and raid is primarily for server type setups. There is also SCSI which is nice and fast around 10,000 rpm. The max speed HD with the others is 7200 i believe.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Karsten
What is the difference between ultra ATA/serial ATA/ and RAID? for hard drives?
Simple answer: Serial is faster than Ultra. Serial is the newest evolution of the ATA technology. It has a dedicated 150Mbytes/sec to each device, better cabling and better reliability than Ultra.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disk Drives) - several hard drives are used jointly so that their data transfer rates can be bundled and data security increased. Depending on the number of drives present, you can choose different modes to fulfill the following purposes: increase data security in case a drive crashes, increase performance, or both. IMHO, for most home users RAID is not necessary.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:15 PM   #7
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I dont get the "increase data security in case a drive crashes" How is that increasing security?
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Old 10-22-03, 01:15 PM   #8
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William

A good website for hardware explanations and reviews is http://www.tomshardware.com/ . It is a reasonably advanced view on hardware, but offers some good info on the specific questions and components.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djbowen1
I dont get the "increase data security in case a drive crashes" How is that increasing security?
Not sure I understand the question properly....

With RAID mode 1 (Mirroring), when reading or writing data, all drives of the array are used simultaneously. Hence, data is always written to two or more drives synchronously, which is equivalent to a perfect backup copy.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:42 PM   #10
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The intent is home computing basics, and photo editing (not video) for a web site. I intend to purchase a large hard drive, and perhaps, an external hard drive for storage purposes.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:52 PM   #11
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William

A couple of things to think about:

Are you wanting to buy a brand name pc (e.g. Dell, HP), generic built pc, or buy the components and build it yourself? I'd recommend a generic built pc from somewhere like www.abspc.com - great prices, good service, great quality. These types of PCs are much easier for future component replacement and repair.

What's your budget?

What are your must-haves? e.g. DVD burner, real-time data backups, LCD monitor, wireless keyboard/mouse?

To me, the must haves:
* 512 MB RAM
* CD burner
* DVD drive
* 80-200 GB HDD - 200GB is usually about a $100 upgrade over an 80GB these days (most home PCs will be ULTRA ATA - not worth the upgrade to Serial IMHO)
* 17/18in LCD or 19in CRT monitor
* 128mb graphics card (preferably GeForce FX as they have better software driver support than the ATI Radeon cards)
* Windows XP Professional
* on-board networking (on the motherboard) is usually more than sufficient for home broadband internet

The really nice to haves:
* wireless keyboard and mouse
* Soundblaster Audigy sound card
* Corsair brand RAM (RAM is your biggest friend for speed - more better RAM will make a bigger difference than stepping up to the next processor speed)

Things to think about:
* TV/S-video out on the graphics card
* Speakers - I'd stick to a good quality set of 2.1 channel speakers (2 + subwoofer) unless you'll be doing a lot of gaming or DVD watching on the PC
* Processor type and speed - I don't think there's much between the AMD Athlon XP or Pentium 4 processors for home use. There's some good deals around for Pentiums at the moment
* DVD burner (great for backups - I'd probably do this instead of an external harddrive, but it depends on the size of files you need to backup)
* Monitor - CRT monitors are still slightly clearer, but the latest generation of LCDs are much nicer than they have been in the past. Check out www.newegg.com for good monitor prices.
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Old 10-22-03, 01:59 PM   #12
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When i think computers and i think secure, i think from being hacked, etc. When you think computer security you think about backups etc?
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Old 10-22-03, 02:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djbowen1
When i think computers and i think secure, i think from being hacked, etc. When you think computer security you think about backups etc?
I'm very coordinated - I think of it both ways in context . Security is about protection of data.

For security of internet devices, that'd be from hacking, viruses etc.

For security of storage devices, it's all about corruption or loss of files through device failure etc.

Either way, you're trying to protect the data and keep it secure from a virus/hacker/failure/whatever.
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Old 10-22-03, 03:27 PM   #14
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Well I guess my computer is a piece of crap.
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Old 10-22-03, 03:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booyah
William

A couple of things to think about:

Are you wanting to buy a brand name pc (e.g. Dell, HP), generic built pc, or buy the components and build it yourself? I'd recommend a generic built pc from somewhere like www.abspc.com - great prices, good service, great quality. These types of PCs are much easier for future component replacement and repair.
I'm going to buy a prebuilt, as I don't have the software to install, if I had the software, I'd build myself.



Quote:
What's your budget?
Around 1800.


Quote:
What are your must-haves? e.g. DVD burner, real-time data backups, LCD monitor, wireless keyboard/mouse?.
Large storage, ability to proccess pictures fast, decent monitor, be able to burn CD's (to store photos), be able to proccess office items.
No games, not much else, other than web surfing..


Quote:
To me, the must haves:
* 512 MB RAM
* CD burner
* DVD drive
* 80-200 GB HDD - 200GB is usually about a $100 upgrade over an 80GB these days (most home PCs will be ULTRA ATA - not worth the upgrade to Serial IMHO)
* 17/18in LCD or 19in CRT monitor
* 128mb graphics card (preferably GeForce FX as they have better software driver support than the ATI Radeon cards)
* Windows XP Professional
* on-board networking (on the motherboard) is usually more than sufficient for home broadband internet
I agree, but I don't need the broadband, don't have it.. don't need it really.
Would it be a good idea to get two hard drives (internal) or just a large drive?




Quote:
The really nice to haves:
* wireless keyboard and mouse
* Soundblaster Audigy sound card
* Corsair brand RAM (RAM is your biggest friend for speed - more better RAM will make a bigger difference than stepping up to the next processor speed)
I'm going to get the sound card, but we have good speakers already from our old system. (That is to say, Boston Acoustics.. they're cool).

Quote:
Things to think about:
* TV/S-video out on the graphics card
* Speakers - I'd stick to a good quality set of 2.1 channel speakers (2 + subwoofer) unless you'll be doing a lot of gaming or DVD watching on the PC
* Processor type and speed - I don't think there's much between the AMD Athlon XP or Pentium 4 processors for home use. There's some good deals around for Pentiums at the moment
* DVD burner (great for backups - I'd probably do this instead of an external harddrive, but it depends on the size of files you need to backup)
* Monitor - CRT monitors are still slightly clearer, but the latest generation of LCDs are much nicer than they have been in the past. Check out www.newegg.com for good monitor prices.
Would you say that a DVD burner is far enough along now to be a standard? DVD's will hold larger amounts of pictures for storage purposes.. right?
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Old 10-22-03, 03:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Karsten
I'm going to buy a prebuilt, as I don't have the software to install, if I had the software, I'd build myself.
You might want to keep the option to build open. Software drivers for the components will come standard with the hardware. You can buy an OEM version of Windows XP from www.newegg.com when you buy any hardware. And if someone in the family is a student, they can buy a student release of Office for less than most computer retailers can sell it to you. All the other 'bundled' software that comes on Dells etc is mostly freeware, or unnecessary.

That being said, I found that many retailers could still build and sell a computer for less than the sum of it's parts - economies of scale, I suppose. You'll still probably do better buying it all online, and buying the computer itself separately from the monitor (get this from somewhere like www.newegg.com).

Quote:
Around 1800.
A machine as I listed without monitor and DVD burner should come in around $1000-1200. Add $2-400 for a good monitor, either 17/18in LCD (around $400) or 19in CRT (around $2-300). You should get in under $1800 total.

Quote:
Large storage, ability to proccess pictures fast, decent monitor, be able to burn CD's (to store photos), be able to proccess office items.
No games, not much else, other than web surfing..
All good then. You could probably downgrade the video card, but a lot of the places I'd look at (including abs pc, where I bought mine) will equip the 128MB GeForce FX5200 as standard. Nice card if you ever do get into 3D gaming...

Quote:
I agree, but I don't need the broadband, don't have it.. don't need it really.
Would it be a good idea to get two hard drives (internal) or just a large drive?
Broadband ability is neither here nor there for you, then. Most new PCs have onboard networking, so you'll have the ability to do it at a later date if you need it.

Quote:
I'm going to get the sound card, but we have good speakers already from our old system. (That is to say, Boston Acoustics.. they're cool).
They make nice speakers! You could save a buck or two and stick with the on-board sound on the motherboard, but the Audigy will give great reproduction. I love mine...

Quote:
Would you say that a DVD burner is far enough along now to be a standard? DVD's will hold larger amounts of pictures for storage purposes.. right?
DVD burners don't seem to be quite standard, but they're down to about a $100-$150 upgrade. DVD will hold ~ 4.7 GB, whereas CD is ~ 0.7 GB. A heckuva lot more pictures! You can buy a DVD-RW or DVD+RW and use it just like a drag-and-drop drive, too.
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Old 10-22-03, 04:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booyah
You might want to keep the option to build open. Software drivers for the components will come standard with the hardware. You can buy an OEM version of Windows XP from www.newegg.com when you buy any hardware. And if someone in the family is a student, they can buy a student release of Office for less than most computer retailers can sell it to you. All the other 'bundled' software that comes on Dells etc is mostly freeware, or unnecessary.
Is the hyper threading chip something worthwhile, in your opinion?
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Old 10-22-03, 07:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Karsten
Is the hyper threading chip something worthwhile, in your opinion?
Hyper threading takes advantage of unused process wavelengths to better "multitask." Not sure if you really need to consider this for what you are doing William. A standard P4 should be fine (I still use a socket 370 1.2GHz Celeron! OMG!)
As far as RAID goes (from earlier), RAID is good for larger file storing on servers and workstations. You can perform RAID in either SCSI or IDE environments, but each has its own controller card. IDE RAID requires one channel per drive, whereas SCSI can handle upto 7/14 drives per channel, depending on the technology. RAID provides redundancy in data storage, but depending on the RAID set chosen (see this link for the different levels of RAID: http://www.acnc.com/04_01_05.html), the data retrival/writing process speeds will vary.
So, P4 processor, 256MB memory, 40GB HDD, ATI 7000 video card (or better - I like clean graphics!), 17-19" CRT (better picture than LCD in my book, but can be harder on the eyes - just reset the refresh rate!), are a few things to keep an eye out for. And stay away from no-name builds - you are asking fro trouble. If you want to build one yourself (I did! ), get what you want and be ready to support/replace as needed. Otherwise, go with a known name: SANS DELL - my parents have one and it sucks and the support is as good as swift kick in the groin)
My personal perference is to build my own, but you can find a good deal if you look hard enough.
I work as a Presales System Engineer for a large, Chicago technology company, so I see it all!
WIlliam - PM me when you get a chance on this. Cool?
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Old 10-22-03, 08:20 PM   #19
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new computer

William,

Just food for thought, most computers become obsolete in a matter of months. I would not advice you to get a second on your mortgage just to buy this computer with all the bells and whistles.

You can get a fairly decent computer just like you're talking about for under $500.00 that's already built and that's with Windows XP. You could even trick it out up to $700.00 that will last you a couple of years for sure. That's including the monitor, dvd, cdrw, cdrom, 60gig hdrive (7200rpm),(which it's very hard to fill even with three users) and I would suggest to get a very good video card but even then it's still going to be under $700.00 for sure. This website has some package deals that you'll see all the components listed.
check out this website,

www.acnt.com

I've purchased several systems through them and I've been very happy with my pc's. In fact I'm due for an a new one in January which I do every year on my birthday.

As far as a external drive I would suggest to get a flash drive that hooks to your usb port. They come in different size capacities, as low as 32Mb to several Gig's which is probably too big for your needs. They work just like add on memory on your digital camera except you don't need a reader for your system to pick it up. The minute you plug it into your usb port you system automatically senses that it's there and you can retrieve or download or transfer files, it's all very simple.

Good luck!
David
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Old 10-22-03, 08:40 PM   #20
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computer

William,

One more thing for clarity's sake, when you go to that website www.acnt.com at the top of the window you'll notice 4 tabs. Click the one that says system/server and you'll get a window that offers "Intel or AMD" systems. I prefer AMD over Intel, only because I've used them for years and have been very happy with AMD. I've even built some systems myself with those chips and I've never had any worries.

Another thing those packages do not come with a monitor, simple click on monitors on the left side of that site and choose the one you like. They can ship it direct and you'll have a nice system in just a few days.

One more thing, the future is all about open source which the most popular is linux. I would highly suggest you get into linux as soon as possible and you'll find that they offer a lot of free software. Just recently I've read that more and more companies and institutions are simply fed up with Microsoft and in order to cut budgets (just like all of us do from time to time) they are all resorting to linux. So my advice is follow the trend to open source and you'll still in the game of IT. I refer you to the following:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology...wn_techhead_11

Good luck,
Have fun computing
David
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