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Need a new comptuer...what to get?

3580 Views 59 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  red5
Hey boys

i think it's time to upgrade a bit. still using a Pentium 3 here.

I do music production stuff on a different comptuer.
I use this machine for regular day-to-day stuff...outlook, IE, listening to/burning music, digital camera stuff & Word/Excel Stuff. I don't do any hardcore gaming. My Half-Life days have long since passed. :(

The systems i see advertised int he retail stores all come with monitors. I have a 19" flat monitor, so i don't need one.

I don't need an O/S or software, since i'll probably just transplant my 160GB hard drive.

I'd like:
a graphics card with enough memory to deal with my 7.1 MP digital camera's pictures.
a DVD burner
a CF/SD Card reader and some front-panel USB ports.
512MB minimum memory.

Phone modem isn't necessary, network interface is.

I'd like to spend around $300-450. I know it's do-able...i don't need a Dell/HP/Compaq and i know you get more bang for the buck out of some of the smaller websites/**** systems.

I want good value....anybody have any recommendations on which smaller brands would best suit my needs?

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if you want to get raped on a system you will go to a store; best buy, compusa, etc.

if you want to research parts and motherboards and such online you can build a killer system for the price you are looking for, maybe a little more, maybe a little less.

you can get a DELL that will MORE THAN HANDLE what you need and select the NO MONITOR option. get their lowest priced workstation and you can definately get what you want with pentium 4, 512, etc. for around $450.

Regardless of what you buy today, you will be getting more power than what you need. it won't take much at all for email, internet and digital photos! i'm using DELL in my recording studio as well as my video production suite as well as my photo lab (all digital of course.) we also have a couple laptops for everyday apps, as you have mentioned above.

what i tell all my family and friends is, there are no bad pc's to buy...anything you buy will more than handle what you need to do. i would suggest DELL. when i'm not building pc's, i'm buying DELL (and of course upgrading them as needed; ram, HD, video capture cards, etc.) have fun.
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jim777 said:
As an employee of HP, I'd say get an HP ;)
What kind of deal can you get me ;)

is there a Jemsite discount?

replacing your HDD is do-able but will be problematic IMHO as you're a computer novice :) you'll have alot of boot errors then need to update every device drivers and possibly mucking w/ the bios.

i'd recommend a cheap emachines or dell discount ($329 specials) PC w/ 512-1GB ram given what you posted. the very lowest end "new" P4 or AMD equivalent will suffice. you can add a burner for under $50 if it doesn't come with one... not an issue. take your existing drive, copy the files then reformat and keep for a backup device or for extra space.

Some PC deals here:
if you already have a P3, and its a full tower, you can just swap the guts out and have a way faster box. i built my computer for recording about 9 months ago. its fast as hell, but for the same cash...would burn now. such is computer technology. you'll have to be concerned mainly with getting new ram, motherboard and possibly a new power supply. but aside from all of that, just use your existing case and peripherals. unless you want a totally seperate machine, $300-450 would be pushing for building a machine, but for an assembly line box, is doable...just not near as pimp.

What's the word on the Intel Sempron?

What about this?

My concern is that right now, in my Canon ZoomBrowser program, my computer chokes on some of the cropping functions. Would that be remedided with Graphics card memory or RAM?

AMD sempron is fine... P4-like chip. Not a concern of yours for that price. I'd try to get a box with at least one PCI-express (or AGP) slot but that is probably beyond what you'd expand anyways and only a few low end boxes have them (gotta open them and look in the superstores emachines, HP, etc.).
kennydoe said:
My concern is that right now, in my Canon ZoomBrowser program, my computer chokes on some of the cropping functions. Would that be remedided with Graphics card memory or RAM?

the graphics card plays a role but it's moreso the ram. also there are other things like bus speed and the motherboard and actual processor. all these things you will not have to worry about with a new pc. if you were to put more ram in it, you would more than likely not see this issue. and yeah, don't just put your old hard drive in your new machine for all the reasons mentioned above. you would want to format that drive and then restore your data to it so backup what you want to keep first.
In my opinion, build your own. A half-decent system for daily use, as well as a bit of gaming would be:

AMD 3000+ Venice
1GB PC3200 RAM
nVidia GeForce 6600 Ultra (any brand)
As for the motherboard, I don't know any A64 mobos suitable for daily use, only ones designed for overclocking (DFI LP NF4 SLI).

Now, what you shouldn't do is buy an HP or a Dell, both of them are flawed.
kennydoe said:
What kind of deal can you get me ;)

is there a Jemsite discount?

Employee discounts aren't actually that great; they usually end up cheaper if you shop around. HP is very high quality, though.
Any of the cheapos will do for what you ask, IMO. Just make sure it either comes with what you need or can be outfitted that way. For example, IIRC the very cheapest system Dell offers only has 1 IDE channel. Bad news if you want a reader AND burner, and really not great even with 1 HD and 1 burner - ideally they SHOULD be on different channels. But any P4 with 512MB and enough HD space will be fine. 1GB might help with image editing, but the video card doesn't matter - they all do 2d at high resolutions just fine.
Get a Mac, Macs have the easiest interface, they run faster and typically can handle anything thrown at them
Why you telling him to get a MAC, if you own a PC, then you will have to buy all the software again, networking between PC & Mac has issues and a big learning curve... Macs are great, but everything comes out on PC first, then theres what your friends are using, its always a good idea to stay compatable.

1. Look at what you need it for, and get a Dell PC based on those specs. (Think of this as a 2-3 yr investment)
2. If you want to go crazy get a Alienware system (It will cost ya)
3. Build you own if you only know how, then move this to #1
4. If you like Macs, then you can switch over to the dark side.. heheh

good luck :)
thanks for the replies guys.

I definitely don't want a Mac, thanks. I'm PC thru and thru. Been working with them since 1995 and don't have any desire to relearn what i already know. Anytime i've sat in front of a mac I've felt like i'm on another planet. I don't have anything against them...they're just not for me. please don't hijack my thread into a PC vs Mac debate. Not interested.

moving on....

I am good with hardware installation and stuff, so maybe building one IS the way to go. i just don't know where the state of the art is at this point because i haven't been keeping up with the times.

I poked around Dell's site and couldn't find what i wanted. Didn't really want one anyway. Thanks for pointing out that not all systems have dual IDEs - I thought that was standard. Good info.

mOp's recommendations were the type of suggestions i was looking for...I bought a couple of systems from a company called HugeBee and have had zero problems with them, but they seem to have come & gone.

My budget is $300-450, so alienware is OOtQ. I don't need a fully blown system like that anyway.

Keep the recommendations coming guys!
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IDE PCI cards are like $15... not a deal breaker. the difference between $300 and 450 PC is finding a sale/discount or not.... same level. Given your budget this is about what you're gonna get...

$329 & has AGP slot. needs ram upgrade
$399 & has AGP slot (512mb & larger HDD)

then find whatever DVD-burner you want on sale from here and swap the one it came with for simplicity:
Thanks for doing the research Glen

How can i tell if the board has a dual-IDE or not (before looking in the box, of course)?

Also, i know this is probably a stupid question...but...Those light-scribe DVD burners look cool as hell to me...i know the media is a little more expensive if i want to actually burn a label on there...will the drive burn a standard CD/DVD-R if i don't care to burn a label on there?

I wish I could trade in some of the crap i don't need (speakers, modem) for upgrades.

oh...also, is the on-board video total crap? would i need to get a decent video card on these systems?

that vid card is sufficient. 64mb card. if you want to do HDTV or gaming or add a Tuner card the AGP card will allow that and upgrade it. if you buy a $699 pc the vidcard will be marginally better.

those drives are CD-RWs (burns CDs) that play DVDs (not burn) too.

you can't tell if it has 2 IDE channels but if you google the model# you'll probably get your answer. I'd just rip out that drive and swap in a DVD+/- DL drive and the discussion is moot. No need for 2 drives IMHO it's just a hassle.

i recently build a HDTV capable HTPC and did alot of researching, including using cheap emachines but at the time the ones available lacked AGP slot and overall the box didn't have enough HDD space that i needed, so i did a barebones kit... glen
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