Just replaced my desktop computer with a Toshiba laptop. I'm really happy with the laptop, it's fast, quiet and it's really nice to be able to unplug some cables and take it with you anywhere you want. I'm using it with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse while working at my desk. Laptop model is Toshiba Tecra A3.
Here's a similar thread from last year:
Obviously the precise details will have changed, but the overall advice is still sound. Of course, you haven't mentioned what you want to do with the machine - web dev, games, multimedia, video-editing...?
|Oh, thoughts on AMD vs. Pentium too. |
Do you want to start a flame war? ;) There's not much in it really, so it comes down to personal preference and the prices quoted.
...but AMD are better ;)
My general rule of thumb when buying a new comp,
"the more expensive the better".
My general rule of thumb is to always pay with a credit card and a credit card only. Yeah, I'm very trusting ;)
Buy a few recent PC magazines and read up on the current terminology and see examples of what you get for your money today.
|"the more expensive the better" |
Thing is there's a tipping point when it becomes a waste to spend more. Do you buy a $2000 machine and run it 4 years, or a $1000 machine and change it every two?
I bought a custom-built AMD64 machine a couple of months back from a local supplier which cost CDN$750 (about $500) including 15% sales taxes, and which is far more powerful than I need for my current use. Why spend more?
I've got a brand new PC you can have. Only used once. It was shot 5 times with a 12 gauge...
I'm looking for new PCs as well. After comparing different brands I've decided to build my own again. Haven't done that in a while. Going with AMD chips because my past experience has been more positive with AMD. Although, I seriously considered going with cheap $499 boxes and using them as disposables.
I have decided that my main box will be a dual processor setup. I simply haven't found much info out there that distinguishes any PC from the rest of the pack.
BLY are you in the US or the UK? Aldi have a great deal on right now if you are in the UK.
Aldi as in the grocery store? If that's what you mean, and if the computer they're carrying over there is the same as they quit carrying here recently, I'd recommend against it. They say they always have a lot of returns of their electronic items because they just don't work.
Custom built is the way to go. You get a lot more computer for the money. Don't skimp on the processor or the memory, and go with SATA hard drives if you can.
|I've got a brand new PC you can have. Only used once. It was shot 5 times with a 12 gauge... |
And we're still waiting for the pictures - I wonder if you could salvage just the case for your new machine - it would make for an awesome-looking machine on your desk and would help ventilation too! :)
I would steer well clear of the grocery store specials - they tend to be real bargain-basement jobs thrown together from substandard parts. I didn't want to bother with building my own, but a local firm built mine to order from a hand-picked set of components. AMD64 processor, big dual fan, Western Digital SATA hard drive, a DVD writer and a ton of RAM, all in a boring beige case. If you can build your own you'll get an even better deal.
|Custom built is the way to go. You get a lot more computer for the money. |
I doubt it very much. Companies like Dell have a buying power like you won't believe. If you can get parts at even 200% of what they pay you still can't build it at the price they can sell it for.
Get a laptop with a big screen, big hard disk and at least 1GB of memory. That should be yours for well under £1000.
The issue of AMD vs Intel is mostly irrelevant, however, all other things being equal, those in the know would always choose AMD. Those that think they know what they are talking about would always choose Intel.
Remember, you can upgrade a hard disk in a laptop. In theory, you can upgrade the cd/dvd, but that is trickier, so get what you think you'll need/want in the future.
A CPU speed of 2.5 Gig should be enough to keep this sort of specification valid for 4-5 years.
Of course, if you want to play games, then graphics become critical, but ignore the hype.
A laptop is only worth the extra money if you really need a laptop.
You can get a far higher spec desktop for less money.
I'm also out shopping around at the moment. I already have a decent flat panel display, so without monitor I can spend £250 + VAT and get something really quite tasty by a known brand.
I always found Dells to be quite expensive to be honest, plus the hard drives they use make a hell of a racket...
I build my own PC's at least I get everything I need...
Avoid all computers available at big-box retailers (sold w/ inferior hardware and bundled with third party crap software which doesnt uninstall correctly and causes conflicts with other applications) . Personal experience.
Dare we mention Time and Tiny from the UK?
|however, all other things being equal, those in the know would always choose AMD. Those that think they know what they are talking about would always choose Intel. |
Those who like others to think they know what they're talking about always recommend AMD ;)
Having extensive experience in the computer manufacturing business my take is that there is no definitive answer to the AMD or Intel question [webmasterworld.com]. Concentrate on what your needs are rather than what someone wants to fob off to you; what the price is - don't always go for cheaper, be prepared to pay a bit more if the company has a good reputation for service; and pay by credit card. For average home use you can't go wrong, pretty much any new PC out there is upto the task.
I'm the original poster, and thanks very much for all the posts.
As far as my needs, it will be primarily for web development and, of course, some gaming.
The salesmen I spoke with also recommended AMD 64 over Pentium.
|Companies like Dell have a buying power like you won't believe. If you can get parts at even 200% of what they pay you still can't build it at the price they can sell it for. |
The computers I build for around $500 perform better than $1000 Dells. Plus they're quieter and have the components and OS I choose.
Big boys like Dell have their PC assembled by low paid "screwdriver technicians" but the combination of parts is carefully decided by a committee of highly qualified engineers who test, double test and retest the compatibility under a range of pre-defined conditions. It's only then a set of parts is approved for use in a specific model. There is a strict quality control imposed on the doorstep JIT suppliers and a faulty batch of parts is highly unlikely to reach the production line... unlike you going to the local approved distie and taking a chance with whatever stock they have on the day (which is not pre-tested and often has minor faults from transport/handling).
>> The computers I build for around $500 perform better than $1000 Dells
Sure, you must know something those engineers don't. :)
>> Plus they're quieter
I doubt it. You have the choice of using a range of low noise hsf from the likes of Zalman etc. But, you're restricted to what the market is currently selling. The big boys design their PCs from the ground up, the chassis, the ducting, the fans are all planned exactly the way they want them. Even the airflow is run through simulators to see where there is an obstruction to airflow (which adds to the noise).
>> have the components I choose
I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I can name 1000 parts that have been incompatible with other parts/software - this is the PC business you're talking about! It's highly unlikely the individual PC builder would be aware of all the issues. Some incompatibilities manifest themselves only in a certain set of rare circumstances.
Sure, there are a lot of small builders. Some of them are very well informed (though most aren't woefully incompetent). Many of these dealers will provide a better service than the big boys but let's not confuse the facts. The market is very tricky, it favours the manufacturers with large resources and 12 months ago you could have provided any OS as long as it was any OS you were able to provide. Windows Media etc were reserved for certain MS partners. ;)
>>have the OS I choose
When Vista hits the road all the big boys would have had months of experience using it (the final release, not beta). You won't. Trust me, that makes a difference.
|Sure, you must know something those engineers don't. :) |
All I can say is, I've used $1000+ Dells, and I've used my own $500 boxes. Give me one of my own every time - they're always faster and more reliable, even when the parts I've used aren't up to the same specs as the Dell.
About the OS, I really don't care how much experience the "big box" engineers will have with Vista by the time it comes out. I'm sticking with Win 2000, regardless, until I can get everything switched over to Linux.
Same with me plus I would rather go down to the store and pick up a new part to upgrade the PC or fix a broken part then buy a pre made packaged one.
Plus you cant put fancy lights and dials on Dells :P
If I were in the market for a desktop, I too would always build my own rather than buy ready-made.
One problem with Dell is that you can't argue with anyone face to face if it goes wrong. Go into PC World and at least there is someone there to talk to face to face (though you may leave feeling their employees need a cpu upgrade).
If you don't know what you're doing don't even think about building one yourself unless you have a friend who knows how. My nephew tried it a while back - I spent hours on the phone troubleshooting when literally nothing worked.
>> If you don't know what you're doing don't even think about building one yourself
Even if you know what you're doing if you get stuck with a problem there's nobody to fall back on. I meet regularly with a major UK e-tailer of computer components. He gets about 10% of motherboards back as apparently faulty which turn out to have no fault. His company returns them to the customer with a copy of the test results and a bill for £20 for time spent. And the user is back where he started but £20 poorer and has to find himself why his own motherboard is not getting past POST.
>>you can't argue with anyone face to face if it goes wrong. Go into PC World...
Good point. You probably pay a bit more (retail premises and all) but you get the satisfaction of speaking face to face with the guy attempting the repair.
I would say that you starting point should be not what brand or self build but what do you want to do with it. If you want to be mobile = laptop if you want to play 3d games or do graphics intensive work and be mobile = Power laptop. Once you know what you want to do you can make the best choice.
Recently I have been buying cheap dell's with the lowest spec i can find just because all they get used for is email, web access, word processing etc.. all low end stuff and even the budget ones handle this far better than the old pentium II we had. But for my self I bought a dell laptop with 15.4" screen 3d graphics (not for games for CAD) load of RAM and big harddisk and a mobile processor for a good battery life. As I am doing web design programing, graphics, and I need to be mobile.
I think that a pc will last you 3-4 years depending on the work you are doing. It is not worth buying to upgrade as even after a year the technology has moved on far enough to make this difficult.
When it somes to build your own I think that this is a worthwhile exercise, especially if you haven't done it before it will teach you where everything goes and how it's all connected which mean you can then do your own upgrades at a later date, also it does work out cheaper. But you won't have any warrenty on the whole pc (only on the individual items) which may or may not be worth something to you.
Work out what you want to use it for first
Develop a minimum spec
Then look at it from all angles to get the best deal for you
|Aldi as in the grocery store? If that's what you mean, and if the computer they're carrying over there is the same as they quit carrying here recently, I'd recommend against it. They say they always have a lot of returns of their electronic items because they just don't work. |
Back in March I was considering what new PC I wanted and I started a comparison spreadsheet for 5 that I had short listed. These were from some of the main suppliers. While I was in the middle of this my wife came home one evening with a newspaper advertising Aldi's latest deal on a 64 bit Intel Pentium 4. The deal they were offering was about 75% of the cost of the cheapest system that I had been looking at for a better spec. I did some research on the 'net and found most of the reviews about their PCs here in the UK were positive. In fact they were better than most of the reviews for the original 5 I had on my shortlist
Next morning I popped down to my local Aldi, stuck the box in the trolley, paid for it, came home and plugged it in. It has proved to be a superb buy that beats the sh*t out of the opposition. I would recommend that you should not be afraid to buy from budget sources when the specification is high. A good spec is a good spec is a good spec :)
|The salesmen I spoke with also recommended AMD 64 over Pentium. |
Probably gets a better commission on it.
I had a salesman once tell me I didn't need as much memory in the computer as I wanted, it was overkill, as the model he was pushing didn't have that much. I kept looking at other higher end models and the idiot salesman kept dragging me back to the one I passed on. I finally yelled at him that I was a programmer, knew how much memory I needed for my Windows development enviroment, congratulated him on being so stupid he lost the sale and stormed out of the store.
I've owned a couple of HPs that were OK, they work, typing on one right now. Nothing to jump up and down about but it gets the job done. The only problem with my current HP has been the same since the day I got it is the DVD drive sounds like a jet engine when it spins up. Last time I popped in a DVD the PC started to taxi onto the runway....
I'd pass on the Dell if you're thinking laptop as my wife's company went Dell for a couple of years and the laptops just started to literally fall apart. My wife had to get hers rebuilt about 4 times before they switched to IBM ThinkPads which seem to be solid as a rock.
FYI - I always get Intel for one reason only, you never end up with software incompatibilities on the original chipmakers chip. Not as big a problem as it used to be, but once you get burned it's hard to go back and try it again.
|FYI - I always get Intel for one reason only, you never end up with software incompatibilities on the original chipmakers chip. Not as big a problem as it used to be, but once you get burned it's hard to go back and try it again. |
With respect, these incompatibilities are an urban myth. I'm going back ten years or so but....
AMD designers failed to get their 586 chip working so they bought up NexGen. The NexGen 586 was designed primarily by a guy that had been headhunted from Intel and had helped to design the Pentium. Whilst the Pentium was a classic CPU, the NexGen 586 was a RISC processor "faking" pentium behaviour. It should therefore have been very slow, but on my tests, a 100 MHZ 586 was almost as fast as a 166 MHz Pentium and ran a lot cooler too.
I am not aware of any AMD CPUs that have been recalled but Intel had to recall CPUs with dodgy floating-point units. Also, I have seen Intel CPUs break due to overheating if a fan fails, but AMD CPUs seem to survive fan failure.
|With respect, these incompatibilities are an urban myth. I'm going back ten years or so but.... |
I never said they were 100% incompatible now did I?
When I used to write drivers and such for various PC gear it was over 10 years ago but there were issues with certain clone chips you had to workaround back then. Even then I only ran into a few flaky instructions here and there, and it was always stuff on the bleeding edge of new chips.
It's just hard to break old habits so I buy geniune Intel just to make sure nothing funny happens more than usual.
I just purchased one of Dells cheapy laptops even with a celeron processor ..The only thing I added was more memory.
$799 and runs just fine quiet and fast ..fast enough that I have 4-5 windows open Microsoft word , Frontpage 2003 plus all the background stuff.
Building your own is overblown these days ..
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