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Where to buy desktop - online

     
7:49 am on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I was checking on online places where I could configure a decent and powerful desktop. I visited:

- Dell – Precision workstations and XPS machines
- HP – Blackbird 002
- Alienware

I am not in gaming at all, but want a machine that does not cry when I pull CS3 on Vista, Office and several other apps, all at the same time.

I wonder about your experience in regards of quality of product and quality of service (support).

P.S.
I could build it myself, I did it with my current desktop, it is just that time may be more valuable to be spent elsewhere, plus 3 years warranty and onsite service could be irreplaceable when something goes wrong. I know that companies like Dell would replace everything until they get it work, decent backup would be our problem.

Thanks

12:08 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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People can say what they want, but if you want a machine built like a tank try the Dell Workstation line. I stopped building my own machines about 3 years ago and went with Dell workstations. My latest is a 690 with dual Xeon Dual Core 5130's. The machine is virtually silent and has like five fans in it. I'm really happy with this machine. You need to buy them when they have a "Sale" as I saved almost $1600 on mine at time of purchase.
12:29 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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apple.com
12:53 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just wondering but is Dual Core the normal now? Does it make a system run much faster?

RJ

4:56 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Dual-core seems to be the norm, except for very low-end machines.

I think it's a real advantage when it comes to responsiveness, especially for Windows.

The arguments that "not enough programs are written to take advantage of multiple cores" is a bunch of hooey.

Every C++ project I've worked on in the last 10 years has been heavily multi-threaded. Not to mention that you are usually running multiple programs at once, and the OS is running many, many multiple processes and threads behind the scenes.

The people who make the arguments against are usually gamers. And it's true that the gaming industry resisted multi-threaded code for many years, but have come around.

2:36 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Dual core is only faster if you run multiple applications at the same time (and it sounds like that's what you are going to do)If you only run one program (normal for some app servers) you should go for ghz speed.

You should not go for the quad core unless the applications you run support it.

Something I really recomend is to go for a faster Harddrive, SAS drive if you don't mind a little more noice or a 10000rpm sata. You might also be looking at raid solutions.

3:57 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You should not go for the quad core unless the applications you run support it.

The point I was trying to make is that almost every application you run supports it. Go for the quad.

Certainly, every server can take good advantage of multiple cores. All web servers use multiple threads or processes to handle multiple simultaneous connections. Plus their are other, asynchronous processes (for example, MySQL) running on a typical server.

Most desktop software written today uses multiple execution threads, and is able to take advantage of multiple cores. Games are the *sole* exception, and even they have come around.

Even if you have some software that was written 20 years ago, and runs in a single thread, it can still take advantage of multiple cores, because it is making requests of the operating system. If it is making any asynchronous calls at all (typical for I/O) then even those applications can take advantage of multiple cores.

5:07 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If installing Vista on a quad core machine be careful of the version you choose - some are only licenced for 2 cores or less.
8:02 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I wonder about difference between dual core duo and single quad. I checked some tests but they were mostly focused on single duo vs. single quad.

Sometimes you simply don’t know where is the border between good investment and just driving Hummer to a local grocery store where Yaris would do an excellent job (except in accidents).

Intel® Core™2 Duo
Intel® Core™2 Extreme
Intel® Core™2 Quad
Intel® Xeon®

I see that both Extreme and Xeon are being described on Intel’s site as quads.

3:55 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If installing Vista on a quad core machine be careful of the version you choose - some are only licenced for 2 cores or less.

Not true. Even Windows XP Pro was licenced for up to 32 cores. It's the number of sockets/processors that have licencing restrictions.
10:17 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If installing Vista on a quad core machine be careful of the version you choose - some are only licenced for 2 cores or less.

You are right Bill. My bad. Sorry.

2:32 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am not in gaming at all, but want a machine that does not cry when I pull CS3 on Vista, Office and several other apps, all at the same time.

In that case, forget arguments about processors - waste of time. You need a 64bit CPU/OS and loads of memory.

Multiple cores are next to useless in the average desktop, since few tasks lend themselves to parallel processing (and those that do typically share resources). However, dual-core CPUs are cheap enough and reliable so just get the cheapest CPU with the most reliable motherboard and hard disk.

Kaled.

3:23 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I bought a loaded up Dell 710HC about six months ago. 4gigs, 30" LCD (same panel in the 30" Mac LCD I believe), 1TB RAID-1, blah blah. It's been a really nice setup for doing web design and development work with my various tools (CS3, Lightwave, etc). I think I paid something like $7,000.

If I had it to do differently, I would have not opted for the dual NVIDIA 768MB 8800 cards operating in SLI mode. Having both cards drive the 30" LCD makes for a pretty sick gaming machine. But I might buy one game a year and play it for a couple of weeks before realizing I'm in my middle thirties and I prefer creating rather than consuming :) So the benefits of the dual cards are minimized in my specific experience. And this setup - at least where Windows XP is concerned - creates an artificial ceiling of something like 2GB of memory. A 32-bit operating system limits available ram, but the dual 768MB cards compounds this issue by swalling 1.5GB of RAM for it's buffer. As a result, when both cards are active, I run into out of memory errors. In my case, the solution was to remove one video card.

Hope this helps! Other than this one caveat, I'm very very happy with my 710HC. For a high end machine, it is unbelievably quiet. That's thanks to the liquid cooling system. The custom black case is gorgeous.

I've bought an Alienware machine previously, but I decided to try a Dell this time around and I have no regrets. Furthermore, it can take up to 6 weeks to get your Alienware machine delivered, which is _way_ too long a turnaround time for this A.D.D. poster boy.

Sean

7:26 am on Dec 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I wonder now:

If I go with 64-bit OS, will I have a problem with running ordinary applications that you normally install onto 32-bit XP or Vista?

Furthermore, if going with 64-bit, is there anything you’ve already experienced as good, or bad?

I am trying to make up my mind.

Thanks

9:03 am on Dec 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If I go with 64-bit OS, will I have a problem with running ordinary applications that you normally install onto 32-bit XP or Vista?

Make sure there are specific 64-bit drivers for your hardware (printers, scanners, external devices). That's the biggest drawback. Older hardware often won't have the driver support.

Most 32-bit software will install just fine on 64-bit Vista. The OS itself will separate the 32-bit software into its own install directory separate from the 64-bit software directory. To be on the safe side you should check whether your main software has any issues with a 64-bit OS.

7:13 pm on Dec 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I would not run a 64-bit Microsoft OS today. Too many vendors that don't provide 64-bit drivers - it's a nightmare!

On the other hand, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a 64-bit Linux. There is no significant similar issue.

Er, except for the web browser plugin issue.... (So, some prefer to run a 32-bit web browser on 64-bit Linux, so that they have more plugins that are usable.)

But drivers aren't a big problem. Even the hardware manufacturers who provide proprietary, non open-source drivers are generally on-board with 64 bit.

Older hardware often won't have the driver support.

Ironically, with Linux, the older the hardware, the more likely it is to find driver support.

5:28 am on Dec 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks.

Well, it has to be Windows, not that I am any crazy fun of it, but simply because apps like Office 2007, CS3, and few more, that's all.

Since I would go with single Xeon Quad, 64-bit seems to be a way to go in order to get processor and memory used efficiently… or I’m wrong?

In regards of the drivers, since I would probably order a brand new Dell Precision machine, there should be no doubt hardware would work fine.

So, I should be more worried about software. Office 2007 should not be a problem I guess, although it is coming in 64-bit fashion itself. But CS3 for example, Adobe says “certified for 32-bit editions”, no word about 64-bit. Furthermore, I can imagine how would whole sort of other small apps behave, from ftp software and going on. I found comments that many of self-called 32-bit applications still have 16-bit stuff in a background which will not run on 64-bit Vista.

So, this part about software is what makes me reluctant about getting a machine with Vista 64-bit installed. Through this thread, I wondered about folks that were already running it, not many it seems.

Now, the more I go through this long “thinking moment”, sharing questions and thoughts with you guys, I am more sure about going 32-bit, and I now even started thinking that Dual may be sufficient.

Would single Quad really be like two Duals on a desktop where Office and CS3 are the most demanding applications? Would it pay for itself? Who knows. ;)

6:34 am on Dec 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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...plus 3 years warranty and onsite service could be irreplaceable when something goes wrong.

This might not be for everyone, especially those in more rural areas. But I engaged a trusted merchant in my city who for the past two years I see to work on my computers when they need upgrades or repairs. They built it according to my wife's needs. It comes with a ten year warranty and free repairs. If something should go wrong I just have to unplug it from the wall and drive it six blocks to the store.

I'd attempt to build it myself, but like getting the oil changed, I prefer to bring it to someone who can do it faster and better. Plus, their warranty is better than any I can give myself, hehe.

My next computer is coming with premium parts from the case to the mobo to the power, etc. and I'm letting the guy at the computer store source the parts and build it.

2:44 pm on Dec 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You are correct that 64bit Windows will not run 16bit software, however, if push comes to shove, you can use "Virtual PC" to solve the problem. If you are using modern versions of mainstream apps this is unlikely to arise.

You can check with Task Manager if an application/process is 16bit or 32bit.

Generally, 32bit apps should work correctly on 64bit platforms. A few applications that perform unusual tasks (typically "utilities") may fail due to slight changes to registry handling, but if the registry is used merely as a data depository, there should not be a problem.

Kaled.