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  1. #1
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    Buying a new desktop PC

    My desktop PC is on its last legs and needs replacing Ė but with what?

    Before buying my first PC I attended a half-day introduction to computers and asked which brand they would recommend. They were using Dell, and said it was very reliable, so Iíve stuck with Dell ever since.

    However, aware that the sensors and diagnostic tools are rather poor on Dell machines, I am considering a change, but have no idea what to buy. There only appear to be 2 computer magazines in the UK now Ė I had a look through one but the reviews and ads were all about laptops and tablets, apart from one high-end machine out of my price range, and the other was in a sealed wrapper, so no help there.

    I understand that HP is similar to Dell in being underequipped, so can rule that out, Sony has been strongly recommended by a neighbour, but is quite pricey, which leaves Acer, Asus, Compaq, Lenova and Samsung. The latter has a good reputation in other fields, and is somewhat cheaper that Sony, it might just come within my means. I know nothing about the reliability of the others Ė so would welcome suggestions.

    On the other hand, I have been fairly lucky with Dell. My first PC (Win 95, then 98) lasted 5 years until stolen when the house was burgled, replaced by the current XP 10 yrs and two months ago. My wife has a 6yr old Vista desktop and a 4yr old laptop now running Win 8. So 4 machines, 25 yrs of use and never had a failed hard drive. In fact the only mechanical problem in all that time was a graphics card failure last month on the wifeís desktop, which only cost us £30 when the repair shop said if we donít use it for games we could just use the built in graphics. The wife hasnít noticed any difference in performance.

    A few other points I need to know when making my choice:
    I believe 4GB RAM is the minimum with Win 8, and preferably more Ė correct?.
    What are shared graphics?
    I donít understand how Intel i3, i5 etc compare with the old classification, but assume i5 is faster then i3.
    Finally, being technically illiterate where computers are concerned, perhaps I donít need better sensors, etc. Itís just irritating when I bring my problems to the lounge and am unable to answer some of the questions Iím asked.

    Many thanks for any guidance offered,

    George

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  3. #2
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    I don't see why you would change from Dell, unless you wanted to "assemble" one yourself. The reliability would seem to be a major advantage. Depending on what you do, 4GB RAM is the recommended entry point, yes. Buying more would depend on price and what you want to do with it. If you are planning 10 extra years, I would say buy more if you can.

    Many graphics chips on-board use part of your RAM, diminishing the amount available for other apps. This is not really that good and if you have an option to buy one with a dedicated graphics chip and dedicated RAM, performance will benefit, even if in the long run.

    i5 is more powerful than i3, i7 more than i5. If you have been running a XP machine, i3 will be enough, i5 probably a better option, for greater longevity. i7 may be too much, but it really depends on your budget.

    Not totally sure what you mean by sensors. Never really worried too much about that, to be honest. Any modern motherboard will offer ways to monitor basic relevant parameters.
    Rui
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgelee View Post
    My desktop PC is on its last legs and needs replacing Ė but with what?


    A few other points I need to know when making my choice:
    I believe 4GB RAM is the minimum with Win 8, and preferably more Ė correct?.
    What are shared graphics?
    I donít understand how Intel i3, i5 etc compare with the old classification, but assume i5 is faster then i3.
    Finally, being technically illiterate where computers are concerned, perhaps I donít need better sensors, etc. Itís just irritating when I bring my problems to the lounge and am unable to answer some of the questions Iím asked.

    Many thanks for any guidance offered,
    George,

    Hello..Wow what a question.. You will get about as many answers as there are PC's.. I'll try to answer some of your questions

    1. 4GB of Ram is the Max for any 32 bit OS.. So unless your getting a 64 bit machine that's the limit it can use.

    2. Some PC's use a separate Graphics card ...others use "on board" graphics ( part of motherboard )

    3. You can check out this site for a CPU comparison

    As far as which PC ...well only you can make that call ..You would have to weigh the price vs performance you want .. Things that would be important to me wouldn't necessarily matter to you.. My list would include .

    a. Space for more than one HD (one for OS and the other for DATA)
    b. A CPU with mulit cores ...at least 4
    c. A large Power Supply .. At least a 500W
    d. large monitor ..At least 22"
    e. Nothing remotely resembling Windows 8, Secure Boot, or GPT formatted partitions.. My 2Ę... Windows 7 \ 64 Pro is the best choice

    Basically i would probably not be able to find what i wanted ...so would just build another myself... You could too Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

  5. #4
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    Go to various websites of manufacturers, including Dell, and see what you can customize.
    Many manufacturers will allow you to choose components to a limited extent.

    *Avoid shared graphics; that usually means "on the board" integrated graphics=weak office-like systems.
    *Memory; 4GB is max with 32 bit, 6GB is minimum with 64 bit.
    Don't even think about anything less than 6GB in a 64 bit desktop, irrigardless of what ANYONE else tells you..
    *CPU; Aim for a quad core i5 or i7.

    All motherboards will have CPU & MB sensors, but they are more of a staple on performance machines.

    Make your own attempt to learn about various components by actually searching for information on the internet;
    CPU's and chipsets
    gpu cards comparison
    how to buy a desktop computer
    computer memory
    motherboard sensors

    Google what you don't know
    Google what you don't know
    Google what you don't know
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  6. #5
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    Hi guys,
    Sorry for the delayed response, but Monday – Thursday this week is pretty hectic. With the London Film Festival and various other events I am out most of the time, but have a couple of hours now for lunch and this reply, then out again for the evening.

    Thanks for your help. It looks as though it would have been better to ask which makes to avoid, rather than which to select.

    @ ruirib. Intrigued by your second sentence, which seems to imply that Dell is very reliable, and amused by the comment about wanting to make the new PC last 10 years – I would be 91 by then, and even if still alive, probably in a care home. This will in all probability be my last computer. The following two sentences very helpful.

    @ Fred. a. Isn’t a separate hard drive for the OS, rather than a partition, over the top unless getting a SSD for the OS? They seem to be both expensive and short-lived.

    I’ve become more or less convinced by the argument for keeping data on a separate partition, and will probably be back later to ask how one overcomes Windows habit of putting My docs, pictures, etc all on the one drive. Furthermore, modern PCs seem to come with unnecessarily huge hard drives – my 120 GB drive is still half empty, despite containing 15 years of files I wish to keep, and a few GBs of photos.

    b. Are there CPUs with more than 4 cores? Not that I’m likely to need that, the wife’s desktop and laptop, with dual cores, don’t appear particularly quicker than my single core XP, bearing in mind its age. Perhaps if I ever discover how to watch live relays via the web on our smart TV it would improve the stabillty of the picture.

    @ Clint. Thanks for the links, which will take me weeks to wade through, especially as much of it is incomprehensible to me.

    So I’ll see if a quad core i5 or i7 CPU is affordable, and go for 6GB of RAM, as there seem to be few 32 bit systems available now. Is there any real advantage in 64 bit other than being able to use more RAM?
    Presumabaly modern PCs still have room to add RAM.

    Incidentally, I saw one tower advertised as half the normal size. I assume that will make doing anything inside the case much more difficult, due to lack of space.

    Again my thanks,

    George
    Last edited by georgelee; 2013-10-16 at 11:09. Reason: Added final paragraph

  7. #6
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    Multiple core CPUs, for normal apps, will ensure better multitasking, that's all. Won't be faster, pure performance wise, but they may be able to perform more tasks at the same time.
    Rui
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  8. #7
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    Yes, I have several working rigs at the ripe old age of 9 and 10 years and can attest that the only thing they are really missing, allowing for the mismatch in component speed improvements of course, is multitasking. They still run Photoshop and high end consumer video editing programs and video rendering jobs just fine; but, only one at a time. Things that don't hog the processor like email and browsing and word processing can "multitask" no problemo even though the media we browse through is significantly "richer" and more demanding than it was 10 years ago.

    The one other thing that 64-bit allows that 32-bit does not is native addressing and use of hard drives in excess of 2.19 terabytes. Since all your stuff fits comfortably in 120 gigs, you're not likely to need that.

    I can and can't attest to the durability of Dell systems because they are all 4-8 years old and running fine. If quality has not been maintained in the last 4 years or so, I wouldn't know about it.

    Smaller cases are a trade off, fewer options for modification than a big case but I really like the smaller cases with a cool and quiet core two duo processor in it. My large cases with big video cards in them tend to make a lot more noise (although if one doesn't take advantage of the greater capacity of a large case, it can be whisper-quiet as well) and external portable backup drives are so small and relatively inexpensive these days, they compliment a smaller case quite nicely.

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  10. #8
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    Before you get too caught up with things like shared graphics, amount of RAM, or number of cores you should answer this question in the most truthful way you can: What do I want to do with the computer? Only then can you determine what features are important.

    If all you plan to do is internet surfing, email, normal word processing, uncomplicated spreadsheets, tracking your finances, you do NOT need to worry about any of these things. Most modern systems will have enough horsepower to do all these tasks.

    Why buy a Ferrari just to drive around town?

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgelee View Post

    @ Fred. a. Isnít a separate hard drive for the OS, rather than a partition, over the top unless getting a SSD for the OS? They seem to be both expensive and short-lived.

    Iíve become more or less convinced by the argument for keeping data on a separate partition, and will probably be back later to ask how one overcomes Windows habit of putting My docs, pictures, etc all on the one drive. Furthermore, modern PCs seem to come with unnecessarily huge hard drives Ė my 120 GB drive is still half empty, despite containing 15 years of files I wish to keep, and a few GBs of photos.
    George,

    Hello.. A "separate partition" means that all your Data and the OS are all on one HD, it's just divided up into individual segments.. My suggestion is that the OS should be on a small HD \ SSD and the DATA on a large storage type HD ...HD's are not expensive anymore.. HD's have a good track record for "life span" and reliability.... SSD's have come along way also.. We have a "Notebook" with a 22GB SSD for the OS and a 500 GB HD for DATA.. For now my other PC's (desktops) are all "plain Jane" HD's If you use just one HD or SSD if it goes "belly up" you loose everything Data and OS... Hope this is some help Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Plain Fred View Post
    If you use just one HD or SSD if it goes "belly up" you loose everything Data and OS... Hope this is some help Regards Fred
    Oh really?! Have you heard of imaging ?
    Rui
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    Intel's Core i3 and Core i5 both have good "shared" integrated graphics chip built-in to the cpu. You really don't need a separate graphics/video card these days unless you plan on playing graphics-intensive 3D games like Call of Duty, Crysis 3, etc. Intel's HD2000 graphics chip (or any higher number) will handle all normal duties including basic games, spreadsheets, full HD video or movies, and so on. Simply increase the amount of RAM memory to 6GB or 8GB and you will always have plenty. RAM is currently not terribly expensive.

    We have a 2 year-old Core i3 system and the integrated graphics work great. Newer versions are even better! Core i5 is a little bit better still. Core i5 quad-core cpu is great if you want to run several programs/apps at the same time and have all of them run pretty fast. Short of that, a Core i3 is absolutely fine for fast everyday computing.

    Here's a thought. Use the money saved from not buying a separate graphics card (or from choosing Core i3 instead of Core i5) and put the money towards a 120GB SSD. Using an SSD in place of a regular hard drive is a significant improvement in overall performance of your computer. We bought a 96GB Kingston SSD (the old V+100 model) about two or three years ago. We installed it in an Intel dual-core system that's five years old. Last year our neighbor bought a brand new Core i-5 system with a 750GB regular hard drive and 6GB of RAM. We both use Windows 7. Our 5 year-old sytem with SSD does everything faster than his. There's no lag. Everything feels quick & snappy. We now have 5 SSDs and they are all reliable and fast. After experiencing that at our house the neighbor ran down to the big office supply store and bought himself an SSD right away. Now his computer is faster than any of ours ... arrgh!

    Certain brands of SSD have high reputations for reliability. These include Intel, Sandisk, Kingston, Crucial and Samsung. Some even have a 5-year warranty (in the USA). Once you use one there's no going back .....

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    Oh really?! Have you heard of imaging

    Rui,

    My point was that the "DATA" HD ( non OS) is almost always much larger and less stressed ( used for storage) than the OS HD and not as likely to go "Belly Up" Most would agree that it makes much more sense to save both "Images" and "Data" off your OS (Including Imaging software People) Than to have your Images \ Data \ Pictures etc. saved on your main OS HD. Oh really?! Have you heard of common sense?... Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I'd stick with a Dell system if that is what you are comfortable with.
    I have owned long lasting and decent performing Dell systems previously. (mid to higher range)

    As for post #8, he's probably right, most typical system's will suit most average users.
    Just be cognizant of your need vs hardware situation.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Plain Fred View Post
    Oh really?! Have you heard of imaging

    Rui,

    My point was that the "DATA" HD ( non OS) is almost always much larger and less stressed ( used for storage) than the OS HD and not as likely to go "Belly Up" Most would agree that it makes much more sense to save both "Images" and "Data" off your OS (Including Imaging software People) Than to have your Images \ Data \ Pictures etc. saved on your main OS HD. Oh really?! Have you heard of common sense?... Regards Fred
    Common sense in what relates to technology takes many variants. It really depends on what you use your system for, which, in some cases, means a lot of stress, with web servers, database servers, multiple compilers, etc. Also, in some scenarios, it's quite hard to tell an app that it should get its data from where you want it.

    Regardless of that, the implied idea that you would lose information from any disk, SSD, hybrid or HDD is a wrong one. The issue is not how much data you lose, but making sure you don't lose any data at all, no matter how many disks you have.

    Both my laptops are SSD only now. If I could justify the cost, I would replace my desktop HDD (500 GB) by a 480 GB SSD. Cost will come down. When it does, my only HDDs will be external (or internal), but used for backup only.

    I will also keep using a single partition per drive. With SSDs and fast USB 3 drives, every backup op takes less than an hour. It's just not worth the hassle of multiple partitioning your disks and configuring the OS to deal with it.
    Rui
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruirib View Post
    Common sense in what relates to technology takes many variants. It really depends on what you use your system for, which, in some cases, means a lot of stress, with web servers, database servers, multiple compilers, etc. Also, in some scenarios, it's quite hard to tell an app that it should get its data from where you want it.

    Regardless of that, the implied idea that you would lose information from any disk, SSD, hybrid or HDD is a wrong. The issue is not how much data you lose, but making sure you don't lose any data at all, no matter how many disks you have.

    Both my laptops are SSD only now. If I could justify the cost, I would replace my desktop HDD (500 GB) by a 480 GB SSD. Cost will come down. When it does, my only HDDs will be external (or internal), but used for backup only.

    I will also keep using a single partition per drive. With SSDs and fast USB 3 drives, every backup op takes less than an hour. It's just not worth the hassle of multiple partitioning your disks and configuring the OS to deal with it.
    Rui,

    Hello...The "OP" (George) asked for advise\opinions about "Desktop PC's " I gave him my 2Ę ... He then asked a followup question (TO ME) I obliged him, and gave "my opinion" ...I don't recall the OP asking for your "Opinion" about my "Opinion" .... (With your "cheeky obnoxious comment") Besides being in violation of rule #3 ...the thread is about PC's ...not Imaging ...Different topic. If you want to start a thread about the "joy" of you're particular "Imaging paradigm" ..get after it and don't let me get in the way of your success and happiness .... Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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