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Old 2011-10-09, 19:03   Link #21
Dist
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Speaking of OS'es, if you are absolutely sure you will NOT play any kind of games, don't buy Windows. This will save you money because there's really no reason to use Windows. Don't buy MAC either. Just get a computer, whether self-built or pre-built without an OS, and use Linux. While you may think you don't know how to use Linux or such, if you get one of those easy to use versions it's almost identical to that of a Windows. You don't need any knowledge of using a Linux. Everything will be pretty much self-explanatory. If you're not 100% sure about not playing then don't get one because installing games to work on Wine .. well, for a very basic user it would probably be too hard.

I've installed Linux to few of my relatives too as their computers are pre-built (slow as hell.. Windows lags) and even they found no problems at using them for their very basic needs.
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Old 2011-10-09, 19:08   Link #22
Hollowgolem
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Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
Also, I think it should be noted that a large part of why these DIY combos are cheaper is because they don't come with an operating system. If you need to get Windows with it, the price gap between the DIY kits and the Lenovos narrows significantly.
Windows 7 is, what, $90? And anyway, if you're just going to be using it as a media center, or (like most everyone else) almost everything you do is on the cloud nowadays, booting the baby up with a Linux distro that has good UI support (Mint is my recommendation there) is just fine.

As someone who just upgraded and put together a machine for $250 less than an equivalent (actually, marginally inferior) rig would have cost me pre-built, I'm going to second the advice to try building it yourself. This was my first 100% self-built machine, and I was nervous as I put everything together. Really, I was nervous as I picked everything out.

But in the end, it works like a charm, and is serving me quite well. Just do some research, look at what other people building their own machines are doing, and go from there. Gotta start sometime, and I have to say now that my first self-built rig is working great, my confidence is way up, and I'll be doing this every upgrade in the future. And I'm not the most computer-literate guy on the map, that's for sure.
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Old 2011-10-09, 22:20   Link #23
Irenicus
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IMO, if you don't want to build your own computer and still want to get value, I'd suggest you check out your local computer shops. Some of them if you buy all the parts from them will help build your PC for you, often for a fee, sometimes (if you're lucky) for free.

They may even offer warranty on top of the individual manufacturer warranties for your parts. Even if they don't you basically have a place to go to when you can't fix something by yourself.

Serious compatibility issues should not be a problem unless you make really stupid mistakes like buying an Intel CPU with an AMD board, but that's very unlikely and the guy at the shop would probably tell you about it right away. If you have time and inclination you can always research online for reviews of each of your parts. At the very least you should look up the prices so you know you aren't being ripped off.

P.S. Very recently I was able to get a Win 7 Professional Upgrade for $35 on an .edu address. It *is* an upgrade and you need a Windows XP or Vista CD around (or do a bit of a registry trick...google for it online), but hey, Windows for cheap. Kind of annoying I had to revive my old hotmail account for it though.

P.P.S. As for what to prioritize, one, get a quadcore CPU, Intel i5 if you can afford it, if not that's fine, a decent Phenom II does handle 10p encodes with ease (unless an encoder is criminally insane). Two, get 4GB of RAM, which you *will* get to use. RAM is really cheap, however, and 8GB can be considered future-proofing, albeit not necessary. Three, buy yourself a good, 80+ bronze rating PSU. A good PSU is a healthy PC, but no need to get overboard with the wattage numbers. The nutjobs who're arguing for a 700w up PSU's are running dual GPUs and think everybody else does too. The efficiency ratings are more important. Four, get a big HD. You watch animu. You need it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArrowSmith
Just get a Macbook Air, starting at $999 + Apple Care!
He wants a desktop PC, not a Macbook...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dist View Post
Speaking of OS'es, if you are absolutely sure you will NOT play any kind of games, don't buy Windows. This will save you money because there's really no reason to use Windows. Don't buy MAC either. Just get a computer, whether self-built or pre-built without an OS, and use Linux. While you may think you don't know how to use Linux or such, if you get one of those easy to use versions it's almost identical to that of a Windows. You don't need any knowledge of using a Linux. Everything will be pretty much self-explanatory.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's not that self-explanatory. Especially now during a transition period for Linux when everyone's updating their GUI and it's all a mess. Ubuntu, Fedora, all the big distros have kinks all over they've yet to get over.

Sure very basic needs are fine -- so are very advanced needs accompanied by advanced skills to handle it, since you can basically write your own code or look up someone's to do what you want the OS to do -- but somewhere in-between is where all the headache-inducing googling starts.

He doesn't even really want to build his own computer and you're suggesting he migrates to Linux.

Last edited by Irenicus; 2011-10-09 at 22:32.
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Old 2011-10-09, 23:59   Link #24
0utf0xZer0
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Around here, NCIX offers assembly, testing, and one year system warrenty for $50 + parts. Not sure who offers similar services in the US. Might be worth it if you can get Windows for a decent price... if not, the combined Windows plus assembly cost will eat up most of what you save over going with a regular prebuilt though.
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Old 2011-10-10, 00:38   Link #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
For your purposes six cores would be overkill, and you can add wi-fi to a computer for like $20.

Also, I think it should be noted that a large part of why these DIY combos are cheaper is because they don't come with an operating system. If you need to get Windows with it, the price gap between the DIY kits and the Lenovos narrows significantly.
Linux is free.
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Old 2011-10-10, 03:51   Link #26
sa547
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Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
My current one is almost 10 years old, and last last me well. But I think it's time to upgrade. It's developed an issue where it powers on for 2 seconds, then turns off, forcing me to plug the power cord in somewhere else before it will attempt to power on again. Eventually, it stays on for good. I think it's a PSU issue, but don't believe it's worth the time or money to try for a new PSU. And I need to upgrade anyway...

With that in mind, let me list some of the things I am looking for:

Able to stream and play 720p and 1080p video
To hook it up to my TV at times to stream video to it
Relatively quiet as can be
Possibly wifi enabled (or ability to add wifi capability later)

I'm not any sort of gamer, so I don't care about high end stuff or being able to play any of the top games on the market. I mainly use it for writing, browsing, and watching stuff. My budget is about $500, give or take. I'm not entirely comfortable putting something together on my own; mainly looking for advice of what to look for in specs, make, models, company, etc. And what to avoid.

I plan to get a new monitor, too, but that's a more future thing. I'd rather get a decent computer now, before my current one dies on me.

Thinking something with a 2-3ghz processor, 2GB+ RAM, and 500GB+ HDD. Any suggestions? Good deals? Things to avoid?
What's the specs of the current PC you're about to upgrade or replace?

Me, to deal with the newfangled High-10 subs while on budget, I'd get an Intel i3 (i5s or i7s tend to be geared for hardcore gamers), 4Gb of memory, a very solid entry-level or midrange motherboard (ASRock, Asus, MSI), a 500gb Western Digital SATA hard drive, and a 300-watt PSU with a 80-plus bronze rating. As those i-series CPUS have an integrated GPU, I think HD video should be no problem to handle (for the TV the board should have HDMI output).

Wireless LAN can be dealt with by buying a USB dongle instead of a PCI card (as some motherboards have two or less slots for smaller mATX case configurations).

If your casing is a standard mid-sized ATX case, you could keep it for the new components.

In my country, $500 goes a long way to build a decent rig.
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:36   Link #27
SaintessHeart
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Originally Posted by sa547 View Post
In my country, $500 goes a long way to build a decent rig.
In my country it is only enough to cover a hard disk and a GTS 5xx card.
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:45   Link #28
SeijiSensei
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Ubuntu 10.04 is the current stable release with long-term support (through 2014 I believe). It's pretty solid and has had a couple of interim update releases to fix a few remaining bugs.

I'm a KDE user and would recommend Kubuntu 10.10 if you go that route. It's the most stable Ubuntu version with KDE 4.x yet released.

I'd definitely avoid 11.04 with its brand-new interface ("Unity"). You might try 11.10 when it comes out later this month. I'm waiting for 12.04.

Make sure you install the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package to get the proprietary codecs like mp3, and install smplayer for video playback.

You can take any Ubuntu release for a test drive by booting from the CD and choosing "Try Ubuntu". It won't make any changes to your machine; it all runs off the CD. Obviously that will be a lot slower than a native installation on your hard drive, but you'll know whether all your hardware is supported and get to see how it works in practice.
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:59   Link #29
Jaden
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I just recently assembled a PC for the first time, I'd say go for it. It's good fun as long as you have access to the internet while working, to decipher the jargon in your mainboard manual and look for additional instructions if needed.

The challenge I found was not getting too excited and properly study the manuals before installing, and the only somewhat tricky parts were applying thermal paste, installing a huge CPU cooler, and aligning all the cables to fit in with that thing. And for the system you want, those things are unnecessary.
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:59   Link #30
Dist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's not that self-explanatory. Especially now during a transition period for Linux when everyone's updating their GUI and it's all a mess. Ubuntu, Fedora, all the big distros have kinks all over they've yet to get over.

Sure very basic needs are fine -- so are very advanced needs accompanied by advanced skills to handle it, since you can basically write your own code or look up someone's to do what you want the OS to do -- but somewhere in-between is where all the headache-inducing googling starts.

He doesn't even really want to build his own computer and you're suggesting he migrates to Linux.
And I never said he should migrate to using Ubuntu or the bigger distros. There are ones out there for beginner users too. Mint is a good example that was suggested. I actually don't have experience with other distros than Mint but it was pretty self-explanatory for your basic needs, and those needs easily cover also what the OP wanted. There may be even some better alternatives than Mint but I wouldn't know as I'm a gamer so I don't use Linux myself.

SaintessHeart : I have hard time believing that computer parts would be so expensive because at the moment you can get 1TB HDD with 40€, which in dollars is like 60. And if they truly were so expensive where you live, then you should buy them online.

sa547 :
Really now? A 500gb hard drive when 1-2TB are really cheap currently? Given the forum we are at, chances are the OP downloads his anime. If that's the case, you'll want a bit more space than just 500GB. 500GB will cover only few series if you go for the BD quality. I have 5TB of space and it's still not enough.

I disagree about i5-i7 being for hardcore gamers. Casual user can get use out of them too, if you appreciate speed. Though given the budget, I don't think he can go for those. To be honest, though I personally hate AMD, with his budget he would be better off going for AMD way. Perhaps buy Phenom X6 for example, those are quite cheap currently.

There's other things we could discuss too, but frankly first it should be confirmed whether the OP has thought about building it himself or having a pc shop build it for him with the parts he has chosen, or if he is still going to go pre-built way.
But it really is self-explanatory. If you disassemble your current computer which you should if you use the case, you'll pretty much know how to build it again with different parts. I had my friend help me with my rig because I was unsure too, but after building it I knew I could have done it just myself. All parts like RAM and CPU can't be installed wrong .. you just place them on the MB. Then you look at the manual for which wire goes to which slot (most are self explanatory though since there's text on the MB which indicates which wire comes there), and boom you're done.
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Old 2011-10-10, 11:04   Link #31
Random32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dist View Post
I disagree about i5-i7 being for hardcore gamers. Casual user can get use out of them too, if you appreciate speed. Though given the budget, I don't think he can go for those. To be honest, though I personally hate AMD, with his budget he would be better off going for AMD way. Perhaps buy Phenom X6 for example, those are quite cheap currently.
What would be the benefit?

For the OP
-Web browsing - None. The average low end desktop CPU is far more than fast enough.
-Writing - None. Like web browsing. Word isn't a heavy application
-Playing video - Little right now. Arguably more future proofing, but video is generally well multithreaded which means that the Ph2X6 would be better than most of the i5's.
-Converting video - Faster. Depending on how time sensitive (encode and load onto iPod right before leaving for work vs encode only a few episodes over night) it might be worth it. Though, Ph2X6 is generally better bang for the buck at the lower end of i5/i7 due to multithreading.

Examples of where the i5/i7's really shine
-Heavy Excel spreadsheets. Like the really huge ones. If you don't think Excel can be that resource intensive, you haven't seen one of these bad boys yet.
-Compiling. Then again, the more time spent compiling is the more time spent larping.
-Very high end gaming. The CPU really just needs to keep up with the GPU for gaming, but when you have a quad xfire setup, a high end CPU is required to not be a bottleneck.
-Benchmarking. MOAR NUMBERZ!!! Yeah.
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Old 2011-10-10, 14:41   Link #32
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I never said the OP should get i5. I said that I disagree them about being only for hardcore gamers. And I really have no idea what you mean by them being for '' very high end gamers '' or '' quad xfire user '' . Oh look, I have just one GPU and I still use i52500K.

I suggested him Phenom, and I stand behind my word. If you look at the current market and it's prices, Phenom X6 is a good choice, or X4 if you really can't spare extra 20 bucks for more bang. OR, he can go with a pre-built one and get his awesome 2.3ghz dual core processor -_-.
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Old 2011-10-10, 16:27   Link #33
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2.3ghz dual core? Even the $350 Acer special that was only available in Canada has a lot more than that (3.1ghz AMD tri core). And the $470 Lenovo unit we were discussing was based on an 3.2ghz AMD quad core (Athlon II X4 650).

I also would be careful about getting a Phenom II X6 if it means getting less clock speed than if you got an X4. Not sure about Mplayer, but I know that CCCP's VSfilter subtitle renderer is highly clock speed dependent and can really burden a system if the subber uses certain effects. And hell, even some video encoding software doesn't really take advantage of more than four cores well.
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Old 2011-10-10, 18:21   Link #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sa547 View Post
What's the specs of the current PC you're about to upgrade or replace?
Heh, it's old. Single 2.4GHz processor(Pentium 4), 512mb RAM, 75GB HDD. It works mostly good, just lags horribly if I have several things open. And also tends to have trouble with those blip.tv streams that people like Spoony and others are tending to use nowadays. Not sure of the other stats(other than it has "powered by Asus" on the front), as it was a custom unit I got at CompUSA before it closed down. Lasted me a long time.

So yeah, if I gotta get something new, I'd like it to last me a long time, too. Future-proofing, as it were.

Still looking around at computers, but I have gotten a lot of useful knowledge and ideas from this tread, so thanks to everyone for that. I have a friend here that's looking for some deals, too.

And yeah, I've considered Linux. Given that I really don't do video games anymore (just emulated old games if at all), I have thought about going totally with a Linux install, possibly Ubuntu. I do use stuff like Open Office and Firefox, no real microsoft programs much anymore, so I think I might be okay. But I'll decide that once I find a computer (whether pre-built or DIY).
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Old 2011-10-11, 04:35   Link #35
sa547
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@Dist: a 500GB WD platter costs about $45 (or PHP1980) here, according to my favorite dealer. Sometimes certain high-end CPUs are a bit much of an overkill to me, so I thought the i3 is sufficiently powerful enough, considering that I was first shocked at the performance of my brother-in-law's Acer Aspire with an i3 stuck in it, while playing Modern Warfare 2 without a hitch.

@Saintessheart: For the miserly Filipino PC user who wants to game on a budget, $500 is enough to buy competent entry-level parts (CPU, mobo, memory, video, hard drive, an 18.5" monitor, and even a solid PSU) and use them to replace all the outdated innards.

@Kaijo: your current rig is almost close to my config (a P4 1.7Ghz/1Gb RAM/80Gb HD, to be retrofitted with a now-cheap P4 2.8Ghz CPU), which, along with the new purchase of extra 512mb for a sufficient performance boost, is enough to serve as an interim machine until next year (I hope).
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Old 2011-10-11, 16:39   Link #36
felix
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Originally Posted by Dist View Post
You don't need any knowledge of using a Linux. Everything will be pretty much self-explanatory.
Ho ho really now? :3

If you don't do anything but navigate the internet, chat, watch movies and play music then yeah get linux. Otherwise, even if someone comes and sets things up for you, you're likely in for some pain.

Also Java and Flash based games run fine on linux, no emulation required. And I'm not talking about browser ones.
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Old 2011-10-11, 18:53   Link #37
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Really? From what I could see, Mint was pretty much self explanatory. There was that installation package thing to find and install programs for you if you didn't know/want to do it manually and such.

I don't have much experience with Linux however, so I may be wrong. Even so, it would be worthwhile to use Linux if you won't play games if you can bother to learn the '' basics '' or whatever there is to learn that isn't self-explanatory as according to felix.

1. It's free
2. It's lightweight
3. You don't need AV/Firewall

... There's probably many other reasons too but these three are the reason I would use linux if I was not a gamer.

sa547 : Okay, I was over exaggerating with the dual-core thing for pre-built but still generally it seems for a $500 pre-built you're gonna have less '' bang '' than with DYI even when it comes to CPU. As for the HDD thing ; I do not know where you live.. In fact, we don't even know where Kaijo lives but if you look at Newegg for example, you'll have 1TB for $54, and 2TB for $74. I'd go straight for 2TB as it is only 20 bucks more than 1TB and you'll eventually fill the 1TB so you'll need another one.. (You will, if you download anime and watch 720-1080p).
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Old 2011-10-11, 20:24   Link #38
Random32
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I found that openSUSE's 1click install worked very reliably and with minimal interaction if not quite 1click. I would assume that more beginner oriented flavors would be even more user friendly.

Kaijo is
-web browsing
-writing stuff
-watching anime

That should be self explanatory. All the apps needed are included with most distros, it doesn't require any advanced configuration. The only issue I think would be WiFi, just run the card to buy past us/a linux forum/use Google for the chipset to make sure its wells supported. AMD graphics drivers aren't as much of a pain as they used to be, but that is probably going to be the hardest part and there shouldn't be any problems following an online guide, they might not even be needed if 3D acceleration isn't much of a concern.
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