I Need A New Computer

Discuss life, the universe, and everything with other members of this site. Get to know your fellow polywell enthusiasts.

Moderators: tonybarry, MSimon

MSimon
Posts: 14331
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

I Need A New Computer

Post by MSimon »

Since we have so many geeks on board I'd like to ask a geek question.

Here is something I just posted:

If you want to read about my recent computer travails you can get a short history at Power and Control. But history is a thing of the past. I need to buy a new machine in the next day or three. I want to buy one locally - probably at Best Buy - since I want local service for the first 30 or 90 days - what ever initial warranties are running these days.

Can any one suggest a good desktop machine for under $400?

Also - I would like a machine that can run XP which is the OS of my back-up. I hate the learning curve that every new version of Windoze forces you into.

Thank you for your support.

You can leave a comment here. Or here:

http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives ... buy_a.html
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Tom Ligon
Posts: 1871
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:23 am
Location: Northern Virginia
Contact:

Post by Tom Ligon »

I don't know how cooperative Best Buy will be at setting up a computer with XP. I had no problem buying a new machine from a local shop last summer with XP, configured from generic boards and case. Just how long that will be possible I don't know ... eventually Microsoft will walk away from XP.

Those can be pretty cheap. Mine was more like $850 but I got it with Office and got some upgrades for video rendering. The local shop will service what they sell.
Last edited by Tom Ligon on Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jnaujok
Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:19 pm
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Contact:

New Computers and Best Buy

Post by jnaujok »

Personally, I'd avoid most of the Big Box stores (like Best Buy) like the plague. I see that you want local service, and that can be a problem, as I personally would rather get the $299 special from Tiger Direct (www.tigerdirect.com) and deal with it myself.

However...

What I would do is look for a small store in your area that caters to the geek crowd. A lot of times, you can get a machine from them for a lot less than the big box stores, and they'll give you support at a far more reasonable rate, and with much better level of actual services than the Best Buy crowd.

That's my personal $0.02 anyway. Of course, I haven't gone to a big box store for a computer since 1993.

MSimon
Posts: 14331
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

My local Best Buy has been excellent WRT service. But we are going out tonight to visit our local used computer/geek store (suggested by the Best Buy guys).
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

KitemanSA
Posts: 6114
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:05 pm
Location: OlyPen WA

Post by KitemanSA »

NMCI (the Navy Marine Corp Internet) is just converting TO XP, so I suspect there will be SOME support around for a while.

Aero
Posts: 1200
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:36 am
Location: 92111

Post by Aero »

This is totally the opposite WRT your service desires, but I've had good luck with this site. In particular, the refurbished machines have a warranty and they are priced right. Look for one with XP Professional pre-installed. For the money you save you can get quite a bit of service from your local shop.
http://www.geeks.com/
Oh - look under Systems / Desktop Computers in the left hand navigation window. It's the top entry.
Aero

DeltaV
Posts: 2245
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:05 am

Post by DeltaV »

The problem is drivers. Microsoft's usual plan of battle is to cajole the HW manufacturers into removing drivers needed for older Windows versions from their download sites. Some may still be available from forum links, etc, but caution is called for. First, see what XP drivers are available before commiting to specific HW.

MSimon
Posts: 14331
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

DeltaV wrote:The problem is drivers. Microsoft's usual plan of battle is to cajole the HW manufacturers into removing drivers needed for older Windows versions from their download sites. Some may still be available from forum links, etc, but caution is called for. First, see what XP drivers are available before commiting to specific HW.
Thanks. Industry is still in love with XP. And I have the drivers I used to use included in my full (disk image) backup.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

DeltaV
Posts: 2245
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:05 am

Post by DeltaV »

I was thinking of drivers that match specific HW such as your new video card or chipset to XP. Generic drivers may work there but you might not get full performance. I use an XP laptop as my main machine, seems no available drivers for it are compatible with Win2K, wah. Getting drivers for an OS downgrade with a desktop machine is probably easier.

Scupperer
Posts: 139
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 3:31 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL
Contact:

Post by Scupperer »

When I replaced my computer after it was destroyed in my house fire, I went with a Dell laptop, downgraded to XP. They still offer the XP downgrade. laptop link.desktop link.

The nice thing about a laptop is that it can also be used as a desktop - I just plug mine into a larger monitor when I park at a desk, and I got a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for the desk. The power of the computers don't vary much between desktop and laptop for the price these days (office depot only sells 1 or 2 desktop models - everything else is laptops), and most have the same amenities.

Dell was also very good about online support for the 3 months that came with the purchase.

I believe HP also offers an XP downgrade on some of their models as well.
Perrin Ehlinger

JohnSmith
Posts: 161
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:04 pm
Location: University

Post by JohnSmith »

The problem isn't the drivers you have now, it's the driver's you'll need for the new computer. Almost every piece of hardware, up to and including the chips on the motherboard that control memory access, need their own drivers, and each model of motherboard can use different chips. Mostly the OS has the drivers on tap, but I've gotten caught without a network driver before when reinstalling windows.

My personal preference is to build my own computer from parts. They are essentially impossible to put together wrong, as every component is keyed to only fit into the correct slot/socket/tab. Not what you asked, but it can be fun plugging stuff in.

Otherwise, box store is about as good as you can get.

MSimon
Posts: 14331
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

JohnSmith wrote:The problem isn't the drivers you have now, it's the driver's you'll need for the new computer. Almost every piece of hardware, up to and including the chips on the motherboard that control memory access, need their own drivers, and each model of motherboard can use different chips. Mostly the OS has the drivers on tap, but I've gotten caught without a network driver before when reinstalling windows.

My personal preference is to build my own computer from parts. They are essentially impossible to put together wrong, as every component is keyed to only fit into the correct slot/socket/tab. Not what you asked, but it can be fun plugging stuff in.

Otherwise, box store is about as good as you can get.
I can do that. I used to do it on a regular basis. My first IBM (around 1983 when I switched from Z-80 machines) was a self built job.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

icarus
Posts: 819
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:48 am

Post by icarus »

Okay if you assembling your hardware from parts why not get a real OS?

And build/compile a customised kernel for your home-built hardware yourself while you are it?

Think Linux ... don't look back ... leave XP on there as dual boot in some tiny little prison space on the hard-drive ... just in case.

Fedora 12 is not too bad, Ubuntu is kind of bossy and overbearing, CentOS has had some good noises ... got some money Novell SUSE on a HP is pretty hard to beat.
Last edited by icarus on Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

CaptainBeowulf
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:35 am

Post by CaptainBeowulf »

What I would do is inventory what you have in your system. You can probably reuse:

1. Case
2. Optical (CD/DVD) drive
3. Network card
4. Sound card, if you have one (the sound cards on the new motherboards are all pretty good)
5. Power supply

So, you need:

1. CPU
2. Motherboard
3. Memory
4. Video card (maybe - but the integrated video on, say, a core i3 CPU or a name-brand motherboard - ASUS, Microstar, Gigabyte - would drive a decent sized monitor well for web browsing and word processing)
5. Possibly new hard drive(s). A lot of these new boards have only one old PATA/IDE connector, but lots of SATA connectors. If your optical drive is older, it'll probably take up the PATA connector. Also, your problem might be with the hard drive. Might as well replace at the same time.

You should be able to get that stuff for under $400.

In terms of self-build, there's lots of cheap but powerful stuff out there. You can probably find a low-end Core2 Duo or Core I3 for $100-$150. I would get the lowest-end motherboard ASUS makes for the CPU you choose. Get a $50-$75 video card if you need one, like a Sapphire or Asus ATI-based HD 3650 or 4350. You should be able to get a 500GB hard drive for $50 or less (I normally use Western Digital these days).

I also find that sometimes problems do originate with the power supply. Also, some of these new boards need recent power supplies - older ones don't have enough pins. When in doubt, I spend more on the power supply than anything else. Thermaltake, Enermax, Corsair, Seasonic... one of those.

Any of these things will still have XP drivers. I assume you have your own copy of XP, so just reuse it.

CaptainBeowulf
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:35 am

Post by CaptainBeowulf »

I also find that Corsair RAM never fails. Unfortunately, it ain't cheap. Unfortunately even my "low-end" systems come to $400-$500, because I use ASUS, Sapphire, Corsair - the cheapest end of the best quality parts. My systems usually last several years with only the occasional OS re-install.

Post Reply