|2002-12-17, 02:27 PM||#1|
Questions for computer type folk
My son Ben has done a great job saving his paper route money and now would like to purchase his own computer. He has about $400. He has an old Pentium II 233 (Gateway) and we could use some of the existing parts. So all he would need we think is a new case (we understand that the Gateway case is somewhat proprietary), motherboard and memory. A local shop quoted the parts so far at about $450; Pentium IV 1.8 G, mid-tower case, 128 RAM, double density memory something or n'other. Here's several questions:
1) We have the monitor, video card, modem, hard drives, CD player, mouse, etc. What all should Ben purchase?
2) Where can we get the parts?
3) What about quality?
4) What about warranty and support?
5) The old Pentium 200 we have and the old Pentium II 233 have different RAM cards. How do we think about future expandability and adaptation?
5) What else do we need to be thinking about?
We appreciate your input.
|2002-12-17, 02:45 PM||#2|
you - pee - dee
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: London, Ontario
Need more info, like...what will the computer be used for? Gaming? School?
I can't speak about the gaming side...but things need to be fast.
Hree's what know:
You say you have your 'old harddrives' these are probably way too small and need upgrading (20gig min)
P4 1.8 is very very fast...and not neccessary. (Unless for gaming, I don't know)
I can't tell a difference in 1.8 and 1 gig. If you can find a P3 1 gig processor you will save a lot of cash, and not notice the difference.
You have a cd drive..but is it a CD-RW (a CD burner)
I would order the parts online...and take cheap (cheap on good stuff though) over warranty...they will still have factory warranty anyways. Perhaps something 'new in the box' from Ebay? (lot of bargains there)
Computers last alot long now before being obsolete thatn a few years ago...because you can upgrade things. But here's a good tip...buy as much as you can afford.
If Ben has $400...and a computer that is WAY beter is...say...$550 - $600 (I'm not sure of these exact prices...just giving an example)...perhaps (if you had the means) you could lend him the money, and his paper route could pay you back... This would add years and really increase the effectiveness of your computer.
I honestly think your best bet is a whole new computer (you could donate your old one to a school)
This way, you know everything works together how they should, you'll have new video cards, sound cards, the proper RAM, etc...
ANd it would be a lot easier.
Happy Life Day
|2002-12-17, 03:22 PM||#3|
Join Date: May 2002
Location: SE Missouri, USA
As a part time computer builder/repairer, I agree to most of what Sofa said. For around $500 to 600, you could get a new assembled machine with cd burner, dvd, more memory, bigger hd, etc . . . Also, unless you just want it for games and videos, AMD outperforms the P4 substantially and for a cheaper price.
I found a machine with some good numbers like AMD 1900+ with 256 Megs Ram, 80 gig Hard drive, WinXP pre-installed, 24X10X32 CD/RW, DVD, modem, ethernet, and other misc. software. The downside is that most of the components are built in, but that's the way Dell, Gateway, Compaq and others are going. This machine I found is an E-machine. I know, some will have bad things to say, I was one til I bought a cheap 466 E-machine years ago, but guess what, It's still running! The cost on the above system is $549 plus shipping. It said refurbished, but that may just have been a return or opened box. Generally, it means that the computer was checked more thoroughly. I can give you more details if you want, just email me. I'm not going to advertise for anyone here.
|2002-12-17, 06:03 PM||#4|
Old back, new cricks
It used to be that people would build their own to save money. Now you only build your own when you need something really special.
A complete system usually comes with a warranty that more than makes up for any skimping the dealer does on part quality. Also, you get the os (XP) and some basic software that is up-to-date.
I never recommend upgrading an old system. New systems are so much more capable, and new hard drives are at least twice a big every 6-8 months. Also, there is usb-2 which can compete with firewire at a cheaper price. Also new motherboards are much better and take more memory...
Bottom line: don't spend a cent on upgrades unless the result will be current technology. You don't want to upgrade only to be out-of-date right away.
Also consider your use. Although they cost a lot more, I like laptops for email, browsing the web and reading. But for editing/developing I like a large screen (and Linux os).
You could spend as much on a good monitor as on the computer, so if that is what you want consider the extra cost of a monitor when comparing to a laptop.
|2002-12-17, 07:00 PM||#5|
North Shore ridin'
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Carmichael, CA
I don't ususally look in the Just Conversation forum, but couldn't resist seeing what kind of computer question it was.
As most respondents said, the machine is very outdated and a new one should give you a lot more bang for your buck. Beware of the cheapest ones, as many of the components are not upgradeable (graphics on motherboard rather than a separate card).
But this may not matter to you, depending on the purpose of the machine. Even some of the cheapest ones have on-motherboard graphics but still have an AGP slot in case you want to upgrade later.
Yes, a P4 at 1.8 Ghz is a lot of chip, but again it depends what you'll do with it. I process a lot of large photos in Photoshop, so my next machine will definitely be a P4. But if you're not doing lots of 3D or image processing, you can back way off on the chip and still have fine performance. You can probably cut your money in half or nearly so on the chip, if you want.
Equivalent AMD chips are faster than Intel chips for some things, and slower for others. They're pretty even these days, depending which two specific chips you're comparing.
I do not work for Intel (I work for a company that does projects for Intel).
With a new machine you should be able to have USB 2.0, and all the current or latest types of connections, such as for your RAM. You can't mix & max RAM on the machine, and if you don't have much of the old stuff, consider a machine that uses a newer and faster type.
As you are in the mind to build your own, make sure whatever you get is expandable and not proprietary.
"jfoss" at "unicycling.com"
"Unicycling is a way of looking at the world, making a choice to slow down, finish what you start, doing things not because they're easy, but because they're a challenge." -- Nurse Ben
|2002-12-17, 09:22 PM||#6|
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Sydney Australia
Re: Questions for computer type folk
Basically it works out that the AMD's are as fast or faster than a Pentium with a higher MHz rating. The other thing to be aware of when purchasing a Pentium IV System is that they are heavily dependant on RAM speed for the system speed, this is why the early Pentium IV systems came only with RAMBUS, it was fast, but expensive, subsequently if you use DDR Memory instead the processor takes a performance hit.
Something else to look out for is the Power Supply in the case, cheap ones can cause problems in the PC as they don't supply correct voltage to the different rails, this can cause obscure problems, hanging, blue screens etc.
The other thing to look at is the amount of RAM you have speced on the machine, again this is dependant on what you want the system for, but the modern MS OS's will take about 80-100Mb of RAM just to run. I know that this is then covered by Virtual RAM, but more RAM can make a difference to the system speed.
To answer your questions
1) It is possible to reuse componants. Video Card, if this is suitable for what you want to use the computer for and it can fit into the new motherboard then it will be fine. CD-ROM, most programs only require a 4X or 8X CD-ROM, as long as it is this speed and still works fine then it is fine. As for the Monitor/Mouse/Keyboard, I always say that the these are the most important parts of a computer, they are what you interact with, subsequently if they are not up to par then you won't like the computer as you don't like the interface.
2) No idea, I live in Australia, can't help you on that.
3) Each maker has different pros and cons, e.g. Seagate's are cheap HDD, however their quality probably isn't as high as say IBM's HDD. It may be a good idea to find out what brand the parts are and then read online reviews to see if people have had problems with them.
4) As said previously, each part will have factory warranty. The only problem with buying it in parts and putting it together yourself is that you need to diagnose any problem parts yourself and then get them replaced. If you buy the system complete then you can take it back to the shop and just say "it doesn't work, fix it". For the support side, I work in Desktop Support anyway so I support myself I think that if you don't have these skills or can't get this help from a friend then it is best to buy a complete system from a shop (or get them to upgrade your current system) so that they can support you if you have any problems.
5) RAM is currently in three flavours, SD-RAM (on the way out), RAMBUS (used with new Pentium Systems, but expensive), and DDR (Double Data Rate). DDR is what will replace SD-RAM (as SD-RAM replaced EDO) as the standard RAM, if you are going to buy a new motherboard (this will probably be the case due to the fact you are buying a new Processor), then I would recommend buying one that supports DDR.
If you want information on general PC Information etc I would recommend the following sites.
I hope this hasn't created more questions than I tried to answer. I will add the usual disclaimer that I don't work for any of the above mentioned companies or support any of the mentioned Web Sites.
|2002-12-17, 10:48 PM||#7|
Small fish, small pond
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Remember that your BIOS has to support the larger drives.
Personally, if I were Ben I'd save another $400 and go for a brand new system. The new approach is to stop supporting legacy hardware driver-wise (sometimes when the hardware is only a year old), so that the hardware goes out of date as fast as the software. Unless he is just doing email or doing laboratory hardware stuff, his system will be frustratingly antiquated. You won't be able to buy him a new game from Wal-Mart for Christmas, for example. On the other hand, if you like a challenge, and really want to learn a lot about legacy hardware and software, and are willing to take some hits when the stuff you buy isn't compatible with what you already have, then the approach you outlined is fine. Forget warranty and support, though. You're on your own for hours and hours of fun.
If you decide to go the legacy route, let me know. I have some 4 GB hard drives that I don't need anymore and you could have a couple for free. Oh also I have a book about building your own PC that might prove helpful (if I can find it!).
One more thing -- my nephews and I have had great fun on older PCs (Pentiums) networked playing Warcraft, Starcraft, Heretic, Hexen, etc. These are older games that don't have such demanding graphics, but do have exciting and long-lasting gameplay. The best oldest Windows for that is 98 2nd edition, which you MAY be able to get from Microsoft - or you might find it on the Internet, which will rapidly become Your Resource for legacy computer stuff. There also may be hobbyists in your area who would be great help.
The laptop I bought about 1.5 years ago is way underpowered for Warcraft 3, which came out a few months ago. That's how fast things change.
Weep in the dojo... laugh on the battlefield.
-- Dave Stockton
|2002-12-17, 11:44 PM||#8|
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Portland, Oregon USA
There should be a local computer shop that builds "clone" or "white box" computers. Some of them will build up a system with parts that you bring in. Shop around and find one that is willing to some of your existing parts. They'll be able to see what you've got and suggest a system and new parts that will work with some of your old parts. The cost for them building the system will probably be around $30 (maybe less or more depending on what they include in their basic build price).
The warranty will be whatever the warranty is on the individual parts. Your old parts that are out of warranty will not be covered. The new parts will be covered by the manufacturer warranty. You won't get a warranty on the entire system as a package.
|2002-12-18, 12:13 AM||#9|
I would get more than 128 mb of if i were you. For most things even if it is just a school computer, you will want at least 256.
Also, forger your pentium 4. Go with an AMD chip and a compatible motherboard. AMD's stuff is a lot cheaper than the Pentium stuff and a lot of times is faster for the same speed processor.
But that's just me. And... most AMD chips can be overclocked more easily, if the research my brother has been doing for the last year or so means anything.
What it really comes down to is price and use of the computer. What I have written here is not the Bible of buying a computer, it is merely the ramblings of a geek. But an Athlon or something of equivalent processor speed will most likely be cheaper than a Pentium.
In case you don't know, those Athlon 1500+ ones are not running at 1500 mhz. It is supposedly equivalent to that, though. It's more like a 1333 mhz I think. Anyway, just so's ya know. And if someone explained anything I did and I repeated it, its because I didn't read all the posts in this thread cuz I'm lazy.
"...if a bunch of fellow unicyclists can't rally around, commiserate and say 'chin up, lad', then what is this world coming to?" -GILD
|2002-12-25, 02:59 AM||#10|
Thanks all for the advice. After much scoping, here's the results. Ben ordered from a local shop here in Rochelle called Brains Unlimited. Great name for a computer store, eh? He ordered an ATX minitower case with Intel motherboard, Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz with onboard video, 6 USB ports, 128 DDR Ram (for starters), and a 5 1/4" floppy drive. Price including tax was $403.75. We'll use his two existing hard drives, and use the two case slots for his ZIP drive and 5200 CD drive. CD burner to come later after he delivers more papers. His existing modem card fits an ISA slot which the new motherboard will not have so he'll have to scrounge up a new modem. But all in good time. We'll also use existing keyboard, mouse (although he has an eye on a $12 laser mouse), and monitor. Perhaps we could have pieced together things from the internet and saved a few dollars but we also built a relationship with the guy down at Brains which will be valuable for support.
I think he did a good job firstly at saving his money for his system, then thinking logically, scoping out what's available, and being patient. He'll make a good businessman someday.
|computer, folk, questions, type|
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|
|Display Modes||Rate This Thread|