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What computer should I get?

Old 04-27-06, 11:31 PM
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What computer should I get?

Since you're on one at the moment, I figured this wouldn't be a bad place to ask... my current Windows98 computer is on its last legs so I'm on the market for a new one. Any suggestions?

I am heavily into graphic art, music, digital photography, writing, games, and of coarse the internet. I would like it to be pretty indestructable too since I'm fairly computer illiterate, which means I can't build one either.

Prefered price range is $1000-$2000, and I'm looking at (and know how to use) both Macs and PC's.

Thank you for any and all suggestions
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Old 04-28-06, 01:38 AM
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Presently, if I had to buy an off-the-shelf system for that type of stuff, I'd get an HP d4100e with the X2 3800+ processor, 2GB RAM, aftermarket video card, aftermarket antivirus software, and aftermarket monitor. But you could easily build one, it's easier than making lasagna. I would help you with parts choices, assembly and setup if you decided to go for it.
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Old 04-28-06, 02:17 AM
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Here's where you get one of your knowledgeable computer friends to build you one for a couple cases of beer.

Trust me, it's well worth it. Prepackaged systems you find at b&m stores are mostly garbage (i.e Best Buy, Circuit City, Futureshop whatever).
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Old 04-28-06, 02:54 AM
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Originally Posted by PVyrus
I am heavily into graphic art, music, digital photography, writing, games, and of coarse the internet. I would like it to be pretty indestructable too since I'm fairly computer illiterate, which means I can't build one either.

Prefered price range is $1000-$2000, and I'm looking at (and know how to use) both Macs and PC's.
Well... computer hardware pretty much never fails, it's the software that crashes, gets corrupted and infected that causes you problems. So I'd suggest one of the new Mac Mini Duos for about $699. Then get a fat 21" widescreen (16:9) LCD panel. It'll run both WIndows and MacOSX, which is rock-stable and never crashes. I've got systems running with uptime of over 5-years! You can load and unload drivers dynamically without rebooting when you plug in new hardware. Not to mention the Mac's long history in graphic and media markets. It'll also run Windows in dual-boot or simultaneous modes as well (running both Mac & Windows software at the same time).
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Old 04-28-06, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mechBgon
Presently, if I had to buy an off-the-shelf system for that type of stuff, I'd get an HP d4100e with the X2 3800+ processor, 2GB RAM, aftermarket video card, aftermarket antivirus software, and aftermarket monitor. But you could easily build one, it's easier than making lasagna. I would help you with parts choices, assembly and setup if you decided to go for it.
I was thinking of an AMD CPU with about 2 GB RAM and maybe an NVIDIA 6800 video card.

What Motherboard would you use?
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Old 04-28-06, 04:49 AM
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I'd never buy an 'off the shelf' unit... go to a reputable mom & pop type computer store, tell they what you want your computer to do and ask for reccomendations and a price.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
I was thinking of an AMD CPU with about 2 GB RAM and maybe an NVIDIA 6800 video card.

What Motherboard would you use?
If it were for me personally, I'd get an Asus A8N-SLI Premium. They're a little expensive, however. Passive cooling, SLI ready (or you could use the second x16 slot for other things like a physics coprocessor card), 3-year warranty. I presently use the little brother, the A8N-E, and its little bitty cooling fan was a nuisance... I replaced the heatsink/fan with one of these Swiftech MCX units. Should've waited for the A8N-SLI Premium to arrive, I guess.

For less money, there's the Asus A8N-VM CSM, a passively-cooled microATX board with a PCI-Express x16 slot but also the onboard Geforce 6150 video (both DVI and VGA outputs). Interestingly, you can use the onboard video and an add-in card simultaneously, a break from the past either/or scenario. Since the A8N-VM CSM doesn't have memory-voltage tweaks, I'd stick with tried-&-true Crucial "vanilla" PC3200 if I were building one. Anyway, these look like a good value if you don't plan to overclock.

The dual-core A64 X2s are sweet, I don't regret spending the money to upgrade from single-core at all Whatever you do, get a decent-brand ATX 2.0 power supply and not just some generic trash one that came with a cheap ricer case. For a single- or dual-core A64 with a single 6800, you could start off with one of these: Fortron AX-450PN.

Hope that helps

Last edited by mechBgon; 04-28-06 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:23 AM
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I have an Asus amd 64 machine at work.
This is the slowest piece of steaming pile of **** I've seen. Applications that run fine on other systems just freeze for extended periods of time for no reason. Disabling the XE protection was a ***** and a half and caused another slew of normal appliations to not run at all. Needless to say this machine does not make me a happy camper
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Old 04-28-06, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by TexasGuy
I have an Asus amd 64 machine at work.
This is the slowest piece of steaming pile of **** I've seen. Applications that run fine on other systems just freeze for extended periods of time for no reason. Disabling the XE protection was a ***** and a half and caused another slew of normal appliations to not run at all. Needless to say this machine does not make me a happy camper
Do you want some help with that? Can you find out the model of motherboard, for starters, and pop the hood and get me the BIOS revision off the sticker on the BIOS chip (it'll be a four-digit number, e.g. 1007)

edit: what the chip itself looks like, minus the sticker...




Disabling NX-bit support is a cinch (screenshot) (can also be disabled by editing BOOT.INI). If it's having hangs, then make sure Cool 'n Quiet is disabled in the motherboard's BIOS and that your AMD processor driver is installed in Windows (download the driver for 32-bit WinXP here, or for 64-bit WinXP here).

I have never, ever heard of applications failing to work when NX-bit protection is disabled, so that's a new one. I'd be interested in learning more about that if you have time, just PM me.

Last edited by mechBgon; 04-28-06 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:47 AM
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Well... computer hardware pretty much never fails
You got to be kidding me.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:18 AM
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Yeah. I used the wrong tense. The applications were failing because it was on. And suprisingly. It took 2 weeks and it magically started working. I ended the boot.ini the first day and rebooted and it never took effect. It was extremely weird, because I even used all of the options and put the applications on the extension and everything said it was disabled, and the applications would still fail. Then after I had given up hope on getting those applications to work, magically one day they just started working.

I just installed the AMD 64 for 32 bit windows. I'll see if I notice any improvement. Now if i could just get them to replace this matrox video card.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mechBgon
Do you want some help with that? Can you find out the model of motherboard, for starters, and pop the hood and get me the BIOS revision off the sticker on the BIOS chip (it'll be a four-digit number, e.g. 1007)

edit: what the chip itself looks like, minus the sticker...

Disabling NX-bit support is a cinch (screenshot) (can also be disabled by editing BOOT.INI). If it's having hangs, then make sure Cool 'n Quiet is disabled in the motherboard's BIOS and that your AMD processor driver is installed in Windows (download the driver for 32-bit WinXP here, or for 64-bit WinXP here).

I have never, ever heard of applications failing to work when NX-bit protection is disabled, so that's a new one. I'd be interested in learning more about that if you have time, just PM me.

Talk like this makes me happy to have a Macintosh
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Old 04-28-06, 11:31 AM
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Heh. Its funny to atch people geek over the g5 we have. Of all of the geeks here. nobody nknows how to do **** with it or top it. THey can only look. All their geekiness and nerdiness is killed because they can't do anything but look at it. It's quite humorours and irony that geeks lust after something that pretty much kills any type of geekiness.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:37 AM
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Also jump into the BIOS to the Advanced > CPU Configuration > AMD Cool&Quiet Configuration part, and disable the Cool 'n Quiet feature. There's really no point to it IMHO. I'm still interested in hearing your system's specs if you want to indulge me, because sometimes little quirks are easily fixed or at least ID'ed.

I've had a few programs that have issues with the NX-bit / Data Execution Prevention feature (which is also available on nearly all current Intel CPUs as well), like my old PaintShop Pro 8, but I just add exceptions as needed. My present work rig runs Office2000, VirusScan Enterprise 8.0i with the beta 5000RC engine, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0/Premiere Elements 2.0, Ulead PhotoImpact 8.5Pro, WinZip 9.0, WinSPM9.0, Hauppage TV2000, Nero 6.6 suite, and assorted other stuff, and PhotoImpact 8.5Pro is the only thing that occasionally trips NX-bit defenses. So I leave it enabled, with the opt-out option available.

Talk like this makes me happy to have a Macintosh
You're happy that your CPU has no NX-bit security features? Do you even know what it is, why it exists, and what it prevents? I'm happy if my computer, whether Mac or Wintel or Mac-winteltosh, stops improper data execution. With the WMF exploit for Windows, and the current similar vulnerability in OS X, we should all be glad for NX-bit protection. The new Macs do have it (thanks Intel).

BTW on the topic of new Macs, what's the top of the range of video cards you can put in them without issues? I'd go try to research that but I bet someone already knows. For gaming, especially high-resolution gaming with the eye candy turned on, it's good to have a pretty burly GPU nowdays, maybe a 7900GT.

Last edited by mechBgon; 04-28-06 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:44 AM
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Honestly, just get a new iMac with 1GB of RAM. Great machines, and if you decide that you absolutley must have windows, wel, they now can dual boot.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:49 AM
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AMD Athlon 64 3400+
24.ghz
1gb ram
The motherboard is an Asus 8xn iirc. These people apparently have a corporate account with TD so that's where all of their stuff comes from.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Well... computer hardware pretty much never fails, it's the software that crashes, gets corrupted and infected that causes you problems. So I'd suggest one of the new Mac Mini Duos for about $699. Then get a fat 21" widescreen (16:9) LCD panel. It'll run both WIndows and MacOSX, which is rock-stable and never crashes. I've got systems running with uptime of over 5-years! You can load and unload drivers dynamically without rebooting when you plug in new hardware. Not to mention the Mac's long history in graphic and media markets. It'll also run Windows in dual-boot or simultaneous modes as well (running both Mac & Windows software at the same time).

The core-duo iMacs are better deals than the Minis but you don't get to pick your monitor. Throw on Boot Camp and install Windows on one, too. I guarantee you'll be using the Mac side most of the time.
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Old 04-28-06, 12:03 PM
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None of my software runs on a Mac and the development tools available for Mac pale in comparison to tools I've been using sine the mid and later 90's . I'll never be able to use a Mac for anything beyond browsing. Which is the only reason I'd ever have a mac. To make sure sites that I develop work on safari.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:03 PM
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Realy? What software are you speaking of?
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Old 04-28-06, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TexasGuy
AMD Athlon 64 3400+
24.ghz
1gb ram
The motherboard is an Asus 8xn iirc. These people apparently have a corporate account with TD so that's where all of their stuff comes from.
I keep up pretty well on Asus motherboards and that model doesn't sound familiar, or even jive with Asus's naming conventions. Can you open the case and do a reality check? The model will be silk-screened on the surface of the motherboard.

If it came from TigerDirect then it probably has a ridiculously-yucky power supply too, get me the brand & model off of it so I can jeer at its patheticness

Incidentally, if you do get a Win-Mac-Intel-Tosh for gaming, it may pay to run WinXP on it in addition to OS X: twice the performance in gaming with WinXP versus OS X?!

According to Penny Arcade, the introduction of Boot Camp makes it a lot easier to benchmark what the two operating systems can do.

One of its hacks installed Boot Camp onto his MacBook, installed Windows and then World of Warcraft. To test how the two operating systems compared he ran WoW at 1440 x 900 with all the graphic settings on maximum.

It was barely playable of course but he managed to get a frame rate reading of 15 and 20 FPS under Mac OX.

On the same lap top under Windows and the same settings he managed to get between 35 and 40 FPS. This is a pretty big difference.

The reviewer said that he preferred using OS X, but it was a little difficult to justify when a game runs twice as fast under Windows.
Very interesting. OS X on x86 processors, looks like they still need to optomize it a bit. And mind you, that was just World Of Warcraft, not F.E.A.R. or something.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Well... computer hardware pretty much never fails
Originally Posted by operator
You got to be kidding me.
Ok, it depends upon the quality-level of hardware you're buying. I've been selling computer-hardware since '86 and have seen some trends. You buy low-end cheap crap and it will fail for sure. The most common component is the hard-drive due to its mechanical nature. I always specify hard-drives with at least a 3-year warrantee, 5-year is minimum for business operations. There's a box of dead Micropolis and WD hard-drives laying around I use as a reminder to people who want to go cheap.

Quality of power-supply is probably next up in durability as they fail next, typically due to overheating from a failed fan. So guess what? I only get power-supplies with ball-bearings fans, no ifs and or buts about it. I'll also randomly scope them to look at ripple & noise. Review the May '88 issue of Byte where they compared the average PC power-supply with one from a MacintoshFX to see the difference in the traces; Apples have always used top-of-the-line power-supplies, it shows up in the retail-pricing as well. To this day, I still have people running print-shops on Mac FX machines (controls the presses, printers, RIPping, etc).

Bottom line is you get what you pay for (within +/-20% street-price range). Specify a lot of low-end Taiwanese crap and you'll have a computer that has parts failing left & right, memory is also very suspect from low-end sources.

Originally Posted by mechBgon
BTW on the topic of new Macs, what's the top of the range of video cards you can put in them without issues? I'd go try to research that but I bet someone already knows. For gaming, especially high-resolution gaming with the eye candy turned on, it's good to have a pretty burly GPU nowdays, maybe a 7900GT.
There's guys writing drivers for OSX on that right chip now. The OSX 7800GTX driver works decently, but not optimally. You'd have to dual-boot into Windows to run the games that really take advantage of that card anyway, in which case, you'd be using the Windows drivers. MS and Apple are still fighting over the extensible-BIOS on the Macs though.

Originally Posted by BillyBob
Talk like this makes me happy to have a Macintosh
Well, it comes down to what your intended usage and purpose would be. As you can see from various discussions, the really tech-savvy guys like the PC environment for a variety of reason, some of it due to the level of intricacies, it's quite a challenge. The Mac tends to be more stable for those who are computer illiterate and aren't quite comfortable with the tweaking and hardware-configurations like you've seen above. Different strokes for different folks and the appropriate tool depends upon the application; just like bikes, there's no one perfect answer.

TexasGuy, have you used CodeWarrior or the latest Xcode? I was particularly fond of Delphi package when it first came out, one of the first to generate universal binaries.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 04-28-06 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
TexasGuy, have you used CodeWarrior or the latest Xcode? I was particularly fond of Delphi package when it first came out, one of the first to generate universal binaries.
Neither of them compare to the debugging an ddevelopment capabilities that I found and have been using in VS 6 (circa 97). The only development tools that have any advancement are usually the Java development tools l**** jiDEA (or however it's spelled), and only in the single aspect of code refactoring and inspection. My opinion on Delphi, is that it's an excellent programming language, but if you're going to be serious about programming get out of it once you have the basics of development in the GUI platform. I understand that with certain libraries (like Kylix iirc) that you get alot of cross platformability, in my line of development the cross platformability is not worthy of all of the hidden intricacies that I take advantage of / notice. Much like most mac people have never tried to use 2 button mice, let alone 5-7 button mice, or the fact that I've yet to meet a mac person who knows what control + shift + arrow key combinations are supposed to do in every single text box, editing control. These inricacies exist in all software, as people who are extremely proficient in Photoshop or some other piece of software can tell or show you.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
TexasGuy, have you used CodeWarrior or the latest Xcode? I was particularly fond of Delphi package when it first came out, one of the first to generate universal binaries.
CodeWarrior is RIP. Xcode and Cocoa are the way to go.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:28 PM
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Go to a small local computer store and have them build you an AMD athlon 64 or FX system. Stay away from Intel imo. They tend to be pricer and not any faster than AMD. I find that you can get some pretty good systems for decent prices from the local places. They can usually build you a system for exactly the type of thing you want to do. Also the customer service is top notch if something ever goes wrong.
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Old 04-28-06, 01:29 PM
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Heh. I'm happy with all 3 intel systems i've had and I'm happy with all my Intel Xeon servers. They are extremely zippy where necessary and alot more reliable then my experience with AMD. I've yet to return any Intel chips due to defects. I've replaced many and AMD Chip due to defects and thankfully gotten quite lucky with making them replace the chip for free.
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