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Old 11-04-2010, 11:58 AM   #1
munsonbw OP
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Need help in buying a new computer.

From the other topics here this seems to be a good place to put this thread.

My 7 year old Compaq desktop is pretty much worthless now and I am planning to do some basic HD video editing (for home movies only). The computer will be 95% surfing at the usual places; ADVrider, youtube, etc. I admit I am a bit lost when it comes to buying a new computer and I don't want to spend more than is needed. I also understand the minute I buy one it is obsolete. I have some moderate computer skills, if it matters.

I don't have a firm preference on desktop vs laptop. I have room in the desk for either. My local IT guys says you pay for a lot more computer with the desktop, but from what I have seen the desktops are a better value for the same processor and ram.

Tell me about processors. What do I need to look for? Which ones are the best bang for the buck? Why pick one vs another? Is a quad core always better/faster than a dual core? Is GHZ more important or bus speed or cache? According to Sony Vegas software I need a minimum of a 1.6 GHz dual core processor and 2 GB of ram. This seems pretty much covered in every computer offered these days as new.

I would like to spend between $5-600 (althought this can float to $700 if there is a good reason) and I have a 21" monitor already. I don't need a 5TB HD nor do I need a gamer video card. Just decent stuff that will work well for the money. I don't mind refurbs and I plan to start really shopping for one around Black Friday for the best deal. A laptop is certainly more versatile, but my wife has one and I have one for work. I can't imagine needing a 3rd option.

Thanks,
Ben
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:18 PM   #2
Grainbelt
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I had one built. Thread with advice I got when I was going to build it.

The best thing about a custom build? NO BLOATWARE. No bullshit dell/hp software installed on it. I was actually confused when I powered it up, just Win7 64 and nothing else. Awesome.

What I eventually ended up with:

ASUS P5KPLAM-SE motherboard
Core2Duo E8400. 3.0 Ghz, 1333FSB, 6MB cache
4gb RAM
WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM drive
In a CoolerMaster Elite case
Running windows 7 64 bit

I can't add much re: video editing, but mine isn't super fast editing 10MP / 16MB RAW files in Photoshop. Adequate, for sure, but not real speedy.

I read a pretty good online comparison of dual/triple/quad core processors, seems the additional cores are really only useful if you have multiple programs / processes running at the same time. I'll try to find it.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:43 PM   #3
munsonbw OP
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I am not opposed to building one, as I too despise all the crap that comes pre-loaded on these things. I have gone to great lengths researching and deleting crap on my Compaq. I get decent performance out of a 386MB computer with a 7 year old Celeron because it is running very little beyond windows unless I open it.

However, I don't have a lot of time. If some company (or inmate) basically creates a shopping list that gets me the same computer with all needed software for less than I can buy a pre-built I am in. Otherwise I would probably just stick with a pre-man.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:49 PM   #4
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I asked a nerd at work who in town I could trust to build one. I got their price list, as well as some suggested builds, spent 20 minutes with the guy debating it, made a few modifications to one of their standard builds, and picked it up three days later. 1 year warranty on parts.

For the money I saved, and knowing that every internal component was a fairly high spec piece, I was very happy. That was exactly a year ago. I've added an internal card reader, and other than wanting to change out one of the fans for something quieter, I'm very happy.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:08 PM   #5
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Being the "nerd at work" I get this about once a month. I usually tell people to bring me in the specs, ad's, web sites..... of what they are looking at and what they want to do with it...what they are really going to be doing with it, surfing, budget, games, homework....whatever.

IMHO unless you are building a game computer is is cheaper to buy an off the shelf unit. And even then you might be ahead in just replacing a video card to get a pretty good gaming computer.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:45 PM   #6
munsonbw OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FPGT72
IMHO unless you are building a game computer is is cheaper to buy an off the shelf unit. And even then you might be ahead in just replacing a video card to get a pretty good gaming computer.
This is what I really expected and was surprised to hear someone say you can build one for less. I suspect both statements are true depending on the use. For me, I will do only a little HD editing like cutting out boring sections of video and adding menus to make DVDs. Nothing like editing color or whatever. I don't game (I don't even use my PS2 that I just HAD TO HAVE). I just want a decent computer that will handle HD streaming, manage MS Office, iTunes, and once a month edit 10 minutes worth of camcorder footage.

I suspect that any number of 2.x GHz adn 3MB+ ram computers will do the deal. I am most interested to know is it cheaper to get a desktop for the same spec? What processors are the ones to focus in on at the $500 price point. I was fooled years ago with my Compaq with a Celeron processor. I later found out that its GHz rating was misleading due to a slower bus speed or poor cache size or something. I have tried to make sense of the intel and AMD offerings, but there seems to be several variables that each have a hand in determining speed and capabilities. I haven't cracked the code.

I suppose my needs are best summed up by my last computer. At the time it was the cheapest one I could find other than an eMachine. It has served me well. Now, I have added a slightly more demanding task of HD video. Beyond that it is a surfing machine primarily.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:47 PM   #7
munsonbw OP
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double post

munsonbw screwed with this post 11-04-2010 at 02:41 PM
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
meatsack
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If you know how to assemble a computer and you have a few hours to do so then some of these "Bare-Bones" kits are worth a look.

Not a bad deal here, just add a video card and OS:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...5-_-tigeremail

Or,
This one is similar but adds Windows 7 Pro.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...5-_-tigeremail
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:45 PM   #9
munsonbw OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meatsack
If you know how to assemble a computer and you have a few hours to do so then some of these "Bare-Bones" kits are worth a look.

Not a bad deal here, just add a video card and OS:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...5-_-tigeremail

Or,
This one is similar but adds Windows 7 Pro.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...5-_-tigeremail
Thanks, meatsack! I should have looked at Tiger for kits. Didn't even think about it. This seems like the cheapest way to get a really nice machine. I'll have to research on what I need for building. I assume more that plug-install-play?
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:06 PM   #10
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We've had pretty good luck with the http://www.productshippingcenter.com...ID=637&vcid=sx

Systemax folks.

I really much prefer to build mine.

49 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811153114
49 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131626
44 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817371023
89 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103648
75 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231189
70 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136534


380. Leaves you an extra 120 if you want to put a video card in it.
150 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102858


asus mb, 4 gigs of ddr3, phenomII 3 core processor, 1tb wd drive and computer case.

530 if you get the 5770. Most likely overkill for what you wanna do, but it's a great video card.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:20 PM   #11
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I had one built by a friend, I got 10x the computer for 1/3 the money, and its with good quality parts. I could not believe the junk that was used in my "top notch dell"
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:36 PM   #12
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The requirement for video editing sort of takes you out of the built in video chip, especially if you are doing HD (720p or 1080p). One can get decent video cards in the $100 range if you are not doing gaming and need really high video refresh rates.

Having a machine custom built is the way to go. You get to specify what processor, MB, RAM, Video, etc. you want. Do remember, however that only a 64bit OS can take advantage of more than 3Gig of RAM. If you like to tinker and have a habit of getting a little more involved than you thought you were going to at the beginning, I might consider 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate (I think that's what it is called this week) so that when you decide you really want better video editing software, your system is ready for it.

Do not, however install the 64-bit version of Outlook 2010 as there are a number of things that will bite you in the butt if you are not careful.

Oh, and a bit of SPAM - if someone is looking for a pretty powerful workstation/gaming machine, give my hardware guy a call - he picked up some pretty kick-ass refurbs that are quite the bang for the buck. Roger at R-tech Computers 818-347-1100. I've been dealing with him since 1989. You can mention my name and it won't add to the price .

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Old 11-04-2010, 06:46 PM   #13
munsonbw OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dismount
We've had pretty good luck with the http://www.productshippingcenter.com...ID=637&vcid=sx


asus mb, 4 gigs of ddr3, phenomII 3 core processor, 1tb wd drive and computer case.
Thanks for the input Dismount. From what I have been able to figure, isn't the Systemax the better unit when you add $110 for windows 7 to the kit? The one you spec'ed out minus the graphics card is $490 and the Systemax is $500, but you get 4-core vs 3. The extra $10 isn't a big deal, but if you think the system you set up is better I would like to understand why. I may very well pull the trigger on a black friday deal in a few weeks, as opposed to the build it route. I would like to understand which chips are better than others. There are just too many to keep them straight.

munsonbw screwed with this post 11-04-2010 at 06:56 PM
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:05 PM   #14
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hmm build your own computer, you can get a WD BLACK(insert other brand here) instead of the cheapest WD drive(insert other brand here). Also get a power supply that is 20-50% more efficient(pays for self quickly). No bloatware. upgradeable in the future if you ever decide to. You can get USB 3.0.

if you go intel for your processor skip the i3 and go with an i5 or i7, in my $650 budget gaming build 4 months ago it is the only thing holding me back playing bad company 2 with maxed out graphics. it is not my $100 video card.

if you are looking at spending <600 I would just buy off the shelf.
definitely go 64 bit and 4gb of ram(&upgradeable to at least 8).

dont forget about mice, keyboard, monitor, speakers(if you need them).
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:02 PM   #15
jdgretz
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Here's a comparison chart for the relative speeds of a good number of CPUs. At least it's a standardized method for comparison.

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