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If not a Dell......what?


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20 replies to this topic

#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:20 AM

I am going to be faced with having
to buy a new computer by year's end --
not that I necessarily need one -- but
because this is part of my business I
have the opportunity to buy a new desktop
every two years and write it off for
business purposes.

I was going to sit and wait out for
64-bit PCs, but it seems like they aren't
going to become common for at least
another year or two.

For the past few years I have been buying
Dell. I am VERY happy with them and have
yet to buy a computer that has caused me
any problems.

I usually buy the best money can buy. This
year is no exception. I want the top Pentium
processor, top grpahics card, and at least
1-2 gigs of ram. No, I don't do gaming, but
I do load a wealth of programs at startup and
often use memory-hogging audio/video software
while multitasking.

I also want Media Center + TV card installed
though I will not be using the computer as
a HTPC.

For what I want I'll be paying close to $3K
from Dell. That's okay if I must. Just
wondering if there is a company just as good
but I can save a few bucks because I am not
paying for a name.

I looked at ABS and ALIENWARE
computers. ABS doesn't always get
rave reviews on the systems they offer and
ALIENWARE just seems to be a bit too
excessive in what they offer going for the
"coolness" factor than anything else.

Of course, if you want, you can talk me
into buying a MACINTOSH.

That discussion is better suited HERE
Just wondering if I could do better for less.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Al.Anderson

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:36 AM

I had an ABS two computers ago. It was okay, but as you pointed out not at the forefront of performance. I swore off them when they gave me a winmodem without telling me and treated me rudely when I complained.

I now have a Falcon-Northwest. I like it a lot; with one minor complaint. The thing to look for in any of these systems is:
1) top quality parts (retail version, not special editions. SE parts save money, but you almost always give up performance.
2) minimalistic software loading. All the junk that companies like HP/Compaq and even Dell load on your system suck the juice right out. Unloading them is never clean. And if you have to reinstall you usually have to live with the add-on again. (Which raises another point, try and get a real copy of Windows, not one of those re-imaging of the drive deals.)

My one problem with F-NW was when I needed service they took too long to get it back to me, about 6 weeks. They paid for everything, and upgraded the motherboard (probably because they had to), and they apologized. But I wasn't happy being without the PC for that long.

#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Marvin Richardson

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Posted March 21 2005 - 05:15 AM

Quote:
2) minimalistic software loading. All the junk that companies like HP/Compaq and even Dell load on your system suck the juice right out. Unloading them is never clean. And if you have to reinstall you usually have to live with the add-on again. (Which raises another point, try and get a real copy of Windows, not one of those re-imaging of the drive deals.)
That's one plus for Dell. I have four of them + an Axim. Their customer support stinks, but since I never need it I don't care. The Windows CD they give you doesn't look like a real one, but it is. The only thing that's added is a Dell folder that has a link to the website. Other than that its a real Windows install.
I'd love to buy an Alienware someday, but man are they uber-expensive! Falcon Northwest is a good alternative though.

#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted March 21 2005 - 05:23 AM

My general rule of thumb if you have to buy a premade system (special case for you since you get them for free! Posted Image) is ask if the Windows install CD is a barebones OEM *or* if they bundle a ton of their own software with it. If it's the latter (Dell, Gateway, HP...) I'd stay away.

Usually the specialized internet vendors that let you choose from a variety of motherboards don't do this.

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Bryan Toth

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:17 AM

Ron,

If you're buying off-the-shelf (not custom built) and looking for good multimedia functions (without the gee-whiz factor of Alienware), a good alternative is the Sony VAIO line ... I actually just got my 2nd VAIO yesterday (replacing a 3 year old model). Of all the PCs I've owned over the years (2 custom built, 1 HP -- never again!, 2 Dells, 1 Gateway, and now 2 VAIOs), I've been the happiest with the Sony VAIOs. Check out the RA series ... if you don't need a monitor, you should be able to pick up a high-end model for $2000 or less ....

Bryan

#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Marvin Richardson

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:26 AM

Quote:
My general rule of thumb if you have to buy a premade system (special case for you since you get them for free! ) is ask if the Windows install CD is a barebones OEM *or* if they bundle a ton of their own software with it. If it's the latter (Dell, Gateway, HP...) I'd stay away.
Dell isn't like that, as I just stated above. One folder, with shortcuts. Delete the folder and its gone. There's even an option in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties under CustomizedAdvanced to display or not display the vendor weblink.
Quote:
Of all the PCs I've owned over the years (2 custom built, 1 HP -- never again!, 2 Dells, 1 Gateway, and now 2 VAIOs), I've been the happiest with the Sony VAIOs. Check out the RA series ... if you don't need a monitor, you should be able to pick up a high-end model for $2000 or less ....
How configurable are those on the Sony website? I've always wanted one (they do have that "cool" factor) but never seriously looked at it before.
edit: Nevermind, those things are seriously underpowered and not very configurable for what they cost.

#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Wayne Bundrick

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:45 AM

To reiterate what Marvin said:

Dell systems include 2 CDs. One is Windows. The other is "Dell applications and tools" (i.e. all the vomitware).

The Windows CD is almost an OEM CD, but it is custom to Dell and cannot be installed on a non-Dell system. Otherwise it's just plain Windows. If it has been otherwise modified by Dell, then it's probably only for the purpose of adding drivers for Dell's hardware which are not normally included on the Windows CD. That is a good thing.

In either case, on the most recent Dell system purchase I've had to install at the company I work for, there wasn't much additional vomitware and it was easily uninstalled. I reject the notion that this system has had all of its juice sucked out by the preinstalled software. In fact it is quite zippy. If there are any vestiges of the preinstalled software remaining, they are most certainly not getting in the way on this system. Your mileage may vary.
Wayne Bundrick

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#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted March 21 2005 - 03:34 PM

Quote:
The Windows CD is almost an OEM CD, but it is custom to Dell and cannot be installed on a non-Dell system. Otherwise it's just plain Windows. If it has been otherwise modified by Dell, then it's probably only for the purpose of adding drivers for Dell's hardware which are not normally included on the Windows CD. That is a good thing.
Maybe for Joe 6-pack.

#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Bryan Toth

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Posted March 22 2005 - 06:04 AM

Quote:
How configurable are those on the Sony website? I've always wanted one (they do have that "cool" factor) but never seriously looked at it before.
edit: Nevermind, those things are seriously underpowered and not very configurable for what they cost.


Define underpowered??? I'm just curious ... straight from Sony, I'll admit they don't offer much customization, but in terms of bang-for-your-buck value, I'm actually pretty impressed with them. The same config. I got on my Sony would have cost me a little more than $300 more in a Dell (I actually did the comparison before I bought), and while it's kind of a superficial feature, the Sony has a wide array of inputs on the front (helpful for media transfers from video cameras, VCRs, etc ... ) that the Dell just doesn't have .... Sorry, don't mean to sound defensive, but I've been happy with the Sony machines .....

Bryan

#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Keith Plucker

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Posted March 22 2005 - 02:53 PM

Shuttle has a BTO site now. If you think you might like a SFF system with out the trouble of building your own it might be worth a look. They do sell MCE 2005 systems which can have up to 3 internal HDs. It probably won't be much cheaper than a Dell but it will save you some space.

I have been very happy with the Shuttle I built myself but have had no experience with their BTO system or service.

-Keith
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#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Brian Harnish

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Posted March 22 2005 - 07:03 PM

Ron- I'm surprised you haven't considered AMD's Athlon 64-bit processor. It (IMO) is currently the best processor on the market right now, with AMD boasting a 1600 MHz front side bus (which is double Intel's FSB).

Anyway, if you're dead set on a Pentium 4, CompUSA is currently having an excellent deal on the Sony VAIO RA834G computer w/monitor (you can get the Sony HS95P LCD monitor/XBrite screen technology for $300 more after rebates; check the ad as I don't know the exact details of the bundle off the top of my head) bundle in their ad. It may be exactly what you're looking for. Unfortunately, they don't say anything about that deal on the web site.

But, the specs of the RA834G include:

Intel 560J Pentium 4 3.6 GHz
1GB RAM
400GB SATA Hard Drive
NVidia GeForce 6600 256MB PCI-Express (faster than AGP) Video Card
Dual Layer DVD+/-RW
DVD-ROM Drive
3.5" Floppy Drive

Posted Image

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted March 22 2005 - 08:58 PM

I would recommend a 20" iMac G5, or the mid-range PowerMac G5 tower (the fastest non-liquid-cooled one), with RAM/HD/video card upgrades. (The PowerMac G5 would last longer as a primary machine; the iMac G5 would run $500 to $1000 less, leaving money to save towards the next upgrade cycle.)

But if you get a PC, you might want to consider a place like PCs for Everyone. I have not bought anything from this business, and I have no idea how good/bad their reputation or pricing might be. I just came across them once, when I was toying (briefly) with the idea of getting a PC.

What's interesting about their site is the range of customization that is possible. You can choose just about any Intel or AMD CPU, then choose among motherboards, heatsinks, fans, cases, case mods, RAID controllers, monitors, hard drives, optical drives, video cards, sound cards, etc. To take advantage of this, I think you'd have to do a fair amount of work to evaluate the options -- but the ability to invest in a more capable motherboard and fan/power supply/case could make the effort worthwhile.

Presumably there are other boutique shops (or local shops in your area) that offer similar choices.

#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 23 2005 - 12:00 AM

Quote:
Anyway, if you're dead set on a Pentium 4, CompUSA is currently having an excellent deal on the Sony VAIO RA834G computer w/monitor

Trust me when I say I am sitting here salvating
over this.

The computer looks great (except for one flaw) and
since I am a CompUsa cardholder I get 18 months no
finance/no payments.

The only problem I have is the integrated sound card.
I wanted a Soundblaster Audigy card and the Sony does
not have it.

What I do currently own is a Soundblaster
Extigy external. Can I override the Sony sound card
with this?

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 23 2005 - 12:28 AM

In addition to answering this question....

What I do currently own is a Soundblaster
Extigy external. Can I override the Sony sound card
with this?


Could you also answer me this?

My current Dell I am looking to replace is
a Dell Pentium 4 3.06GHZ (Hyper-Threading),
533 MHz Bus Speed, 128 MB graphics, with 1 Gig
Ram (DDR I think).

The Sony specs:

Pentium® 4 Processor 560J with Hyper-Threading
Technology (3.60GHz19, 1MB L2 Cache), 800MHz bus
speed, 256MB graphics.

Just with those specs is this the SONY a huge
upgrade over the Dell I currently own?


Here is the link if you need more info. on the Sony

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#15 of 21 OFFLINE   Bryan Toth

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Posted March 23 2005 - 06:08 AM

Quote:
What I do currently own is a Soundblaster Extigy external. Can I override the Sony sound card
with this?


Ron,

Absolutely .... I'm actually doing that exact thing with my new Sony VAIO .... You don't really override it as much as you just don't use the on-board one and leave everything hooked up to the Extigy ....


Bryan

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   Bryan Toth

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Posted March 23 2005 - 06:11 AM

Quote:
Just with those specs is this the SONY a huge
upgrade over the Dell I currently own?


I love my VAIOs, but looking at the specs of the current machine you've got and what you're looking at buying, I'm not sure I understand why .... I upgraded from a 2.0 GHz machine to the 3.6 GHz box, so for me it was worth it. Yes, it's technically a better machine than you've currently got, but certainly not worth the price you'd be paying. So I don't see why you need to upgrade now (unless you've just got money burning a hole in your pocket ....)

Bryan

#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Wayne Bundrick

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Posted March 24 2005 - 06:44 PM

Quote:
Maybe for Joe 6-pack.

Oh sure, power users just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to search for drivers. It's a lot of fun to have to use another PC to find the network adapter driver for the new PC because the new PC can't connect to the Internet until it has a network driver. It's a lot of fun to browse the Internet at 640x480 resolution with 16 colors until you've found your video driver. It's a lot of fun to have to reboot the system about 40 times as each driver is installed.
Wayne Bundrick

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#18 of 21 OFFLINE   JoshuaML

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Posted March 25 2005 - 01:08 AM

If I may, I would like to suggest systemax PC's. I have one right now, a 64 bit athlon with 1GB of ram from tigerdirect.com and I couldnt be happier. Great thing about TD.com, you can custom build as with many other sites and get a relatively cheap warranty to cover anything that fails Posted Image
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#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Christo Ramo

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Posted March 25 2005 - 07:30 AM

We have one intel 64bit machine here in the office, the thing is a monster. We built it ourselves and we saved thousands.

#20 of 21 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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Posted March 26 2005 - 01:13 AM

Intel has a 64 bit chip? Could have fooled me.

The only 64 bit processor available for the PC is called the AMD 64 or AMD64 FX.

Mine flat out screams.


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