In the market for a new PC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by RentBaxley, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. RentBaxley

    RentBaxley Agent

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    I am looking to buy a new desktop computer primarily used for music. I would like to use my 42" Mitsubishi HDTV as the monitor. I will also be hooking it up to my home stereo receiver. From what I gather I am most likely going to want Windows Mediacenter. I have been looking at Dell mainly due to their reputation. I would rahter not build my own computer as I have no experience doing so. If something goes wrong I want to be able to call someone! I have a company laptop (T41) that I will be using for wordprocessing/excel etc.

    I can get a discount from my company through www.pcmall.com, they have a number of Hewlett Packard desktops outfitted with Windows MC. Does anyone have any suggestions? I don't even know what type of tv tuner, soundcard etc. i am going to want.

    Thanks for any input you may have
     
  2. RentBaxley

    RentBaxley Agent

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    Nobody has any advice on what type of PC to go with? HP, Dell, Sony Vaio etc. etc???/
     
  3. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Well Rent, you said you didn't want one that you put together yourself, but that is what I always recommend. If you want to avoid unexplained crashes and other problems, the three most important pieces of hardware are the RAM, the power supply, and the chipset on the motherboard. The big manufacturers such as Dell and Compaq often cut corners on those very items in order to offer the best price. Do you have a friend who will put together a computer for you in exchanged for a home-cooked meal? Can you cook? [​IMG] I get my parts from www.newegg.com and www.directron.com and I'm always happy with the results. I talked my boss into letting me put together a workstation here at work and it runs like a champ! If there is some way you can make the DIY approach practical, I would be happy to offer recommendations for which parts to buy.

    If you must go for a pre-made PC by one of the big manufacturers, I understand that Dell has the best customer service and HP/Compaq has the worst. I don't know about Sony. Perhaps someone else can elaborate on this topic?

    Best of luck to you.
     
  4. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    If its main job is to be a jukebox for your main stereo, things you should look for are:

    1. A large hard disk, one that has the space to store plenty of albums without forcing a resort to extreme compression.

    2. A good soundcard (quality DACs), or an optical digital connection from the PC to the stereo receiver.

    3. A low level of mechanical noise (fan noise, hard disk noise)

    CPU speed will affect how fast you can convert your CDs, but a fast CPU won't do a whole lot extra for you for music playback.
     
  5. RentBaxley

    RentBaxley Agent

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    Thanks for the input.

    Rob, how hard is it to put together a PC? I am fairly mechanically inclined, but have no idea of what I would need to order or how to put it all togehter. I have no idea how to load the OS either! If this stuff is all fairly simple and risk free, I may want to look into this as an option, especially if I'll be getting more bang for my buck...
     
  6. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Rent,

    If you basically know what components you want but don't want to put the computer together yourself, I'd recommend www.ibuypower.com . You choose the components and they'll assemble it for you. I did have to deal with their customer service for a dead power supply and I can say they were quite helpful and easy to work with. All in all, if you don't want to build a computer yourself but do want to get a computer that you don't have to cut corners on RAM and the chipset, then sites like Ibuypower and www.alienware.com are good places to go.

    Bruce
     
  7. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Rent,

    If you're good with a screwdriver, you can probably put together your own PC without too much difficulty. We are all here to help.

    Some specifics:

    For the power supply, I have had great success with the FORTRON models. www.tomshardware.com did a test a couple years ago that demonstrated most power supplies don't provide their rated power. FORTRON is one of the ones that does. Others can recommend further brands -- I've heard good things about ENERMAX.

    For RAM, go with a name brand, rather than the cheapest generic RAM you can find. I've been happy with KINGSTON VALUERAM.

    For the chipset on the motherboard -- if you go with an Intel CPU, I've been told the most stable solution is an Intel motherboard with Intel chipset. (This was recommended to me by another HTF member with experience in putting together hundreds of PCs.) If you go with an AMD CPU, try the Nvidia chipset but avoid the VIA chipset. Nvidia tends to have stable drivers while VIA does not.

    Installing a modern OS is very simple. Modern versions of Windows all use a "wizard" to make things very easy.
     
  8. RentBaxley

    RentBaxley Agent

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    Rob,

    Thanks for all the info. After reviewing the above websites i think the hardest part is DEFINITELY going to be choosing the different components, and making sure they all jive. I'm going to do some more reading adn think this one through!

    Thanks for all the help!
    Rent
     
  9. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    If you do build your own, your first choice is probably your CPU. I say this because CPU determines the motherboard options and the motherboard determines the speed of the RAM you need. For hard drives I would look at the SATA drives. You'll also need a good computer case. I would recommend the Antec Sonata. It's worked very well for me and isn't too expensive.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Sound card will be the most important element if your primary use is for music. Few people know this but Windows resamples all audio to 48kHz. You have to get a card capable of streaming an unaltered 44.1kHz stream through your digital output (if your primary source is redbook CD audio).

    The Chaintech AV-710, M-Audio Revolution 5.1 or 7.1, and Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 are all budget cards with the same chipset that can do this. The Prodigy is the most expensive of the 3 but it supports ASIO right in its drivers. [​IMG]
     
  11. RentBaxley

    RentBaxley Agent

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    Hello again all. Thanks for all the help. I"m still confused about the CPU-Motherboard-RAM issue. What CPU do you all recommend? I am looking here:
    http://store.yahoo.com/directron/cpu---coolers.html
    to get an idea. What would you go with? I'm totally confused as to which jives with which, and how the motherboard dictates what kind of RAM you can use.

    Thanks!
    R
     
  12. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    For best bang for the buck, I'd go with a Dell Dimension 4700, they go for around $400-500 w/o monitor if you go through Dell Small Business (just register as a SB, they never check) and buy at the middle or end of the month for the best discounts. Keep an eye on techbargains.com or xpbargains.com for the specials and coupons.

    Try to buy it as stripped down as possible---add extra RAM, better sound/video cards, optical drives, bigger or second HDD yourself. You'll get better quality components for same or less money that way.

    The OEM hard drives the Dells come with are Maxtor and prone to fail in about 1-2 years...happened to me and a friend who also bought Dell.

    Other than that I've been very happy with my Dimension 4500, had it for 3 years and other than replacing the HDD it's never given me any problems, very stable. I am not a gamer so I don't need the super-duper state of the art stuff.

    On the other hand for music the Apples are supposed to be the easiest to use, you might want to look at a MacMini for $500.
     
  13. Bob_Chase

    Bob_Chase Stunt Coordinator

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