New computer questions/how much RAM?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Brian_Wh, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Brian_Wh

    Brian_Wh Agent

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    My wife and I are kicking around the idea of getting a new computer. The machine we have now is an IBM Aptiva running Windows 95/Pentium I/2.something GB hard drive which my wife bought in '96 (quite a dinosaur, I know!). In short anything we buy will be a huge improvement. We are leaning towards the 1GHz G4 eMac or maybe the Dimension 4600C from Dell, and spending between $1,000 and $1,500. Side note: my wife (teacher) qualifies for discounted educational pricing. Any comments, pro or con, from your experience with the eMac or 4600C?

    We plan on buying a digital still camera and someday a digital camcorder. Some CD/DVD burning or MP3 action - the iPod looks appealing, although pricey. Other than that, just your usual internet/e-mail (using dial up service for now) and some word processing and spreadsheet work and Kiplinger TaxCut at tax time. The eMac comes with 256MB of RAM, upgradeable to 1GB. My question is - will 256 be enough RAM? Should we add more to start with or add it later if we find we need it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    The rule for buying memory is to buy the minimum amount needed. The cost of memory upgrades in the future will most certainly be cheaper than the price of the same (possibly unneeded) memory today.

    256 MB of RAM is sufficient for most people - at least on Windows-based systems. Don't go with any less than that.
     
  3. AlbertA

    AlbertA Stunt Coordinator

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    Check www.gotapex.com, they post very good deals on dell desktops like this one:

    DellHome - Dimension 2400 Desktop with 2.2Ghz Pentium 4 Processor, 17" CRT Monitor, Altec Lansing ADA215 Speakers, CD-Rom, Plus FREE Upgrade to 60GB HD & DVD+RW Drive for $474 after Rebate!
     
  4. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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  5. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    Feh, RAM is so cheap there isn't a good reason for a fairly new system to have at least 256. If you're going to use XP you should probably have 512.
     
  6. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    The point is, it's cheaper to get the additional RAM through a RAM seller like Crucial.com than buying more RAM 160/384at the time of the computer purchase. That is of course if you are comfortable performing the upgrade yourself.

    On the 2400, you end up paying $160 to go from 128 MB to 512MB. Or for $90, you can buy 512MB (5.7MB/dollar) at Crucial.com and have 640MB. You can buy 1GB of RAM from Crucial for a little more than the amount it costs to upgrade to half a gig directly at Dell (meaning you are actually only increasing your RAM by 384MB for $160....2.4MB/dollar).
     
  7. Paul_Fisher

    Paul_Fisher Screenwriter

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    I agree with Joe. BTW, I just upgraded the RAM in my Dell with 512mb of Crucial RAM and it cost me $68.
     
  8. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    You should get 512. Anything below that might impact performance depending on how many applications you will be running simultaneously.

    However, anything above that will probably be useless due to diminishing returns, unless you plan on running hard-core CAM/CAD or scientific analytical software. Even MPEG-2 video conversion won't require more than 512.
     
  9. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure if Dell's are still using RD ram but avoid it for its going the way of the dodo.
     
  10. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    I used to love crucial, but one pair of sticks I got from them completely failed spec (it just wouldn't run at 333 and I couldn't figure out what tht deal was, I thought it was something I had screwed up), and a pair of 512s that was in our server just failed after about 9 months of use, and it also mystified me. I replaced several other things, and I just replaced the ram and it's now working fine...

    I highly recommend corsair. It's slightly more expensive, but you're paying a couple bucks more to not have to replace it fairly soon.
     
  11. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Not everyone enjoys opening their machines up and installing new hardware. Granted, inserting more memory is childishly simple, but even so it is a mistake to assume that people would mind paying a bit extra for memory at the outset.

    The Mac of course is a different beast entirely from the windows machine, but I would also recommend 256MB minimum for the PC. 512MB is probably a better bet, especially if you are going to start playing with digital video.

    Since you are used to a Windows machine, you might want to go with the Dell. The Mac uses an entirely different operating system (as I'm sure you know, but I'm pointing it out anyway) and none of your old software will work on it.

    Get Windows XP Professional, not Home; get a dvd/cd+rw combo drive so you can both use DVD's and burn stuff to CD (rewritable DVD is of course an option but pricey still).

    The chief drawback to the system would be the extremely limited potential for expansion and/or upgrades, those tiny machines are pretty much the way they're going to stay until you trade it in later on, but as long as you're aware of that... the graphics adapter in it isn't all that hot either so you'll have problems running hot 3d apps like games but that doesn't seem like a priority so that probably isn't a problem either.
     
  12. Brian_Wh

    Brian_Wh Agent

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    Thanks to each of you for the input. You've given me some food for thought. If we go with the eMac, I'd probably add some RAM after the purchase and bump it to 512 or higher. Same with the Dell also if we got a unit that had only 256. I'm not afraid to do it myself (I think,[​IMG].) Also not intimidated by the thought of switching to Mac from Windows. As with HT, although not an expert when it comes to computers, I consider myself moderately knowledgeable and a quick learner. Also, we don't have too many files to transfer from our current PC and it only came with crappy WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. If we purchase this year, it could be August 1-3 during the NC sales tax holiday.

    My thoughts/concerns:

    eMac
    Pros - educational pricing is $1,099 (vs. $1,299 retail)
    - includes CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive
    - includes basic music, photo, and digital video software
    - can purchase MS Office v.X at time or purchase or later for educational price of $199 (vs. $499 retail)
    - total cost not including printer $1,298
    - Apple store was offering free printer (up to $99 value) with mail in rebate, I think through Sept.

    Cons/questions - 2 Firewire 400 ports - too bad not Firewire 800
    - 5 USB 1.1 ports - plenty of ports, but why not USB 2.0?
    - ease/difficulty of adding RAM?
    - ease of setting up or transferring e-mail address books, etc. (currently have a local dial-up ISP service and using Netscape Communicator 4.7)

    Dell
    Pros - good deals whether using wife's educational pricing or gotapex.com deals
    - familiar OS (although I've never used XP, only 95 at home, NT at work, and some 98)

    Cons/questions - cost can skyrocket quickly by adding CD-RW/DVD+RW drive, MS Office, digital video software, and so on depending what the special of the day is...
    - total cost not including printer ???
    - ease of setting up or transferring e-mail address books, etc.

    A little long-winded there, sorry. If you have any more general thoughts or have experiences with an eMac (or any Mac) and accompanying software, feel free to keep them coming...
     
  13. Hunter P

    Hunter P Screenwriter

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    I would go with the special of the day offered by your computer wholesaler of choice. That $474 special is typical of what you can find since most companies are still more concerned with market share and customer base rather than with profits (i.e. profits on the initial sale of the system.)

    It would seem that the $474 system has most of your wants. The software bundle by Dell might even have some MS Office applications included with its XP OS. I'm not saying go with Dell or gotapex.com. I am saying however that you can get a similar system and deal if you are patient and shop around.

    I am sure that you can get a complete system for HALF your $1000-1500 budget that will more than handle your current computing requirements.

    Let's use that Dell system for comparision to your wants. I don't see anything particularly taxing here for a (low-end) 2.2GHz or better system. Even with digital pictures, 60GB is hard to fill. Even then you can just transfer pics to a CD to save space.

    If you spend your budget just on the computer then you are overspending. If you throw in a 17" LCD monitor and a quality printer then I could see you spending your $1500 budget.
     
  14. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    With XP, get 512. I'd advise doing it quickly, as RAM prices are rising on a literally daily basis.
     
  15. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    iPhoto really is a great little application that typically works with a digital camera right out of the box. I have both PCs and Macs and for seriously organizing pics, burning them to CDs etc, iPhoto *for me* is the way to go.

    If you have an Apple store in the neighborhood, just go there and play around with it a little bit.

    -Christian
     
  16. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    I'd get the Dell just because it can be had for half the Apple's price (gee the money saved can go to a lot of improvements or upgrade later on).
     

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