Suggestions for desktop <$1,500

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Lee Scoggins, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I am in the market for a new desktop. I would like to take advantage of better prices and get something fast with lots of RAM say 512MB, ideally even 1GB...

    Any suggestions? Should I go Dell?

    What's a good machine in this price range these days?

    I will be doing mostly Word documents, Excel, PowerPoint, digital photo storage, internet surfing over DSL router.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    My 6 month old Medion Composer has been working flawlessly and I highly recommend them. Great bang for your buck IMHO.

    The newest version is even more feature filled:

    Composer
     
  3. Kevin G.

    Kevin G. Second Unit

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    Just bought a Dimension 8400, @1000.00, a couple days ago...
    Not sure yet how well it will perform...Hooking up my satellite internet in a couple days.
    Very upgradeable on the small biz website. starts out with a 3.2 pent. added single disc dvd/cd writer, a modem, and sound card, got a 17" flat for free... could have upgraded to a 19" and still been around 1300.00!!!
    I feel it was worth it. Most around here will tell you build your own, (which I seriously entertained) but from all sides this was the least hassle.
     
  4. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Good for you Kevin. Let us know how you like it. I like that Dell is throwing in flat panels on a number of machines. My only beef with Dell is the keyboard but that is easily upgraded-I saw some cool ones from Microsoft at Best Buy.
     
  5. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I noticed that Dell uses X300 ATI graphics cards...are these good ones?

    Also, anyone know if the Dell flat panel screens are good. For $1,300 you can get an 8400 and they give an upgrade to a 19" screen.
     
  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Would you consider a laptop instead? I've been a long time DIY computer builder but I've owned my last full sized PC having made the switch over to laptops a year ago. It might not be for you just thought I'd throw out the idea. For me the space savings and portability are easily worth the costs involved...plus wireless aspect allowing me to work anywhere in the house is fantastic
     
  7. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    How about a 17" iMac G5? The Combo drive model is $1300; the SuperDrive one is $1500. Add about $280 to have Apple custom-upgrade the internal HD to 250 GB, and to purchase 512 MB of RAM from Crucial (for a total of 768 MB).
     
  8. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I would like to try an Apple but I have too much IBM compatible software and my software company is based on wintel so that won't work. I may buy one for my wife in the future.

    As far as laptops go, I am a big ThinkPad fan but I already have one of those-a T41-so I am looking to buy a desktop to get more performance at a lower price.
     
  9. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    I have put several dell flat panels (the 17" e173fp and 19" e193fp) at work and they look pretty good, also I haven't heard of any of the older models we have in locations having any problems. I would go for the upgrade for sure to at least a 17" flat panel if you can afford it.
     
  10. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Lee wrote:


    Buy Virtual PC (a Windows XP Emulator). That should solve your problem as long as you're not going to be playing games such as Doom 3, etc. Mild, less graphically-intense games should be fine. If you try running games like Doom 3, slowdown and efficiency problems will be rampant. This is essentially layering an OS on top of another OS: it will cause some processing problems as well as slowing down your computer overall. So if you're going to be using it to play PC-only games, I highly recommend getting a PC instead.

    A word of caution regarding Dell: You cannot upgrade RAM
    or any other part of your system without going to Dell themselves. If you want the ability to go to CompUSA or Best Buy or Fry's and buy RAM or other parts there, you're outta luck. If you want complete upgradeability, then you may want to go with HP, Gateway, or Sony. A few things about other top brands regarding notebooks and desktops as well:

    Compaq (recently bought out by HP): Stay away. Stay far away. I have had a bad experience with Compaq and I know many others that have had Compaqs and were miserable with their computers. I'd stay far away from their brand. However, I do know of people that like Compaq and haven't had any bad experiences. So, to each their own. But I do caution those that are considering a Compaq computer. I had a Compaq computer with unnecessary extra software loaded (like a dialer). I tried to uninstall most of it (this was my first computer long ago) but not everything would uninstall. Plus, it did not age very well (as most computers don't, but this wasn't an average computer).

    HP: HP's pretty good. They have decent performance and features for the price, but the design of the desktop and notebook cases themselves can be ugly. Also, HP contains a backup/restore disc on a hard drive partition instead of a physical CD. If you're not familiar with how to access the partition when Windows crashes and won't boot up, you're outta luck.

    Sony: Not a bad brand. Very good build quality and very good performance with their models. Their notebooks are also sleek and stylish. However, you will be paying a slight premium for the brand name. But, it's well worth it in the end for quality and performance. Sony also has their restore CD on the Hard Drive. There aren't any upgrade issues except with their S260 notebooks (and similar-sized or smaller notebooks). You need to buy Micro DIMMs direct from Sony if you want to upgrade the RAM in those smaller notebooks.

    Toshiba: Maker of Notebooks only (that I know of). However, their notebooks are of very nice quality but some of their lower models lack performance. Their Qosmio notebooks are top of the line and I haven't seen anything else on the market yet that can top them (especially for their screen quality). Their restore CD is a physical CD that you can actually put in and have it boot up if you have problems with the computer crashing or you just feel like reformatting your computer. Also, there is no problem with upgradeability on this brand.

    Gateway: Also not a bad brand. Their prices do tend to be lower than most other desktops and notebooks on the market. However, on some notebooks the quality does tend to suffer slightly (such as flimsy screens and other parts to lower the price). With Gateway, there seem to be no upgrade or compatibility issues.
     
  11. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    Where did you get this information? The only part of a dell PC that is non standard is the Power supply, motherboard, and the case (they cross two wires on the ATX connector). I have upgraded the ram in several Dell pcs, and they all used either ddr or rambus ram thats cheap and readily available. Even the laptops use standard notebook DDR. Dell will say only to use their stuff since they have a large markup on their upgrades and want you to use them. Not to mention I have replaced/upgraded several other components such as hard drives, video cards ect. Even the power supply they sell adaptors that allow you to use a standard power supply, though if you have one of the slim models your stuck with getting a dell power supply
     
  12. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    The only time non Dell parts are an issue is warrenty as they'll insist you put it back to "spec" before they will do anything on it. For RAM etc that's not a problem as you can just pull your cheaper stuff and run with the stock parts.
     
  13. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I've been window shopping all weekend and I have to say it's hard to beat Dell's prices for a performance machine.

    I will look into a video card upgrade. The 8400 for $1,300 looks like a great machine.
     
  14. Jason Kirkpatri

    Jason Kirkpatri Second Unit

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  15. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    Seconds ago I just purchased a refurbished Dell 8400 for $1,069 including shipping. Their refurbished models ("Dell Outlet") are like new and are mostly returns from people who had second thoughts. They carry the exact same warranty as new and have a 14-day return option (vs. 30-day for new). The advantage, besides the cost savings, is that I don't have to wait 3-5 days for them to build it -- it will ship tomorrow.

    Here are the specs:

    Dell Dimension 8400
    Pentium 4, 3.40 GHz
    1 GB RAM
    320 GB hard drive (2x160)
    DVD-ROM
    DVD double layer burner
    256 MB nVidia video card
    Sound Blaster sound card
    Windows XP Home, plus miscellaneous software
    No monitor

    Someday I may build one, but for now I think it's a good deal.
     
  16. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Brian,

    Thanks. That's a fast looking PC!

    I'm probably going new but I am concerned about the timing. I think they have some models that ship sooner.
     
  17. Kevin G.

    Kevin G. Second Unit

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    I was also leary about the ATI card, I have an Nvidia in my old swapout, however it is a 64meg, and I figured that a 128 would get me farther regardless. I'm a huge fan of Nvidia, and up until this, when I was shopping the dell's they always offered a 128 Geforce, but they didn't on this model... (I couldn't justify to my wife that I needed to spend an extra buck eighty for the 256, as she just bought me my first XBOX).
     
  18. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Kevin,

    They do offer an nVidia option or two on the 8400 model. I'm not sure I need it but it would be nice.

    Am I correct in assuming I could upgrade the video card down the road with this machine?
     
  19. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Yep, you can definitely upgrade later, but PCI-e is pretty expensive right now with not too many options available. However, a year from now they should be down in price with lots of options, so upgrading shouldn't be too bad.
     
  20. Kevin G.

    Kevin G. Second Unit

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    Yeah, I just meant that I couldn't upgrade to the 256...
    Prior to Christmas they offered an Nvidia 128...
     

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