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What's good for a basic desktop computer?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hi there. These days, getting a low spec PC doesn't really mean low spec - at least not in my book. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. But I'm faced with the problem that a lot of my friends keep asking me how much it costs for a computer. I say "it depends".

Now, as im sure many people are aware, when you ask someone looking to have a computer built for them what processor speed they want, they don't really know the different between a pentium 133 and an athlon fx-55.

And then, when you ask them what they want it for, they say the usual stuff, word processing, internet, menial tasks. But surely a 486 can do that?? I'm at a loss as to what to recommend my friends. I don't want them to give me a budget of £500 and build them something that superceeds what they need entirely, but I don't want them moaning at me complaining of lags in performance either.

There's always Dell and other companies, but I've never been a huge fan. And besides, even with them, what's a good computer? A 2600 AMD sempron may not be the most glorious processor, but I've an athlon xp 2400+ barton in my machine and it's been running wonderfully - any game I throw at it - for 2 years now.

So for any who do on occasion build computers, or just recommend them to friends, how do you assess their precise needs? What's the difference between 80GB HDD and 400GB to someone who just does the odd bit of homework?

Sorry if it's a bit of a ramble, just wanted to get it out so I could get some advice :). cheers.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The family PC is a P4 2.6ghz. My laptop is a celeron 1.4ghz. My laptop runs better. So what makes a good computer?

    Keeping it away from your sister and smiley central.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The family PC is a P4 2.6ghz. My laptop is a celeron 1.4ghz. My laptop runs better. So what makes a good computer?

    Keeping it away from your sister and smiley central.

    So true! :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have to say that's incredibly true.

    The problems my friends are having all relate to performance. One has a p3 craptacular pc, one of those little ones (cant remember what they called them). 32mb of RAM, the works. She wants to run the Sims 2 and the like, and can never work out why it doesn't work. Having said that, her desktop is actually over half full with applications and stuff, some people seem to install everything just for the sake of it. Her onboard sound has gone too, and she's got about 9gigs of space to play around with.

    The other friend's problem is performance / reliability. They have an old computer (think it's a p3 again - or a v. slow p4) with an old printer, yet keep having sporadic problems, like the printer failing to function at all, the internet not working (they're still one of the few on dial up) etc. and programs just failing to work on occasion.

    I was thinking, both of them just want a reliable pc that works. Just a computer case (£15), a cheap bundle motherboard / processor (£70), salvage the CD drives, new 80 gig hdds for both (£40 each?) and bobs ton oncle. But I don't know if that's simple. All my friends think I have an uber computer, but it's jsut because I'm a damned desktop nazi, and have configured my PC so I've only got the processes running I want at any time, my desktop has a total of 6 items on it, and I keep my hdd constantly defragged (though it sounds like it's dying sometimes :().
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    For *just* word processing and web browsing, it really doesn't matter, any current pc should do the job.

    For flexibility, I'd increase RAM first, as any processor is unlikley to make much difference.

    For games, you're obviously moving the goalposts a little, though Sims 2 is a funny one in that it is highly processor dependant more than graphics-card.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    for most things 2-3GHz processor is fine, even gaming to an extent which depnds more upon the graphics card and Ram

    so for most purposes id say


    2.6GHz or 2600+ depending on intel or amd
    512MB ram - try get 1GB though especially if oyu want to play games
    120GB hard drives are common as hell and are all you need unless you download lots of films songs etc ;)
    and if you play games it's about the graphics card mainly, and well check the overclockers.co.uk forums and maybe ask them about the sort fo perfomance and games you want to play :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Mist wrote:
    For games, you're obviously moving the goalposts a little, though Sims 2 is a funny one in that it is highly processor dependant more than graphics-card.

    Very true, i dont dare run it on my laptop although i have more then enough room for it and the graphics card is great for it but its the screen size at the moment we run it on the Pc computer and using a Wide screen tft thingy and they say you should have a Nvidia one and my computer has so ! :yes: :yes:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My main PC now is a 500 MHz P3 HP Laptop with 256 MB of RAM and 30GB HARD Drive

    it`s perfectly silent most of the time and only consuming about 19 watts

    When I need to do the power processing stuff like DVD to DivX conversion the P4 3.2 GHz HP Server is the PC to use.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well the thing is it's just as difficult to find the user specifications off these people because they don't know what they need...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    just get them to pay you a large sum of money then buy a crappy PC and keep the rest of the money then you are all happy :thumb:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Gavman wrote:
    just get them to pay you a large sum of money then buy a crappy PC and keep the rest of the money then you are all happy :thumb:

    :D

    I know a lot of people who've done that... the problem is with friends I can't treat them professionally... if I took any 'expenses' I would feel guilty. I'm actually more likely to throw things in etc.

    But I suppose it does depend on the budget. But, what's the point in spending £800 on a machine for someone that a £400 machine will do fine, and they can spend the other £400 on sweeties or something.
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