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So, I want to have a new computer. Where do I start?

KarpmanKarpman Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Edited with my post further down:

Ah yes, it would help if you know what I intend to do with my comp, huh? Right now, it's World of Warcraft. I have HL2, Warhammer 40k, a couple other games, but right now, it's WoW. I'm not addicted, I can stop anytime I want. What I want is a comp that will play Starcraft 2 when it comes out with reasonable graphics settings. Not the lowest, not the highest, but middle to upper middle graphics settings. I know that it could be difficult to say what I need for a game that is likely two years away from being released, but that's what I want. I'm guessing a comp in the 1000-1300 dollar range would be what I want. Is that a good guess?

In order from most important to least important, what numbers should I look at when rating a processor? The comp I am on now has a AMD Athlon 64 2800+ 1.8 ghz processor. Back when I got it (about 3? years ago, whenever WoW was released), my friends told me AMD was a pretty good brand of processor. The 64 means 64 bit, but what does that mean as far as performance? Is everything nowadays 64 bit? What does 2800+ mean as far as performance? I think the 1.8 ghz is the most important number in terms of how good a processor it is. What brands are good brands? More importantly, what brands do I stay away from?

Same question for video card. Mine right now is NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE with 250gb of on board RAM. I'm pulling these descriptions from windows device manager, btw. The more on board RAM the better, I know. What does 5700LE mean?

Same question for RAM. I know more RAM is better. I got a measly 512 of PC3200 RAM right now. I want nothing less than 2g of RAM. I can buy a comp with less RAM than that and then put the rest in myself. Like I said, I've installed RAM before. It is ALWAYS as easy as sliding it into the slot, right?

Is it worth it to really check out the motherboard? I have no clue what numbers to look at. Please give me a rundown of the brands and numbers I need to know. How do I see what kind of motherboard I have on my computer?

The other factors I am concerned with are upgradeability and reliability. Can I put in a second hard drive and more RAM, and will it blow up on me?

Big thanks for the help so far, folks.

Karpman on

Posts

  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2007
    Graphics cards are named via a lottery. That, or a random sampling of Wizards. The only way to tell which is better is to read up on them.

    The best computer for your money is one you build, but it doesn't sound like you know enough to give that a whirl. What I'd suggest then is build a Dell, and just keep an eye out for a good coupon (google "Dell coupons") to knock several hundred off the price.

    Intel Core-Duo processors are good right now, and don't settle for less than 2 gigs of RAM if you're getting Vista.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    We're really going to need a price range before we can give you any specific part recommendations, but Newegg generally has absolutely spectacular prices. This guide is a bit outdated but it's a good jumping off point since the parts are still recent enough to point you in the right direction.

    The definitive guide for CPUs is here and for GPUs is here.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    A price range is necessary to start recommending things to purchase.

    http://www.anandtech.com/guides/ is *the best* place to start with recommendations thrown in from us here. I've been following anandtech recommendations for close to 8 years and have never been disapointed in both speed and reliability of the components they suggest.

    Aridhol on
  • TrippyDKTrippyDK Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Another point Ive found to be mostly true. Get the cheapest amount of ram possible, because most of the time, companies really sell it way too expensive.

    TrippyDK on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    TrippyDK wrote: »
    Another point Ive found to be mostly true. Get the cheapest amount of ram possible, because most of the time, companies really sell it way too expensive.

    This is really stellar advice if you want to save money or crash your PC a whole lot.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    You can get quality ram at a good price but you *MUST* get quality ram, if you sacrifice on everything else, don't buy "bob's pretty good ram" FFS

    Aridhol on
  • ShurakaiShurakai Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Graphics cards are named via a lottery. That, or a random sampling of Wizards.

    Sigged.

    Shurakai on
  • KarpmanKarpman Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Sorry for the long wait for a reply, my first child was just born :). Thank you for the website suggestions, I'll get around to checking those out. Price range *right now* is 1000-1500. I figure I could put together a comp. Like I said, I have installed a hard drive and ram. I don't know if it's drastically harder to build a comp from the ground up, but I'd love to learn how, I'm not afraid of big words. However, what I truly want is a box to come in the mail, with it's software installed, so all I have to do is plug it in. That was before my son came along. I don't see myself getting more than an hour at my computer for a looong time (not that I'm complaining), so building one is right out.

    Karpman on
  • Burning OrganBurning Organ Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    There should be places that let you pick out hardware and then installs everything for a fee.

    Burning Organ on
  • zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/forumdisplay.php?f=16

    This is a fantastic site to start on.

    zhen_rogue on
  • variantvariant Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Microcenter online has a C2D E6600 OEM for like ~140 shipped
    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0253108

    variant on
  • EndomaticEndomatic Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    There are like 3 canadian places that people like to name when suggesting places to look, does anyone know of them?

    I used NCIX.com for the comp I have now, but I'd like to find the other 2 (or any others really) that might get me even better deals than they have.

    Endomatic on
  • supertallsupertall Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Tigerdirect.ca?

    supertall on
  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Don’t settle on less than two gigs of RAM for anything. RAM is cheap, useful, and annoying to install later.

    And CoreDuo rocks. I never thought that Intel could win me back, but good God CoreDuo performance is just sick.

    supabeast on
  • alcoholic_engineeralcoholic_engineer Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Endomatic wrote: »
    There are like 3 canadian places that people like to name when suggesting places to look, does anyone know of them?

    I used NCIX.com for the comp I have now, but I'd like to find the other 2 (or any others really) that might get me even better deals than they have.


    http://www.memoryexpress.com/

    alcoholic_engineer on
  • DamienThornDamienThorn Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    This might seem like a silly question, but what are you going to be using your computer FOR? Gaming? Wordprocessing? Email? Webdevelopment? Hosting? Video editing?

    Until you let us know what your needs are, it's hard to really recommend what you should buy. Truth be told, if you just want something to work out of the box, get one of the new iMacs - they come will all the peripherals that you're going to need, and if you already have a copy of Windows you can just install bootcamp so that you can hop into Windows when you need to. Macs have great multimedia software out of the box, and if you're planning on taking lots of pictures/videos of your firstborn to show to your parents, and don't want to do much work in making them pretty and sharing them, Macs are a great way to go.

    If you had a little more time, I'd suggest get something from Dell and just reinstall Ubuntu over it, but I'm guessing that you don't really have the time to learn Linux :P

    DamienThorn on
  • CaswynbenCaswynben Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Actually, woot.com has a really good, upgradable computer up today for 299, 5 bucks shipping.

    Caswynben on
  • KarpmanKarpman Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Ah yes, it would help if you know what I intend to do with my comp, huh? Right now, it's World of Warcraft. I have HL2, Warhammer 40k, a couple other games, but right now, it's WoW. I'm not addicted, I can stop anytime I want. What I want is a comp that will play Starcraft 2 when it comes out with reasonable graphics settings. Not the lowest, not the highest, but middle to upper middle graphics settings. I know that it could be difficult to say what I need for a game that is likely two years away from being released, but that's what I want. I'm guessing a comp in the 1000-1300 dollar range would be what I want. Is that a good guess?

    In order from most important to least important, what numbers should I look at when rating a processor? The comp I am on now has a AMD Athlon 64 2800+ 1.8 ghz processor. Back when I got it (about 3? years ago, whenever WoW was released), my friends told me AMD was a pretty good brand of processor. The 64 means 64 bit, but what does that mean as far as performance? Is everything nowadays 64 bit? What does 2800+ mean as far as performance? I think the 1.8 ghz is the most important number in terms of how good a processor it is. What brands are good brands? More importantly, what brands do I stay away from?

    Same question for video card. Mine right now is NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE with 250gb of on board RAM. I'm pulling these descriptions from windows device manager, btw. The more on board RAM the better, I know. What does 5700LE mean?

    Same question for RAM. I know more RAM is better. I got a measly 512 of PC3200 RAM right now. I want nothing less than 2g of RAM. I can buy a comp with less RAM than that and then put the rest in myself. Like I said, I've installed RAM before. It is ALWAYS as easy as sliding it into the slot, right?

    Is it worth it to really check out the motherboard? I have no clue what numbers to look at. Please give me a rundown of the brands and numbers I need to know. How do I see what kind of motherboard I have on my computer?

    The other factors I am concerned with are upgradeability and reliability. Can I put in a second hard drive and more RAM, and will it blow up on me?

    Big thanks for the help so far, folks.

    Karpman on
  • DrHookensteinDrHookenstein Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I can't recommend the "Once and Future Computer Thread" (a few posts down from this one) highly enough.

    It even contains links to the appropriate NewEgg reference item.

    DrHookenstein on
    "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it." -Moby Dick
  • DrHookensteinDrHookenstein Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    TrippyDK wrote: »
    Another point Ive found to be mostly true. Get the cheapest amount of ram possible, because most of the time, companies really sell it way too expensive.

    I'm pretty sure this was a joke.

    I hope.

    DrHookenstein on
    "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it." -Moby Dick
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    A lot of people on this thread seem to be conflating the ideas of buying a computer with building a computer. Given your professed basic knowledge of the subject, I'm guessing you don't want to be handed a bunch of circuit boards, drives, screws, and a case, and be told to have at it. If you're going to buy a prebuilt system, it's sort of pointless to quibble about this RAM brand vs. that one, or this CAS latency vs. that one, since you won't get to pick anyway.

    That said, buy a Dell. Keep an eye out for discounts and specials, as others have said, and do your research. Get one with a half-decent graphics card if you want to do gaming. When picking upgrades in the 'configure' page, look for the price/performance sweet spot. For example, you'll usually see something like this:

    3000 Mhz Processor (add $2350)
    2900 Mhz Processor (add $1400)
    2600 Mhz Processor (add $950)
    2400 Mhz Processor (add $40)
    2000 Mhz Processor (selected)
    1800 Mhz Processor (subtract $8)
    1600 Mhz Processor (subtract $48)

    (entirely hypothetical, of course). Here, the extra 400Mhz is worth the 40 bucks. The next 200 is certainly not worth 900 more.

    DrFrylock on
  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    TrippyDK wrote: »
    Another point Ive found to be mostly true. Get the cheapest amount of ram possible, because most of the time, companies really sell it way too expensive.

    I'm pretty sure this was a joke.

    I hope.

    Well there's no real good reason for the average user to buy 2GBs of Corsair Dominator RAM. Most users probably don't ever OC their hardware. I'd say the middle ground is best, buying the value line from a widely recognized name.

    Malkor on
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  • DamienThornDamienThorn Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Based on what you want to do, I'd recommend that you either get a mid-range XPS from dell (making sure to get at least an Nvidia 8600GTS) or an iMac - in either case you're going to have enough power and room to grow. For your price range you can get more 'bang' for your buck if you build your PC, but based on your current priorities I wouldn't bother. I'd get the iMac - you'll have a nice new monitor, speedy computer, new keyboard, mouse, decent webcam, and the ability to use windows if you need to.

    DamienThorn on
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