purchasing computers

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  #1  
Old 12-15-00, 07:16 PM
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Talking

I'm very new to computers, and have been renting my equipment for the last few weeks. What are good sites to
go to for comparison shopping for computers? I only know that I want something fast and something that's appropriate for art/graphics applications, and will be getting a printer and scanner as well. Thanks ahead of time to all who answer.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-16-00, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Northeastern NC On The Albemarle Sound
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Cool

I had never touched a computer until 2 years ago. Computer-knowledgeable friends told me that I should just call one of the larger firms with good Tech Support (they know me... LOL).
Called Gateway and Dell to tell a sales rep what we needed and wanted the computer to be able to do (real estate business, etc., etc.).
The Gateway rep was, in my opinion, less than helpful (could have just been that particular one).
The Dell rep was very helpful, questioned me in detail about this and that, and put together a system for us with the appropriate hardware/software.
Also purchased the extra 2 years (total: 3 years) Dell Tech Support, which I think has been excellent. So far, we've purchased about $4,000 of hardware/software from Dell.
Still learning how to use most of it, but have bought a number of books, taken computer courses, and still learning as we go.
You can buy computer stuff cheaper somewhere else, IF you know what you're doing, but Tech Support is critical for us, and we made the right decision for us.
Hope this helps. Good Luck!
 
  #3  
Old 12-16-00, 08:27 PM
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I've been at this for about 13 years now. Know what you want before you shop. It helps everyone that way. Go online and do a search if need be. Find what is hot and what is not.

Good luck.
 
  #4  
Old 12-19-00, 12:37 PM
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Thanks

Thanks a lot, guys! This is very helpful.
 
  #5  
Old 12-20-00, 05:43 PM
hacker
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Don't go looking for "Quantex" or the sister company "Cybermax". The parent company, Fountain Technologies, filed a Chapter 11 three months ago, and a month ago both web sites went blank.

This is one of the problems with buying from second-tier an third-tier OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

You never know if their going to be in business next week.

Check out the magazine "Computer Shopper". Lots of ads from all levels of OEM's and decent product evaluations.

Also, check the industry specific mags you want to work in.
They will have ads for comps that would work good for you.

Personally, I would stay away from Dell and Gateway. Too overpriced. But, I bought a Cybermax so you can see where my theroies hav left me. Great rig tho.

Good Luck!
 
  #6  
Old 12-22-00, 08:25 PM
Marshall Buttrey
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I'm not gonna say how long I've been in the IT business. It's been so long I can't remember. I'm no technical wizz kid, but I've been using these things for a while. The old advise was to buy the most you can afford. I believe that advise is no longer valid (if it ever was). Now I would say buy the cheapest PC that will do what you want it to do. Most people, especially those new to PCs, don't need the latest and greatest. Most any new PC will satisfy beginners for a few years. If you start to be a "Gamer" you need to look for more than most of us need.

1. I believe a 333 multi-media machine from any reliable manufacturer will satisfy most all people that are new to PCs.

2. Forget after market tech. support. Microsoft has pulled a coup by shifting support to the hardware manufacturers. Hardware problems are a small percentage of the problems experienced, and the hardware help desk personnel (as a rule) know very little about Windows. Most search a data base looking for symptoms reported, and read what the caller should do. If the caller is not satisfied in a few minutesm the "Tech Support Specialist" will get to the last box in the flow chart and tell the caller to rebuild the hard drive. What a waste. If they tell you that, you have probably been wasting your time. I can't rememer the last time I had to rebuild a hard drive, EXCEPT when I had to install a new one.

Enough lecturing. Go be a cheap charlie, and don't spend anywhere close to $1,000. E Machine works great. People will tell you to avoid them because you can't upgrade them. If some one tell you that, ask them what might you want to upgrade too, and what have they upgraded to in the last three years. You probably want need it (or even know what it is).
 
  #7  
Old 12-23-00, 03:25 PM
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here's an additional $.02 worth -

I have either built, repaired, or upgraded six times in six years. I know a lot about what is/are in my machine(s) that way, both hardware and software wise.

My wife bought a brand new 900 mhz Gateway about a month ago and I can say that it is a screaming machine. I have never had any major problems with Gateway. The few times that that there were problems they resolved them quickly. I've dealt with that company for about 8 years now and have watched them grow.

There is no reason that you can't go to a local "no name" computer store and pick their brains and have them build a custom system for you. Like I said earlier, know what you want ahead of time and it will serve you better.
 
  #8  
Old 12-23-00, 06:20 PM
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re responses

Again, my sincerest thanks for all your responses!
 
  #9  
Old 12-24-00, 09:01 AM
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Wink

I recently purchased a compaq presario 5000 from sears and am very pleased with its performance.its fast,reliable and has more than enough memory for most.not to mention that I was able to purchase an EXTENDED warrenty.I can report trouble free operation and a 24 hour tech line as well as tech support website.If your really in trouble they can even remotly operate the machine to get to the heart of the problem


THE HILLBILLY HANDYMAN!
 
  #10  
Old 12-25-00, 12:19 AM
Marshall Buttrey
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My sister also bought the Sears system just over 2 years ago, and thus paid top dollar. I have never known anyone that was told to rebuild her system as often as their support staff had her rebuild hers. Of course it "fixed the problem". They were software problems, and probably caused by an installation of a new program installing a driver (DLL) that was used by other applications. When you rebuild you start from a known good configuration.

At the end of her extended warranty the service man had replaced about every thing in the PC, and most more than once. He even told her that they should replace the system, but they refused. She even wrote to the Chairman of Sears.

If you ever have someone to tell you to rebuild your system it is because they have no more thoughts, and are 99% certain that the existing problem will be resolved for the short term.

Good Luck
 
  #11  
Old 12-31-00, 03:53 PM
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I personally never buy a computer with pre-packaged software, and if I was I would much prefer having the install cd for every program on it. I'll explain further...
Manufacturers often promote computers that this comes with several pieces of software , this size hard drive, and so on. Now bear with me. this free software is pre-installed on the hard drive, perhaps there could be restore cd's that came with the computer. Now with the only backup on the installed software on a special restore cd, you would have great difficuly if not impossible to install any of the free software if you were to format the drive and do your own custom installation perhaps even a different operating system . In other words in order to make use of any free software in the future in the event you change the operating system or chnage the configuration is to have separate cd's install disks for each of the free software included, or your free software that came with the computer is useless to you. The other thing that is nice is .. do they include a driver floppy or cd for every device on the computer, sure you can get most any driver on the internet but it would be nice to the driver floppy or cd from the start, without them, you may not even get the modem up to go the internet to get the necessary drivers. Manuals ? information on the names , model numbers of the cards, ie.. video card , sound card ?, modem ? , that could be helpfull if system had to be re-installed. Information /manual on the motherboard, perhaps in the future would may want to upgrade your cpu, you may need the motherboard manual for jumper setting, although it may be found at the manufacturers website, it would be helpfull if the motherboard manual is supplied with the computer, perhaps also you could be adding an extra hard drive , a cd burner, etc, extra info doesn.t hurt anyone. My next door neighbour bought a compaq computer , they brought it home , I hooked it up for them, a store advertisement keep consistently popping up on it, it appearantly was the last of its model and they bought the demo. the store advertised it as a 20 gig hard drive in it, However what they failed to tell you is that the manufacturer had partitioned th drive to 15 g and a 5 g, the 5 gig partition had restore software, backup drivers and diagnostic software so that their technical support people could figure things out easilier if the customer called for technical support. To me this a shaddy area, you expected to have a 20 gig drive, technical you did but only get to use 15 gig. So I blew the partition away adn partition it to a single 20 gig drive. Since I did not want to install what the manufacturer felt the way I should be setting up the system, which I really hate. I could not use their restore cd's and because their was no other cd's that had the free software on it , I basicly lost out of the free software. It could a little bit of doing in getting all the drivers because their was so little information supplied, I was able to log into the compaq site and get some drivers , but it was a bit of a pain to track as their update drivers as listed as numbers not associated with the actual cards. I got everything up except the modem, I got the model number of the modem by checking for updated software for this model of computer and thereby finding an associated readdme file with the model number. downloaded the driver, still didn't work, appearantly another part of the driver was needed to open/create the comm port, and went directly to the card manufacturer and downloaded 3 different driver, appearantly that card could come with 3 different chips sets, and finally was able to get the modem up and running. Also if you change the way in which the manufacturer wanted to set up your system, technical support from them may no longer be available to you. I find a lot of technical support personel are not all that helpfull, they know one way of doing things, some follow a flip chart, and if you take away that flip chart or set up your system differently , they are absolutely useless. Why can't there technical support people give you card info and drivers to be used in a different configuration is beyond me, it often depends on who you talk to, the best technical support people are teh ones that can throw away their reading material and know in their head what they are doing.

My advice on buying a new computer....
1. size of hard drive, is all the advertised size of drive available , or is part partitioned for the benifit of the their technical support people.

2. Manuals and drivers for all cards, not just drivers on their special restore cd, but separately in case you wish to change your computers setup/configuration.

3. Manuals for the mother board, but all manufacturers supply a detailed one.

4. Any operating system installed , you should have a separate cd with it, not just on the restore cd, but separate with manual & licence key.

5. Any free/included software, separate install cd's, software that can only be restored from their special restore cd is useless if you change /redo the system with a different setup. manuals for the included software would also be helpfull.

6. What is the motherboards expansion cabilities...perhaps you may want to increase your memory or upgrade your cpu in the future ?

7. what is the bus speed of your mother board ?

Salepeople to often try to amaze you with a bunch of specs, which is find, but at the same time they are really only interested in making the sale, you and only you can determine if what you are getting is right for you and more you know , the better off you are. If you are not that knowledgeable then bring someone who is knowledgable that you trust to help you make that choice.

I personally look at mostly only the hardware that I am getting , and base most of my buying decison on that only when making a computer purchase. But there is nothing wrong with getting included software , just get the install cd's.
The last computer I got for my daughters bedroom , I built myself , mostly from parts that I had left over from making upgrades to my main computer, and bought the remaining components and installed it and set up myself. Now not everyone would want to do that.

I hope that what I said is helpfull, I know it was a lot of reading.


 
  #12  
Old 12-31-00, 04:35 PM
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My eyes are throbbing kderr! :p

Hi dkerr and ca959565 (who is probably long gone)

I almost read all of your post! ha ha. But I agree with your main premise. If you have to reload all your software, you better have it with your purchase. Too many people upgrade because their machine is plagued with little problems that they can't fix. What a shame.

I thinks PC's have arrived at roughly where TV's are at. The hardware is all too similar to pick one over the other. Pricing is most important factor. Second to price is customer service for those who desire it. Some people need customer support (Gateway for example), and pc oriented people do not need customer support (discount AMD machines).

I have built about 6 AMD machines, generic. I have also fiddled with DELL (great support!), Compaq (expensive), Gateway (neighbors) and have IBM at work. I will continue to buy discounted AMD machines for the most bang for the buck. But it is not for everyone. If you like the ease of AOL online (yuck!!!) then you will like brand names. If you enjoy unlimited internet access for $8.95 a month then you are more likely to buy AMD, etc.

Happy New Year

Mark
 
  #13  
Old 12-31-00, 04:56 PM
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In addition to the long winded message I just posted, just a couple of extra thoughts that came to mind.

What are your computer needs, is another consideration.

Do you or intend to use your computer for video editing, or very intense 3d games ? If the answer is no to both of these, then you don't need to the expensive video card. You do need a video card but not an expensive one . If you intending on doing any of these then a more expensive video card may be needed . If you intend on doing video editing , then a capture card will be needed, they can get expensive.
Bear in mind that you can still run a lot of very good games without an very expensive video card, but there are some games that do require a good 3D card. I have a $ 44 . vierge 3d card and the way I look at it, if the game requires more then the hell with the game, and is plenty of others that will run. If you are a game nut , and want to run intense 3d games then go to the additional expense of a fancy 3D/effects card. There is also tv/radio tuner cards that can be gotten. My feeling is that most people have a televison and radio, do you really need to watch regular tv on the computer. Use the tv for that purpose, you can still watch foreign live tv & radio on the net with cheaper cards, using realaudio/video , mediaplayer, etc which are all available software for free from the net.

If you do video editing using aadobe premier video editing software, I beleive they will only provide technical support if your cpu is a geniune Intel Pentium processor, it may work with other processors, but no technical support from Adobe.

What you can afford ? To be compatable with a CD burner you must have at least a pentium 166 (or equivilient) or you could get a lot of buffer underruns andbe creating more coasters than good cd copies.

Cd players, you need at least a 12x in order to be able to read a consumer burned cd, you need at least a 24x in order to be able to read a consumer re-writeable burned cd. And it must be cabable of audio extraction in order to copy music. Most all cd players these days met this criteria.

Getting a cd burner ? There is variety of cd burners available out there in a wide range of prices. I am not sure which models are the best, I did read somewhere that the Sony burners, perticulary the older ones, had problems doing audio cd copies and sony had did something to prevent audio cd copying, I understand from what I read that there newer models are ok, if not sure just pick a different brand. CD blanks are fairly cheap to buy, re-writables blank cd's are a more expensive, also you cannot burn audio on a re-writable cd blank and make it play on a regular consumer cd player. Audio has to be burned on a regular cd blank. I never use rewritables but that is a personal preference , even if one gets messed up, you get buy them for a dollar, which is much cheaper than a rewritable cd blamk.

Sound cards, if you are an absolute sound nut then go after the most expensive sound card, but if you are an average person then a regular 16 bit sound card will work just fine on a good set of speakers, the type of speakers attached can make a big difference in the sound.

I currently have 2 computers at home, and will be building more , one for each of the children. I have a pentium 200mmx in the main which I network to a second computer with pentium 166mmx chip in it. i don't do video editing at home nor I care in a few games can't be run , there is more than plenty that will. I have a high speed internet connection and works well on both computers.

Hard drive space, I would recommend at least a 10 gig or better. I don't have that much space on either computer, and I could diffently use more.

So the bottom line is , decide what you can budget , what your needs are, and look around, bring a knowledgeable person with you if you are not sure.
 
  #14  
Old 12-31-00, 05:04 PM
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Location: ottawa canada
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To: Mark Chapman
I agree with your comment on AOL, I tried it, I hated it, and its history. I keep getting these cd's which in my opionion is only usefull as coasters.
 
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