Need advice on a new desktop computer...

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xixheartxyoux
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Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby xixheartxyoux » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:49 am UTC

Ok. For the past 4 years I've put up with the quirks from my Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop and I've had about enough. This one still works well enough to be portable, so I don't need another laptop, but I'd like some advice on a desktop. I'm a math grad student. Basically I need something reliable and relatively inexpensive. I'm looking to spend about $600 (I'm in the US). I do not want to buy another Dell as I've had numerous problems with their "Award-winning" customer service and the laptop I have is basically garbage. I could probably figure out how to build my own, as I've taken mine apart a time or two. What pre-built laptops do you recommend?? And what sites/guidance can you suggest should I decide to built my own? I've browsed the sites of the big name brands I could think of and I'm not really happy with what they offer. And I get to the point of choosing the hardware beyond memory and get confused...I really really appreciate any guidance. :)
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PhoenixEnigma
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:59 am UTC

Are you looking for a desktop, or a laptop? It sounds like desktop, but your post isn't entirely clear - you do ask about prebuilt laptops as well.

Anyways.

What do you/will you use your new computer for? What's the most demanding program you expect to run? What do you most like/dislike about your current computer? Do you already have a monitor/speakers/keyboard/mouse? If not, would that have to be included in your budget? What operating system do you want to run, and will that need to be purchased as well?

The esteemed posters of this fora can certainly help you, but a little more direction is going to be helpful.
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xixheartxyoux
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby xixheartxyoux » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

I'm definitely looking for a desktop computer. The laptop I have will definitely work for any situation where I need a portable computer, I'd just like my main computer to be a desktop. I'm not partial to any operating system. I run Windows XP 32bit right now and I'm quite happy with it, but I'd be willing to make the switch to Windows 7 or even Linux. The program I use now which bogs down my system the most is The Sims 2. I need something that's going to be able to handle games like that as well as some moderate mathematical programming in Maple, etc. I'm not terribly rough on my computers, but I'd like something that doesn't come up with a new quirk every time I turn it on like this one does. I already have speakers, mouse, keyboard, etc. I will need a monitor, but I can find a decent one of those without too much trouble as I work at an office supplies store and we usually run them on clearance.
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“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics”--Plato

GeorgeH
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby GeorgeH » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:09 pm UTC

Is your $600 budget just for the tower or does that include the monitor as well? Although as a math/science grad student it would almost certainly be highly beneficial for you to be familiar with Linux (for reasons I'm sure you're already aware of) I'd stay with Windows as a primary OS for now. As such you'll really want to go with Windows 7 Home Premium, so we'll need to know if you can get academic or employee pricing on it.

Bottom line: Is $600 - $200 monitor - $100 OS = $300 for a tower accurate?

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Endless Mike
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:40 pm UTC

You can get a good enough monitor for less than $200. The 21" one I got last Thanksgiving was $150.

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xixheartxyoux
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby xixheartxyoux » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:43 am UTC

I suppose I should be more clear...The $600 is for the tower alone. I've had many friends use Linux and I'd be happy to give it a try. I'm pretty happy with Microsoft XP, is Windows 7 fairly decent? And the operating system will need to be included in the price...I don't believe I get a discount for Windows 7, but I'll keep looking!! :) Thanks again! Like I said, I'm very confused! haha
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“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics”--Plato

GeorgeH
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby GeorgeH » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:10 am UTC

I don't have the time to make a "perfect" build right now, but here's a good starting point. I'm sure you'll get plenty of refinement suggestions.

Case: Silverstone PS05
$50-$10mir = $40 (Free Shipping)
A good quality case that you can use as-is or turn into a quiet or high performance box by adding the appropriate fans. Free shipping is a nice bonus.

Hard Drive: WD Caviar Blue 500GB
$56 (Free Shipping)
It's a hard drive. Not super fast, not super slow, not super big, not super small.

Video Card: Sapphire 5570 1GB
$70-$10mir = $60 (Free Shipping)
You'd probably be just fine running an IGP, but this'll for sure play any Sims game.

Power Supply: Corsair 400CX
$50-$20mir = $30 (Free Shipping)
Plenty of power, high quality, great price.

RAM: 4GB G.Skill DDR3-1333 1.5V
$87 (Free Shipping)
It's RAM. It's cheap.

CPU: Athlon II X4 635 2.9GHz
$100-$20combo-$10mir=$70
4 reasonably fast cores for cheap.

Motherboard: MSI 870A-G54
$90
Gets you the combo price on the Athlon 635, and has good features and components. MSI is sometimes considered a second tier manufacturer (behind Gigabyte and Asus) but they are far from the "low end" with this board.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
$100
Absolutely worth the price over XP. XP was (eventually) a great OS, but it's time to move on.

Total: $583-$50mir = $533

Spend the other $70 on a DVD drive, fans, card readers, and other miscellaneous seasonings to taste.

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Endless Mike
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:04 pm UTC

xixheartxyoux wrote:I don't believe I get a discount for Windows 7, but I'll keep looking!! :)

If you're in college, there's a good chance they offer discount licenses for it. Give the IT people a call or if there's a campus computer store, ask them.

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xixheartxyoux
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Re: Need advice on a new desktop computer...

Postby xixheartxyoux » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:20 pm UTC

I just e-mailed the IT help desk to see what they can tell me. And thank you so very much GeorgeH! That's so very helpful :)
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“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics”--Plato


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