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bbcmicro
August 26th, 2007, 11:23 AM
I've been saving for a long while for a new PC. I've only got 350 GBP but it's a start. I want a PC for gaming, not serious hard-core gaming but enough to play most new titles for a while or perhaps Oblivion at medium/high settings.

I want one from a large retailer for the guarantee and availability, and the fact I wont have to touch it with a screwdriver.

My question is whether this ( http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/store/pcw_page.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0255362767.118815592 7@@@@&BV_EngineID=ccfcaddlldmgjdhcflgceggdhhmdgmh.0&page=Product&fm=null&sm=null&tm=null&sku=325050&category_oid=-32998 ) is value for money. I suppose this will only be open to UK residents as I think prices differ over here.

Yzzerdd
August 26th, 2007, 11:34 AM
The price is good. The stuff is good for the money. But STOP! If you want to go "dual core" go AMD. The reason being: On an intel suppose you have 2 programns running on both processors(one program each). The right processor is working it's tail off, and performance is suffering do to that. The left processor is doing nothing. It will remain that way because Intel does not allow "overflow" so one can be overloaded, while the other does nothing.

On an AMD: Same scenario, one is working hard, the other is doing nothing. BUT on AMD, overflow IS enabled, so instead of one overloaded and the other doing nothing, the processor "evens itself out" and allows both processors to be working, so they are both at half capacity.

Long story short, AMD is way more efficient than Intel, and it appers to run faster as well.

--Ryan

Trixter
August 27th, 2007, 09:33 AM
Long story short, AMD is way more efficient than Intel, and it appers to run faster as well.


You are misinformed. There is no "overflow" mechanism as you describe; both processors operate the same way. If there is a problem with multi-core support, it is on the part of the software and/or operating system.

To the original poster: Intel or AMD, you can't really go wrong. The AMD will be a little cheaper. As for cost, Dell has traditionally been the most bang for the buck as well as being high quality. If you want slightly more product (but using cheaper components) you can also try Gateway.

Vlad
August 27th, 2007, 12:30 PM
I have an Intel Core Duo in my laptop, it runs just fine. Intel or AMD, it doesn't really matter at this point. One thing to remember is the more L2 cache, the better.

dongfeng
August 27th, 2007, 02:32 PM
I would say buy whatever you want, as long is it is not from PC World! :D

Dell's are not bad providing you don't get one with integrated graphics (if gaming is important). Just bought a bunch of the Vostro desktops to replace the ones at work - Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz, 4 gigs of RAM, 350GB hard drive, 256MB graphics and 22" widescreen for around 550 pounds. I guess that's an extra 100 pounds or so to be added on so since we get 10-20% discount over retail.

The main thing I hate about Dell's is the horrid flimsy keyboards. Get yourself a nice Logitech Wireless keyboard and mouse combo (S510 is good) - or even better - a Model M :D

I would also say go Intel rather than AMD. I've personally found the Intel's to be a lot more stable. But that's my personal experience.

atari2600a
August 27th, 2007, 03:23 PM
The Intergrated Graphics chipsets on Dell Laptops actually hold up pretty well. WoW runs w/ maxed out graphics at a VERY decent framerate, granted I'm running a WinNT OS & not emulating it under Wine.

evildragon
August 27th, 2007, 03:52 PM
Yea, the GMA chips are actually quite good. I used one at a friends house the other day, and was impressed by it's performance, even though it's in the southbridge...

bbcmicro
August 27th, 2007, 04:05 PM
Thanks for the tips, guys.

So an Intel Dell seems preferable at the mo. No integrated graphics for me, I'm afraid. I doubt onboard video would cope well with Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Oblivion or PoP Sands of Time. I'm not into WoW, too big and confusing! Fantasy is my favoured genre as you may have guessed. My last decent PC had a PCI GeForce 6200LE, which wasn't bad but still struggled a little with some games. An 8xxx series would be tasty, but a little heavy on the wallet :)

It's getting late (!:05 AM) so I'll look at PC models tomorrow.

Druid6900
August 27th, 2007, 10:56 PM
One thing you might want to be aware of is that, in the trade mags, Dell is reputed to have the highest return and repair rate in the industry.

carlsson
August 27th, 2007, 11:25 PM
While I'm no fan of Dell, isn't the high return rate at least partially due to they sell so many computers? I remember Seagate SCSI hard disks were in some circles considered awful in the mid-90's, because they crashed so often compared to other brands. On the other hand, Seagate seemed to sell the largest number of such hard disks, which would account for why ten times as many Seagates crashed as Maxtors, Western Digitals, IBMs and so on.

DoctorPepper
August 28th, 2007, 02:53 AM
One thing you might want to be aware of is that, in the trade mags, Dell is reputed to have the highest return and repair rate in the industry.

I've got to go with carlsson on this one. I currently own five Dell computers, including two notebooks, and they all seem to be holding up fine. One of the notebooks is a 2004 vintage, the other one from around 1997 - 1998 time frame, and one of the desktops is also from the late 90's, early 2000's (it's a P-III 733 system).

Btw, the other two Dells are my current desktop system, which I got this past October (2.66 GHz Pentium D), and my new file server, purchased this month (1.6 GHz dual core), which is one of their "Linux" PC's. It came with Ubuntu 7.04 pre-installed. I stuck in a second hard drive (250 GB SATA), then repartitioned the first drive and installed Ubuntu 7.04 server edition. She's been running just fine ever since.

dongfeng
August 28th, 2007, 03:05 AM
While I'm no fan of Dell, isn't the high return rate at least partially due to they sell so many computers? I remember Seagate SCSI hard disks were in some circles considered awful in the mid-90's, because they crashed so often compared to other brands. On the other hand, Seagate seemed to sell the largest number of such hard disks, which would account for why ten times as many Seagates crashed as Maxtors, Western Digitals, IBMs and so on.

With their support I've found them to be great. Last week we had a dead motherboard - phoned up 3pm and they sent someone to replace it the next morning.

Personally I wouldn't buy a Dell for myself, I prefer a home-build as you can spec it to exactly what you want :)

Druid6900
August 28th, 2007, 10:56 AM
Perhaps I should have clarified a bit with "as a percentage of units sold"

I know for a fact that there are websites out there that specialize in problems that people have had with Dell.

I don't care one way or the other, actually.

chuckcmagee
August 28th, 2007, 12:28 PM
All my Dell stuff has been 100% also. I too called Dell around noon about a dead hard drive. Had replacement drive in my hands 10 a.m. next day. This was long ago. My current Dell stuff is about 1 year old now. I use an El-Cheapo E310 as a printer/file server. My E1705 laptop gets sporatic use. I thought "oooo, 17" screen! That would be great. Nope, too big, even for me (6'2" 255lbs). So, I only play with the laptop when I experimenting with SMP stuff or to knock the dust off of it.

bbcmicro
August 29th, 2007, 03:56 AM
Thanks for all the input. I got some money from relatives for good exam results so I'm even closer!

I think I might go for a vostro, the price is pretty good, so is the 8500 GeForce graphics card. If I leave out the monitor (I've got a great 16" dell CRT) I can get a PC with a Vostro 400 E6750 Core 2 Duo Processor (2.66GHz, 1333Mhz FSB, 4MB cache), 2GB ram, 2x 160gb HDD, 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600GT Graphics Card, 16x DVD +/- RW Drive and windows business vista for a total of 493.57 inc. VAT and delivery.

Is this a good deal? It's twice as powerful as my last machine (A single core 3.6ghz pentium 4 with 1gb ram and 128mb 6200 GeForce graphics card, windows xp home) for which I paid about 450 2 years ago.

It's a business oriented machine, with a business warranty and a business version of vista...Do I have to own a business to buy one?

Could you please lend me your expertise and some advice?

atari2600a
August 29th, 2007, 10:25 AM
If you're planning on using Vista, you'll REALLY want to look into what services you can kill if your machine has less than 2GB. I've never tried running Vista on a 2GB machine but I'd imagine killing a few services still couldn't hurt...

Also, registry hacks, etc etc...

bbcmicro
August 29th, 2007, 10:35 AM
Yes, vista uses most of the physical memory as illustrated in task manager, but that's good. Empty memory is useless memory, and Vista tries to pre emptively fill RAM with whatever data you may need next, making the PC more responsive. It's a more aggressive and efficient way of managing memory that in previous versions of windows. Empty memory is bad memory!

I've used xp on minimal systems, and it runs fine as long as you run a clean, well maintained install. I've never needed registry hacks to improve performance, except maybe a removal of services from the startup list. It's when you have a messy registry, dozens of uneccesary applications and in varying states of uninstallation and lots of general crap floating about from poor spyware/virus/adware and defrag routines when things really slow down.

JDT
August 29th, 2007, 03:13 PM
Personally I wouldn't buy a Dell for myself, I prefer a home-build as you can spec it to exactly what you want :)

Home-Build is the way to go IMHO

Plus, on top of that.. building your machine saves you money (usually, unless you get the bare bones basic model that manufactures use to lure people in with and then get them to upgrade)

When building your own machine, you get everything you want and nothing you don't. You can recycle parts from previous machines! I have used the same chassis for going on 7 or 8 years...

The last time I upgraded my machine, it was late 2002 or early 2003 I think, I went all out at the time (p4 3.0 1mb L2 800 FSB, 1GB DDR400, 250gb hdd, audigy 2 ZS plat pro with the 5.25 bay thingy, 256mb ati 9800 pro 8x agp and the best dang motherboard I think I have ever owned.. the IC7-Max3. When I built it, it was top end.. over the years I've had to do a few upgrades such as a GeForce 256MB 7800 GS CO AGP vid card and add another 512 MB of memory. and adding a 160 (2x80) GB RAID 0 array for my OS to load from, the mobo has onboard raid. The moral of this long winded story is that keep upgrading options in mind when you buy your parts AND ... get the best motherboard you can afford.

atari2600a
August 29th, 2007, 04:43 PM
Yes, vista uses most of the physical memory as illustrated in task manager, but that's good. Empty memory is useless memory, and Vista tries to pre emptively fill RAM with whatever data you may need next, making the PC more responsive. It's a more aggressive and efficient way of managing memory that in previous versions of windows. Empty memory is bad memory!

I actually turn that service off on systems w/ 1GB. It's a good idea if you have alot of memory 1.5-4GB (or more on x64), but it'll really make things sluggish w/ just 1GB.

JDT
August 29th, 2007, 04:47 PM
Ah.... Windows Millenium II *cough* I mean Windows Vista... the perfect operating system to turn a perfectly fast machine in to a frustrating & sluggish experience.

Allow or Deny?

;)

Druid6900
August 29th, 2007, 06:49 PM
I have to agree with the DIY crowd.

I do mostly custom-builds for my non-vintage clients as they can go anywhere and get what they've got, I help them custom build their machine for what they want it to do.

Something with a good upgrade path so, as has been said, they can keep the machine for years and just upgrade the parts as necessary.

nige the hippy
August 30th, 2007, 03:04 AM
I've always scratch-built, The bits are so standardised now that most fit together. (used to be the case that an electric drill and a hacksaw were essential home-build items) You can then spend a few hours looking at good value motherboards, processors and graphics cards, and maybe compromise on the amount of disk space you need. try the local tip for a case & power supply (beware of rainy power supplies!) It might save you 50 or so, and you could probably get one big enough to put a 5.25" drive in too.

Dabs.com is only over in Bolton, look at their bits, and I think you can shop there too.

If you don't feel confident enough to put one together, where i worked bought gateway machines & they were pretty reliable.

Avoid anything with a riser for the cards (or a non-standard case), you're then stuck with replacing the complete machine when it gets tired.

bbcmicro
August 30th, 2007, 03:45 AM
I have built PCs from bits lying around, but I don't have the confidence to handle fragile, static sensitive parts worth 50+ when there's a very good chance that I'll have to spend hours troubleshooting after building it.

I'm going with windows vista over xp professional because they both cost the same on the dell site. Also it covers my back in case of vista exclusive technology (I think directx 10 is vista only). The system is a dual hard drive job so I can maybe dual install xp later if i feel so inclined.

I have a friend who buys bits and bobs from Dabs and also highly recommends them.

JDT
August 30th, 2007, 04:26 AM
I don't have the confidence to handle fragile, static sensitive parts worth 50+ when there's a very good chance that I'll have to spend hours troubleshooting after building it.

Heck, trouble shooting is half the fun... and being in the PC repair business for more than 10 years now, Iv seen one single example of electrostatic discharge causing damage. I had rubber soled sneakers on walking across a thick shag carpet in the middle of winfer (really dry air), basically an ESD nightmare situation... anyway I was rebuilding a machine for a client and I went to pick up thier stick of ram and ZAP, biggest damn static shock spark ever... freak thing... havent seen esd damage since.


I think directx 10 is vista only.

It is, for now. I have a fealing that MS will port it to XP when they realise that thier estimates for conversion are going to fall flat on its arse. Other than DX10, I would have NO reason to switch to Vista. I am a gamer, big time, but since I dont have a DX10 graphics card, I don't need vista. But whatever =)

bbcmicro
August 30th, 2007, 05:11 AM
Hmmm...You guys all know much more about computers than me so you're right, a DIY PC would cost less and would allow me to pick and choose, but I just like the security that buying from a big name offers and that it'll work out of the box. I just don't have the confidence to build my own.

JDT, I will probably end up going with XP if i buy a PC with an nvidea 7th generation or below, but if i get an 8 series I could really use directx 10.

Thanks for all your advice, I appreciate it and it has influenced my decision. I should have enough money in a month, maybe more, maybe less.

Cheers.

carlsson
August 30th, 2007, 05:48 AM
Sometimes a DIY could cost almost as much as a branded machine with the exact same specs, depending on which margins the manufacturer has. At least Dell and others tend to have more software bundles, like additional Microsoft Works, one year free antivirus and so on. Some individual parts come bundled with these extras too.

When it comes to riser cards, I don't think they those kinds of motherboards anymore. Don't all boards follow one of the standard dimensions? The closest to special solutions I can think of are these slim-line and barebone systems.

Did you mention what you're going to with your old PC? From the specs you posted, it seemed to still be quite a lot of high-end computer in it, but maybe not high-end enough. But who knows, some people may already consider their outdated 1.7 GHz Pentium 4:s as "vintage" computers. ;-)

bbcmicro
August 30th, 2007, 06:04 AM
My old PC died in june 06 from a blown motherboard. I got a dirt cheap one from somewhere (I forget) but my memory wasn't compatible. New memory would cost 80 so I thought I might as well start saving again and I did. So I have got some expensive bits floating around. I've got a 180gb sata HDD which I'm thinking of putting in a USB cradle, and a DVD RW drive. Except for that there isn't much I can put in a new PC unless it needed repairs or something. There's a GeForce PCI-E 6200SE in questionable condition. I don't know if that works anymore or not.

dongfeng
August 30th, 2007, 07:15 AM
Why not simply buy a new motherboard/processor bundle from eBay? There are some pretty decent offers around at the moment. Just make sure your memory will work in it!

atari2600a
August 30th, 2007, 07:52 AM
I've actually had experiences where certain applications run alot more faster & stabily under Vista. MAME running Dance Dance Revolution, for example, runs at full speed w/ no problems under Vista when it would BARELY run under XP on my Core Duo 1GB lappy.

bbcmicro
August 30th, 2007, 08:42 AM
Why not simply buy a new motherboard/processor bundle from eBay? There are some pretty decent offers around at the moment. Just make sure your memory will work in it!A while ago I would have considered this. In fact, I did buy a motherboard of eBay (As you just reminded me!) but by the time it came through and the memory was incompatible I just lost my momentum and thought; Blow this for a lark. Start again, buy all new, leave no room for error. I've got the inclination, the money (soon) and I've been saving for a year and a bit anyway. (10 a week, if I do my jobs) and a PC that can cope with the latest vista games would be nice too.

When i get a job (hopefully before christmas) and I have a bit more money to burn, I have every intention to fix my old PC, but the will is not there right now.

Druid6900
August 30th, 2007, 07:33 PM
What kind of processor and memory are in the old board?

If it'll upgrade one of my current machines, I might be interested in buying them off you.

bbcmicro
August 31st, 2007, 04:08 AM
it's either a 3.2 or 3.6 gHz LGA pentium 4 (No pins) not sure wether it will work or not.

Can't remember what the memory is, I'll have to dig it out.

Druid6900
August 31st, 2007, 06:32 AM
Ahh, too bad, I'm still using the "Vintage" S-478 motherboards.

Oh well, it was worth a shot.

bbcmicro
September 2nd, 2007, 12:26 PM
I'm going to try and get a PC tomorrow if my parents aren't busy. I decided on an Inspiron 530 with an intel core 2 dual 2 ghz processor, 2GB ram, 8600GT nvidia graphics card, Vista home premium, floppy drive, DVD RW, 250gb SATA HDD, for 463.31 :)

atari2600a
September 2nd, 2007, 12:42 PM
If you don't care about warranty, you might want to look into overclocking on Dell mobos. C2D's seem to overclock pretty easily (I don't have one so I've never tried), & I've heard you can get a 1.8 up to 3ishGHz (don't remember exact numbers)

carlsson
September 2nd, 2007, 01:10 PM
I have built PCs from bits lying around, but I don't have the confidence to handle fragile, static sensitive parts worth 50+ when there's a very good chance that I'll have to spend hours troubleshooting after building it.

If you don't care about warranty, you might want to look into overclocking on Dell mobos.
I believe BBC does care about warranty, as he was reluctant to assemble his own computer from parts and cause faults.

bbcmicro
September 2nd, 2007, 02:25 PM
Yup, a warranty of some sort is preferable. I'm not going to void it by messing about, especially if I have to physically modify the PC. Personally I don't have any need for overclocking. I decide what I want and pay the price. If I want a bit more, I pay a bit more instead of messing aboot, unless it's something daft like a 486 and the only point is to better understand the machine.

bbcmicro
September 3rd, 2007, 03:01 PM
Paid for a PC today. Should arrive by the 14th. Hurrah!

bbcmicro
September 6th, 2007, 03:12 PM
PC Arrived today. Plays Oblivion really well, almost maxed out! Vista's nice and responsive, and In all I'm happy (Although not with the courier service :s )