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  1. Default Buying the right computer

    I know this isn't done. I may never finish it. There are simply a lot of things to cover. If someone wants to write more spoilers for different parts in a computer, that'd be great. Just try to keep the information as timeless as possible.

    Having built and purchased many computers over the years, I've become accustomed to the ways in which salesmen will rip you off or special features shown online are nothing more than hogwash. I'm here to impart some of my experience and knowledge so you guys don't get ripped off too. I tend to charge between $25 - 35/hr for my knowledge in helping people pick out a computer, and I often end up paying for myself and then some. So, take that into consideration while reading this article.

    When first sitting down with a client, I want to know a few things about them and why they want to purchase a computer. The basics:

    1. Who will be using the computer? Who will be footing the bill?
    2. What will the computer be used for? What applications and accessories may be required? What equipment and programs can be salvaged from old PCs and what equipment cannot?
    3. Where will the computer be placed? Does it need wireless internet connectivity? Is the person handicapped? Are there portability concerns?
    4. When will the computer be used? At night? During the day? Only at college?
    5. Why do you even need a computer now?
    6. How much are you looking to spend? How often will you use the computer?

    The amount of questions that can be asked when purchasing a new computer is rather daunting. In the end, you want the perfect tool for the perfect job. So, before buying a computer, sit down and write about what you expect to get out of it. Answer the Who/What/Where/When/Why/How. Most computers cost between $500 and $1500 USD, so this is no small amount of change. You will save a lot of time and money by doing this because salespeople would love to fill in the answers to these questions for you.

    Once you have what you want figured out, now you can begin to work out what type of computer would be the best for you. Each type of computer has its pros and cons that you need to consider.

    - Pros - Highly portable, long battery life, very cheap
    - Cons - cramped screens, small keyboards, slow processing power, no upgradeability, limited selection, very little customization
    - Most important components - Battery life, wifi connectivity

    - Pros - Portable, decent battery life, bigger screen, better customizability, higher choice between vendors
    - Cons - Limited upgradeability, weighs 5 - 7 pounds, often the most expensive choice
    - Most important components - CPU power, battery life, wifi connectivity, hard disk speed, Graphic card (if gaming), USB/Firewire plugin

    - Pros - Highly configurable at checkout, very customizable, highest performance, can salvage most parts
    - Cons - Limited mobility, must buy all components separately (monitor, speakers, mouse, keyboard), takes up the most space
    - Most important components - CPU power, Memory, Graphics card, Monitor

    Here are some things to watch out for about each component. I'm going to try to keep this as timeless as I can.


    Sound Card


    Last edited by Fiel; 2010-08-31 at 03:20 PM.

  2. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
    Server: Bellocan
    Level: 152
    Job: Old School BM
    Guild: EbonSol
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    What is your opinion on the laptop on the right? my student discount, I would be able to get it for ~900 bucks before taxes.

  3. Default

    OMFG I FORGOT ABOUT STUDENT DISCOUNTS! I have been looking for a new one also!

    Try to get a good graphics card

    @Fiel, very insightful! I am going to be writing an speech for my Public Speaking class about how to buy a computer. I will probably use some of the data you have gathered if it is alright with you...

  4. Default

    Fiel you have most of it. When I actually took a thought of this I never needed watercooling in my PC. I saved a bunch of cash on my rig
    Also, you should include using old parts to compete with newer parts

    For example,
    I have a ati 4870 which competes with the ati 5770
    These cards are both mid ranged, later if I need more performance I can get another one for cheap and the perfomance will be equal to a ati 5870 which is a extremely high end card

  5. Default

    Kevin - Nope, not going to do that. That sort of information gets outdated and FAST. There are plenty of websites that have benchmarks which keep updated on that stuff. Let them do it. This information needs to be as timeless as possible.

  6. Default

    I think these points are minor, but I'll list them anyways:

    Nettops, extremely small desktops that have the Atom processor (usually the ION platform for HD video playback).

    Case form factor, some may prefer a mini-tower or the smaller SFF cases, some may prefer a smaller form factor while others (like me) prefer a larger mid-tower or larger case. I don't think form factors will change for at least the next few years.

  7. Default

    I'll likely cover form factors. SFF/ATX/BTX has been around for a long time. I don't see this changing soon as everyone depends on it.

  8. Default

    Long time no see Paul.

    I'm not sure if you're going to be covering these or not eventually, but I'd mind as well ask:

    -- How important is the HD's RPM when it comes to loading time? Installing? Recording a video of something you're doing via a software like Fraps?
    -- How important is it to match the Power Supply Unit's output with your computer components' needs? What happens if you go over/under the amount required?

    As for keeping information timeless, that may or may not prevent you from covering the advanced aspects, as computer technology is quickly advancing. That's not to say computer components don't have their own fundamental elements though.

  9. Lazy Mathematician Female
    IGN: MsJudith
    Server: Windia
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    If you have a specific one already in mind and want another quick opinion on it.

    There's a laptop search on the right which lets you toss in a price range (before discounts, I believe) on top of other specifications.

  10. Default

    Definately list reasons why to go small towers, mid towers, large tower
    small- For all the standard stuff, mostly the stuff you would find in any other PC
    Mid- To fit seperate heatsinks into the case, more for users that need a bit more space for their stuff
    Large- For enthusiants who want watercooling and the crazy stuff like tons of HDD's

    I see where you are getting at Fiel....
    List The form factor of the motherboard see if it fits in the case you have

  11. Default

    Just a suggestion Fiel... try to keep the software included as inexpensive as well...

    There are lots of Freeware projects that are great for any PC from gaming, multimedia, and even productivity.

    If you need a list, I have one I use, PM me if needed.

  12. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
    Server: Bellocan
    Level: 152
    Job: Old School BM
    Guild: EbonSol
    Alliance: In One


    Good and all on its own, but I think the main purpose of this thread is the hardware.

  13. Default

    I've been thinking of buying a desktop recently. My tiny Inspiron Mini 1010 isn't going to cut anything that I want to do anymore. This thread shall help a lot.

  14. Default

    Macs and non-macs are a huge choice to make within desktops or laptops. Graphic card (memory) and RAM plays a huge role if you're planning on doing anything graphic intensive. CPU if you plan on opening and running lots of programs simultaneously.

    If you plan on using a desktop in your own room, hooking it up to a TV might work. Saves space and money.

  15. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
    Server: Bellocan
    Level: 152
    Job: Old School BM
    Guild: EbonSol
    Alliance: In One


    Macs are unneededly expensive, and can be very restrictive when it comes to upgrades. Plus, there is still a major lack of native games for macs. That said, i can only recommend macs for graphic design work or purely college work.

  16. Default


    I always have recommended AMD for CPU needs (because mostly AMD stuff equals Intel stuff for less the price tag). For Chipsets either AMD/ATI or Nvidia stuff is good to use, graphics between either is a toss up.

    For audio.... avoid Creative. believe me I've found and used better. ASUS, Realtek, and C-Media all do far better of a job. The ASUS Xonar series is nice too.

  17. Default

    • may give you some idea:,1702.html
      but I would stick to the major product line. If you simply want to increase data transfer speeds, opting for higher RPM drives is not worth the cost.(at least atm)
    • use a power supply calculator like this then +10~20%, also considering the further upgrade you may have
      if over amt required: you will spent too much on the PSU and electric bill, more pollute to the environment....
      if under the amt.: system may become unstable

  18. Default

    Here's a question for the experts. I realize that laptops (yes, laptops, not netbooks) are relatively pricey, and that it's usually not worth the prices at all [ie: Dell's Alienware]. You can customize the hardware from their site, but it's not worth it. I've never really opened up a laptop (due to no experience), but I've often opened up PCs to clean out the fans, etc. So I know my way around a PC rather well. I know with my current laptop, I have mostly integrated stuff, so I can't change out most of the stuff I'd like to change out.

    I am looking for a decent laptop that can handle business applications. Not so much as for gaming, because I don't really use my laptop(s) to play videogames anyways. Any specific brand, memory size, or etc that you guys would highly recommend? I just need something that can handle running Visual Basic, etc. Just a decent computer that can handle multiple tasks. Specifics would be nice, because I honestly don't know how much RAM I want. I was thinking about 4GB, because that's always the standard these days with the newer laptops. My current one only has 2GB. As for HDD, that doesn't really matter because I plan on using an external HDD.

  19. Default

    Dell outlet is your friend.

  20. Default

    I actually never knew about that site, thanks! I was going through Dell's site to find *cough* new laptops with specs that I wanted, but I don't have the kind of money that they want. <_<



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