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Thread: Want computer recommendations

  1. #1
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    Want computer recommendations

    I'm getting a whole new desktop computer RSN. The old
    (1998) stopgap laptop I'm currently using is my first real
    experience with an LCD screen. Based on what I saw in the
    stores (lots of widescreen LCD monitors), it looks like
    I'll probably get one in the range of 20-22 inches.

    There were two obviously different types: matte screen and
    glossy. The two salespeople I talked with liked the glossy,
    and it did seem to have distinctly more brilliant, saturated
    color. But the reflections...

    Do you have opinions?

    Brand/model recommendations? Things to watch out for?

    Do the claimed contrast ratios make a difference in actual
    viewing?

    Do pixels often go bad? If one does, do I get a new monitor
    at no additional charge?

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  2. #2
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    Do I understand correct, you want a notebook with an 22" display?

    Ah, no. On second though you are searching for a TFT display for your new desktop.

    Well modern TFT display have very little if any bad pixels.
    I am using a Fujitsu Siemens 17" display for over three years and I have no problems with bad pixels.

    As for the glossy/matte displays.
    Those glossy displays are great for multimedia utilizations . For standard office use a matte one would suffice.
    Just keep your glossy display away from windows, bright lights and don't even think about to use it outdoors.

    As for the size, it depends on what you want and what you can afford. But, good for you, recently 22" displays
    are not much more expensive than the 19" types.

    As for recommendations.
    Top notch everything inside panel:
    Acer AL2223W

    If you are looking for great display quality for a good price and don't need build in speakers and any fancy at all:
    LG L226WT

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laguna2 View Post
    If you are looking for great display quality for a good price and don't need build in speakers and any fancy at all:
    LG L226WT
    I'll second that. The only complaint is that the 3000:1 ratio will blind you when you first turn it on. I've dialed it down to 70% and it still makes the 19" monitor that came with my computer look like the bulb's out (700:1 or something around that I think). It's a little slow to wake up from power save mode, but not too bad. Actually, my biggest problem is that Photoshop 7 doesn't recognize the monitor profile and the colors can get a bit squirrelly; mainly white is not quite white. I guess I finally need to fork out the money for a newer version.

  4. #4
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    On the bad pixel issue...

    When I was researching LCD monitors, most of the warranties I saw required a certain number of pixels to go bad before they would replace it (as I recall it was usually 7).

  5. #5
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    May I recommend:
    HardOCP
    AnandTech
    and PriceWatch

    You can build a very powerful computer very easily for less money than you'll find in stores.

    Also, the enthusiasts on HardForum are willing to advise (and even link to great prices) on various parts, etc. If you've never built your own computer: its easy - all you need is a phillips head screwdriver and a credit card. Its also fun!

    --I don't know much about the displays, but you'll find some smart folks on the forums and I trust the reviewers...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Kidd View Post
    I'll second that. The only complaint is that the 3000:1 ratio will blind you when you first turn it on. I've dialed it down to 70% and it still makes the 19" monitor that came with my computer look like the bulb's out (700:1 or something around that I think). It's a little slow to wake up from power save mode, but not too bad. Actually, my biggest problem is that Photoshop 7 doesn't recognize the monitor profile and the colors can get a bit squirrelly; mainly white is not quite white. I guess I finally need to fork out the money for a newer version.
    The 3000:1 is only when no white is visible.
    When any white is on the screen, the ratio drops significantly...

  7. #7
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    For Toshiba, Dell and Apple there is a formula for working out warranty on dead pixels, it depends on the positioning and type of dead pixel.

    If I was getting a PC I would buy a Dell if a laptop then a Dell or toshiba.
    I favour a Mac myself .

    I have Dell PC, a Mac G5 and a Dell laptop at mysdisposal.

    I am a field service engineer weorking on Dell, Apple, Toshiba and IBM contracts so I speak from experience.

    Most Flat diaplays seem to be either Phillips LG or Samsung inside. Toshiba use their owen panel of course.

    I did a job on a Dell Lattitude 830 today the display panel is LG and strangely the internal fan is a Toshiba lol.
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  8. #8
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    Awesome computer with a small footprint:

    http://www.apple.com/imac/

    I have an Intel iMac 2.0. With OS X Tiger and Boot Camp with Windows XP 2000, there is hardly any software that I can't run on it. Truly 2 computers in one.

    tbm

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    It looks decent, as long as you aren't doing anything graphics intensive. Sorry, but the HD2400 and HD2600 do fall behind when it comes to something that is truly demanding of the graphics. Other than that and the grossly inflated price compared to building one yourself or even a current dell, it isn't too bad.

  10. #10
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post
    It looks decent, as long as you aren't doing anything graphics intensive. Sorry, but the HD2400 and HD2600 do fall behind when it comes to something that is truly demanding of the graphics. Other than that and the grossly inflated price compared to building one yourself or even a current dell, it isn't too bad.
    Ya, but I don't mind paying a litte more to scoff at the Windows virus thing and OS X is something that Vista is still trying to be. You get what you pay for.

    At least I hope so.........


    tbm

  11. #11
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    Well, if you consider that OSX had more security holes than vista (though less than xp) during the same period after its release, I fail to see how it is more secure. I completely disagree actually about the "you get what you pay for" (other than novelty and the ability to feel smug about your computer compared to windows owners ) - I have had wonderful luck with Vista, and everything runs beautifully. When I actually configure an imac and a dell xps 420 desktop, I have to cringe at just how much more you pay to get the imac, even when the dell is configured with superior components. In fact, the dell needs to approach 1.5 times the speed before the prices become comparable. I'm not saying macs are inherently bad - I know many people who've had good luck with them - I would just have a heck of a time getting used to it, and seeing as windows based machines are cheaper, faster, and more compatible right now (more secure too IF they are used and treated right, but you definitely need to take a little more care of them this way - as much as anything because of their large market share), I don't see myself switching soon.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post
    Well, if you consider that OSX had more security holes than vista (though less than xp) during the same period after its release, I fail to see how it is more secure.

    ...
    Now I do not really know much about Macs, but generaly the number of security flaws discovered over a certain time in a certain piece of software is not a good metric for the security of that software.

  13. #13
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    I have been using Macs for 20 years and OS X for the last 2. I have yet to have been affected by any virus (at least on my computer). I can't remember how many times in the last year my PC at work has either been infected by or has needed interventions for virus or spyware infection.

    BTW, check out the Leopard preview at the Apple site. A little lengthy, but does a nice job of highlighting it's features.

    tom

  14. #14
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    I have owned both Macs and PCs since 1984; NEVER had a virus on a Mac.

    Nice thing about the new Macs is that you can run BOTH osx and xp on 'em. Best of both worlds (and PCMagazine found the fastest XP machines are Intel Macs...)

    In the PC world, I've had great luck with all the Gateway machines I've owned. Good quality.

  15. #15
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    Looking up info on the monitors you suggested led to looking at
    Samsung monitors online, and I found three models that appear
    to be promising. Their prices at Best Buy:

    2232BW $330
    226CW $360
    245BW $450 (Sale price, $50 off through Saturday)

    The 226CW has a glossy screen and probably glossy casing --
    I'm not sure about the other two. I don't want a glossy casing
    and I'm undecided whether reflections will destroy the advantage
    of the glossy screen.

    I have room for the 24" screen but don't know if I need it or if
    the additional cost over a 22" is worth it. I can imagine putting
    such a screen in a public display (behind a glass window if I let
    it run unattended), but chances are I wouldn't be willing to do
    that with my own personal monitor for more than a day. I have
    done that several times in the past with previous computers,
    for example a Space Quiz I wrote ran on my Commodore Plus4
    at several Spaceweek displays and science fiction conventions.

    Any comments? If I go for the 24" monitor, I'll have to decide
    by Saturday morning, so prod me now or it will be too late.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  16. #16
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    Bigger is always nicer but comes at a higher price.
    Are 2" worth the additional $100?
    That's a decision you have to make for your own.

    I live well with my 19" screen...

    As for your selection. I would decide for the 2232BW.
    Even though I heard its a little unstable on its base.

  17. #17
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    I hadn't looked at the prices for monitors recently and was amazed at how much they dropped. I bought a 19" LCD some years ago for $650 and that was a bargain. I'm probably going to move up.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

    I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?

    The Leif Ericson Cruiser

  18. #18
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    Haven't got anything yet.

    Does it make a big difference in what I should be looking for if I want
    to use the monitor as a TV? If so, what should I be looking for?

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  19. #19
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    Is there a good reason to get separate video and audio boards, or
    are the integrated video and audio on the mainboard everything I
    could possibly need?

    The CPU will probably be a Core 2 Duo. Can I go with a lower CPU
    speed than with previous, non-dual processors, yet get a higher
    effective speed? So, for example, a 1.8 GHz Duo might be as fast
    as a 2.5 GHz non-Duo CPU?

    Does the FSB speed of the motherboard need to match that of
    the CPU? So that if I want a 2.33 GHz CPU that has a 1.333 GHz
    FSB, it needs to plug into a mainboard with a 1.333 GHz FSB?
    Would I get a noticeable advantage from that combination over
    a 2.13 GHz CPU with 1.066 GHZ FSB in a 1.066 GHz mainboard?

    -- Jeff, inMinneapolis

  20. #20
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    The audio is usually ok, but don't expect Hi-Fi feeling.
    Onboard video is another case.
    For office use and sometimes a game at low resolution or with little detail they are ok. For HD-video and gamers get yourself a PCIe Graphics Card.

    As for Clock speeds. This is a little more complicated that just GHz.
    The new Dual- or Quad-Cores are new CPU design having more computing power/GHz and a lower energy consumption per core.
    So a 1.8GHz Dual core might be as fast as a 2.5GHz single core or even a little faster. At least as long as only one core is used. Taking both cores would get the dual core in advance, but only, if both cores are used. Not too much, and only the latest, software is able to do that.
    When using multiple applications at the same time, a dual/quad core will play its advantages.
    Regarding an old P4 and the new C2D get the C2D E6600 the P4s are energy hungry beasts.

    A faster FSB gets you a faster connection to your drives, RAM and Graphics card, so yes a faster FSB widens the bottleneck to those components and will result in a higher performance.
    Last edited by Laguna; 2007-Nov-29 at 03:02 PM. Reason: added per core

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laguna2 View Post
    So a 1.8GHz Dual core might be as fast as a 2.5GHz single core or
    even a little faster. At least as long as only one core is used.
    It can be faster even though it's using only half its capability???

    Taking both cores would get the dual core in advance, but only,
    if both cores are used. Not too much, and only the latest,
    software is able to do that.
    Oh. The software has to be written to take advantage of the
    dual processors? That sucks. It means that new software will
    be bloated to consume the available processing power, but do
    the same thing the old software did using twice the resources.

    When using multiple applications at the same time, a dual/quad
    core will play its advantages.
    Ah. I suspect that this is an OS thing. The apps may not make
    use of the dual processors, but the operating system does?

    get the C2D E6600
    Why the E6600 as opposed to the E6750 which has a higher
    rated speed, higher FSB speed, and costs $15 less? I haven't
    looked at the price of a motherboard for it yet. That might be
    the reason.

    Given that this is going into a mid-tower case, is there any
    advantage to a microATX as opposed to ATX? I just noticed
    that the motherboard picked out for me by a store salesperson
    is micro rather than full size. (After reading the specs, I have
    an unrelated reason for wanting a different board than the one
    he picked.)

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    It can be faster even though it's using only half its capability???
    Yes, they are more efficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Oh. The software has to be written to take advantage of the
    dual processors? That sucks. It means that new software will
    be bloated to consume the available processing power, but do
    the same thing the old software did using twice the resources.
    Yes, the software has to be written to use multiple cores/Processors.
    The usual application has only on task running...
    New software would use multiple tasks to handle different functions.
    Like say MS Word would start a new task to spool your 200 page document to the printer queue. The OS would then take the new task to run on its own core. Leaving you the other core to continue working.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Ah. I suspect that this is an OS thing. The apps may not make use of the dual processors, but the operating system does?
    Its a combination of both. The applications must be able to use multiple tasks and the OS allocates them to the cores.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Why the E6600 as opposed to the E6750 which has a higher
    rated speed, higher FSB speed, and costs $15 less? I haven't
    looked at the price of a motherboard for it yet. That might be
    the reason.
    The reason is, that I am a little behind when it comes to Intel...
    So if the processor with a higher FSB and a higher clock value is cheaper,
    get it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Given that this is going into a mid-tower case, is there any
    advantage to a microATX as opposed to ATX? I just noticed
    that the motherboard picked out for me by a store salesperson
    is micro rather than full size. (After reading the specs, I have
    an unrelated reason for wanting a different board than the one
    he picked.)
    µATX Boards usually have less interfaces and features on it, as there is less space on it. You have to check if your case is able to contain an ATX board or only µATX. If you want another board, maybe because of missing features, get another one.

  23. #23
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    Laguna2 makes some terrific points. You may not want a microATX mb if you're planning on gaming or any other application where you'll want to add cards. MicroATX typically has one PCIe video slot and two PCI 2.0 slots, which means you can load up a video card (PCIe), say a premium sound card (PCI), and a 802.11n wireless card and you're done. No more slots for video capture or eSATA controller, etc. A full sized ATX mb is also easier to work with if you have to crack the case and add memory or work with cables - and since board components are a bit more spread out, full size boards can run a little cooler.

    Of course, as Laguna2 pointed out - your current case size will determine which type of mb you'll be able to use.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    It can be faster even though it's using only half its capability???


    Oh. The software has to be written to take advantage of the
    dual processors? That sucks. It means that new software will
    be bloated to consume the available processing power, but do
    the same thing the old software did using twice the resources.
    The software has to be written to use multiple threads. This does not mean that it will be bloated, simply that it will run in a different manner (and much faster). In addition, thanks to the new architecture, even the old software with only one thread will run faster than it did on the Pentiums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Ah. I suspect that this is an OS thing. The apps may not make
    use of the dual processors, but the operating system does?
    Not really...

    Instead, the CPU sees the multiple things running at once as multiple instruction sets to be carried out, exactly as multiple threads. It will run them simultaneously, rather than alternating the way an old one would.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Why the E6600 as opposed to the E6750 which has a higher
    rated speed, higher FSB speed, and costs $15 less? I haven't
    looked at the price of a motherboard for it yet. That might be
    the reason.
    FWIW, I wouldn't go for either. I would instead look at the Q6600, which is the best deal for the performance on any current CPU (in my opinon).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Given that this is going into a mid-tower case, is there any
    advantage to a microATX as opposed to ATX? I just noticed
    that the motherboard picked out for me by a store salesperson
    is micro rather than full size. (After reading the specs, I have
    an unrelated reason for wanting a different board than the one
    he picked.)

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    If you can fit a full ATX, there's no real reason not to. They tend to have more ports available, and have the components spaced farther apart (which will help with cooling). Of course, all this is decided by your case.

  25. #25
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    It depends upon what you are going to use the computer for, but here are a few suggestions I have come up with over the years.

    Dual monitors. At least. I had quad monitors for quite a while. I am restricted to two monitors due to current space limitation, but not for long. I could hardly work with a single monitor now.

    Optical trackball. The only disadvantage is when you have to use someone else’s computer. Otherwise, an optical trackball is lightning fast compared to any mouse. Once you get used to it, you won’t go back to a mouse.

    Ergonomic keyboard. The natural position for the hands is not parallel. having the hands at comfortable angles makes an huge difference. The only drawback is if you have to use someone else’s computer. You will feel cramped and wonder why they haven’t changed.
    Speed of light = 1.802,265,898 MegaFurlongs / MicroFortnight

  26. #26
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    The cooling. How could I forget about the most important part.
    Thanks guys for adding.

    Jeff, µATX Boards are tiny. They are all packed up with stuff close together.
    It will take you more powerful fans to keep the critical components of your board cool. And more fans and more powerful fans always means more noise.
    If you don't care for the noise, go for µATX. If you are sure that you won't need any further extension cards to add fore functionality to your board, go for µATX. If you use your computer for office use only, no problem, go for µATX as your computer will mostly idle and the board will thus run on a reduced core tension producing less heat.

    But if you are planning to play games, render videos, look DVD with your 24" TFT display and your added digital surround sound (and would like to enjoy the quiet, romantic, and subtle parts too besides the action parts), or, even worse, participate in some distributed computing projects with highly CPU optimized applications, get an ATX board (as long as it fits in your case).

  27. #27
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    Re-booting this thread. I need guidance.

    I've been threatening to get a new desktop system RSN for a long,
    long time. I've got to go ahead and do it. I tried looking for
    info at Tom's Hardware but it just overwhelmed me. I'm easily
    overwhelmed by decision trees which are both deep and wide.

    My most demanding applications are likely to be graphics creation
    and video editing. I know nothing of advanced gaming. Hopefully
    I won't be drawn into that alternate universe. On the other hand,
    I think I need to have TV, and would like to incorporate it into
    the computer.

    I'm open to suggestions on anything from build-it-myself to Mac.
    Your comments so far have been very helpful!

    One thing I still don't understand is the difference between
    32-bit and 64-bit systems. I know that operating systems are one
    or the other. I presume they require the corresponding processor,
    yet I rarely see processors labeled "32-bit" or "64-bit".
    Do I need 64-bit? Should I get it anyhow? Or is 32-bit fine?

    I really want to avoid Microsoft if I can. I don't want to pay
    MS for Windows Vista or XP, but I will buy a copy secondhand or
    pirate one if necessary in order to run whatever software.
    I have an Ubuntu (Linux) OS disk and plan to try that out.

    Some hardware I'm considering:

    Samsung 22" 2280HD 1680 x 1050 HDTV/monitor (many inputs) $450
    or
    Samsung 22" 2253BW 1680 x 1050 monitor (fast 2 ms) $330

    Antec Sonata Designer 500 case with 500 W power supply $140
    (This is "silver". I'd prefer beige/white/gray. Not black.)

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5 GHz 1333 MHz FSB CPU $250
    or
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 GHz 1066 MHz FSB CPU $190
    or
    Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz FSB CPU $160

    I don't know how much advantage multiple processors will be with
    any particular software. I may prefer dual to quad if it uses
    less power and requires less cooling.

    Intel DP35DPM 1333 MHz FSB Quad motherboard - no video $120
    or
    Intel DG965WHMKR 1066 MHz FSB Duo motherboard with video $150

    If the motherboard does not have video, I particularly need
    advice on a video board. Boards with very similar model numbers
    and specs can have very different prices. One bit of info that I
    just got from a friend is most helpful: If my video is not being
    computed in real time (as in games), I don't need a particularly
    fancy video board.

    I don't know much about RAM either, but this looks likely:

    Crucial 4 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800 MHz $92

    Recommendations on hard drives, DVD burner, or anything?
    I want reliability over speed or size.

    -- Jeff

  28. #28
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    For the 64 Bit part.
    All current CPUs are 64bit.
    Its the OS that has to support 64bit. If you need it.

    The 32bit OS can only handle 3GB of RAM.
    If you need more, you would need a 64bit OS.

    For the DVD burner.
    Every one has almost the same speed and reliability. There is almost no difference between the brands.

    For the right HD. Thats religion and off topic here... ;-)
    Everybody praises his brand to be the best while mostly they do not differe that much...
    At least I have never experienced any difference.
    For video editing make sure to get something big...

  29. #29
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    hey
    I just wanted to give the heads up.
    Agencies are upgrading to new server systems and the old servers are available for nothing on ebay.
    I picked up a Dell Precision 470 for 400 bucks
    http://www.users.co.il/files/spec_precn_470_en.pdf

    Up to two 64-bit Intel® Xeon® dual-core or single-core processors with 800MHz front side bus and 2MB L2 cache per core; All Intel® Xeon®
    processors support 64-bit computing with Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology
    Dell recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional for Business
    Genuine Windows XP Professional; Genuine Windows XP Professional x64 Edition;
    Red Hat® Enterprise Linux WS v.4 (IA32); Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS v.4 (Intel EM64T)
    Intel E7525 chipset
    Up to 16GB1 dual-channel2 DDR2 400MHz ECC registered memory; Six DIMM slots
    4MB flash memory for system BIOS; SMBIOS 2.3.1 support
    Support for ISV-certified PCI Express graphics cards up to 150 watts and with up to 512MB graphics memory including: nVIDIA® Quadro® FX
    4500; nVIDIA Quadro FX 3450; Quadro FX 1400; ATI™ FireGL™ V3100; nVIDIA Quadro NVS 280; All graphics cards support dual monitor
    configurations
    the one I got has 2 3.06 Ghz CPUs (hyper threading capable (shows 4 3.06 processors))
    16 gigs of RAM (XP can only use 4 gigs (Physical Address Extension (PAE)) but the new 64 bit os will be able to access all of it when/if i feel like i would like to upgrade.
    Windows XP professional Operating System with COA
    SATA hard drives
    SCSI connectors
    Gigabit lan on board
    and a NVIDA multi monitor card which is pretty much normal in these systems.


    I am using 2 dual head monitor cards one PCI-E and one PCI
    and am running 3 17 inch monitors and one 15 inch monitor

    Supports PCI, PCI-e and PCI-x cards

    the stuff that did not come with the machine

    2 Samsung DVD burners,
    5 TB of hard drive space.
    firewire card
    Analogue to digital Video converter by OSPREY (64 bit PCI-x capture card)
    MOTU 2408 MK3 High resolution Audio interface.
    Mackie 16X8 Mixing Console
    Crown and QSC amplifier.
    SONAR DAW
    Adobe Audition

    Regardless, look online for server systems as the old servers are being replaces and the old generation servers are needing good homes.
    one can find a very powerful PC for very little money.
    Cheers

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Re-booting this thread. I need guidance.

    I've been threatening to get a new desktop system RSN for a long,
    long time. I've got to go ahead and do it. I tried looking for
    info at Tom's Hardware but it just overwhelmed me. I'm easily
    overwhelmed by decision trees which are both deep and wide.

    My most demanding applications are likely to be graphics creation
    and video editing. I know nothing of advanced gaming. Hopefully
    I won't be drawn into that alternate universe. On the other hand,
    I think I need to have TV, and would like to incorporate it into
    the computer.

    I'm open to suggestions on anything from build-it-myself to Mac.
    Your comments so far have been very helpful!

    One thing I still don't understand is the difference between
    32-bit and 64-bit systems. I know that operating systems are one
    or the other. I presume they require the corresponding processor,
    yet I rarely see processors labeled "32-bit" or "64-bit".
    Do I need 64-bit? Should I get it anyhow? Or is 32-bit fine?
    I would go with 64 bit. Note that all current hardware supports 64 bit, you just need an operating system that does too (I would get Vista 64, as XP X64 is horrendous for driver support)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    I really want to avoid Microsoft if I can. I don't want to pay
    MS for Windows Vista or XP, but I will buy a copy secondhand or
    pirate one if necessary in order to run whatever software.
    I have an Ubuntu (Linux) OS disk and plan to try that out.
    Fair enough if you want Linux. However, do not pirate a copy of Vista (or XP for that matter). If I don't want to support Chevrolet, that is fine and I can go buy a Ford (or a golf cart, or a Volkswagen, or whatever), but if what I really want is a corvette, I can't steal one just because I don't want to support Chevrolet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Some hardware I'm considering:

    Samsung 22" 2280HD 1680 x 1050 HDTV/monitor (many inputs) $450
    or
    Samsung 22" 2253BW 1680 x 1050 monitor (fast 2 ms) $330

    Antec Sonata Designer 500 case with 500 W power supply $140
    (This is "silver". I'd prefer beige/white/gray. Not black.)

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5 GHz 1333 MHz FSB CPU $250
    or
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 GHz 1066 MHz FSB CPU $190
    or
    Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz FSB CPU $160

    I don't know how much advantage multiple processors will be with
    any particular software. I may prefer dual to quad if it uses
    less power and requires less cooling.
    Duals are lower power and cooling, but for video editing and similar tasks, the quad core can be quite beneficial, and can speed it up quite a bit. I'd go for a Q9300 out of those. The Q9450 could be a good choice as well, as it has a larger cache.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Intel DP35DPM 1333 MHz FSB Quad motherboard - no video $120
    or
    Intel DG965WHMKR 1066 MHz FSB Duo motherboard with video $150

    If the motherboard does not have video, I particularly need
    advice on a video board. Boards with very similar model numbers
    and specs can have very different prices. One bit of info that I
    just got from a friend is most helpful: If my video is not being
    computed in real time (as in games), I don't need a particularly
    fancy video board.
    Between those, I'd go with the DP35, as it has a P35 chipset, which is newer and supports more features than the older 965. As for video, what kind of budget do you have for a video card? There are benefits to a fast video card, though clearly a $450 GTX 280 would be a complete waste of money for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    I don't know much about RAM either, but this looks likely:

    Crucial 4 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800 MHz $92
    That would be a good choice. If you go with a 64 bit OS, you could even consider 8GB, as the 64 bit can take advantage of the extra RAM, and the applications you mentioned tend to be memory hogs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Recommendations on hard drives, DVD burner, or anything?
    I want reliability over speed or size.

    -- Jeff
    For hard drives, Seagate 7200.10's are nice (the .11's aren't quite as reliable), or the Western Digital WD640AAKS (fast, 640GB, cheap, and quite reliable). I'm not as familiar with DVD burners, but I haven't had any problems with mine either.

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