Some advice please for new pc spec?

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Some advice please for new pc spec? // Hardware

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Post by Nez // Jul 28, 2008, 2:33am

Nez
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I'd appreciate a little advice if anyone's prepared to give it....


As someof you will know, I'm still running TS5.1 on an old (10 years roughly) P3 machine, with Win98SE, which isn't too bad but hardly superfast. Even before 7.6 was suddenly released I was finally planning an upgrade and now have extra incentive.


The machine needs to be a fair 'all-rounder' - will be the main household machine for word-processing etc as well as photoshop etc and 3d, and will also not be a high-end spec, something mid-range (400-600 pounds probably) being all I can really justify/afford. I'll almost certainly use a small local builder to assemble a system for me as i don't have the confidence to self-build - might not get absolute optimum price but can probably pick and choose components-wise plus get decent back-up support.


I've not really been following hardware developments all that closely and got somewhat confused over the difference between 'dual core' and core 2 duo' for example - don't think I can sensibly afford quad core so pretty much assuming that's out of the picture. Also I recall reading that L2 cache made a lot of difference to performance?


Have heard quite a lot of negatives on Vista so was also assuming I'd probably stick with XP, which I believe limit my RAM to 2GB - which is fine as it's a lot more than I've currently got... Not sure I could afford more than that anyway.


In terms of GPU, there's been a lot of negative talk on NVidia drivers recently - I'd been thinking about something moderately mid-range like the 8600 but don't know if I should really push for a higher spec or ATI alternative? I don't know what ATI products are broadly equivalent to the Geforce cards - is there an easy table that compares spec/price?


Any thought on any of the above, or anything else I really need to take account of? I'm not too worried about being ready for 64bit stuff as I'll be very slow on moving forward with that kind of thing (probably a new pc in 10 yrs!); I'm not into games so won't be pushing the machine hard in that regard. Cheers.

Post by TomG // Jul 28, 2008, 2:59am

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A 32 bit OS will address up to 3.5Gb of memory, though any single application will only be able to address 2Gb for itself. So go for at least 3Gb, maybe 4 (though you wouldn't necessarily get all of that 4Gb).


Vista is not as bad as people claim :) I wouldn't go back to XP, and have never regretted the move to Vista even 18 months ago when I made it. The only thing I don't like is the way the search was changed on the local hard drive, but that's all, the rest of Vista I really like.


An 8600 is very good cost / performance wise now. I've even seen my 8800 GS at $100 now (cost me $300 18 months ago).


A core 2 duo is the way to go as opposed to just dual core. Dual Core is just older (in fact it would be hard to find one these days, but you dont really want to!). I see a Wolfdale (latest tech) starts at $125 now. An older Core 2 Quad starts at $180, and a newer Yorkfield starts at $270, so they may not be unaffordable - I think I'd go for a Wolfdale Core 2 Duo though if you are being budget conscious.


HTH!

Tom


PS - be sure to get a large enough power supply, especially if you run an 8800 card say.

Post by Nez // Jul 28, 2008, 3:25am

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Thanks Tom, appreciate the feedback.

I certainly intended to ensure there's a hefty power supply - I've seen several people mention that before.


My bigget sworry with the Vista/XP thing (Apart from possible slowing down I've heard mentioned) was that I was told I could have difficulty running a lot of my older software (and hardware) - almost all of my software was released more than 5 years ago (still using MS Offfice 97 for example) and much of my hardware (printers, scanners etc) are older still and I may therefore struggle with drivers etc under Vista. I don't really want to replace them too... of course, this may all be exaggeration on the part of certain people, but I'd just got a very negative vibe about Vista so far...

Post by TomG // Jul 28, 2008, 3:47am

TomG
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You might be right on older hardware, there may not be drivers for it. Can't say, not running any older hardware off my machines here to comment. Certainly everything I've been using has had an easier time of it with drivers than under XP - had some trouble with my sound card until recently (memory leak, not a Vista issue but an EMU issue, they were slow to update for Vista over at Creative too but they are there now), and there is only one piece of software I am unable to run (a VPN thing), and that's the only snags I've run into.


But for older stuff, I can't say, may be a problem - that's not really a Vista problem as such, just that the manufacturers of older software and hardware won't be updating those items at all, including to make them compatible with Vista. Eventually new drivers just stop coming out, and the hardware / software doesnt keep pace.


HTH!

Tom

Post by Jack Edwards // Jul 28, 2008, 8:07am

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It'd say get Vista x64 if you can afford it and then dual boot with XP until you've migrated all your hardware and software. Ram is cheap lately so go for 8 Gigs of 800Mhz or 1000Mhz ram. (Or get 4 gig now and another 4 gig later when you can afford it.) I find I don't even use my XP partition anymore.

Any Core 2 Duo chip will be insanely faster than what you have now. For the video card get an ATI 4850. You can find them on sale these days for around $180.

The biggest thing is to make sure you get a case with good ventilation and a strong power supply. The modern video cards draw a LOT of power and most require at least a 500 watts rated PS.

Good luck Nez!
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