Tips from the Disscussion board

Discussion in 'PC Mechanic Hall of Fame' started by M A Dockter, Aug 20, 1999.

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  1. M A Dockter

    M A Dockter Guest

    I've decided to start something...again.

    I'll ask you guys a question, then you give your own personal tips on it, then I'll post it as an article on PC Mechanic's main site. Sounds good, doesn't it?

    Any are some tips to buying a new PC.

    Post here, don't reply to me by e-mail.

    M. A. Dockter
    "Za Administrator"
  2. fred

    fred Guest

    A few thoughts......

    Unless you know exactly what you are doing, then choose a good brand name. Brand names are dearer but tend to offer better support and upgradability. They also tend to work better in the first place! Check out the support service that is provided. Support, especially for a newbie to computers is very important. Make sure it’s free.
    Be careful with packages that include all sorts of extra “free” items such as scanners, digital cameras and buckets of software. They are not really free, and unless you really want them you are just wasting your money and cluttering up your desk with wires and boxes and your hard disk with useless software. Apart from anything else, cluttered PC's tend to work less well!
    Don’t just go for the most powerful PC you can find! If you intend to run business applications or general software for the home, then most PC’s around these days are adequate. You only need top of the range processors and graphics cards, etc, if you have highly specific applications, or want cutting edge gaming.
  3. Floppyman

    Floppyman Guest

    Also make sure that if you want to upgrade in the future there is room for expansion inside , extra pci slots for example. And don't go for onboard sound and video! Later you find this great new video card or sound card and, find out you can't use it. Plus if it's at all possible I would recommend having name brand componets in your machine, it'll save you the trouble later.

    God Bless,
    "Computers don't make mistakes, only people do."
  4. When you do get your new PC, its always a good idea to open up the system and trying to verify that you did get what you paid for. You wont void any warranty by openning up your case and checking. Its also a good idea to insist that your parts come stickered by the store assembling it, almost all stores do it. It will save you a lot of trouble just taking the time out and writing down the model, serial #s & revision dates of any and all of the parts on there. Even if you had to call tech support or just download the latest drivers, knowing the exactly what you have running for you makes troubleshooting a whole lot faster. And once you have that list, go to the manufacturer's web site and check to see if they have any new drivers or patches.

    Absolutum Obsoletum
  5. ETS

    ETS Guest

    If you are fairly knowledgable or have a friend that is, I would go for a custom made computer. If you don't have a local shop that builds custom, there are reliable ones on the Internet. Make sure you check them out first and shop around. Beware of shipping charges and be sure to specify that you want all standard parts of good quality and factory warranties. You may pay more for custom made in the beginning but you'll save a bundle later on upgrades and repairs.
  6. AlexW

    AlexW Guest

    If you are a newbie don't go to a large chain (in Engalnd PC World or Currys), the sales droids get minimal training in hardware and are often on a bonus scheme for selling extended warranties / insurance.

    Go to a small local dealer, the staff are far more likely to know what their talking about. Tell them what you want to use it for and you will end up with a system more suitable for your needs. Be careful though there are a lot of cowboys out there, if you are unsure:
    - ask how long they've been operating (more than 2 years better),
    - satisfied customers? Contact them to make sure the names are genuine
    - if after that your still unsure go somewhere else, a bargain system is no good if it doesn't work properly.

    Of course if you are experienced, goto to a big chain just for the amusement value. Quote "A MB is half the size of a GB."

    PS the above applies equally to cookers, washing machines, dishwashers & microwaves .
  7. reboot

    reboot Guest

    RESEARCH, people, research!
    Find 3 or 4 different computers (Compaq, Dell, E-machine, and a custom build).
    Decide what you want to do with this computer.
    Are you willing to open the case and get your own hands on it, or do you want a lifetime warranty (HAH!)
    Compare hardware.
    Are the HDs the same size, at the same speed?
    What mobo is in them?
    How much, and what kind of RAM?
    Ask lots of questions of everyone you meet, every sales person, every tech, even your grandmother.
    (You don't have to follow their opinion, it's just nice to have lots of them)
    Keep notes!
    Decide how much you want to learn, and how steep the learning curve is.
    Purchase the machine that gives you exactly what you want, regardless of price. (I say this because if you settle for second best, you'll be investing more money rather quickly to actually get what you wanted in the first place).
    How good is the tech support? (Can you get, I mean really get the help you need? Often the big boys tech departments don't have a clue!)
    Check out your local computer club!

    Personal recommendation: Learn, buy, and build it yourself. You'll save a few $$, and become your own personal tech support. In the end, you'll save lots more $$ than an "off the shelf" system. (Small dig at Packard Hell goes here.)

    Wow, this could go on....

    Who needs a life?, I have internet!
    Cheers, Jim
  8. mbossman2

    mbossman2 Guest

    Reboot is right.

    Decide what you want your PC for.
    Once you get that defined, it gives you direction for your search and research. when looking for a system, any sales man who does not ask "what do you want you system for/to do", then move on. no matter how technically savvy they are, the system will reflect what they think is important not you and your needs.

    after the needs have been defined, as long as you stick with the "name" brand components you can be pretty assured of quality. in my experience, the top 3 brands in each category are equivalent in performance and reliability.
  9. lizanogmo

    lizanogmo Guest

    Reboot is right
    i researched for 3 months before buying my first PC. I asked everybody about PC's first.
    Now i am happy with the PC i got [​IMG]
    A friend of mine bought a Compaq even more expensive than the PC i have and it sucks. Now he wishes he had bought the same PC as the one i bought.

    El Sueño de la Razón produce Monstruos.
    ...Francisco Goya
  10. lizanogmo

    lizanogmo Guest

    i also wanted to add this in reply to a Post i just read.

    I HATE the sales men who ask "what do you want your system for/to do".

    FIRST and LAST- i bought a computer and therefore i want to be able to do EVERYTHING. I dont want to say i can do this but i can't do that. Because probably you want to do your homework today, but you never know if tomorrow you will need to design a 3D model of a Bridge or a City.

    El Sueño de la Razón produce Monstruos.
    ...Francisco Goya
  11. Arup

    Arup Guest

    I think Reboot is right. First decide what do you want do with your computer? What I think, for games, video, CAD, etc, you need powerful workhorse with top of the line accesories. For folks with database, project management, molecular modeling etc, you can forgo some high end article. For mathematical modeling and other scientific research also require power but demands for graphics may not be same as for gamers. Besides everything, it is personal choice. Trust me, I work for a major organization , but belive me some folks consider as a status symbol. You folks will be surprised, most of these folks use it for MS WORD and EXCEL Spreadsheet only. They have no idea what's inside and what a power a computer possess, if we use it to it's max efficiency. But for techies, may be it is fun but they enjoy it. I would suggest to Doc. that the administrative members of PCMECH first decide a base line custom made computer and then we can add our suggestion to build a dream machine which should have flexibility, expandability, upgradability and power. What do you think guys?
  12. lizanogmo

    lizanogmo Guest

    where do you work at ?

    El Sueño de la Razón produce Monstruos.
    ...Francisco Goya
  13. Toaster

    Toaster Guest

    Me?...resist this? Not on yer life guys! [​IMG]
    1. Plug and play does NOT mean you install ANY component while the system is RUNNING.
    Turn it off, install the hardware, then the drivers.
    2. ESD protection, long before you feel a shock, you may permanently damage ANY computer component. Buy a wrist strap from any electronics store. IE: radio shack.
    3. Read the DOCS!!! Hey, these folks built the thing, most of the time they know the best way to install it with minimal problems.
    Read the docs and follow them TO THE LETTER.
    Only then if a failure occurs do you have a right to gripe and groan.
    4. Never power up a power supply without a load of at least 10% of the total wattage of the supply.
    5. System cooling, Todays systems are workhorses and they create a great deal of heat doing so. 3 fans minimum, P/S fan, CPU fan/sink and an aux. frontal case fan.
    6. system cleaning, remove the case and carefully clean via a vacuum cleaner all the vents, CPU sink/fan. Your cats hairballs dont always end up in IT`S throat, it may be clogging up vents in your system.
    7. Mess with the registry and you will eventually re-install windows. *GUARANTEED*
    8. Back-ups, Back up your data, no one else is going to do it and its your it up!!
    *Rule of thumb* Backup devices should have at least 1/2 the capacity of the TOTAL hard disk capacity.
    9. Speed is heat, heat is bad, bad means broken or trouble prone. See tip #5, heed the warning.
    10. Benchmarks are worthless, is it fast enough for what you want to do? Alike systems behave diffrently.
    11. If you look for the cheapest they have, fear not, thats EXACTLY what you`ll get, the CHEAPEST they have. Cheap also means QUALITY.
    Buy products from well known companies with web sites for updates and other support.
    12. When you buy off the web remember ONE thing, YOU are tech support, not your local computer store. They have every right to tell you to "go jump in a lake". Support your local retailer when all possible. You`ll need their expertiese and their patientce.
    13. Ask QUESTIONS!!!!! There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers from stupid people. Remember, your learning, dont come off as a know it all because you dont, no one does.
    14 Your mother is right, you shouldn`t drink and drive [​IMG] (oops...wrong forum) hehehe
    15. Buy in excess of what you need when it comes to perfomance parts. It`s cheaper to buy one thats right then to buy 2 thats wrong then one thats right. (we dont play quake with 8 megs of memory ok?)
    16. MEMORY: buy 100mhz SD-RAM minimum, never 66mhz memory. Start with 64 megs, go to 128 at your first oportunity.
    17. System balance: Just because its the fastest CD-ROM out there doesn`t mean it WILL deliver the specs advertized. This goes for anything. A 50x CD-ROM drive will be noisey and slower than a "true" 32x drive or a SCSI drive.
    18. Partition sizes: Always use fat32 (95 OSr2 or 98) partition sizes should not exceed about 5 gigs, it slows defrag and scandisk.
    Multiple partitions with ONE partition backing up the primary partition.
    19. The meaning of life: Step back and take a breather when things go badly. When your calmed down, then go back to work. We`re human, we make mistakes, being stressed complicates this and compounds your mistakes.
  14. Mars

    Mars Guest

    I agree 100 per cent with what reboot said..I did it that way myself and I couldnt be happier....Its definitely worth taking time to research each component that you are going to use in the computer you want to build because in the end you are going to have one hell of a system which will put a huge smile on your face...Trust me [​IMG]
  15. techhelper

    techhelper Guest

    Get or buy a case that will accommodate a minimum of 4 internal 3.5" bays, and 2 or three external 3.5"bays, also as many 5.25" both internal and external, and make sure it has as many fans as it was designed or built for.

    Also get a case with at least a 250Watt power supply, 300 is better if u can find it.

    Stay away from "screwless" installations for drives. Drives were meant to be screwed in to drive bays, cages, housings, even the old AT required rails and then they were secured to the case.
  16. fulano

    fulano Guest

    Just one thing Reboot forgot. After all your research post here your prospective system for feedback
  17. buzza

    buzza Guest

    I think buying your first computer is differnt to buying a second computer.
    Having a sytem to back you up if something goes wrong makes it much eaiser to get your
    hands bloody, you can still make that deadline.
    The first computer you buy needs to be reliable, run crucial software, but not nessasarily blisteringly fast.

    The other's you build and can have fun with.
    Two types of user, those who get enjoyment out of problem solving and hunting for the ultimate bargin that will make their system simply unreal, and those that rely on the computer to do a job. They have differnt needs.
  18. nick

    nick Guest

    I'd have to reccommend a mail order company like Gateway, Dan or Dell as they offer good value, support and some powerful and upgradable systems.
  19. Carl Price

    Carl Price Guest

    For all those who recommend a mail order co I offer these considerations.

    First if you never have any trouble with your computer it doesn't matter who you get it from. The difference in computers is what happens if you have trouble. I recommend staying away from mail order if you rely on the computer. If you absolutely must have the computer running mail order is not for you.

    I have a first hand example. An acquaintance of mine was enticed by Gateway in March of 1997 and bought a system from them. He now calls it his cow patty. It arrived not working. Keep in mind that he is a computer virgin. He called Gateway and they kept him on the line for over two hours trying to fix the computer. They wanted him to go inside the box and press all connections. This thought terrified him. Then they decided that it was a motherboard problem and they fedex him a motherboard with the instructions that he call them when he received it. He called them. At that time they made an appointment for someone to come out and fix the computer. Two days later the guy shows up and installs the motherboard. It doesn't fix the computer but the tech says his only responsibility is to install the part that Gateway sent and to send them the old part back. He would not troubleshoot the machine (I don't blame him, troubleshooting on-site is a *****). Now this guy has had the machine a week and has yet to see a picture on the screen. He calls Gateway. They send a motherboard harddrive ram and video card to him and he makes an appointment to have them installed. keep in mind that the techs don't work at night so he has to take off work to let them work on the machine. They finally get it running (defective video card). This is where buying from a local computer store would have really paid off. To conclude this story the computer has been down twice since, once for 21 days. You cannot rely on mailorder if you can't fix the machine yourself. Even if you could in the case of a defective part you can spend hours on the phone diagnosing and days waiting for parts. Even if you wanted to pay someone to fix the machine for you having anyone else service it voids your warranty.

    Second, you should really support the local guy. If they go under you will have no choice but to accept sh**ty service such as I described.

    (off my soapbox)

  20. AlexK

    AlexK Guest

    Hey Doc, how about compiling a list of recomended hardware items divided into categories. Say divide each category into 3 divisions like low end user, up to date user, and high end. So if some one wants to buy something like a new soundcard or a video card they could see suggested models, prices and decriptions suggesting models and brands which work well and may be even what brands not to buy. I am sure it would a lot people who ask questions about what brands of this and that are recommended by others. Just a though.
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