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lawjah 04-16-2007 10:18 PM

help for the inexperienced
a friend of mine has offerred to build a computer for me because i am old and poor. but i want a comp. that will be good for some years. i think i've decided on an a.m.d. chip but other than that i know nothing about mother boards. how much RAM, how much memory, heat sinks, fans, space around p.s.???? is there something i can read so i don't make too many bad decisions. is there a web site that will walk me thru this? i will be thankful and appreciative for any assistance.

lawjah :confused:

Cobalt 04-17-2007 09:59 AM

To be able to point you in the right direction, we really need to know what you will be using the machine for. There are a good few general guidelines to follow, such as ensuring good expansion potential, but to give you advice tailored to your situation we need to know whether you just want to use your machine for word processing, E-Mail and surfing the web or if you want to do a little bit more such as gaming or photography work.

Let us know your plans and I'm sure we can give you some guidelines on what CPU to use, how much RAM you will require, a good sized hard disk and so forth, as well as where to consider buying components from.

Alternatively, lots of manufacturers are offering PC's at rock bottom prices which are hard to beat, even if you build your own machine. These aren't necessarily designed to last years, but may be a useful starting point for future upgrades.

lawjah 04-17-2007 12:30 PM

dear cobalt,
just going from my past history it seems that i surf the internet, do a lot of research, and have quite a few photo albums. i download music and burn it on c.d.'s. i do play some games but nothing that requires speed because i run in slomo. i think my dream machine is one that responds in an instant. is that too funny or is it actually possible?
i was told that if i wanted labelling capabilities that i have to find a program that is compatable. don't do much word processing.

thanx for your reply.

Cobalt 04-18-2007 03:00 AM

Hi Linda,

All machines can have a slow moment (like most people, actually!), but pretty much any new machine that you look after and don't fill up with rubbish will remain responsive, boot quickly and won't have you hanging around if you're just surfing the net or browsing through photos. CD burning still takes a few minutes though I'm afraid and the speed of the Internet will depend on the connection.

The goods news is that even a low-end machine will comfortably suit your requirements. Realistically, you don't need much more than an Intel Celeron 347 or even a an AMD Sempron 3400+. In terms of RAM, you could get away with 512MB, and I don't see why you'd fill much more than about 120GB of hard drive space (Go SATA if possible as it's quicker). I would invest on a reasonable DVD/CD burner if you intend to burn discs regularly, though if it is only the odd one and you don't mind waiting a few extra minutes, you can look at a cheaper model. As for graphics, if you want to keep costs down, you can get away with those on board, as well as the network card and sound card. They won't be as good as dedicated devices, but depending on your budget, may be your best option.

Now, if you can afford to stretch the purse strings a little more and go for something with expansion potential that will last you a bit longer, consider this:

- A P4 or AMD Athlon 64 CPU
- At least 1GB RAM
- 250GB hard drive
- Motherboard with two or more PCI and at least one PCI-E expansion slot (This will allow you to add a dedicated graphics card amongst other things)

Low-end graphics cards will comfortably handle anything you seem to do on a daily basis and may just make that odd game run a bit more smoothly. If you want recommendations on those, just ask and I'll run by a few reasonably priced cards that will get you by.

Any questions, feel free to ask, hope I've been of some assistance.


lawjah 04-18-2007 05:30 PM

here is the story. as i've said before i not wealthy, but i've decided to do this because my computer rates pretty high on my priority list. i feel as long as i've chosen to do this i might as well do it the best as i can. so if any of your suggestions fit into my budget, i'm willing.
i bought my comp. almost five years ago from dell and didn't know a thing, so i just went along with they suggested. i only had 256mb of ram and started having a lot of blue screens saying that a serious error has occurred and windows was shut down. i have a real neat service with m.s. it was a promo that allows me to talk with a tech. for unlimited amounts of time as long as it applies to windows, they're all located in canada. it was one of the techs that told me the problem could be caused from not having enough ram. so i installed another seven hundred something the other night. as i said i do a lot of surfing and sometimes have many programs open. i guess that's where ram comes in?
(i sure am wordy.) the bottom line i guess is if i feel the choices i make are worth the money to me i'll do it. i'd rather get what's best for me than be sorry and disappointed after the fact.
can you recommend a sight that's good for pricing items. another thing i thought of after reading your reply is that it sounds better to buy independent cards rather that everything being incorporated in the motherboard. it's probably easier and cheaper to replace individual pwa's.

Cobalt 04-18-2007 06:00 PM

Hi Linda,

RAM is an important factor, particularly when you have multiple applications open. I don't see why it would have caused such frequent blue screens, but I suppose running Windows along with several instances of Internet Explorer and so forth would have made your machine very slow indeed. What operating system have you got? If it's pre-XP, then that is most likely the cause of your errors - As compatible as Windows 98 and ME were, they had plenty of bugs that cause more than the occasional headache. XP is generally a very stable operating system, so if you have that then it makes the blue screens even more difficult to diagnose.

That said, if you are looking for a new PC now is as good a time as any to purchase one as hardware prices are particularly competative at the moment. I generally recommend people purchasing an entire machine to look at somewhere such as Dell, who not only build good quality machines but also back them up with warrenties. You can get more speed for your money, but few have the build quality and service to back it up and if you rely on your PC, that's what you really want to see.

Standalone cards are better than onboard for a number of reasons, though the ability to be flexible is my particular favourite. Again, you might spend a little more but it will allow you to upgrade in the future and prolong the life of your machine - crucial if you are on a budget.

If you want to look at individual items or machines, try Ebuyer - Cheap Computers Laptops Digital Cameras Televisions or - PC Hardware, Components, Software, Digital Cameras, MP3 Players. Alternatively, look at manufacturers such as Dell to see what you can get for your money. It may be possible to extend the life of your current PC, though in general I'm afraid all but the very top end machines are pretty much out of date within 3 or 4 years. If you can afford it, buy a new low-end machine and look at adding extra RAM and hard drive space. It will keep you going for a fair while yet and will also be much, much faster and (hopefully!) more stable than your current machine. You needn't spend a fortune as there are some good deals to be had.

Best of luck and as usual, if you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask.


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