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After someone came to me about it today, and after reading a few of the blogs I follow. Here's a little bit of insight on getting a new computer. First things first. Never ask me if you should get a Mac. I will always say no. It's not because I hate them, far from it. I use them, and I think they are a good system, but with Macs your options are limited when it comes to software, your limited on what you can put in it, can't really build one yourself, unless you build a Hackintosh, and they are really expensive, where you can get or build the PC equivlent for way less. Like I said, they are a great machine, but it's so closed on what can be done with them. Yes if you get a Mac, you can always install Bootcamp and then put on a windows partition, but some of what I just said still stands.
Before you go about buying a new system you need to ask yourself, what is the system doing thats pissing you off? OS keeps giving you the BSoD? (Blue screen of death) Seems to be running slow?
- Do you plan on getting a prefabricated one? IE: HP/Dell/Acer etc. Or do you want to build one of have someone you know build one from scratch?
- What are you going to be using your new computer for? Gaming, movies? Internet? Work?
This will usually tell you the answer to the first bullet point. If it's for basic internet and smaller things, you can even look into getting a netbook.
Me personally I always recommend building one from scratch. Why? You can build it to your specification, and not get an OS with all the bloatware coming preinstalled for you. Remember though if you're a hardcore gamer, or even into graphic design, the hardware, and the software can get pretty expensive, so be prepared to spend more.
- If you don't know how to build your own computer, more then likely you have a friend that can do it for you. If you do tell them what you want you want it for and what your hoping to spend. Give yourself 100 bucks +/- in each direction. ( I say this because it might be cheaper then you thought or might be more expensive)
- How old is your current system? Can you cannibalize any parts? If you can you can save yourself some money.
Main parts you can try to cannibalize are ad-on cards Examples: Sound cards (they can last awhile) NIC cards (Ethernet), Video cards that are PCI-E, USB cards.
- You might be able to also use the old HDDs (hard drives) Fans, PSU (not recommended but possible), Opticle drives (CD/DVD burners/Players) The actual case itself. I've
actually built people new systems around their current HP/Compaq cases they had.
-Hard drive space.-
How much do I need?
One again depends on what you plan on using your computer for. Gaming, wathcing movies video editing? The average computer user won't need anything more then 250 to 500 gb (when I say average user I'm talking those people that play basic games recive pictures, and transfer pictures from cameras to the computer stuff like that)Your average gamer you're looking 500gb up to 1tb+
IDE vs. SATA HDD's
IDE used to be the norm for hard drives, they are slowley being phased out, though you can still find them. Most Motherboards that you purchase now, come only with one IDE controller on it and it's usually used for optical drives.
SSD? aka Solid disc drives, are nice, they run fast, but personally I think they are still to new of a technology. Reviews I've read on them says they work great but will only last a small amount of time. (THis also coming from people who have them) Plus they are really expensive right now. I say give it a few years before you consider SSD's
Once more you might be able to cannibalize your old hard drive(s). Even if you have IDE drives you can still hook them up to any SATA controller on the motherboard by means of an IDE to SATA adapter.
-Motherboard and CPU-
As important as this is when building a new system, if you have no idea what you are doing, you might just want to let whoever you are letting build your system worry about it for you. And once again depending on what you want and how much you want to spend They should know what to look for.
Memory that the microprocessor can read from and write to. When you create something in memory, it’s done in RAM. Your average computer user won't need more then 4gb of RAM, if you want more, it depends on how much your motherboard can handle, for more on a Windows OS platform, in order to use all over 4gb's you would need a 64bit operating system.
Once again what do you want this computer to do? Are you a hardcore gamer? Video editing? Graphic Design? Just want to watch movies on your computer? If you plan on only watching movies, checking e-mail that kind of stuff, you shouldn't have any problems with an onboard graphics card.Gamers and such, will always need to get a Ad-on Graphics Card, Ati and Nvidia are usually your choices, now did you want to Crossfire or SLI? That's something you would want to talk over with whoever you have building your system. Trust me doing each will greatly improve gaming, and video. Though it will be a bit more expensive. I'm more of an Nvidia fan myself. Every ATI card I've picked up always died on me, so I just stopped using them all together.
Honestly for most if not all people, the onboard sound on the motherboard you pick up may be good enough. Usually easy to set up. Most of the onboard sound cards now, have either 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound available on it already. (This can save you a couple of bucks. With me I have an ad-on card, I use the onboard for my headset while I game, and the ad-on for everything else.
-Speakers are not as important as everything else on a computer, but that would be up to you. And something any average user should be able to pick up and set up themselves.
If you don't plan on doing anything extreme with your system, I think stock cooling would work fine. Your basic heatsink and fan, and 1 more fan for good measure on the case itself.
If you plan on overclocking a bit, you may want to look into liquid cooling systems, as over clocking can heat up your CPU and kill it off sooner.
This can be a bit tricky, because if you chose to low of a PSU your system won't run, or be unstable, so don't be scared to purchase a PSU with more wattage, as the PSU will step down to fit your power needs. Remember you will need to pick a supply that will not only fit your power needs, but one that will also fit in your case.
As I stated a good way to save money is by cannibalizing your current case. Most cases will hold what you wan't (most being the keyword,) but if you are building your system from scratch for gaming and heavy use you will more then likely need to purchase one. Also with the case you will need to get the right size motherboard or it (the case) might be useless. You don't want to get a ATX motherboard and have a mini ATX case. That just won't fit :)
As I said you can build a Hackintosh which would run the Mac OS, and also dual boot it to run a Windows Operating system. If you buy a prefabbed computer now it will usually come with a bloatware infested Windows 7, purchase your own OS, and do a complete fresh install.
- Mac OS sure you can use it, it's a stable OS, and pretty easy to use.
- Windows XP is still a good and stable OS but it's archaic.
- Windows Vista Stay away!
- Windows 7 it's what Vista should have been to begin with, I find it fast, stable and an all around good OS, most if not all drivers that where made for Windows Vsta will work fine with Windows 7
- Linux an open source OS not for the beginner, extremely stable. and with WINEHQ you can usually run a good portion of your Windows programs on any of the Linux distros.
You can usually cannibalize your current ones. If not, DVD burners/players are pretty cheap now. Pick one up.
Add whatever ones you want yourself after a fresh install of your OS
Browsers - Chrome, FireFox, Safari, Opera (each has their own ad-ons to make life easier)
AntiVirus - Stay away from Nortons! I can't stress this enough. There are plenty of free AV out there that work just as good as the paid for stuff. Avast/AVG/Nod32 Not sure if Nod is free anymore.
AntiSPyware - Once again plenty of free ones out there that do the exact same as the pay ones. Spybot/AdAware/SpyDoctor Personally I install them once a month run them the uninstall.
Misc - I always tell people to try CCLeaner for cleaning up registries and other small things. It's free.
That should be it for the main stuff. If you buy a prefabbed computer, please don't go to Best Buy, they will charge you ridiculous fees for something you can do when you start your computer for the first time (setup) then they will say it's 'optimized' Most of the instore warranties on the prefabbed systems are useless. As the maker of the system will have their own.
If you had someone build you your new computer, they should guarantee their work at least, the parts are guaranteed by the maker of them. With me I always guarantee my work. (why not I get on the side repair by word of mouth and I seem to get new customers weekly because of it) My only issue is my work is good so I don't hear from my old customers often unless they did something to their system themselves lol.
Final thoughts: Always get or build a system suited for your needs. PC's are pretty much upgradable on everything depending on the age. (So are Macs but usually at a heftier price), Remember to see if you can canabalize parts from your old system to try and save money.