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I need to buy a new computer but am really confused.

(76 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by savvysusan
  • Latest reply from whs
  • Topic Viewed 4136 times

savvysusan
Posts: 18

Hi,

I own a small business and use the computer frequently. Everyone is giving me different advice.

Here's how I use a computer. I do a lot of research online and I keep lots of applications open at once. I need speed and dependability. I store lots of photos. I have a specific link Nortel Networks Contivity VPN Client Monitor???(to another office and airline computers that stays open all day.

I do tons of printing, copying, scanning and faxing. My printer is an HP Officejet G85.

My computer is a Dell Dimension 8400 Intel Pentium 4 CPU 3.40ghz 3.39GHZ 1.0gb of ram. 2002 Windows XP Service Pack 2.

I listen to itunes through my computer while I work.

I do a little bit of IMing. I'm on MySpace and other such forums.

I store many documents and need them secure. I read, send and keep tons of emails.

I imagine geeks like to spend their money on computers but I "like" to spend money on travel and "need" to spend money on a computer (amongst other things).

If you were spending $800 (approximately) on a new system what would you get? Would you get Vista?

Computers are Greek to me. . .

Posted 6 years ago
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jd2066
Posts: 3814

Ok. On the Operating System I would recommend Windows Vista as it does have some good features unless the following applied, in which case I would recommend Windows XP:
1. The look of the Operating System has changed a bit and not all people like it. Some things have been moved around in the Operating System.
I think most of the things were changed for a good reason and some are easier to use but many people just don't like change.
2. Not all software and hardware is compatible with Vista. Some things need to be checked for compatibility. Here are a few that will but have a couple problems:
The Printer/Scanner/Fax device - According the HP Driver Page there is a basic driver for Vista. Unfortunately it doesn't say what advanced features are missing.
The "Nortel Networks Contivity VPN Client Monitor" - Some VPN Programs have problems but you can usually upgrade them to a version compatible with Vista.
From a quick search online it appears the latest version of this is compatible with Vista and for download at http://products.nortel.com/go/.....cale=en-US
All the other stuff can be done with Vista just fine.
"I store many documents and need them secure. I read, send and keep tons of emails." - How are you keeping them secure now? and what email service and email client do you use? Those can have problems on Vista depending on what they are. Usually there aren't any though.
If there are any specific programs you use like Photoshop Elements or something you like to use list them and I can find out if they will work.

Also why do you need a new computer? Your current one seems ok though probably slower for some tasks.

Post Note: Small Edits Made 3 times.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

First, there is nothing other than Vista today - unless you want to pay thru the nose. And Vista is great after a little getting used to it. For your needs I would get a desktop with a dual core processor like AMD 5600+ (not the 6000 - gets too hot) and 3GB of RAM and plenty of disk, 350 to 500GB's. You can find that easily in your price range. And get a 22 inch screen - real neat. Look for a bundle offering in the sunday paper or online at officedepot.com, circuitcity.com, bestbuy.com. Lately Office Depot seems to have the best deals. Buy local, not on the internet. If you have trouble, you can always go back to your local dealer.

Posted 6 years ago
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savvysusan
Posts: 18

Thank you so much for taking your valuable time to give me advice. I'm such a novice.

I'm getting a new computer because this compute is slow, lots of error messages and it shuts down my very important Nortel connection within a few minutes then takes 3 reboots to get it up and running again. I've been using my laptop to work around that issue but it's a pain (literally) in the back.

I really appreciate your advice.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

Hi Susan, This week is not good for deals. But if you want to go all out, here is the absolute top of what you can get today - unfortunately no bundle with screen (figure a good $300 for 22 inch). But the PC is super with a quad processor, 3GB of RAM and 500GB of disk. http://www.circuitcity.com/ccd.....keycode=85 maybe it's more than you need, but just to give you an idea.
PS. I just see that for $830 it comes with a 19 inch screen and for $950 with a 22 inch screen.

Posted 6 years ago
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jd2066
Posts: 3814

Ok, getting a faster computer is a good reason.
Any error messages and programs not working could just be a software problem in Windows that can be fixed though.
Depending on the time you have, I can try to help fixing those problems. I don't know much about Nortel though.
Otherwise you can still get a new computer if you want.
I just think problems should be troubleshooted before buying a new computer. I can see though how some don't have the time or don't feel like trying to fix something.

Posted 6 years ago
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savvysusan
Posts: 18

I've had a professional look at my computer and he thinks there's damage to the harddrive. To have him repair it the minimum cost is $350; it seems more practical to get a new computer and faster would be great. Waiting is such a time-waster.

So, this week isn't a good week to buy? Any idea when a good time to buy is? I've lived with this machine, in it's current state (slowly getting worse as time passes) at least 18 months. I could wait longer.

Thanks for your help and input.

Posted 6 years ago
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Appletom
Posts: 133

I'm a fan of Dell. I know many are not, and probably rightfully so, but my newest (and current) computer came from Dell.

About every 4-6 weeks, Dell runs a special for [about] $400 off on orders for a [Vostro or Optiplex or Insperion] costing more than [last time it was] $1,099.

Before buying a Dell, be sure to check out www.gotapex.com. Right now, from the GotApex page, they are showing a coupon code for $300 off an Insperion costing $999 or more. Also do a Google search for "Dell Discount Coupons". My Dell is now five weeks old and they haven't run the $400 "deal" yet, so I'm guessing that one will show up in the next ten days or so. I paid $795 for a Vostro with a Q6600 processor, four gigs of RAM and a 160 primary and 80 secondary hard drive and overnight shipping. I placed the order on a Monday at 4:00 Dell time and it was at my door on Wednesday morning.

And I made a mistake (besides not getting big enough hard drives) - I should have ordered my computer with one gig of RAM (saving $220) and ordered four gigs from New Egg for around $100. But I would post everything here at How-To Geek to make sure I was getting the correct memory.

And - it is very common to get a better price from Dell by calling. I forgot to this time, but it worked very well a couple of years back. Be sure you've configured your system exactly before calling.

And - for some strange reason, over the past few weeks the Dell site has been extremely slow in Firefox, but working correctly in IE.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

@Appletom, with due respect, but Dell are thieves. Their stuff is at least 30 to 40% more expensive than "fair market price".

@Susan, This week was slow because of the Easter holiday. Keep studying the Sunday ads on-line. I am sure you also get them in your Sunday paper since you live in a big city. If you see something you like, post it here asap (before the sale is over or the good deals are sold out) and ask for our opinion. Keep looking at this thread from time to time. If I see something interesting, I will post it for you.
This quad system I posted above is real sexy. If I had not bought a new system 4 months ago, I would get it for myself (with the 22 incher). But that may be more power than you really need.

Posted 6 years ago
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Appletom
Posts: 133

@whs - due respect noted and respected. And you are right, a high end machine is much higher at Dell. But compare a decent home system (like mine). I looked up buying all the pieces parts at New Egg and it would have been about $900 instead of $800.

And if you are looking at low end machines (1 gig ram, Celeron 1.6 processor, 250 HD) it's available (before any discounts) for $350 at Dell. There's no way you can build one for anywhere close to what Dell charges.

In short - I would never buy a screamer from Dell and I would never build a poke-along from New Egg parts. The CC computer you linked to is $5 less (after tax) than the Dell I'm sitting at. The CC has 260 more HD space and one gig less RAM.

Is the Intel Quad 6600 a better processor than the AMD Phenom 9500?

Posted 6 years ago
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Appletom
Posts: 133

And BTW - I'm not trying to argue or start anything or create a Dell vs. anybody else war. I admire your (and everyone else here's) opinions and thoughts.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

No need to argue one against the other. Dell is fine and I think they have nice PC's. I just think that the "specials" that are offered by HP, Gateway, etc. via the big electronic chaines usually beat the Dell prices hands down.
On the Quads: Yes, in tests the 6600 is ahead of the Phenom - but I just happen to be an AMD fan. Look at the Phenom's side bus speed - phenomenal. But, of course, that is not the whole story.

Posted 6 years ago
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Appletom
Posts: 133

See - that's where I have to defer to your knowledge. I wouldn't know what a side bus is if one ran me over. Since I sit in front of my computer, I shouldn't need to concern myself with side speed. Right? :-)

And I agree, the "specials" via chains will beat Dell "without special" prices every time. But the Dell "special" prices often beat the chain w/o special prices and offer the advantages of customization.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

Right, you don't have to be concerned about the side bus - and it will not run you over. But if you are interested, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_side_bus

Posted 6 years ago
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savvysusan
Posts: 18

Thanks for your input. I'll keep checking back and looking around.

Posted 6 years ago
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savvysusan
Posts: 18

I have another question for my favorite computer gurus: Is there any advantage to updating my Microsoft Office Software?

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

By updating do you mean like going fron Office 2003 to Office 2007? Or just updating with the KBxxxx fixes that Microsoft provides now and then?
If it is the latter, I would say yes. For the first, it depends what you have now and what you are using it for.
PS. If you get a new Vista computer, you will have to get Office 2007 ($130 at SAMS Club) - unless you want to go with some of the freebies available from the Internet.

Posted 6 years ago
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Budohorseman
Posts: 847

Well it looks like I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I figured I would comment on the "Secure" aspect. If by secure you mean encrypted, I would suggest you download a copy of TrueCrypt from www.truecrypt.org. It's an open source freeware program that will let you encrypt your files, even set up an encrypted partition on your hard disk.

On the other hand if you mean "I can't afford to lose these files if my hard drive crashes" then you should get yourself a PC that has a RAID controller built in and get two hard drives that are the same (best to get two identical drives from the same company) and set up a RAID 1. A RAID 1 is also called a mirrored RAID and what it basically does is writes everything to both drives at the same time. That way if one drive fails, the other one will have an exact copy.

As for the RAM, make sure you have an even number of sticks, so you will probably end up with two or four gigs of RAM, but note that 32 bit versions of the operating system will only be able address 3.2 gigs of RAM at most.

Posted 6 years ago
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Appletom
Posts: 133

An OT observation - if Budohorseman's avatar meets whs' avatar - well, it will be a short encounter.

@savvysusan - of course this opinion is mine only, but Office 2007 just blows away any previous version of Office. I love the "ribbon" toolbar and can see it making its way into other applications. Last weekend I had to work on an Excel spreadsheet using a friends computer with Office 2000. It was misery.

If your query is about the updates Microsoft feeds to you through Windows update, by all means install them. Almost all of them patch security vulnerabilities.

@whs - LOL, the bus didn't run me over. Cool diagram in your link. Thanks.

Posted 6 years ago
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Budohorseman
Posts: 847

@Appletom, it's actually a ferret in my pocket, and I doubt that the bear would stand a chance against the infamous PocketWeasel!

@savvysusan, as for Office, I just started using it at home and the layout does take some getting used too. If you are a power user of one part of it, chances are it will be frustrating for a while until you relearn where everything is. For everyday run-of-the-mill type stuff, the ribbon does put more of the common functions up there for quick access and ease of use.

Posted 6 years ago
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