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Let's talk about computer upgrades.

Discussion in 'Bits & Bytes' started by -Ken, Nov 24, 2002.

  1. -Ken

    -Ken Guest

    As I was reading another thread, I was hit by some of the systems some of our members are still using.

    I am hopeful I can help in curing this problem.

    Having been in the Personal Computer field since late 1981 and running my own business since 1987, I would like to share some of the "secrets of the trade" with you.

    First of all, any computer running Windows 98 or better has a value.
    To verify this, pick up a copy of whatever second hand publication is in your area and check out what people are asking for their computers. For a quick online value (or street price estimate) check Ebay.

    Currently, in our area, a complete system including monitor but not a printer sells for $250-$500 depending on what it is. I would expect your area is roughly about the same.

    Well, where does that leave me, you ask? What if I told you a brand new system is available for $325.00 delivered including a monitor and a legitimate copy of Windows.

    And, this is how it works.

    Here's your new best friend: Pricewatch.

    I took the liberty of listing two entry-level systems as examples.

    Complete system - AMD DURON 1GHZ$235.00 delivered

    Complete sys - Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz Celeron$259.00 delivered

    While both of these systems are pretty much complete, you will need a monitor.

    This is going to become your second favorite friend: Techbargains

    Here's a couple of specials they had listed today.

    Frys Specials - Envision 15" LCD $229.99AR
    Best Buy - MAG 15" LCD $249.99AR

    If you are interested in not spending money for an upgrade, you will need to watch Techbargains for either a 15" or Staples occasionally has an offer, which is hard to beat. They will sell you an Envision 17" monitor (NOT LCD) for $159 with a $70 mail in rebate making your net cost $89.
    It gets better, since the price is over $50 - they ship it for free!.

    Let's do the math:

    For a Pentium II 300 mhz or with 64 mb RAM, a working hard drive, CD, 56K modem, floppy, monitor, keyboard and mouse, the least it should be worth is $300 as a second hand internet ready first time user get to know computers cheaply as is sale.

    So we have

    $300.00 - sale of the used system
    $235.00 - AMD Duron system
    $ 89.00 - 17" Monitor (after MIR)
    $324.00 - and your out of pocket expense is $24 plus the cost of the ad for a brand new fully guaranteed computer.

    Now - Here's a couple of things you need to know.

    1) Careful of Pricewatch. I am NOT endorsing any of the companies who advertise there. Be careful, please.

    As a pretty good protection, we pay for things with US Postal Money Orders. For some strange reason, should someone not provide product for you in a timely fashion, a quick reminder from you regarding the pleasures of mail fraud charges does wonders for improving service.

    2) Just because it says it comes with a one year warranty, don't count on it. These places go out of business faster than anyone can keep track of. On the other side of this issue, how much can any individual part cost if the entire system is $235.00?

    Finally, if you really can't afford to take money out of your pocket, sell your system as detailed above and get a refurbished monitor. Refurbished in English translates into tested, guaranteed and Windexed. Try to get at least a 90 day warranty.

    But, if you are not too picky you can get the new system for $235.00 and a 15" monitor $45 delivered making this exchange more of a headache than an actual expense.

    Who said there's no such a thing as a free lunch?

    I hope this little piece helps a few people out. If there I interest, I will be glad to help anyone out with the process. Post away
  2. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    On the roll, aren't ya?

    Great post, very informative, thank you. :)
  3. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    And he said "Let the people go forth into the world with their knowledge, and show the world who's boss"

    Also I like for more deals and stuff:

    http://www.pricegrabber.com - Kinda like Pricewatch, but won't list as many "start-up" companies
    http://www.slickdeals.net - another bargains site

    Ken is right about refurbished. It generally varies from company to company, but for example my first PDA was a refurb. Handspring Visor. All that meant was I got it with a new LCD screen, and anything that was broken was fixed. They tested it and it worked so they shipped it in a retail box. The only downfall is the shorter warranty.

    As far as the value of computers. To prove Ken's point that newer isn't always better look at my system. 3 years old, still has the same Motherboard, and CPU (Intel Pentium III 800MHz Coppermine) and I'm still playing Battlefield 1942, and the latest games with the best of them where in this day and age most salesmen will try to get you to upgrade your old "klunker"

    And of course everyone knows about the extended warranties. Generally they are all about the company wanting to suck extra money off of you so I avoid them like a plague. Exchange between me and salesperson:

    SP: You should get the extended warranty in case it breaks.
    ME: So your trying to sell me a $30 warranty plan on a $20 scanner?
    SP: Are you sure, lots of people have come in with problems and have been out of luck. If you buy it you'll be covered...
    ME: So are you saying what I'm trying to buy is a piece of crap?
    SP: No its the best we got.
    ME: Then why should I need a warranty plan?
    SP: {Silence}

    The only case I ever purchased an extended warranty plan is a Best Buy plan for my Zaurus PDA. $450 PDA, and you don't know what can happen to one since it takes more abuse than your regular computer or computer parts. If you need computer repair I would suggest trying to develop a relationship with a local shop. They generally have knowledgable people their. In fact I often feel more comfortable in local shops than BB or CompUSA.

    Oh yeah the one thing that annoys me most about Dells/Gatways/Compaqs is the whole CPU thing. They will give you a blazing fast CPU, but you get gipped everywhere else. A good monitor and speakers can really do good for your computer experience. You don't need the top of the line CPU, you need a good Graphics card, a decent motherboard, lots of RAM (that's the one thing you can almost never have too much of), and a decent hard drive. As far as Hard Drives go, get the 7200RPM instead of the 5400RPM, but important is the seek time lower is better. Also big buffers have become a new feature in the higher capacity HDDs (WD sells 8MB buffer editions in their 80GB, 120GB, and 200GB HDDs). Go for the PC133 RAM instead of the PC100 or PC2700 instead of PC2100 in the case of DDR. For a soundcard, get a Soundblaster Live. They are pretty cheap on http://www.newegg.com/ and the Platinum version isn't that expensive either (with the breakout box). Although not as top of the line as Audigy or Audigy 2, your still going to get good sound from it. Probably better than any built-in sound that you would get with a Dell or Gateway...

    Another thing you should know is OEM. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturor. It's basically stuff they plan on shipping to places like Dell, Gateway Country, etc. with not as much packaging because they go right into the computer. The warranty and support is not handled by the manufacturor but by the OEM. Only buy OEM if you either plan on overlocking something which will void the warranty, or if your willing to take the risk to save money. In most cases it isn't that big of a risk, I have an OEM Celeron that's been going great.
  4. tke711

    tke711 Oink Oink Staff Member

    Excellent post Ken!

    I just wanted to add one link. Resellerratings is a good place to check out some of the retailers that are listed at Pricewatch and other places on the web.
  5. jaykaykay

    jaykaykay 2 Good 2 B 4gotten

    Dell doesn't totally skimp on things. I am in the process of pricing out a model or 2 and most of what you suggest, especially the Soundcard, comes with those models. ;)
  6. Pyrion

    Pyrion Liquid Metal Nanomorph

    I don't bother with support plans. I buy all my stuff OEM and if it breaks outside of the thirty-day return limit, then it's my fucking fault. ;)
  7. -Ken

    -Ken Guest

    While overall Dell is one of the best out there, we rarely recommend them.

    I use Dell when the customer is "difficult" to deal with. People who want
    24/7 tech support or expect Windows support when they delete their Start
    button are expensive to deal with. Dell sells computers for about the same
    price I do but the cost of ownership over a three year period is higher.

    Perhaps another long post is in order.
  8. midranger4

    midranger4 Banned

    Ut oh I feel the need to defend Dell here ;)

    I am delighted with my Dell and it's now been about a year and half.

    The only problem I had was a noisy fan (which the 8100 is infamous for) and it took a 5 minute phone call to get a new one shipped out free of charge.

    Performance wise I couldn't ask for more. My memory test benchmarks are bested only by select Asus and Abit chipsets. I don't recall my 3DMark scores right now but they too ranked in the top 5% overall.

    Just for shits and giggles one day I had WINTV, WINDVD, Photoshop, Serene Scene Aquarium in windowed mode, kaaza, a sizeable Access database , a VPN connection, Lotus Notes, (2) emulated 5250 IBM Client Access for AS/400, and Diskeeper (in the background) all running at once.

    The system still had over 250MB physical memory available as reported by RAMPAGE, page file utilization was less than 10%, and everything was running smooth as silk.

    Needless to say I was quite impressed :)

    I did perform upgrades to the video card, increased RAM from 256 to 768, and added the WINTV card.

    I am extremely happy with this machine and could have built my own for about 30% less than my purchase price but I have a 3 year hardware warranty and it gives me peace of mind should something go *boom* :)

    Here is my config compliments of Aida32 less my HP440C scanner connected via USB as I have it powered off, and my Klipsch Promedia 2.1 speakers :

    I am extremely satisfied with this system :)

    Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Personal
    OS Service Pack None
    Computer Name Removed
    User Name Removed
    Logon Domain Removed

    CPU Type Intel Pentium 4, 1680 MHz (4.25 x 395)
    Motherboard Name Dell Computer Corporation Dimension 8100
    Motherboard Chipset Intel Tehama i850(E)
    System Memory 768 MB (RDRAM)
    BIOS Type Phoenix (11/06/01)
    Communication Port Communications Port (COM1)
    Communication Port ECP Printer Port (LPT1)

    Video Adapter NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400 (128 MB)
    3D Accelerator nVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400
    Monitor Dell P991

    Audio Adapter Turtle Beach Santa Cruz / VideoLogic SonicFury Audio Accelerator

    Floppy Drive Floppy disk drive
    Disk Drive IC35L060AVER07-0 (60 GB, 7200 RPM, Ultra-ATA/100)
    Optical Drive _NEC NR-7800A (16x/10x/40x CD-RW)
    Optical Drive SAMSUNG DVD-ROM SD-616 (16x/48x DVD-ROM)

    C: (NTFS) 57215 MB (38797 MB free)

    Keyboard Dell Enhanced Performance USB
    Mouse HID-compliant Wheel Mouse
    Game Controller Microsoft PC-joystick driver

    Network Adapter 3Com 3C920 Integrated Fast Ethernet Controller (3C905C-TX Compatible) (
    Modem Conexant HCF V90 56K RTAD Speakerphone PCI Modem

    Printer HP DeskJet 710C
    USB Device Dell USB Composite Device
    USB Device Dell USB HID Collection
    USB Device Dell USB Keyboard HID Support
    USB Device Dell USB Keyboard Hub
    USB Device USB Human Interface Device
    USB Device USB Optical WheelMouse

    PCI Devices:
    Bus 2, Device 12, Function 0 3Com 3C920 Integrated Fast Ethernet Controller
    Bus 2, Device 9, Function 0 Brooktree WinTV PAL B-G
    Bus 2, Device 9, Function 1 Brooktree WinTV PAL B-G
    Bus 2, Device 11, Function 0 Dell Data/Fax Modem
    Bus 0, Device 30, Function 0 Intel 82801BA I/O Controller Hub 2 (ICH2) [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 31, Function 1 Intel 82801BA ICH2 - ATA-100 IDE Controller [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 31, Function 0 Intel 82801BA ICH2 - LPC Bridge [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 31, Function 3 Intel 82801BA(M) ICH2 - SMBus Controller [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 31, Function 2 Intel 82801BA(M) ICH2 - USB Controller 1 [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 31, Function 4 Intel 82801BA(M) ICH2 - USB Controller 2 [B-4]
    Bus 0, Device 0, Function 0 Intel 82850(E) Memory Controller Hub [A-2]
    Bus 0, Device 1, Function 0 Intel 82850/82860 AGP Controller
    Bus 1, Device 0, Function 0 nVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400 Video Adapter
    Bus 2, Device 10, Function 0 Turtle Beach Santa Cruz / VideoLogic SonicFury Audio Accelerator
  9. LissaKay

    LissaKay Oh ... Really???

    What do cookies and computers have in common?

    They're always better when they are homemade!
  10. mikeky

    mikeky Member

    Obviously you've never tried to eat my cookies. :) Given that, I'd better stick with OEM computers too.
  11. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    Just don't ever "lose your cookies";)
  12. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    My daughter was with us for four days over Tgiving and wanted me to help her get a computer. She only has a 200 MHz hand me down at home but uses a computer at work. Her computer at work comes with a 19 inch LCD screen, county wasting money, so she wants an LCD and she has limited room for a CRT monitor.

    I have been exploring buying parts for a high end AMD or Pentium 4 machine for a while and know it will cost me in the neighborhood of $900-1000 at Newegg or Multiwave. So I spent 4 days looking and comparing. We missed out on sweet HP deal at BestBuy. I wonder how many they really had. Anyway at the end of the weekend she got a Dell.

    Model 8200
    RAM 512 RDRAM
    80 Gig HD
    1 Year Tech Support
    XP Home
    MS Works
    GeForce 64 Meg Card
    SoundBlaster LIve Sound Card
    Default Speakers
    17.1 LCD Flat Panel Display

    Total price being $1508 after special of 150 off, no shipping and no tax for Alabama by Dell.

    When you add in the tech support by Dell, she lives 300 miles from me, I don't think I could beat it and maybe not match it with my free labor.

    I was the PC/Network support for a company of a 1000 that went from clones to Dell and was praised for the recommendation. Their support was always superb. When GE (otherwise known as the Great Satan) bought us the division we were part of, Industrial Systems, was using HP Vectras, Thinkpads, and HP servers. Within 6 months they switched to Dell Optiplexes for the desktops, Latitudes for the portables, and PowerEdge servers. Not all network types were happy with the servers but the desktops and laptops were excellent workhorses. Did we get better prices and maybe better support cuz we were GE. Possibly, but those who used the GE discount to buy personal computers were also very happy.

    Computer brands are like cars. You can get any to swear by one brand or another. I have built my last 3 machines but when the time comes for my next one I will need to be able to save a couple hundred or I will buy from Dell. And right now it is a buyers market.
  13. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    My present desktop, a victim of bad timing.

    Pentium3 733
    256 megs ram
    geforce mx
    20 gig drive
    pci sound card
    harmon kardon speakers with very nice big subwoofer

    my problem? im still 800 bucks in debt for it.

    dell SLASHED prices the month after i bought it.

    basically, im screwed.

  14. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    LOL, you're right. With computers you need to make the best deal you can on a given day and then quit reading ads for a year or you will get po'd.
  15. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    or find a way to fry the mobo while the warranty still stands.

  16. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    The last machine I built for myself and 3 I built for friends and neighbors were AMD 1800XP's on the MSI KT3 Ultra Raid board. MSI MX400 dual head video for dual monitors and Creative 5.1 X-Gamer sound. Mine at least is the most solid machine I've ever owned, and have had not a single complaint in the last 6 months or so from the others. Now that the KT4 Ultra raid board is available, I may just get one and have a go at it also.
  17. Wacko

    Wacko Helllllooo Nurrrse

    I personally don't like OEM stuff. My first, and last OEM was an eMachines 466id. Bad move on my part, but I didn't do the research before the purchase. It came with a 145watt PSU, and 235watt was standard at the time. It only had PCI slots, so upgrading to an AGP video card wasn't going to happen. I ended up throwing the 64MB stick of memory away that came in it. eMachines replaced it three times for me as they kept going bad. Once I replaced the memory the system became more stable, and I was able to actually use it.

    Now a few months back a good friend of mine bought an HP from a store. He specifically asked the sales clerk if it had an AGP slot, and was told yes. The following month he bought a GeForce4 Ti4200 AGP video card. Guess what his computer doesn't have? You guessed it, NO AGP slot. He now is stuck with a GeForce4 MX series.

    The moral of these two stories is Know what you are buying before you buy it.

    Now I have never owned, or worked on a Dell. I have heard however that they use a different power connector for the motherboard meaning that you will have to buy any upgrades from dell for those two things. For some that's ok, but I would rather have the freedom to make up my own mind what my next upgrade will be.

    I'm not even going to go into Compaqs as I will start ranting.

    I say don't buy OEM, but I will say "DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU BUY".

    I have now built two computers for myself, and I really enjoy them. Besides learning allot about the hardware, and software I had allot of fun.

    My main system:

    Antec SX1035B case with 350watt PSU
    AMD XP1800
    Iwill KK266plus motherboard
    512MB PC150 memory
    Gainward "Golden Sample" Geforce3 Ti200 64MB video card
    Phillips Acoustic Edge sound card
    Maxtor 20GB ATA100 7200rpm HDD
    WD 80GB ATA100 7200rpm HDD
    Creative 52X cd rom
    TDK 24x10x40 CDRW

    Now I must admit the motherboard is in need of replacing as updating the memory to some DDR wouldn't hurt, but other than that it works great.

    Oh, and my monitor is a DAEWOO 17" that I bought from the military when the Air Base was closed here in Sacramento for $50.

    Ok, so my short answer to your post would have been I'm with Demi Goddess on this...:)
  18. Meteor Dive

    Meteor Dive Registered User

    OEM's...hmm :)

    I never bought any systems from such companies like Compaq, Hp, Dell, e.t.c.

    About a week ago, I bought a new case case that would mount my CUV4X-D Asus board, along with two 933 Pentium III Xeon processors, three sticks of 256MB for RAM (768 total). Bought a few extra things this to tighty it up. It's running up stairs. Runs quicker than I can click.

    You guys should try dual processors :) Lots of fun to play with :)

    The system spec on that one is

    933Mhz Pentium III Dual Processing
    768MB Ram
    Adaptec 3200S SCSI RAID Card
    Two- Maxtor Atlas 10K III 73.4 GB - SCSI Ultra320 Hard Drive
    RADEON 9700 PRO
    SMC Ethernet Card
    Creative Sound blaster 5.1
    IBM DVD-RAM / DVD-R Drive
    Plextor 40x12x40 CDRW drive (Black color...had an extra one so I'd thought I put in on the system)

    And with Windows 2000 on top of it.

    I was selling it for about $4500, but one my friend's took the bid. She's gonna pickup it up tomorrow.

    My last day to play with the computer and adding a few updates :)

    You guys know any other Dual CPU boards out there that would be interesting look at?
  19. Wacko

    Wacko Helllllooo Nurrrse

    Why not try AMD next time. Asus, MSI, and Tyan all have motherboards for dual MP processors. Throw in a couple of MP2400's, and you got a system that will not only be faster than you can click, but probably get you coffee too...;-) Just a thought.
  20. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    Just as a quick aside, HP used to use OEM versions of ASUS mobos for their systems. You could get a regular ASUS mobo to fit as long as you measured the case first and made sure things lined up ok. Don't know if that is still true or not.

    Branded systems can be a pain to upgrade as they lock you in too much as you found out. The HP story is a classic. BTW. Many people got burned by that one.

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