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Thread: Looking to buy a laptop/PC?? Read this first!

  1. #1
    Senior Member CARZ's Avatar
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    Looking to buy a laptop/PC?? Read this first!

    I get tons of requests from people to help them pick out a new pc/laptop for them. They want to know whats good for them...what companies..what hardware...because when they see all those numbers and mb's and gb's and what not...they get utterly confused.

    - First is deciding what you want.
    PC or laptop. PC's are relatively cheaper and easier to repair. Laptops are lighter and mobile, however require a little extra attention. Batteries can last anywhere from 1 to 5 hours...so you always have to keep that in mind. Laptops get hot quickly...keeping your laptop cool is HIGH priority. Laptop parts are more expensive as well.

    - Second: what company?
    It seems that Dell has the cheapest computers however from past experiences, I have mixed reviews about it. I STRONGLY suggest that you stay away from Compaq, Gateway and Toshiba. They are the most unreliable computers I have ever worked with. Thier internal chips are crap and give out quickly. Companies such as Sony, HP and Alienware are companies I do suggest. However they are a little big pricey....but the price is well worth it.

    Im not saying that just because you spend $2K on a computer...your garunteed the best and it wont break....and im not saying that if you get a Gateway that it wont last more than 2 weeks. Things happen, things change...and you might get a crappy computer that can outlast your best computer. I am simply basing this off of my personal experience between myself, family and client computers.

    - Third: mb's? gb's? mhz? What do I need? How much is good?
    The amount of space / memory / processor speed is based on how you want to use your computer. Each chip has a speed or size to handle or process, I will explain each in detail:

    Harddrive- As this fills up, your computer gets slower. I believe 40 gigs is the smallest you can find on a PC or laptop. For a person who will be using the PC/Laptop lightly....surf the web, check email, watch a video or 2....40 gigs would be more than enough. Text documents and images dont take up too much space...which would take a while to fill up. If you are using your computer a bit more than that...downloading music, playing games, running applications...I would suggest going for a 60 or 80gig drive. It will give you plenty of space to install tons of applications and store lot of music. For the more advanced people...anywhere from 80 and up is fine. I would expect if you need that much...then you know what your doing in the first place.

    Keep in mind, Laptop harddrives and PC harddrives are different due to thier sizes. Laptop harddrives are a bit more expensive and dont get as big (in memory size) as PC's. PC's allow you to install more than 1 harddrive (depending on your mother board). External Harddrives are available and work for both PC's and Laptops. However they run a bit slower due to USB connectivity

    Memory (RAM) - This is your harddrive for quick "on the fly" processesing and memory. The smaller the memory size...the quicker it fills up, the slower your cmputer gets. Generally they run anywhere from 128mb to 4 gigs depending on your computer. For any user, I would not suggest anything less than 256 or even 512 mb. Windows Vista alone requires about 512 to run efficiantly. 512 is also enough for moderate user as well. Advanced users should be fine with 1gig and up.

    RAM chips are different between Laptops and PC's....they also differ depending on your mother board. Changing RAM chips are easy, just as long as you have the correct one. Technically there is no limit on how much RAM you can put in your computer...its just a matter of how much you can fit in your slots. Most come with 2 slots for RAM, which you can fit with any size. For example if you have 2 chips with 1 gig of ram each....that would make it 2 gigs!

    Processor Speed - These differ depending on the different processor chips. These chips are put straight into the motherboard and can not be changed. Laptops generally come slightly slower than PC's, but that doesnt mean you cant custom order your laptop to have a fast processor. Laptop makers are pushing towards the use of Centrino M....it uses less power and runs relatively cooler...but processer speed is less. PC's are running on Duo-Core chips, which also generate less heat and can process information faster.

    For light to moderate users...anything in the 2-3mhz range should be fine. 2-2.5mhz is good for video watching and music playing...while doing some work on the side...2.5 - 3 is good for moderate game playing, 3mhz and up is good for advanced users. It is also good for heavy game playing. especially LAN games.

    Video Card- all mother boards come with a built in video processor, but dont expect much from it unless you dont use your computer for much. For internet surfing and game playing..128mb is fine. Advanced gamers, or video editors..256mb is for you.



    Just to give you guys a preview of how computer numbers play in the real world. I wont give u the specs of all 5 of my PC's...but will show you some of my main ones.

    HP Pavillion DZ8000 Laptop
    screen = 17inch widescreen
    Video card = 256mb ATI Radeon X800 Mobile
    RAM = 1 gig
    Memory = 100 gig
    CPU = 3.4ghz Pentium 4HT
    age = 2 years old

    I mainly use this as my development station...as well gaming. I can have Flash, Dreamweaver, IE, Firefox, AIM all running at the same time...and it wont hiccup a bit.

    In the past 2 years ive only had to replace my harddrive due to a huge scratch on the disk. I believe the scratch was caused by the needle due to being shaken while running.


    Sony Vaio (forgot model number) - PC
    Video card = 128mb Nvidea FX5400 (upgraded from 32mb)
    RAM = 512 mb (upgraded from 12
    Memory = 200 gig (upgraded from 60)
    CPU = 2.0ghz Pentium 4
    age = 6 years old

    This is one of my older units. I use it everyday for normal usage and a little bit of development. As you can see I have upgraded it a bit from original specs. It got a bit slow about 2 years ago and figured it was time for a change. The only problem I had was a blown modem from a thunderstorm.


    At the moment I cant think of anything to add. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to post here or PM me.
    // 2010 Jaguar XFR
    // 2013 VW Beetle

  2. #2
    Senior Member Victor's Avatar
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    Thanks for that my man, very useful for a person like me who has seriously no idea about the technicalities of computers. Very handy as I will be looking at a new laptop shortly, the grandaughters are pestering me to GIVE them this one
    A very cynical grumpy old man
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    I would also recommend staying away from Windows Vista for the moment, its an awful operating system and the way Microsoft usually works is when they release a new operating system the last one is about fixed!

    Nice bit of info from Carz there for everyone

    If anyone is thinking of buying a PC, Laptop or accessories then some sites I would recommend are

    http://www.bigpockets.co.uk- especially for Blank CD's/DVD's
    http://www.ebuyer.com for PC's and bits of PC's as they are very cheap!

    stay away from the likes of PC World as they have your eyes out for almost everything!
    I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member cadillac's Avatar
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    Great writing !
    My next laptop should be no slower than Sony Vaio AX 580 which I use as daily and silencer as well lol .
    Dual Core seems a better way to go than Centrino because it's faster and silencer
    Screen choice is too important . Don't forget X Bright technology if you're perfectionist lol
    For professionals and game bugs 17" screen is a must

  6. #5
    Senior Member GAZ2785's Avatar
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    I would like to add that, in the UK I have found Advent desktops and laptops to generally be of very good quality. Advent is PC World's own brand I believe. My current laptop is an Advent and I still have an Advent desktop PC that is around 10 years old and still going strong.

    I always suggest to people that if all they're doing is browsing the net and typing letters there's no need to spend £1000+ on a computer. Around £300 should do the job. At the office I have a DELL desktop which was £250 including monitor and it does the job just fine!
    Oh, what's diesel?

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It just so happens that mine is the right one.

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  7. #6
    Mac42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel3V6
    I would also recommend staying away from Windows Vista for the moment, its an awful operating system and the way Microsoft usually works is when they release a new operating system the last one is about fixed!

    Nice bit of info from Carz there for everyone

    If anyone is thinking of buying a PC, Laptop or accessories then some sites I would recommend are

    http://www.bigpockets.co.uk- especially for Blank CD's/DVD's
    http://www.ebuyer.com for PC's and bits of PC's as they are very cheap!

    stay away from the likes of PC World as they have your eyes out for almost everything!

    Great post. This is more of a point and part question. from my previous posts you may gather I use AutoCAD for my profession. Version 2008.
    I also use MS office 2008 Professional. All of my software is fully licenced as I use it commercially.
    I also use XP with service pack 2.
    I thought I would be a smart arse and install Vista Ultimate after reformatting the Hard drive, not just me doing it as not that good. Anyway installed Vista and AutoCAD would not work. Spoke to Autodesk re AutoCAD there comment : have you just installed Vista yes I said, there comment : it won'nt work unless its installed on a clean machine. So reinstalled XP and spent hours re-insatlling all programmes. It has become obvious that all the people I have met in the Building Industry are having loads of problems with Vista. I am also having problems with Office 2008 as it has to run in compatabilty mode to read Office 2003 documents. I am now think of re-installing Office 2003.
    I suppose my question to you is later this year I am up for a laptop to take to clients but I am lead to believe that they are pre Vista installed. Some of the site staff still have a lot of problems with vista. I believe that MS are just about to issue a major upgrade to Vista I don'nt know how true that is maybe you have the answer.
    Sorry to ramble on.

  8. #7
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    Hi CARZ - I've been running a Medion laptop with Windows XP (Vista capable which I haven't bothered with) for 8 months. This German make seems to be very reliable with a lot of good features and yet is reasonably priced. Any views on Medion?

    ciao,
    Stirling
    The future is dark, the present burdensome; only the past, dead and finished, bears contemplation. Those who look upon it have survived it: they are its product and its victors. No wonder, therefore, that men concern themselves with history.

  9. #8
    Senior Member CARZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stirling
    Hi CARZ - I've been running a Medion laptop with Windows XP (Vista capable which I haven't bothered with) for 8 months. This German make seems to be very reliable with a lot of good features and yet is reasonably priced. Any views on Medion?

    ciao,
    Stirling
    Ive honestly never heard of Medion, so i wouldnt be able to help you out.
    // 2010 Jaguar XFR
    // 2013 VW Beetle

  10. #9
    Senior Member CARZ's Avatar
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    Just to give you guys a preview of how computer numbers play in the real world. I wont give u the specs of all 5 of my PC's...but will show you some of my main ones.

    HP Pavillion DZ8000 Laptop
    screen = 17inch widescreen
    Video card = 256mb ATI Radeon X800 Mobile
    RAM = 1 gig
    Memory = 100 gig
    CPU = 3.4ghz Pentium 4HT
    age = 2 years old

    I mainly use this as my development station...as well gaming. I can have Flash, Dreamweaver, IE, Firefox, AIM all running at the same time...and it wont hiccup a bit.

    In the past 2 years ive only had to replace my harddrive due to a huge scratch on the disk. I believe the scratch was caused by the needle due to being shaken while running.


    Sony Vaio (forgot model number) - PC
    Video card = 128mb Nvidea FX5400 (upgraded from 32mb)
    RAM = 512 mb (upgraded from 12
    Memory = 200 gig (upgraded from 60)
    CPU = 2.0ghz Pentium 4
    age = 6 years old

    This is one of my older units. I use it everyday for normal usage and a little bit of development. As you can see I have upgraded it a bit from original specs. It got a bit slow about 2 years ago and figured it was time for a change. The only problem I had was a blown modem from a thunderstorm.
    // 2010 Jaguar XFR
    // 2013 VW Beetle

  11. #10
    Mac42
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    Looks like HP for me, very happy with 3 printers and my iPaq. Printers another subject but used to use Epsom untill started to use HP best I have ever used and very robust. HP kit for me.

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