What computer to buy?

My parents want a new computer, and it’s been several years since I looked at computers, so I’m totally out of the loop.

So what are the best brands? HP or Dell or something else? I’ve heard that HPs are easier to upgrade than Dells - is that true? Are AMD CPUs still cheaper but with similar performance to Intel CPUs?

And is there any web site that can explain all this new computer jargon. Like Athlon 64 X2 4000+. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is that 4.0 Ghz? Their marketing departments have succeeded in confusing the ---- out of me.

I’ll give a very brief answer, enough to get you started…
“Best brands” is a misnomer to me. If you get a Dell, HP or something, you may be stuck with certain proprietary replacements, only through the manufacturers directly. After getting a better deal by having one built, that’s what I recommend you do at least. Research a local shop that is at least is recommended by the local BBB, and check around to see if your friends or people you know have frequented there, to get an idea by word-of-mouth (usually pretty accurate I find for such a thing).
You would be better served by using an AMD CPU, for the fact it still access the RAM faster than Intel counterparts. Also, avoid “genuine Intel motherboards” if you have a system built, as they sometimes have a nasty shortcoming of their USB ports shorting out when you insert a flash drive (we had several at work go where the USB ports shorted out for apparently no reason like that).
The best brand of motherboard you could get is Tyan, although you’ll pay about 50-$75 more for a Tyan mobo than a similarly featured Gigabyte one. In my research, your best motherboard choices in best > very good > good would be Tyan > Gigabyte > MSI (the tech guy at work added the MSI). A critical feature on new mobos is to get one with as few “X” capacitors on it as possible, with the majority being “K” “Y” or “V” designs. Many Dell motherboards (at least ones that aren’t made within the last 2 years) were notorious for having too many X capacitors (these are the cheapest ones, that are most likely to go out), and invariably they bulge, go out or even pop and go out. Anyway, a good mobo of the Gigabyte variety with the majority of the ‘good’ capacitors will run you 90-$100, ordered from a place like www.newegg.com
On AMD X2, that’s a dual core processor
Get a good case with at least one intake fan and one exhaust. Some of the best cases are made by Cooler Master (that won’t break the bank), that also have really good airflow. You can probably score a good Cooler Master Centurion case from newegg for $50 or less on sale (that already has 2 fans, one intake in front and on exhaust at back).
Don’t go cheap on the power supply (PSU). I recommend an Antec, or if you can find an equivalent power supply that has an 85% efficiency rating or better. I would recommend somewhere in the range (minimum) of a 430 watt Antec PSU, as these could be found on sale at Staples/Circuit City or elsewhere for ~$40 or so, with some in the 500watt range also for that price (or to ~$45) or a little more, depending on the sale.
Unless you need some super DDR-Ram, you could go with Kingston Value RAM for whatever Mhz matches what the mobo would take. A recent sale at Circuit City on (IIRC) 533 Mhz DDR-RAM 1 Gb was $39.99. I would have at least 1 GB DDR-RAM in the computer.
A little more than I thought I’d put up, but I went with the flow. This will give you some more ideas. :wink:


Yup building your own PC is more fun and rewarding, plus you will get better performance and have greater upgrability. Here’s an example, this isn’t including an operating system /you might already have it/, or speakers.

ASUS M2A-VM AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard, 65 bucks On board video with DVI video connector.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Brisbane 2.1GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor, 58 bucks
SeaSonic SS-301HT ATX12V 300W Power Supply, 41 bucks No need for more power, the system will draw less than 100W with normal operation.
SAMSUNG 920BM Black 19" 5ms DVI LCD Monitor, 220 bucks Digital input to go along with the digital output of the motherboard.
Hitachi 160GB hard drive SATAII, 50 bucks
Rosewill ATX computer case, 21 bucks
Logitech PS2 keyboard and mouse combo, 14 bucks
Team Elite 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800, 20 bucks after 20 buck rebate Currently instock, its a good deal so it will pop in and out of stock.

488 bucks not including shipping, operating system, or speakers.

If your not comfortable building a PC, then wait for a sale on an AMD based Emachines PC, they can be pretty cheap.

I would recommend building your own PC. But if you don’t want to be bothered or your parents call you all the time if there’s any problem, just get a Dell or HP. :wink:

Anyway, what’s the budget?

It’s fine if you build for yourself but its more or less tiresome to have run the support…
If you’re in EU I can highly recommend you Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo series, they’re aim for Office but work great for “desktop work” and are very silent.
If you want a bit more performance go with the Scaleo-series but they are a bit noiser too, not loud by any means though.
Cant really recommend Dell, they’re quite poor. HP are better but they have some odd solutions sometimes.
Dont forget to add an additional 90 bucks for Windows OEM on Eric’s package.

Budget is around $1000 including monitor and Windows and Office. They’ll be using it for email, web browsing, watching videos, and photos. Not much gaming. They are hoping the computer will last for at least 5 years. I would prefer to just buy one pre-built. Live in the USA.

Okay here’s a Dell system, currently onsale has 3 year IN HOME service warranty parts and labor included. Expires january 10th, so you have a day or two to decide.

to get the deal go here:

scroll down to “Inspiron 530 desktop w/ 3yr warranty for only $368” click “click through”

You need to customize the system. Change the processor to the “e2160”. Change the video card to the “128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO”, Add the “19 inch S199WFP Widescreen Digital Flat Panel Monitor with TrueLife”, Add “microsoft office home and student”, Under memory change it to “2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs”

total is about 870 dollars. All you need to decide is which speaker to get, either the 20 or 50 dollar ones.

System includes 3yr antivirus, and Windows Vista Home.