[thelist] Hardware Purchase Advice

Dan McCullough dmccullough at garnethill.com
Wed Jun 30 11:38:43 CDT 2004

Well I am a computer hobbiest, and no way make a living at it.  But even
I can hit the 90%/10% good/bad computer assembly ratio.  Dells I
consider the top of the line as far as reliability, and they usually
will try and make things right.  IBM is also a good manufacture.  One
thing that I did not notice in this email was what your plans are for
the machine, like gaming or home use or business/data processing.

Some basic thoughts.
CPU, I would avoid Celeron.  Pent 4, AMD Athlon XP or Athlon 64, M.

Memory, you can never have too much memory.  Never, general rule of
thumb 256 base for Windows XP, 512 base for Windows XP+Office.  I
started off with 512 in my box, and had some sluggishness, bumped it to
1Gig and havent seen a problem since.

Hard Drive, Western Digital, Seagate and Maxtor are the big three out
there, Maxtor I have had lots of issues with, lots and lots.   I have
purchased 10 drives from them over the past year and returned six.
Basics  higher RPM the faster the drive is.  Drives are pretty
inexpensive you can pick up a 60GB Maxtor for like $29.

Video, I would get a nice video card, if you doing business and not
doing gaming a 32MB/64MB card will do nicely.  Even if the board comes
with an intergraded video card I would still put in a video card.  If
you are doing gaming you will want to get one of the higher end cards.
XFX GeForce or Radeon will do fine.  Another option would be if you were
doing video capture, but you can purchase those cards separate from your
vide card.

CD-ROM, I would get one that could RW, more and more even in business
situations being able to burn to a CD is a nice option to have.

Floppy Drive, does anyone actually use one of these anymore.  Well
actually I do, and they come in handy and are cheap so might as well
throw one of those in there.

Networking/Modem, If you have Broadband or an interal network then
you'll need something here.  10/100/1000 or wireless, again depends on
what you have as far as connection.  NIC cards are cheap and pleantiful,
wireless cards are also cheap and easy to find.  Modems are a dime a

Sound Card, Most come on the motherboard those are good enough, if you
are a gamer or your doing audio capture/output then you'll want
something better.  AudioTrak or CreativeLabs have some nice stuff.

Speakers, Very cheap and always come in handy but not necessary.

Some odds and ends.  Kayboard, Mouse, Removable Storage (card readers,
smart card readers, external hard drives, etc).  Monitor I would suggest
a 23 inch cinima display :) or something smaller and cheaper then my new

-----Original Message-----
From: thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org
[mailto:thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org] On Behalf Of Hershel Robinson
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 11:53 AM
To: Thelist (E-mail)
Subject: [thelist] Hardware Purchase Advice

Foreword: this letter is basically asking for hardware advice, not
it, so if you're not interested, feel free to skip it. :)

I spoke to the owner of a local PC store and he told me that of 90% of
machines he sells, he never hears from them again. The other 10% come
with some sort of problem, very often power supply problems. He does not
sell Dell machines, either.

So when I bought a new machine last year, I figured that if I bought a
no-brand machine, I stood a 90% chance of being satisfied with it. I
bought a well-outfitted machine from the dealer who gave me the best
deal. I
find myself in that 10% bracket, now, however. The problems with this
machine are not quite such that it can be returned as I can not prove
are entirely hardware-related. I did send it back once and while they
not charge me for the 'repair,' it did take them two weeks and all they
managed to do was replace the CPU fan.

My financial situation has improved ever so slightly since then, and my
appreciation of good hardware has also improved significantly and I am
prepared to purchase a new machine. My previous machine (before the
was a Dell, and I never once had a problem with it. In several years. I
looked into getting another Dell, but one dealer never answers his phone
the other never returns my calls. I can not order from Dell directly
I live in Israel.

I am given to understand, however, that next to buying a machine from a
well-known and reputable company, a hand-picked machine where each
is chosen for its quality and compatibility with the whole, should be as
good or even better. (Or I could always try try again with the other
purported Israeli Dell dealers.)

There is an online company here that was recommended to me that will
me to pick my components and they will build it for me. Problem is,
while I
know basically what I want, as in which CPU and how much RAM, beyond
that, I
do not know how to pick hardware components--which motherboard
over which and is it really worth twice the price for DDR of such and
such a
speed etc.

I wonder then if any kind Evolter(s) would be willing to assist me with
project? The dealer's site is only partially in Hebrew and the actual
products and details are all in English. If anyone is available, please
email me off line.

Thank you,

<tip type="Hardware Purchase" author="Hershel Robinson">
The value of a dual-head video adaptor has been discussed before on
I myself am a user of such a system and I can tell you that, as a
programmer, it is without question an aid to productivity.

To go from my browser, open to a test page, back to my code, I need only
move my eyes. I can also compare a full monitor's worth of code against
another without flipping between windows.

The small monetary investment I think pays off in the long run. Not to
mention it will impress your friends. ;)

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