Note that we do not sell PCs or represent any particular company.
The following is presented to help you better understand the
purchase of a PC.
This information is what I would tell you, if you asked me a "What do I need to know about getting a PC?".
Talk about a big open question. This page is my answer: When buying a PC it is important to keep in mind the following realities:
New developments the past months (July-Aug):
What kind of computer do we use: (New system purchased in July 1999)
Used my P100 CPU in old 386 case with a surplus $35 Pentium Motherboard, 16MB RAM and 500MB surplus disk. Mono VGA 14" monitor. Runs as proxy server and home lighting control system.
My recommendation is based on what I feel is your best value
at this time. (See disclaimer at end)
I have included "more" and "less" categories to give you an idea where it stands.
All include, 3.5" Floppy, keyboard, mouse, 2 Serial/1 Enhanced Parallel and USB ports, Mid Tower Case & Power supply, Windows 98 CD or NT4 Workstation
|Celeron 433 / K6 350 MMX||Pentium III 450||Pentium III 600|
|Slot1 or Super7 MB (USB)||ATX, BX Motherboard (USB)||ATX, BX Motherboard, USB ports on board|
|64 MB SDRAM DIMM||128 MB PC 100 SDRAM DIMM||256 MB PC100 SDRAM DIMM|
|6.0 GB Hard Disk||9.0 GB Hard Disk||18.0 GB Hard Disk, SCSI|
|40X CD-ROM||40X CD/DVD-ROM||40X CD/DVD-ROM Drive and CDR Drive|
|SB Sound Card||64 Voice Sound Card AWE||128 Voice Sound Card with AWE / Live|
|4MB PCI Video Card||Video Card 8MB (2x AGP, 3D)||16MB Video Card (4x AGP, 3D) (VRAM)|
|56 Kbps FAX/MODEM||56K bps v.90 Voice/FAX/MODEM||56Kbps v.90 DSDV/Speaker/Voice/FAX/MODEM|
|15" Monitor .28dp NI||17" Monitor .26dp NI||19" Monitor .25 dp NI|
|1 year warranty||2 year warranty||3 year warranty|
PRINTER.You will need a printer. For casual
printing I recommend an InkJet, they are cheap ($200), quiet and
use plain paper. Cheap (3) colour seems to be the same price as
Black and White. (You can't seem to get a B&W only InkJet
anymore) Ask how much new ink cartridges cost ($30!). It's sort
of a free razor, replacement blades deal, but it still is not bad
for casual printing, unless you go crazy printing stuff from the
Web. If you plan to do a lot of printing, get a black and white
"laser class" printer for $300 and up. Ask how much the
toner is for a "laser class" printer and how many pages
you can expect it to print.
You will also need a parallel cable to connect your printer ($10). There seems to be some new IEEE printer cable available, same connectors and everything, but 3 times the price. To me it's not worth $30, even with gold plated pins.
CD-ROM drives are not a big a deal anymore. The real descision now is whether to get a CD/DVD drive. But do get a CD-ROM drive, just like a 3.5" drive, you will need it to load software and they are pretty cheap. 36X is minimum you can get now. Note that the maximum rate is at outer edge, most CDs are not filled up to the outer edge. So you wont get the maximum speeds in normal use.
USB. Universal Serial Bus. This is the new connection standard for all sorts of peripherals. It will replace, serial, parallel, keyboard, monitor and other connections. There are starting to be more devices that can be actually purchased (thank the iMac) like digital cameras, scanners, joysticks, mice, etc. USB connections allow multiple (up to 127) devices to be connected to a system. You wont have to juggle ports or run out of serial connections. The connectors are a bit like modular phone connections, no screws to fiddle with, just click them together. Make sure your new system has it.
MOTHERBOARD. This is the most important part of your system. If you get a cheap motherboard it may not be very expandable in terms of memory, processor and other features (like USB). There are two ways to look at things. 1) Cheap way: don't spend much now and replace the entire motherboard and CPU when you need more power. Do not buy the top of the line, buy middle range, later (1-2 years) replacement will cost what you would have paid for top of the line when first purchased. 2) A bit more expensive way: Buy a higher end motherboard and CPU with room for expansion. This will stretch your system obsolescence out. Still have to upgrade sometime though.
To summarize: 1) Pay less now, upgrade more sooner 2) Pay more now, upgrade less later. Either way you still end up having to upgrade. Don't buy the cutting edge CPU, buy the motherboard that allows you to use faster components later.(e.g. BX motherboard supporting 600+MHz, but start with a 433 Celeron processor and PC 100 RAM, say 64MB, later you can add more PC100 RAM, say 128-256MB and a faster 700MHz CPU when the price comes down)
Important parts of motherboard:
RAM. Get PC100 168 pin SDRAM. This is the latest RAM and works with new 100 MHz motherboards, it also works on older 66MHz systems. The price difference is negligible. You may want ECC version of this RAM, it is error correcting and costs more. The difference is that "regular" RAM will stop your system if it detects a parity error in the RAM. ECC is able to detect and correct the error so your system wont hang. I say get regular if trying to save, I do. RAM errors are rare, normally your software will crash your system most of the time and ECC will not change that. Mission critical systems should be ECC.
ASK OTHERS. Don't believe everything you are told, hear or read (this includes us). Check other sources as well.
XT 8086 (640K/20MB) $Free
AT 286 (1MB/40MB) $10
386 (4MB/80MB) $50
486 (8MB/200MB and up) $100
Pentium 586 (16MB/1GB +) $200-400
Pentium II/AMD Super 7 (32MB/2GB+) $500-1500
Pentium III (128MB/6GB+) $1500-5000
The fastest computer always seems to be about $5000. Even the
XT was, in 1980
Computers tend to drop in price by half every 2 years. $4000, $2000, $1000, $500
When buying a computer, small details make the difference between an average computer and a better one with the newer technology and expandability that will extend its life. These differences usually only increase your purchase price by 10% ($200-300). It is usually worth it. Educate yourself, it is a wise investment.
Warning: Do not read any computer ads AFTER you buy a system. The price drops can make you sick
Be sure to use your computer. The value of a computer is
savings of time and knowledge gained.
Time=Money. This is why the faster machines cost more. They save you more time.
Buy it, Use It, Enjoy it.
Recommending a computer is a moving target, prices keep dropping, new features come out. Any recommendation will not be accurate in a few months. Other people may give you different opinions. I encourage you to get information from several places (see below). That will even out the biases.
For those who think I left stuff out, yes I did. It is a challenge to condense everything about computer purchasing into a few pages. What did I leave out? CD-Recordable, DVD, MO drives, Optical disks, LS 120MB and HiFD 200 MB 3.5" Floppy drives, ZIP drives, Cable/ASDL modems, SCSI, FireWire, Video, Chipsets, Cyrix and AMD chips and other stuff. I also left out Macs.
Here is another site with more info about buying PCs. Read another opinion.
Back to WHYFOR IndustriesTop