Author Topic:   'Puter dilemma
posted November 09, 2002 09:14 PM            
Not the same ol' sob story 'bout my current headache-inducing computer...somethin' different this time.

Plannin' on buyin' a new comp next year and wondering what my fellow Treadheads think.

Laptop or desktop?

My wife has a brand new P4 2GHz desktop, so my best friend suggested that I do what he did-buy a laptop. No, I don't need it, but it would be cool to play TM in the living room or the bedroom or the car...bwahahahaha. Ahem--please pardon my outburst.

Think I should get a laptop? If so, got any suggestions on which one/kind to get? If'n I get one, I could sit outside on the patio playin' TM and claim it was good, healthy exercise--right? Right...?


posted November 09, 2002 09:52 PM            
NO, get another desktop!


After about a year you will kick yourself for getting the laptop. Like me


posted November 10, 2002 12:21 AM            
Definitely a desktop!!

To have similar specs on the desktop vs laptop is a huge difference in cash. You can use that difference to "upgrade" the desktop to better graphics card and more memory (RAM). Right now, the laptop (with Nvidia GeForce2Go or ATI Mobile Radeon) sounds like a great idea but you'll end up forking out over $2200 just to run TM at so-so speed. For less cash than that you can get a great desktop! But it's yer money...


Rex R
posted November 10, 2002 02:19 AM            
from what I've read, I gather that laptops may look/have great spec.s...on paper or when plugged into the mains. but to conserve the battaries they 'thottle back' and essentially underclock them selves quite a bit (else you would get a run time of about 30-45 minutes). I see that there is a strap on handle you can get for your puter to make it easier to carry( or you could get a cart and just wheel it about). on the other hand, what would the neighbors think if they heard the sounds of pitched battle comming from your patio?


posted November 10, 2002 02:58 AM            
Well, didn't realize the response would be so overwhelmingly against getting a laptop. Makes perfect sense, tho--and I would much rather have a system that could do TM justice rather than just run it. My buddy only plays games with very low graphics requirements. Tanks for the advice, guys, and steering me back to the path of righteousness.

Desktops for everyone! Well, everyone named Karldar anyhoo....

Hey, waitaminnit! What kinda desktop should I get? Just curious. I like Falcon Northwest quite a bit('cept for the price tag ). Alienware and Ibuypower look pretty cool, but I don't really care much 'bout looks-more concerned with performance. My brother keeps piecing together his "dream machine"(that he has yet to buy and actually put together) at new egg.com, but I worry about compatibility issues with the hardware and such. In any case, thanks for the help, fellas.

I like pie, but I LOVE TM!


posted November 10, 2002 04:13 AM            
Hi...my name is Kaldar²

I guess it all depends on yer budget and what yer looking fer. Keep in mind that Xmas will see an INCREASE or stability of prices in most accessories like RAM and hard drives. Most RAM prices have already gone up for the season.

LCD screens are still kinda pricey and they will tend to "ghost" when you have some fast paced action happening on the screen. Stick to a CRT...like a nice 21"!

Don't go fer the cheapest case out there. Stick to one that will give you the most flexibility fer yer needs as well as decent cooling.

I'm an AMD fan myself so I'd only point you towards a decent Athlon XP processor. If you don't want to overclock, you could always pick up a XP2000 based system. But if you want bleeding edge tech (you'll be wasting yer money as the price will drop before you even get the processor in yer hands) get the XP2700 or the XP2800. They should be out by Xmas.

Stick to a DDR memory based motherboard. PC133 memory won't have the bandwidth needed by today's processors. Go fer a minimum of 256 MB. 512 MB if you can afford it.

80-100 GB drives can be had for around $100 these days. Stay away from Fujitsu and IBM. Maxtor and Western Digital are safe bets. Not sure about Samsung drives.

Depending on what you want in a video card, you can go with Nvidia based cards (NV30 based cards are due out in 2 months or less) or the ATI Radeon cards. Parhella (sp?) aren't worth the money you'll end up spending on it. Stay away from the Nvidia GF4 MX series. You'll get better results with the GF4 4200 for only a few dollars more.

Built in sound is okay on most motherboards but you'll have to shop around fer sound cards if you want better sound. Creative Soundblaster Audigy cards are still the standards that other cards are judged by but they do have their quirks.

Stick to an optical mouse as you won't end up cleaning it like the typical ball mouses of previous technology.

Keyboards should be tried out and should not be judged on features or looks first. Make sure it feels good and natural to your keystrokes.

Don't forget to get a decent powerstrip. I only use the TrippLite IsoBar series for my comps. It's a bit pricey but they sure do back up their product with a great guarantee!

BUT most of all...stay away from the corporate (Dell, Gateway, IBM) machines. They might seem like a great deal but you'll find out in the long run (or within a few months) it doesn't have the horsepower you thought you were going to get as the components are not like the ones you can get in retail stores. They will get their motherboards made by the cheapest manufacturer and they tend to be a bit slower in performance when compared to the other motherboards out there.


posted November 10, 2002 04:37 AM            
Oh...forgot a few more things...

If yer not that much of a do-it-yerself type of computer builder, Shuttle has a nice box they're getting ready to release before Xmas.

Nice small compact box based on the NForce2 chipset. Only room for 1 5¼" drive and a floppy drive. Hard drive mounts below the floppy. Who needs a floppy anyways?

Something to consider. Do yer shopping first before running out to buy. Unless you really want yer comp NOW!!


posted November 10, 2002 10:03 AM            
Great info BZP - only have one comment to add - since the hardware stuff is way over my head. I know enough just to be dangerous. If you can bud wait till after Xmas - bought mine in Jan of 2001 - should of waited to March - system dropped another 2-3 hundred dollars during that time. I know I want an alien ware or the other you were talking about. Will have to wait a year or so lol JT


posted November 10, 2002 02:10 PM            
Not really lookin' to buy one 'til around spring/summer next year, so mebbe prices won't be too bad by then. Price will definitely be a factor, but I'm willing to build my own if it's not too expensive. Every time I put one together out of separate parts it seems to add up to more $ than a mass-produced one from Dell/Gateway/Compaq, etc. Obviously, they're able to get parts for less, but they're gonna be cheaper quality-wise, right? Might do some online shopping today just to compare prices.

Wouldn't mind tryin' AMD and I'm a big fan of NVidia's cards. Very happy with my 40GB Maxtor HDD, too. Could always use my old 17" monitor if I can't afford a larger one by next year--plus, I've already got an optical mouse. Hmm, got a case, too-if I gut my old one...or mebbe use my Dad's old Compaq case--get a new power supply and stuff.

BTW, what's a good rule of thumb for power needs of a computer? So many watts/hardware device or somethin'? Gonna try to keep it down to one optical drive(DVD-RW mebbe ), floppy, one HDD, 2.0+GHz processer, NIC, Audigy 2 prolly, GeForce 3(at least), and minimum of 256MB RAM. 500 watt power supply should be plenty, eh?

Anyways, thanx for all the help, homeys. Really appreciate the comprehensive list, Bam .


posted November 10, 2002 02:41 PM            
No prob...anything to help...spend yer money!!

As for power supplies...rule of thumb is to look at what the 3.3V and 5V rails provide. Some PS will combine the total output rating of those together and you end up will a lesser rating than what you thought you were getting. For example, if you get a 500W power supply and you look at the 3.3V and 5V rails, you might find out that those 2 are only rated for 225W put together. You won't come anywhere close to 500W and yer comp may end up locking up or rebooting randomly without warning. In case you didn't know, 3.3V/5V is the majority of yer computer power requirements.

I would only recommend quality power supplies like Antec True Power series or Enermax power supplies.


Blue n Gold Sue
posted November 10, 2002 03:59 PM            
I am having trouble getting the links to work, so I have edited this to try to overcome my troubles.
Karldar, I don't know how much you know already, and BZP gave you much good advise. Being female, though, I need to add my two cents worth.
Stay away from Fujitsu HD. We had trouble with ours, too. Good warning from BZP on that.
A simple web-site about building your own PC can be found at www.mysuperpc.com/troubleshooting_computer_problems.shtml
I found it an interesting read.
Many cities have little computer stores that will build you a system to your specs, rather than having to buy a corporated PC. Kinda like building your own without the hassel.
As for the laptop, unless you have to travel, stay away from them. The keyboard is significantly smaller than a normal keyboard, so if you use it for typing documents, you may find yourself making many more typos. I have a laptop for work and I find myself plugging in a standard keyboard and a mouse (still can't get used to using the scratch pad and the buttons on the laptop, nor the nipple like navigator in the center of the keyboard), and I rarely use the battery, so I am plugged into a mains power supply. Hardly looks portable when I am done. There are some small and portable cpu carts around, as the guys suggest. A good place to start is http://www.ikea-usa.com/, but there are many other furniture places out there.
Two places to shop (and many abound) are http://shop.store.yahoo.com/directron/
and http://www.pricewatch.com/
I know there are many others, but these are the ones I had bookmarked

Edit note: I did my [url= ____]LINK [/url] tags, but they didn't work. Sorry about the links.

[This message has been edited by Blue n Gold Sue (edited November 10, 2002).]


Rex R
posted November 10, 2002 05:56 PM            
heh got my comp cart as 'flat furniture' from office depot. note they have made great improvements to the flat furniture kits, much easier to assemble nowadays than those of say 10 yrs ago


posted November 20, 2002 04:16 PM            
While not a fem; here are my thoughts.

Case: Antec Performance Plus cases, room for four 80mm fans (two in front, two in back) http://www.antec-inc.com/en_perf_plushome.html
Fans: four (4) Antec Smart fans are worth every penny for the silence. http://www.antec-inc.com/f_smartfan.html
Power Supply: Antec at least 480 watts, eliminate power as a source of system instability http://www.antec-inc.com/p_pwhome.html
Motheboard: Hard to say, Abit love's Smokin Lou but bit me hard. Soyo Dragon Ultra boards have a lot, but you need to pick what you are comfortable with.

RAM: At least 256MB, as fast as a board will handle reliably.

Elsa Gladiac Pro http://www.elsa.com/products/computergraphics/gladiac_9700_pro/index.php
ATI Radeon Series (slows game play, but hasn't hurt me) http://mirror.ati.com/products/pc/aiw9700pro/index.html
Matrox Louie says the best (Dell's had them for a long time and they were never stable, but I was always able to fix them) http://www.matrox.com/mga/products/home.cfm

On Hard Drives:
Configuration; striped speed, no redundance. Mirrored, some read advantage, redundance, redundance, redundance. Ideal? RAID 0+1 or 10 at the WS level, RAID 0 + 5 or 50 for the most expensive, fastest and reliable.
Type/MFG; WD is coming back. Had to stop specifiying Quantum after Maxtor bought them. If you go econo; 1 big cached and warranted drive. Otherwise, matched drives for mirroring/striping. Multichannel MBoards are common now, moving swap to a separate drive/channel improves performance. If you partition the drive(s). Remember to move temp and swap onto only one partition.

NIC: 3Com gagabit thinks of the future. http://www.3com.com/products/en_US/detail.jsp?tab=features&pathtype=purchase&sku=3C99 6B-T

OS: Euw, XP Professional or 2000 Pro, DON'T buy anything that says Home or ME on it. Um, Linux running Wine?

Good luck.

[This message has been edited by VorDesigns (edited November 20, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by VorDesigns (edited November 20, 2002).]


=DNX= Matrix
posted November 22, 2002 12:20 AM            
Home or ME - Lol ! - class...


posted November 25, 2002 01:16 PM            
I don't think a home user needs RAID.

Hey, I have a DELL and I've been customizing it very easily. However, I didn't get their cheap model. I'm on my 3rd year and I play BF1942 just as fast as everyone else and their overclocked this and that. It's not really the processor overall - it's your memory, disk drive and graphics card.

My next is custom built.

Memory - I suggest 512MB. It was very easy to tell a difference between 256MB and 512MB. Loading a map in BF1942 was cut 75%.

Get at least a 128MB video card. Doom III graphics are supposed to use 64MB just to load it's core stuff. I myself hate ATI and prefer Nvidia. I have a simple SoundBlaster Live! sound card with 5 speakers. Works great. Definately get the 5 speakers and maybe down the road get surround once the games support it. Or do they already?
http://www.tomshardware.com/ is a great site for explaining in plain english pc stuff.

Here is an example VGA test: http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/02q2/020418/vgacharts-05.html

And remember cooling is very important. They even have HD coolers which I thought was funny. http://www.motherboards.com/catalog/product_info.php?category_id=1&index_id=1&subcategory_id=126&products_id=11584&