Stupid question, no doubt

Puppyraiser

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I am planning to get a new computer. Mine has never been the same since the hard drive crash and I suspect that there must have been a power surge to cause its woes; suffice it to say that it has been in a slow downward spiral...
So the big question is: do I want a Pentium 4 or a Celeron processor? Will it matter for the lightweight but yet frequent use I make of a computer? (word processor, database, HH, Grumble, etc...) Maybe I should just go cheapest, as it seems that I have a major computer problem about once every 3 years and end up getting a new one... I feel a headache coming on....
 

CharlesL

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Ellen,
I'm almost computer stupid. Ours has a Pentium 4, but a friend of mine who builds computers for people, says that for his customers kinda 'on a budget', or who don't want a 'speed-of-light' computer, he reccomends either an Athlon or a Celeron processor.

I'll tell you this: I am now in the process of demanding a full refund for the Gateway we bought in October. The Gateway "Executive Response Team" can authorize either a brand new, not rebuilt, computer or a full refund. I'm goin' for the refund, and will get my buddy to build me a computer.

Our artist friend does heavy graphic design. She had a local company build one for her. Anytime she has the slightest problem, THEY come to HER!!!

But, as I said, I don't know a lot about computers. I do know about Customer Service, and Gateway has a long way to go. I hate to be lied to over and over and over, ad nauseum.

I suggest you find someone in your area that builds computers and see what they reccomend, based on your projected needs.

Good luck!
 

Ron Eggers

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Ellen,

Jerry V is the guy to ask about this, as he builds 'em and fixes 'em. In the meantime, I'll offer my less-expert but equally earnest opinion.

It looks to me like the higher-priced computers today are designed for graphics-intensive applications: things like Video editing, Photoshop and - incredibly - games. Graemlins do not count as intense graphics.

I'd get plenty of memory, a good-sized hard drive (see how vague I can be) a CD burner and maybe have an internal Zip drive added for those backups you've always thought about making. A DVD player is not as silly as it might sound, since more and more software is going to be released on DVD instead of multiple CDs. Also, the DVD player can be used as a source drive for those CDs you're not supposed to copy.

And Charles is right. Have someone local build a generic computer for you. You'll get everything you need, nothing you don't and they'll actually service it for you. And then assume you'll replace it in three years, which you would even if you had sprung for the high-priced spread.
 

David Waldmann

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Processor speed is not very important nowadays unless you are doing jobs such as CAD/CAM or audio/video production. A Celeron will be just fine. More important is the amount of memory. I'd recommend a minimum of 256MB.

The only other suggestion I have is to not go with the absolute cheapest, even the least expensive of a good brand, because of limited options and upgrades available. You should be able to get a really good system for under a grand today, even with a decent new monitor (if you already have a good monitor there's no reason to get a new one unless you're planning to keep using the old computer, or to give it to someone as a complete system).

We have had good luck with both Gateway and Dell desktops and servers. We have had very few problems, and when there were problems they have been promptly taken care of. However, if you have a reputable local shop that builds its own, that may well be a better way to go.

The hard part is determining whether a local shop is reputable or not. It's a matter of statistics - how are you going to talk with a representative assortment of their customers? The big names get rated by several of the magazines because there are hundreds of thousands of customers.
 

tnframer408

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This is interesting, since I'm visiting my Gateway store today. It's about two blocks from our shop.

I'm curious: would I get better support, doyou thing, since we have a Gateway store in Knoxville? I was thinking about leasing and returning it to them after two or three years. Now, y'all have me scared of customer support. I thought they were supposed to be pretty good. I wonder if their support is better if they have store in your neighborhood?????
 

CharlesL

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Michael,
We have one nearby, and our computer hasn't worked properly since we got it in October. I have logged almost 2 dozen calls to Tech support before finally getting belligerent. They told me, "Well, it MIGHT be a hardware problem. We suggest you take it to your Gateway store."

They replaced the motherboard, the modem, the hard-drive and the power supply. It still does the same thing, just not as often. Hence the insistence, on my part, for a refund. Also, I noticed that the storage shelves in the Gateway service dept had about 60 computers in for repair. I guess we have to draw our own conclusions...

As I said, if I get a refund, I'm getting one built FOR me. I hate being mis-led and outright lied to by a computer outfit, and especially MSN. That's why I really want to know about people's experiences with Road Runner.

Email me if you want the whole, sordid story.
 

Tim Hayes.

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I have always had Dell computers and have been very happy with them and the service that Dell provides. We have 3 Dell desktops in the shop, one at home and a Dell laptop. We purchased the 3 year on site service when we bought them. After about 2.5 years the backup tape drive went bad on one and Dell sent a local authorized tech to replace it with a new one - N/C.
I see that Charles is returning his Gateway for a full refund. A customer had a lot of problems with her Gateway and she too returned it in less than a year then, bought a Dell which has been great.
Check their website dell web page They have some great deals.
Good Luck,
Tim
 

jvandy57

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Ellen,
Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard are all good brand name computers. The cheaper ones that are advertised are easier to throw away than upgrade.

I have found that #1 - AMD chips are faster and just as reliable as Intel chips (ie Celeron, Pentium 4) AMD has their XP class chips out right now and everyone of them in Benchmark tests as beat Intel chips.

Every system that I've built in the last 3 years is using AMD processors and still going strong.

A pentium 4 1.6 Gig Processor is around 180 to 200 dollars. An XP 1800+ is Around 134.00 both include motherboards, fans and cpus. Most of your extraneous things (ie Sound, LAN, Modem, Video if you like are on the motherboard. There are some excellent brands of hardware out there that rival or exceed anything that Intel offers.

I can give you a price on a system, if you'd like, and tech support is free, or find one of your local computer stores (Not the Big wigs) and price one out there, have it Custom built to your needs, sort of like Custom Framing. If you already have a monitor and stuff you can get just the box built and save more money.

The system that I'm running on right now is an AMD 1600+ with 128 megs DDR memory, Modem and sound on board with case it cost me $234.00 Total + shipping.

I could go on and on and on, but generic systems are easy to upgrade and beat their competition in my opinion. I'd much rather work on a generic box than a Dell or Gateway box.

As you say my two cents.....

PS Give me a call or private email if you want some help with one.
 

Puppyraiser

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Thanks, everyone! You are the BEST! I printed off everything and when I finally get really ticked with this thing, I am going to get just what I need and not what I don't. Incredibly, when I told folks that I am going to get a new 'puter because this one is acting so funky, several people have asked if they can have the old one... I guess free is a good price,even for something on its last legs, or perhaps I have the repuation of being overly intolerant of things that don't work as I expect them to (like employees? hahahahahaha)
 

ArtLady

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Lawrenceville, Georgia
Best computer decision I have ever made was my MICRON. It is the most durable and the best in my mind. I do not believe all the commercial hype on the other models. MICRON is recommended in all the trade mags and has won all kinds of awards.

Anyway check this out from ZDNET which I received this AM in my email:

Intel vs. AMD: You choose sides in the chip brawl
Which company makes the better processor: Intel or AMD? And which will dominate the chip industry in the coming years? You made your opinions clear in TalkBack. Now David shares them with the rest of us.

http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/stories/story/0,10738,2870464,00.html
 

FraminGal

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Hope I'm not out of order here - I'm FraminGal's husband and a network administrator for a nearby college. My wife is always raving about the Grumble, how great you guys are and how much help she gets here. I'm pretty comfortable with computers (although I'm slowly losing touch with the standard desktop variety as I get sucked deeper into the black void of enterprise computing...). It's obvious that you have some computer literate folks here as well, but I wanted to toss in my two cents' worth in appreciation for your help with FraminGal's questions.

Regarding Pentium vs. Celeron vs. Athlon - David is correct. The difference between Pentium and Athlon is cache size which translates into Pentium being better able to handle a lot of number crunching. We're talking CAD, PhotoShop and heavy-duty graphic games. AMD has been giving Intel a run for their money lately with their Athlon chips - again, it's largely a function of cache size, although Athlon does process more data per clock cycle than Pentium or Celeron in some cases. The big question - will you see a big performance benefit for your money in day to day computing? Probably not. Save your money or put it in RAM (256MB or more would be a good investment) and maybe a bigger hard drive. How big is your current drive? Is it getting full? The answer to those questions should help you determine if it's worth your time to invest in a bigger drive. If you rip CD's and store your MP3 files on your hard drive, it's pretty easy to chew up those gigabytes. Don't buy the bottom of anybody's line - corners are cut to keep those prices low and this can often cause unforeseen problems.

As for brand name, FraminGal and I have a couple of Dell desktops, a Dell laptop, and half a dozen home built machines using both Intel and AMD chips. The college for which I work buys several hundred Dells every year. Overall, I'd say Dell's service is above average for a company of that size. Still, if you have a competent, reliable mom and pop computer shop available nearby where you can get good service, why not go with them? I can't speak for Gateway or Micron since I haven't had any recent experience with either. What sort of problem have you been having with your Gateway that they are unwilling or unable to fix?

Lastly, (then I'll shut up, I promise...) we've also had a RoadRunner account for the last three years or so. We use Verizon DSL at the frame store. RoadRunner has been amazing. I can count the number of outages we've had in three years on one hand, and the throughput is great. Be aware of the security implications with a cable modem or DSL connection though. RR is basically one big network to which you are always connected, and not all your Internet neighbors play nice. I would strongly advise using anti-virus software (and keep it up to date!) and some sort of firewall. Windows XP has a rudimentary firewall built in and there are other relatively inexpensive software and hardware firewall solutions available as well. Might be another good subject to bring up with your local mom and pop computer shop.

Okay, I've written a book. Time to sit down and be quiet. Thanks again for all your help (past, present and future) with the framing questions - we're really grateful!
 

Ron Eggers

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Hope I'm not out of order here
Nothing out of order here. We appreciate the input from someone who's not just guessing. You can bet if there's ever a question about cardiac nursing, I'd get my wife on here in a heartbeat. (Whoops!)

Drop by anytime. Can we call you NetworkAdministratin'Guy?
 

CharlesL

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Thanks, Framingal's husband. That is very valuable info.
As to my Gateway problems, email me, and I will tell you the whole, sad, sordid story. I have requested the local, very large, CBS TV affiliate's trouble-shooter get involved. She had a similar case with Gateway back in April.
 
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