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OT Shopping for a new high end computer

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  • OT Shopping for a new high end computer

    I am an HP fan but would be willing to get a better box of any brand if it has more power. I looked at getting a mac pro but $4,400 is a bit too much.

    I am looking at getting this system or better.

    Its hot but the HD DVD will have to go into the trash right away.

    Anyone know where to look for good deals?

  • #2
    I've often thought there was room for some firm to develop a brand as the 911 turbo of PC's. Never been impressed with off the shelf stuff, they always seem to try and cheap out on elements they figure 99% of consumers won't notice or care about.

    last time i semi built my own. I spec it and then fine tuned it with a computer shop who put it together. They didn't change much but i figured its a waste of time trying to come up to speed on a rapidly changing market for one build. I could have assembled it myself but the incremental cost was sooo small it was better to have them worry about it, takes time to buy everything, put it together etc and then if there's a problem its their headache.
    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


    • #3
      I've built myself a new PC about every three years for the last 10 or 12 years. I like

      as a reliable, fast, and very price-conscious dealer. If you can run a lathe, you can put together a computer these days. I'm not sure you save any money, because they end up being apples/oranges comparisons, but at least you know what you have.

      When I have a few bucks and newegg has a sale, I stash away a new case and power supply, some memory here and a hard drive or two there...Pretty soon there's a bargain cpu and video card and wow! where'd that computer come from???



      • #4
        Same here, build em.

        Not cheaper if you buy every component to build a whole new computer, but most often memory and drives are useable in the new system, so you can get a great performance increase cheaply with just buying a motherboard and CPU. Just make sure your ram is compatable

        I used to upgrade every 6 months or so, but that was when new CPUs were coming out all the time that could noticeably outperform the last one, these days you can often go a year or two before there's enough extra power to make a noticeable difference. My feeling is that if you -need- benchmarks to tell its faster, it's not worth upgrading. (1.987 seconds compared to 2.00 seconds is a useless improvement)

        Newegg is a great source of parts, decent prices, quick shipping, and without personal experience I understand they have a very good return policy. Son-in-law's testing that right now with a return



        • #5
          What exactly are you intending to use the new computer for... start there and when you have the answers for that question then move forward. Most applications will get by Nicely on a mid range computer, but if your looking at high end 3d modeling, gaming, or the like then you need to bump up.

          I STILL run a PII 400 (built sometime between 96-98 iirc) for general work and web browsing, etc. To date I have yet to find much of anything that I cannot do on my old bomber. My better systems are all AMD based and were built for gaming and 3D work. I run Win 2k pro for an operating system on all my machines, although I will at some point move forward and look at XP Pro for the next system I build.

          I strictly build my own stuff and have always built absoloute top of the line post dated about a year. simply put I average spending $900-$1100 for the best components that have been out there for about a year.

          Consider building a system yourself, it's not very hard.

          Heres the problem with off the shelf systems, most of them (not all) are built on cheap, cramped combo/integrated motherboards, this means that you have limited upgrade abilities, generally inferior video/graphics, sound, etc. Lose the vid card and basically the system's junk, etc.

          IF you have to buy off the shelf then keep a few simple rules in mind...

          First, get/insist on the "professional" versions of the operating systems, (IE: XP Pro, 2k Pro). these tend to have less of the bloat and more stability.

          Second, RAM is far more important than more CPU speed. the fastest system out there will still be limited by it's memory capacity. These days there is literally no reason to have anything LESS than 2gb of ram. You may never use it all, but it's there if needed.

          Third, be sure to learn the expansion capacity of the system your buying. Can you add a hard drive, upgrade memory, expansion cards, video, etc...

          You may be best served by going to a local small computer shop and having a system built to your needs/specifications.

          If I was going to buy off the shelf, high end, PC, and had the extra cash to play with, I'd start here. but thats just me.


          • #6
            I've often thought there was room for some firm to develop a brand as the 911 turbo of PC's.
            There is room and the company is called Alienware.


            Heh, didn't see the link at the bottom of the previous post.
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            • #7
              IMO, AlienWare is WAY over priced. I build my own and generally wind up with a better/faster system than ANYTHING that can be bought in a box (including AW!) for less than a midrange boxed PC. The key is finding out what works, what is hype, and what conflicts with other stuff. I don't follow Hardware enough to keep up with all that's going on, much less separate the hype from what's real. So each time I get ready to upgrade, I spend some time "catching up". Best resources to get started are generally (in my order of preference),, and However, if I'm in a hurry, or just need to knock something together to replace a burn-out on my Wife/Son/Daughter's computer, I generally go to Sharkey and look at recent Mid-Range game PCs. This will almost always give a GREAT bang for the buck on typical family game/internet/personal computer setups. For more savings, go to the next older version and you may find many of the components now on clearance/sale (and sometimes you can get SMOKING deals on what was the high end system components 3-6 months ago!!!). I've even built my own based on those recommended systems, tweaked for my own needs of course.

              Just my take on it...
              Master Floor Sweeper


              • #8
                Dell bought Alienware in the beginning of 2006. Like BadDog says, it's a overpriced "boutique" brand with overclocked components and aggressive memory timings.

                You can build the same thing for less than half the price at Fry's, and even less if you mail order the parts.
                "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


                • #9
                  While working on a Baja SAE team at undergrad we won a 'high end' Alienware laptop as result of winning a race. Was a mixed blessing from the start. I have no idea what that thing would have cost at face value, but I have no doubt it would be considered overpriced by most. My off-the-shelf Dell M90 puts it to shame in all regards.

                  No idea about other flavors of Alienware. Might be some value in there. For my desktop machines I search between the previously mentioned and for parts and/or bare-bone systems to build from. Have ordered a good bit of kit from both and been largely satisfied with the results.


                  • #10
                    The Mac Pro compared to an equivalent speced PC will be the same price.

                    There is a new motherboard called Skulltrail. Uses 2 quad core xeon processors. Looks to be one heck of a board. Though the top of the line processors to go with the board are over $1300 each. Using lesser processors you can build a nice system for about $2500.


                    I recently yanked the AMD board and processor out of one of my systems. I regret buying AMD over Intel. Never do that again. Threw in a 2.2ghz core2duo processor and a cheap-o ECS motherboard from frys. $120 for the board/processor and $40 for 2 gigs of DDR ram. Nice speed boost. Would be better if I had a decent video card. Nvidia released a pretty fast card at the sub $200 mark today.


                    • #11
                      Didn't know about Dell buying AW. Oh well, they used to be good.

                      Sure 'you' can assemble a better faster computer than you can buy for the same money. Not everyone can though. Not everyone wants to even if they can. I bet Billy doesn't build his own any more. Or Jobs. Also, if you assemble your own you have essentially no warranty. White box CPUs from Intel, last I checked, have a 90 day warranty. Retail warrantees are at least a year with all of it covered at the same reseller. Based on my almost ten years experience selling computers I would say there is about a 20% chance of something going wrong with the hardware in the first year. It's a seriously low margin cutthroat business and the OEMs will do all they can to save a tenth of a penny on a system and the parts that go into it.

                      To give you some idea what the margins are like on laptops I used to sell Acer laptops. My dealer price on a particular model would be $950 and the MSRP would be $999. That's a 5% margin and 5% is common in the business for systems. The real markups are on the piece parts such a DVD burners. They used to cost me $17 dollars when they retailed for $49. Ram is another high markup item as well as accessories such a cables. I used to pay $8 for a 50 foot pre made LAN cable and $1.25 for a USB 2.0 printer cable. Staples sells the printer cable for $15.

                      Bottom line is that if you can build a system you might not really save money but you will get the best bang for the buck if you do your homework. Any savings you do realize will evaporate if a major part fails as it usually isn't worth the trouble dealing with the manufacturer's warranty.
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                      • #12
                        I don't know what the fuss is about fast computers unless you're into game playing or something that uses tons of processor time.

                        Computers would be much faster if if wasn't for Microsoft Windows which can be likened to a Model T Ford with layers of transportation technology encrusted around it until its finally wrapped with the Space Shuttle. Some one once made the point that personal computer technology would be ultimately be better off if the present archetecture was just scrapped and a complete new default computer and systemware built to replace it.

                        As far as that goes does anyone know why system software isn'ti nstalled as ROM and replaced as manually installed chips or as SIM cards? That way the system itself would be inaccessible to hackers and the computer would boot faster.

                        A friend of mine has a $4000 PC with the very latest whistles and bells. It doesn't boot any quicker than my bare bones entry level machine nor will it open a document significant;y quicker. It's only significant speed advantage is internet access but that's because he has a cable modem.

                        Nope. I'm real skeptical about "fast" computers. They can be real expensive and boast a lot of impressive numbers but in the end they're like cars. You never get your investment back in any form. They just sit in your driveway or take you to the grocery store and in doing so, depreciate.

                        When it comes to boot up speed my 1993 Mac is still quicker than my PC.


                        • #13
                          unless you're into game playing or something that uses tons of processor time.
                          not the game playing, but lots of apps will bog down all but the fastest. Heck, I have 50 meg spread sheets, integrated and linked with others that'll kill an all but top of the line machine - you sit there drumming fingers will it goes through its machinations. Start droping them in as linked excel files in a word doc report and you wish for more power still. I do agree uncle Bill's microslop is responsible for a lot of the woes, but still, however they're caused, the need for speed is real for many of us.
                          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                          • #14
                            I'd previously built my own but recently needed a new one for work and just couldn't be bothered with all the research and messing around to get the best possible bang for buck - any price difference is worth less than my time is. Anyway, only really speed intensive stuff I do is processing camera RAW files.

                            Recommend the HP Workstation range. I got a lowish end one and build quality is really solid, components seem good, plenty of space for extra hard disks etc. You add graphics card of your choice. Nice thing was that it came with a fairly clean install - hardly any 'free trials' and other crapware you get on consumer models, which saves more time.



                            • #15
                              I routinely do graphics work that will bring any machine to it's knees. I have always been limited by the machine and always exploit it to the point where further use of resources brings unacceptable performance. When massaging astrophotos, for instance, it isn't unusual to have an image with multiple layers that consumes 500 megs of ram and takes minutes to perform a single unsharp masking operation. I recently created a display poster for a trade show that consumed over 700 megs of ram and I had to do that at half resolution and resize to full as the last step.

                              Ray tracing is another application that will humble the fastest machine. The holy grail of computer graphics is 60 frames per second full ray traced images. Not just for games but virtually anything from talking heads delivering the news to simulating your new kitchen cupboards. We are still a long way from that in anything that sits on a desktop as it will require orders of magnitude more processing power than is currently available. It's an application that works best with massively parallel processing. Massively parallel means 1000's of CPUs, not a mere 4 or 8.
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