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Computer (Purchasing) Advice, Please

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jazzbo, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Kind members of Talkbass. I ask unto you this day, for your advice in the purchase of a computer device for my father's domicile. It's gonna be a PC.

    So, I have a couple of questions. Namely, they are:

    1) What is the difference between the Celeron and the Pentium processors?

    2) I was thinking Dell. Are HP and Emachines pretty ghetto? They do seem that way. Is Dell a good way to go, or is there a better deal.

    This is for my father, so we're going to outfit him with DSL and all the fixings, but really he just uses it for websurfing and Word.

  2. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    IMO the only way to go is Dell or Homegrown. Check with some of the local PC shops and see if you can get a better deal than Dell spec-for-spec, but make sure it's a company that's been around for a few years (and will be around for a while longer). HP's are OK, but stay away from anything E-Machines, their parts are all iffy and proprietary, so when (not if) something breaks it's very difficult to get a replacement part. If you arent; too technically inclined go with the Dell, but if you don't mind doing some stuff yourself, a parts built PC from a small local shop will be easier to upgrade (rather than replace) over the years. I can almost say that I've had the same computer for the past 8 years. I've probably at one point or another upgraded or replaced every part of it, but I've never spent more than $400 at one time (and that was a Motherboard, processor, and RAM upgrade, which are the 3 more expensive parts.)

    We use Dells exclusivly where I work and they are GREAT computers. I just prefer to stay away from the big makers because none of their parts are standardized. You can't just run down to the local shop and buy a power supply for a Dell. You have to get it from them.

    If you can, get the Pentium rather than the Celeron. The Celerons have had the core memory left of to save money, so you get a much slower computer becuase the chip doesn't have a dedicated pipeline to some fast memory for it to use. My Dad got a nice cheap HP Celeron system about a year ago and it is WAY slower than my 2.5 year old system, similar clock speeds too, his is (IIRC) 2.6GHz Celeron and mine is 2.4GHz Perntium 4. I cannot stand dealing with his computer (like upgrading his Virus software and such.) I've always stayed away from the Celerons, and his computer has validated that.
  3. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Dell's fine. Since they deal in bulk, you can pretty much get a decent machine below the cost of parts. HP and Emachines aren't all that hip. Gateway is another brand that's not too shabby. Dell's the Microsoft of computers, for better or worse.

    There really isn't a better deal, PC wise. All that building your own does for you is assure the quality of the parts in the machine, but Dell at least has support and all the warrantees and whatnot.

    Set him up with Firefox/Mozilla or Opera for an internet browser. Don't let him use Internet Explorer; it'll only create dependancy on a terrible product. I can go into that more if you'd like.

    Between a Celeron and a Pentium? Do not get a Celeron. They are the devil (This is the collective advice of a family who builds our own machines). Slower frontside bus, smaller registers, and I believe fewer integer circuits. Get an AMD or Pentium processor. If you get a laptop, a Pentium M is a good way to go.

    Also, don't let him use Outlook. Something like 97% of viruses are spread throught outlook. Set him up with Thunderbird (Mozillas outlook client) or something. Outlook BAAAD.
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Mucho mucho thanks guys.

    I'm definitely setting him up with Firefox/Mozilla. The DSL is through Yahoo, and they give you a 2gig email account, which I use for my Talkbass and junkmail account. I'm happy enough with Yahoo's mail.

    He's been using AOL and it is just evil. Satan personified. Well, okay, not personified, but computerified. So, I'm going to set him up with Firefox as his browser, Yahoo his homepage and email, (to simulate the ease of internet access that AOL believes it has), and Panda for virus protection, (me and my girlfriend use it, and are happy with it).

    Thanks for the advice.

    **Is the Dell warranty/service worth it??
  5. Dell sounds perfect for him.

    And yes, carry him away from the jaws of Satan, I mean AOL. It is your duty and your honor at stake.
  6. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I'm going to chime in against Dell for two reasons. Before I get flamed, yeah they're good for the money and you get a warantee, so if that's what you want, fine.

    That said,
    option 1: build yourself. Better bang for your buck, no questions. Dells are cheap at the bottom end, but go for the higher end upgrades on their base models and they charge a fortune for stuff like an extra stick of ram. The downside: you need to be able to handle the technical side of the build, which is easy, but not for everyone.
    option 2: buy from a local shop who is doing the build for you. Essentially the same as option 1, but you pay somebody a couple hundred dollars to do the work. This is in the case that you are not confident doing it yourself. The added bonus is that you support local business, not corporate BS like dell.

    This all IMO, but I think it's well founded.

    edit: missed some stuff.
    It's already been said, but pentium good, celeron bad for the same reasons others gave. Actually, everyone's advice is great except for what I said above :D
  7. Ditto.

    As for Pentium vs Celeron, Pentium is the better chip, Celeron is the mainstream one. I personally would recommend AMD chips. Athlon64s are the best bet for the money, and they arguably have the top high-end chip.
  8. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Celerons are garbage. It is always worth the extra to go Pentium. I tried to save some money a few years ago, and get a Celeron. I hate that PC to this day. It sits in a spare bedroom, and is used by small kids to play small kids games.

    I have never had to use the Dell warranty on any of the eight PC's I have purchased over the last five years. I have called the Helpline a couple times, and despite the language barrier, I was able to receive good service. Dell PC's are made with average parts, so you can pretty much work on them yourself if something does happen.

  9. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I'll agree with the others. I buy 100 to 150 computers a month from Dell (for work). I transfer the ownership of each to the buyer of our systems and they become the 'owner of record' and all warranties and privileges are theirs. Dell's customer service is excellent for hw related probs. A word of caution, however: If a sw related issue comes up, virtually all vendors will walk you through on the phone to deal with it (no returning the computer because the OS is corrupt). whether it's reinstalling drivers or the os, the user will actually have to perform the steps with tech support showing them every step of the way. this can be an issue if you have someone of unknown skill with Windows or hardware. It can be a bit frustrating, but the Dell rep will eventually determine if the problem is sw or hw. for hw probs, they have always overnighted the required parts and sent their representative the next day to install them. Not bad...

    As far as upgrading, hw prices are falling very quickly, so it may not be a big issue. locally built machines might be a viable alternative in terms of service and support, but they can't possibly build the same machine for the same price.

    Celeron vs Pentium.. it all depends on what he wants the machine for. If he is just checking email or surfing the web for fun, celeron might not be a bad choice, especially if need to save money. OTOH, you can get p4 for not much more, so if your budget is not constrained then go for the pentium. He might want to do other stuff later (downloads, streaming video/audio) so you'll be outfitted better for that.

    I'm sure the guys will agree to get as much ram as you reasonably can. Bare minimum for XP Pro is 256. Memory is cheap these days, so 512 is better if you can spend a bit more.

    Good luck.
  10. The issue with Dell and many other computer manufacturers is (like Lajoi said) that they do not use standard parts for many things. They'll have standard Video/PCI cards, RAM etc, but many things such as the motherboard, PSU, etc will not be standard. They probably do this so upgrades have to go through them, increasing revenue.
  11. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    It has been for me, but I buy lots. I haven't had to use it much for my customers (the machines seem well designed and manufactured) and when I have, it has always been a positive experience. you said you were gettiing a PC, so I'm thinking desktop and not a laptop. Parts and service are cheaper with a desktop.

    Is it worth it? If it breaks and they fix it, it's worth it. If not, then it wasn't. Extended warranties are mainly a peace of mind purchase, whether it's a computer or a car, IMHO. I buy the 3 year extended, but I do it for our customers value, not because I think the machines will break down.
  12. Only


    Sep 8, 2002
    Warrensburg, MO
    On the other hand of the upgrade problem, I bought a Dell three years ago, and the only thing I've upgraded on it is the video card. And I've never had any trouble running anything on this machine. You don't have to get top of the line, but don't buy the absolute cheapest thing they have, and he'll be set for years.

    Go Pentium over Celeron. It doesn't cost that much more, and it's worth it. Even if he's only using the machine for email and Word, someday someone will want to run something more on it and he'll be glad he has the Pentium.

    DISCLAIMER: I have not tried to run Doom 3, record music, or something equally intensive on my computer. But I do run City of Heroes with all graphics settings maxed out regularly, and I burn a backup DVD every time I buy a new one, and those come through flawlessly.
  13. Ívar Þórólfsson

    Ívar Þórólfsson Mmmmmm... Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Kopavogur, Iceland
    Hey jazzbo!

    I have to give my vote also to Dell.

    Since it´s for your father, the least amount of hassle is just to go with Dell. My work has bought over 1000 Dell´s and we are satisfied with them. And yes, emachines are tEh gh3tt0!1!.

    I also have experience with Celerons vs. Pentiums and I highly recommend that you take the Celeron.............. and throw it into the trashbin.

    Good luck!
  14. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX

    Before you buy Dell look at the following two websites for big discounts:



    If you don't see any Dell deals wait a few days and they'll pop up. You can save hundreds.

    brad cook
  15. The new Celeron Ds aren't too bad. RAM helps too, I'd recommend 1 gig. XP's memory footprint is outrageous, but you can turn off some of the useless services to make things a little snappier.

    It's all relative to how much you want to spend, and how intensely it will be used. No need to buy a Porsche to go to the grocery.
  16. Knavery


    Feb 24, 2004
    Westminster, CO
    Ok, I used to run a business building computers. Here is what I would do. As specified above, I'd hire someone to build your machine. Not only do you support someone locally, you have local support in case something happens, AND you choose your components with a higher degree of freedom.

    Personally, I'd stay away from Pentium AND Celeron. I'd go with AMD all the way. My father also builds his own, and throws the 'F' bomb around about the mistake he thought he made from going AMD to Intel. They may make good products, but they're expensive chips in comparison. Put it this way... dollar for dollar, you're going to get a much faster AMD chip than a Pentium chip unless you're talking high end on AMD.
  17. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I would not get a Dell or any big corporate computer. Fine if you buy in bulk, but for personal use I'd go the custom-builder route. Easy to upgrade with standard parts. Find someone locally that will build a machine to the specs you want.

    I'd say ditch Intel chips and pick up an AMD Athlon. Better and cheaper.

    For software, set him up with Open Office, Mozilla Thunderbird and Firefox, AVG Antivirus, and AdAware. No need to support Microsoft any more than you absolutely HAVE to.
  18. Listen to Knave and Snarf; that's very good advice.

    (except for maybe on the Open Office. It's a good suite and it's free, but it's slow as hell. Word opens instantly for me, OO's Writer takes about 10-20 seconds. It's seriously bloated.)
  19. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Office is $$$ and OO isn't all that slow.
  20. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Once OO gets started though for that boot, it will load instantly for any other time you open it. Plus, is 10 seconds really that big a malus for a free and superior product? (Of course, as of version 1.0.1, the presentation software still sucks.)

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