What to get - New Computer

Got networking / internet / computer/ TV/ Telephone problems in Crete? Ask here.
TweetTweet
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:35 am

What to get - New Computer

Postby TweetTweet » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:50 am

I would be very grateful for any advice/recommendations as to what I should get as a new computer.
My original and very ancient XP machine got its brains blasted just before Christmas during one mega storm. I was lucky to quickly find a friend of a friend’s machine as a pro-tem measure but I would now like a totally clean machine, with Windows 10 (I think that’s the latest).

The one I’ve got now has Pentium ® dual-core CPU. ES400 @ 2.70 GHz. Ram = 4,00GB. 32bit.

Thank you

Phild
Posts: 163
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:01 pm
Location: Way out West

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby Phild » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:50 am

Ah! What computer to get depends very largely on your budget for it, and any peripherals you might want. Another major issue regards what you want to use it for. Both are interlinked.

So, if you name a price, plus have an idea it's function and anything you want to buy with it, we will all be making recommendations, I'm sure. :)
----
Phil
----

Kilkis
Posts: 8835
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby Kilkis » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:58 am

It depends how much you want to spend and possibly how you view your life expectancy?

I build my own and I aim to make it last as long as possible before it starts to slow down as the software puts on weight over time. My experience suggests that if you buy the cheaper models they contain lower spec components and so slow down sooner requiring replacement. Local shops will build one for you and sit down and discus the spec you want. Typically they might also load it with all the software you need at a very economic price, if you get my drift.

I look at each component and try to find the optimum cost/performance point. As performance increases so does price but not linearly. It tends to be a hockey stick curve with the price rising slowly initially and then suddenly rocketing up as you get close to the top end. I choose components around the knee of the curve.

Personally, along with about 80 % of buyers, I prefer Intel processors but there is nothing wrong with AMD. Intel currently use a three family designation: i3 are the budget models and have 2 cores with hyper-threading, no turbo boost and 3-4 MB of cache memory. i5 are the middle of the road models with 4 cores, turbo boost but no hyper-threading and 6 MB of cache memory. i7 are the big beasts with 4 cores, both hyper threading and turbo boost and 8 MB of cache memory. Hyper threading refers to the processor being able to make each core appear like two cores but a 2 core processor with hyper threading, i.e. appears to be 4 cores, will not be as fast as 4 physical cores. Turbo boost refers to the ability to temporarily increase the clock speed, providing the temperature isn't too high, to deal with a burst of intensive processing. Cache memory is very fast memory built into the chip. The processor can access this much faster than the main memory on the mother board. A memory controller loads this with instructions from main memory. Bigger cache tends to mean faster speed. Within each range there are a number of models, each designated by a four digit number. Some models have a suffix K which means you can increase the clock speed slightly above what it is specified provided you supply extra cooling and know what you are doing. Finally they bring out a new range from time to time and they designate that by a code name. The current range is the 7th generation of i series processors and is codenamed Kaby Lake. It has only just replaced the previous Skylake range so there are likely to be a lot of Skylake based PCs around at a bit lower cost and it was an excellent processor. Personally I stick with the i5 series usually going for a model like the i5 6600. I view the i7 series as being for serious gamers.

DDR4 is the current range of memory chips which can have significantly higher speeds than the previous DDR3. I would recommend 8 GB of memory for Windows 10. Memory is a bit expensive at the moment so you could have 2x4GB modules now and add another 2x4GB modules later if you need it, assuming the motherboard has 4 slots.

I have found having a SSD hard drive as well as a conventional one improves start up performance and loading times for programmes. I have a 476 GB SSD but I am only using about 65 GB for Windows 10 and all my programmes so a 128 GB version should be plenty. You can buy hybrid drives with a very small SSD built into a conventional drive but I am not sure that they are cost effective. How big a conventional hard drive you need depends on what you store. If you store lots of videos it probably needs to be quite big. I have a 1.5 TB version but I am currently only using about 150 GB so very much overkill. I would suggest a 7200 rpm spin speed rather than 5400 rpm as it speeds up read/write times

I don't think the make of motherboard is important. Simply make sure it is compatible with the processor and the memory you choose and that it has all the features you need, e.g. the right connectors for your peripherals.

The type of video card depends what you want to do with it. For most work a very cheap one will do or even the built in video card but for intensive 3D gaming then you need to up the performance as much as you can afford. It can cost more than the rest of the computer.

Case is a matter of taste. I wouldn't compromise too much on the power supply. Get one a bit more powerful than you think you need for the components chosen.

Warwick

TweetTweet
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:35 am

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby TweetTweet » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:50 am

Kilkis wrote:It depends how much you want to spend and possibly how you view your life expectancy?

Warwick




WOW and thank you....there is so much take account of!

I am interested in quality - life expectancy would be at least until 2025 (when we may possibly become extinct again!) :)

Thank you, I will go to my local shop. I don’t like economic prices – I want and need fully supported software.

Could you recommend quality component brand names? Many years ago I remember the *tag* Intel Inside but beyond that I have no idea! (I hadn’t read all your info and have just seen your comment about Intel).

I do what I reckon to be pretty simple things on the computer – word processing, occasional spread sheet, lots of pictures (but no post processing) and printing.

Just reading about the pure 4 core beastie gave me goose-bumps!

It will take me a while to assimilate all that you have said but I know it will be really helpful to get the right thing.

Realistic or not, I would guess a budget would be between 500 and 1500 euro?

TweetTweet
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:35 am

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby TweetTweet » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:53 am

Phild wrote:Ah! What computer to get depends very largely on your budget for it, and any peripherals you might want. Another major issue regards what you want to use it for. Both are interlinked.

So, if you name a price, plus have an idea it's function and anything you want to buy with it, we will all be making recommendations, I'm sure. :)


Thank you - I know have a ton of processing to do...I'll go and have a blast of sunshine to fire up my neurons!

Danny
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: Vamos

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby Danny » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:54 am

Kilkis, that's fantastic and I applaud your knowledge but it's simply double dutch to me, I know absolutely nothing about the workings of these things yet use them daily. I've always thought that the best things to buy are in general the most expensive and that applies to computers, am I right in saying that for example an Apple PC is better than one a top line other make or could one of these guys like yourself who build them build one better than the ones you see in the shops at similar prices ?

filippos
Posts: 5334
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:38 pm
Location: Kalyves
Contact:

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby filippos » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:14 am

Some programs need far more resources than others. For example a word processing program like Word will run happily on quite low spec machines and a cutting edge machine wouldn't make much difference. On the other hand using, say, a resource-hungry photo editing program on a low spec machine would mean you'd have time to make a cup of tea between each operation and would drive you crazy.

My wife and I each have a PC. Most of her programs don't need much in the way of resources but she has a couple that do require a bit more capacity but they're used infrequently and she was prepared to put up with those working at a lower speed than they would on a high-end machine. On the other hand, 90% of my use is with resource-hungry photo editing programs and I get impatient, especially when faced with sorting/deleting and editing lots of photos (e.g. at carnival this year I took about 500). We had both built by one of the computer shops in Kalyves. Mine cost at least three times as much as my wife's (before adding three external hard drives to mine for extra storage and back-up).

I'd suggest that you make a list of which programs you use, what for and how much permanent storage space you need. Armed with that, visit an independent computer shop that is recommended by someone who has experience of computers and the particular shop. The list of programs and your usage needs will tell a competent 'techie' what you need and they will be able to produce an appropriate specification and cost. You might wish to add to your list any programs that you might want to add in the foreseeable future and consider how important it is to you to have the latest versions of the programs you use. My 'Word' version is about 15 years old and still does everything I want/need to do in word processing but my photo editing programs are always the latest version so tend to get bigger each time so that had to be taken into account for "future-proofing" my PC.

Kilkis
Posts: 8835
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby Kilkis » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:24 pm

Personally I don't like Apple because they tie you into everything Apple, Danny. They are a very good design and back in the day a graphic designer would not accept anything else. Another advantage is that anything Apple seems to work with anything else Apple with no fuss. Originally they used Motorola processors so they were completely different from a PC but they changed their design several years ago to using Intel processors so the only real difference between an Apple and a PC is the operating system. Physically they are the same so, for equivalent components, they are not very different in performance. Typically I have always found an Apple with the same performance as a PC will cost a little bit more than the PC. Some people like Apple and accept that small price penalty to get their choice. I make no criticism of that choice but it is not one I would make.

Yes, with a PC, typically if you pay more you get more performance BUT it is very much not linear. If you start with the cheapest you get a big increase in performance for a relatively small increase in price but eventually you reach a point where you need to pay a massive increase in price for a small increase in performance.

The problem with the branded PCs that you buy off the shelf, like Dell, Lenovo (used to be IBM) or HP, is that they tend to have a limited number of options. You can configure them a little in the ordering process but there are not many choices. Building one, or having it built, gives you a very wide choice. Usually if you get one built by a local shop they will give you support including sorting any software problems. If you do buy an off the shelf model from a Greek shop make sure the supplier configures everything into English for you. Don't be palmed of with, "Oh it's OK, everything can be changed to English."

A PC is very complicated at detail design level but pretty simple at build level.

    1 You start with a box, referred to as a case, to house everything. They are all made to a limited number of standard dimensions.
    2 The case may come with a power supply built into it but if not you have to fit one. The power supply takes in mains AC power and converts it to a number of DC voltages each with a suitably rated current to power the components that you connect to it. Power supplies also come in a standard physical size BUT a range of power ratings so you need one powerful enough to drive everything you intend to connect.
    3 You then mount a large printed circuit board called a mother board into the box. Obviously the size of the motherboard has to be suitable for the size of the case. They come in sizes such as ATX, Mini ATX, Micro ATX. The smaller the mother board the smaller the case needed BUT the fewer features it will have. I tend to go for a full ATX motherboard and a Midi Tower full ATX case. Everything else connects to this motherboard. You connect appropriate cables from the power supply to the motherboard.
    4 There is a special socket on the motherboard to take the processor. This is the bit that does all the work. Intel changes the physical design of the processor from time to time when they issue a new range so the socket has to be compatible with the processor. The current one and the previous one both use an LGA 1151 socket. If everything works out the next range of Intel processors will use a smaller die size so I suspect that will result in a different socket.
    5 There are a lot of support chips, referred to as the chipset, on the mother board and they have to be compatible with the processor. The current processor uses a Z270 chipset while the previous one used Z170. There is some interchangeability but using an unmatched processor and chipset usually results in some features not being available. You cannot change the chipset. It is essential to buy a motherboard with the correct chipset for the processor. There may be some alternatives available, such as H270, but they usually lack some features.
    6 The processor simply clips into the socket, usually with a lever, and a fan assisted heat sink clips on top of the processor, either with its own heat sink paste or added heat sink paste to ensure good thermal contact. A cable will connect from the fan to the motherboard.
    7 Memory chips to store data while the PC is running come built onto modules that you plug into sockets on the motherboard. Often they come in pairs, called dual channel memory, which has faster access time. There is also now quad channel memory where you need 4 modules that is even faster if the motherboard supports it. The modules tend to have a minimum size of 4 GB so if you want to take advantage of dual channel performance you have to fit at least 8 GB and to get quad channel performance you need to fit at least 16 GB, which is not cheap.
    8 The memory loses all data when the PC is switched off so you also need at least one hard drive that stores data on rotating magnetic disks. About the smallest hard drive you can buy today is 500 GB but it is virtually identical in price to an equivalent 1 TB drive so there doesn't seem much point. A 2 TB drive is about 57 % more than a 1 TB so good value for money BUT only if you need the extra storage. If you want to go really big 10 TB is about the biggest you can buy today. Drives come in two sizes 3.5" and 2.5". The former are usually used in desktop PCs while the latter are mostly used in laptops, although you can get an adapter to fit them into a desktop PC. The disk drive is mounted in a cage inside the case and connects to the power supply and to a socket on the motherboard. Virtually everything today uses a high speed serial interface, called SATA 6 Gbps or SATA3, so there shouldn't be any compatibility problems.
    9 An SSD is an alternative to a hard drive that has no moving parts. It uses flash memory chips which are a bit like the memory modules used on the motherboard but they don't lose data when turned off. They can be accessed faster than a hard drive but are still limited by the speed of the interface. They are much more expensive than hard drives so it is common to fit a small SSD, for the operating system and the programmes that need to load quickly and a hard drive for the files, like photos, word documents etc where speed is not so critical. An SSD would also mount in a cage inside the case and connect in exactly the same way as the hard drive. They are usually 2.5" so may need a mounting adapter.
    10 There is another form of SSD that fits directly into a socket on the motherboard called an M.2 interface. Not all motherboards have it and it is quite expensive for a small performance gain.
    11 Usually the motherboard will already have a video interface built into it that you can connect your monitor to. If you intend to continue to use your current monitor make sure it is compatible. These video interfaces are not as powerful as a separate graphics card but may be adequate. If not, you can buy from a huge range of video boards, about £25 up to £1,000* and they all plug into a PCI-Express socket on the motherboard and attach to the rear of the case.
    12 Finally comes the really tedious part, installing all the software.

Hope that helps people understand what is involved in putting together a PC even if they never do it themselves.

Warwick

* It is also possible to fit two such boards for even better performance.

filippos
Posts: 5334
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:38 pm
Location: Kalyves
Contact:

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby filippos » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:30 pm

Danny wrote:I've always thought that the best things to buy are in general the most expensive and that applies to computers, am I right in saying that for example an Apple PC is better than one a top line other make or could one of these guys like yourself who build them build one better than the ones you see in the shops at similar prices ?

Regarding your analogy about 'most expensive' is 'best' I'd ask is a Lamborghini better than a Mercedes or Jaguar or even a Mini. It depends. How fast do you want to travel? Is noise level important to you? Do you want space for luggage or more than one passenger? How easy is access to service? What are maintenance costs? and so on and on. Another analogy; if you're content to drive at 70mph 90% of the time why spend a fortune on a vehicle that is capable of nearly three times that.

Macs are prettier than PC but are more expensive and now have pretty much the same range of 'engines' since Apple started using Intel processors. If anything goes wrong it's generally easier to get a PC fixed. For example, there are three shops in Kalyves where I could take my PC; for a Mac I think there's a "privateer" in Xania but, if not, it's "hunt the Mac mender" time. Many components in Macs are proprietary and if one fails it has to be supplied by Apple (I may be wrong on this but I think, in some cases, the machine should go to an Apple service centre). With a PC you take it to the local repair shop where they'll source the part and plug it in (with a little knowledge and a bit of research some repairs are DIY jobs). I'm a complete technophobe and even I can change a faulty graphics card or plug in extra memory). Mac screens are brilliant but PC monitors are catching up fast and have reached a stage where most people wouldn't notice the difference. Whether you go the Mac or PC route, in either case the best machine is the one that will do what you need it to do at a price you are prepared to pay and for the same performance a PC will be cheaper.

A few years ago I was very tempted to switch to a Mac and was deterred by my son, a software developer(who has three Macs, other Apple devices and a PC). There's a learning curve with the Apple operating system when switching from from Windows and most of the programs I use regularly are not available in Mac versions so I'd need to find the Mac equivalents, buy them and have a learning curve with each one.

Danny
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: Vamos

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby Danny » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:20 pm

kilkis and filipos, thanks for all that, interesting stuff and as you Brits say Food for thought

SatCure
Posts: 1910
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:57 pm
Location: Apokoronas

Re: What to get - New Computer

Postby SatCure » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:03 pm

filippos wrote:If anything goes wrong it's generally easier to get a PC fixed.


I agree, however there's "Public" in Haniá and in Rethymno. In Haniá there's also a small repair shop next to the garage on the rhs as you approach the junction before the Apollon car park. And there's John Hatzidakis in Vamos, who will do a call out. Also in Haniá there is iRepair (in the former Millenium Bank building, just past the bus station) but I don't know whether they fix Macs.

BTW, in my experience Macs last a long time so I always buy second-hand. My older Mac laptop is now ten years old. So far, it has needed a new battery and Hard Drive. The one I'm typing this on is just over six years old and I've fitted a SSD.

I also have a custom-built mini-tower PC running the MacOS. A guy in Derby put it together for me and shipped it across.

However, for anyone used to Windows OS, I wouldn't recommend switching to a Mac unless you have a very compelling reason. I do know a few people here who have done so, successfully, and are happy with their move but it's a steep learning curve.

Martin


Return to “ Computers, TV, Telephone and Internet”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests