Desktops

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is it the right time to buy a computer or should i wait ?

by jacnet347 / February 21, 2006 7:06 AM PST

I am unable to make up my mind whether i should buy a computer right now or wait a little bit longer so that i may get a better and more advanced computer. It's been over 5 yrs. since i bought my last one.I have a 667 Mhz , 64 MB ram computer with integrated graphics which still works okay but cannot play games older than quake 3.
Anyone in here got any idea of the things to come:- i mean the advancements taking place in processors, RAM , graphics ,etc.? If so please tell me about it!!!
I don't wanna buy a computer that gets obsolete in a yr. or two.

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I am a very patient man
by ikjadoon / February 21, 2006 8:21 AM PST

Two BIG changes are coming up, IMO:

New AM2 Socket, the last Socket 939 CPU is already out. That is coming on 06/06

Microsoft Vista: The newest Windows OS in a few years, minus the yearly Media Centers. It comes out later this year, but most systems in a few months should work well on Vista... Soon, companies will start marking systems "Vista-ready"

But I am very patient. These are coming in months, not weeks, months. Most higher-endish computer should work good on these systems, but I give no 100% garauntee.(sp?)

I would at least wait for socket AM2, as 939 is dying. Not saying current 939 sytems are slow, god no, but they have a limited and slowly dying upgrade path.

~Ibrahim~

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I Concur
by Sanguine Lingune / February 21, 2006 9:33 AM PST

I concur with ikjadoon. If you can wait 9-months to a year, and are interested in buying an AMD system (which is generally faster, cheaper, but only from much less common vendors) with Microsoft Windows Vista installed as the OS, then you should definitely wait. New graphics cards are coming every couple of months, so there is that plus to waiting.

The only really good reason not to wait would be if you don't care about AMD or Windows, or if you need a new PC immediately. If your desire to upgrade is only to play better games, then i would counsel waiting 9 months - year. There may be some good new games developed for Vista when it comes out at end of year, another plus.

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Thanks for the encouraging news....
by angrykeyboarder / March 2, 2006 9:02 PM PST

My computer is 14 momths old and has an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU......

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Buy a comp thats upgradable for the future
by thunrock / March 3, 2006 6:53 AM PST

2 years ago I looked for a PC.......understanding the rapid change I made sure I had a big tower and plenty of room for expansion. Too this I have only added 1G of ram and a new DVD drive duallayer compatible.......thats it!

As far as microsoft vista.....I work in the field and have the privilege of using it and giving feedback to improve.........Dont expect much more than XP with more media friendly interface.......and still mucho security holes......Norton 2006NIS seems to be the best security for it of the 7 protection programs tested and hit with with known and unknown viruses,worms,trojans.

Linux is still my choice for OS, but windows is almost a must due to compatability issues.

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If you want value don't buy bleeding edge technology......
by BigRInOz / February 23, 2006 6:41 PM PST

Unless you're a fanatic gamer and need huge amounts of power my suggestion would be to buy technology that has been generally available for > 6-9 months; and buy a level of operating system that has had some time to get the major bugs worked out. Key advantage is that the price of the hardware has started dropping because it's superceded by the newer "gee whiz" gear. Today that would give you at least a 3-4Ghz processor and a 160GB drive plus a DVD burner, and your supplier would probably throw in a lowend laser printer or photo-printer as well. And you'd be using Win XP.
Some readers might accuse me of being a luddite Happy -- but that approach has kept my computing costs low with reasonably good performance.

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I have to agree
by Phili G / February 23, 2006 8:27 PM PST

Im in desperate need for a new gaming computer and have a very limited budget. I can't afford to look at the new high end computer componants. If your PC is starting to die I would think about getting one asap. Stick to the reputable components like popular graphics card (eg GeForce 6800)and AMD Athlon 64bit 3200+ CPU. This sort of setup will be good for gaming today (although you might not be able to run on full detail)and will be cheap as BigRInOz explained. Just you make sure you get components that can be upgraded at a later date, like a motherboard that supports dual CPUs and high amounts of RAM (4GB) and graphics cards that support SLI (although Ive heard that SLI is a right pain).

General rule (for me anyway) - Buy now, but buy upgrade friendly components so you will be ok in a couple of years.

(ps. My first post!)

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Windows Vista opening day deals
by drusome / February 23, 2006 8:28 PM PST

I agree that using technology that is a few months old can give you some very good value, you might also plan to take advantage of opening day specials when Windows Vista is finally released. For the last two major releases (XP and ME) Microsoft and/or store vendors have put together some very attractive bundles with both hardware and other software packages which were only available on release day. My personal experience is that I was able to perform some significant upgrades on my existing computers (CD burners, DVD drives, hard drives, video cards, memory, MS Plus, antivirus software and more) since my computers were only a few months old at the time. In both cases, I got at least the value of the Windows software in useful upgraded hardware and software. Another potential option if you want to be the first with Windows Vista on your block is to possibly order your computer slightly before the official release of Vista. I think I remember (maybe just getting old and forgetful though) that XP was actually available on new computers slightly before the official release of the software in stores. If you are planning on buying from a major computer vendor, such as Dell or Gateway, you could always check with them as the Vista release date approaches on exactly when the new operating system will be available on new computers. Good luck!

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NEW COMPUTER
by gguss / March 4, 2006 11:11 AM PST

Your system is too old for this, I am upgrading mine to 64bit. I am also increasing my RAM to 4GB. My system was purchased last summer. I am in an A+ class. One of my instructors advised me on what to do. I reserched my motherboard and chipset. I will be ready for Vista. I think you should get a new ststem, but first research. Find out if you need Vista. If not, you may be able to get a good deal on a 32bit system.

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Vista
by maggietoo9 / March 10, 2006 7:39 AM PST

I'm trying my best to avoid having Vista or any new hardware with the "fritz chip" on it. I want to get a new PC while I can still buy one without the fritz chip. Preferably a build-it-yourself with a retail version OS that belongs to me instead of my hardware vendor (Dell, Gateway, HP, etc) so I can upgrade my own motherboard without Microsoft disabling my operating system.

Vista is the next generation of "big brother" - apps that "phone home" and let vendors disable and even DELETE files from your machine remotely. The new Vista machines have complicit hardware such that the hardware itself prevents you from disabling anything that Microsoft wants in your PC, including a new operating system.

I do NOT want Vista on my PC, in my home. I don't "pirate" anything and don't do music on my PC at all (I'm 65), but I decidedly wish to own my own PC rather than Microsoft and vendors having control of it. I mean, really, what about its latest DRM scheme that opened a hole wide enough to drive a truckload of trojans through? Microsoft is turning out to protect VENDORS at YOUR/OUR expense - that's what it's "trustworthy computing" means - don't get the mistaken idea that it's more "trustworthy" for YOU - it isn't; it's more trustworthy for VENDORS - including Microsoft.

The only USER-friendly thing Microsoft has done IMHO is to move the drivers out of the kernel, but that's just correcting ONE of its original design mistakes. I have protection all around and have never had an unfriendly software invasion, so that is not enough reason for me to turn control of my PC over to Microsoft and other vendors.

So, my advice would be to buy a machine while you can still get one that will belong to, and can be controled by, YOU, instead of Microsoft and other vendors.

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Right On!
by kretchmard / March 17, 2006 8:57 AM PST
In reply to: Vista

I could not agree more with maggietoo9's little rant about Vista, and will add a rant of my own.

The good folks at M$FT have proven amazingly adept at putting out new operating systems (OS) full of major defects. 95 never lived up to the original hype and was soon updated with fixes that finally evolved into Win98SE, a decent OS. Win ME was so buggy that a year later they were selling a whole new OS, XP. Tough luck to you if you had paid for ME (either by itself or included in a system you bought approximately between the summers of 2000 and 2001.

At this time XP Pro (32-bit), which can be bought OEM for well under $100 on E-bay, is, IMHO, the best OS for 99% of Windows users. I like Pro because I have found it to be very stable (for a Windows product) and I have heard that M$FT will soon be ending support for XP Home. I guess they don't want to anger corporate customers.

Of course any new computer you order from Dell or other major box maker includes XP Home. You must pay a substantial amount to upgrade to Pro.

I have no psysic powers, but I visualize Vista (Mista?), which is coming out at least a year later than we were led to believe will be majorly imperfect. The fact that we will initially see the OS in both a 32 and 64 bit flavor will not help at all.

What a choice, 32-bit backward looking for stability and compatibility advantages, or 64-bit forward looking with more bugs and far less compatibility (remember XP when it first appeared?)

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

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Gradual Upgrade
by lidral / February 24, 2006 11:56 AM PST

I don't upgrade often, don't buy bleeding edge technology, and keep my PCs in service for several years (typically more than 5). I do this by gradual upgrades.

I've found a local white-box store that will configure a system to my specifications and needs.
They're not cheap because my requirements are complex, but the resulting systems are almost always a lot less expensive than those from the brand-name places.

Usually this process starts with choosing (with their help) a motherboard with the fastest available FSB that is compatible with a really fast CPU, with a really cheap CPU and with more RAM than I'll ever need. Then I add the very slowest and cheapest CPU compatible with that board and the least memory possible to run the operating system. I try to buy a stand-alone version of the OS so I can (re)install it myself as needed. Add peripherals as needed (be sure to include a floppy drive -- they're too cheap to leave out) and a Linux-compatible modem so I can convert it to a Linux box for use with a few dial-up sites when it becomes too obsolete.

Then I monitor the CPU and RAM prices for the next two or three years. When they come down far enough, I max out the board. In the end, this can be less expensive.

For example, my current box is maxed out with a 2.8 GHz P4; when I first bought it, I got a 1.7 GHz Celeron for $120 (IIRC) when the 2.8 GHz P4s were selling for somewhere between $700 and $900. A few years later, I replaced the Celeron with a 2.8 GHz P4 for around $200 (plus a pitiful trade-in on the Celeron) and in the process upgraded from a 400 MHz FSB processor to a 533 MHz FSB processor. Total outlay for CPU: $320 rather than somewhere between $700 and $900. I also quadrupled the RAM because those prices had also come down.

In addition, of course, I upgraded the various drives as needed and as new technology became available. Meanwhile, I converted my old box (acquired in 1999) into a dual-boot W98 SE / SuSE Linux 8.1 Pro box and still use it.

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even gamers can appreciate value

I'm a seriously hardcore gamer. But since I've been in university, I haven't got the funds to buy or build a high-end pc. Right now I'm running an athlon xp 3000+ with 512 DDR and a AIW 9800 pro and I can still play Doom III with more than sastifactory graphics. I know I may get flak for this but somtimes the newest isn't always the best.

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The right time to buy a new computer is ''when you need it!'
by LorneG / February 23, 2006 8:05 PM PST

Hi Arrow
New computer or upgrade: ''The right time to buy is when you need it!'' >> That is really the only factor.

Every day you hear about something new and often it sounds better than what you have now. I still have my 1st computer, works with twin 360K floppy disks and no hard drive. WAS GREAT!... But when we could stop swaping floppies over and over by upgrading to an XT with a 10 megabyte hard drive; it was a no brainer.

Today you can buy a whole computer for what we paid for a ''Pentium 75 CPU'' to use in our first custom built gamer. We average upgrading every few years, and sometimes several minor upgrades in between. All of these are based on ''When we need it!; and what is needed''. I can guarantee you that someday we will have computers that you can ask about someone or something and get the right answer: Just like on ''StarTrek''.

You can wait until that is available if you want to: But what will you be doing while you wait? Using a typewriter? Maybe a lot of stick-up notes? If you want to wait I can even send you one of our old systems. You pay the shipping. What do you want? a 286, 386, or maybe even an AMD K6. We probably still have that ''Pentium 75 CPU'' too. Give you 90% off and throw in the rest of a computer with it.

So the bottom line is ''Know what you want a computer to do and then find one that does what you want NOW'': or wait for it to be created.

Make it a good day!
MetaPhil

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Exactly
by Silr J / February 23, 2006 8:56 PM PST

Two months ago I bought a midrange laptop... Two weeks later I see it $300AU cheaper at another store. But I don't care because ITS TO BE EXPECTED. (Please note, our main computer is a Pentium 166.)

Something new is always going to come out, but if you wait and wait and wait... your just going to get nowhere. Computer progress wont just halt for people to buy them. Forget about future technologies. THEY ARENT HERE YET.

If you feel you need a new computer, just get one.

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I also agree! The "right time" is *any time* it's needed!
by twyrick / February 23, 2006 11:09 PM PST

The fact is, a computer is a tool. If you had a home improvement project to undertake and you needed a new electric drill, would you wait around to get one with better battery life, quicker charging time, more torque, etc. - or would you just go out and buy one? It's the same idea, really. There will *always* be something better right around the corner. But the "value" in a computer lies in the usefulness you get out of it while using it.

I've been in the computer field for around 15 years now, and truthfully, I haven't seen any real correlation between what a customer initially purchased and how long that customer kept using it. People keep saying they're "waiting for technology X" to arrive so their purchase will "last them a couple more years" before they need to upgrade again. Still others try to justify buying "more computer than they really need" with the same idea in mind. But after a few years go by, you see the same thing happening. The "power user" types (and those who just have to own the latest thing for the "bragging rights" of it) feel like it's time for another upgrade in 2-3 years anyway. Most of the others just get by with whatever they bought for LONG after other people keep telling them it's "way out of date".

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Yes the right time is when you need it.
by ncfarthing / February 27, 2006 3:01 AM PST

The main thing is that you are the only one who can decide what you need and when you need it. I just purchased a new computer by walking into our local "you build it shop" and told the owner what I wanted to do with it and let him make suggestions to see if we were on the same page. I will pick it up this Wed. after he checks it out. I wanted a graphics oriented computer that could handle the things I wanted to do without me growing grayer in the process. I had been debating a bare bones and me doing the work but with a 3 yr old in the house I decided to let someone else put it together this time. By the way, this new computer is not a "need" but an "I want".

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IF YOU NEED IT ITS PROBABLY TOO LATE
by TCALLDAY / March 3, 2006 2:10 AM PST

DONT WAIT TIL YOURS IS DEAD TO REPLACE IT ITS 5 YEARS OLD AND PAST ITS PRIME IT MAY DIE ANY DAY AND THE DATA ON IT COULD POTENTIALY BE LOST TO MAGNETICS OF THE EARTH. YOU DONT HAVE TO HAVE AS THE SAY BLEEDING EDGE TECHNOLOGY IF YOU HAVE A MACHINE 5 YEARS OLD 6-9 MONTH OLD TECHNOLOGY IS GOING TO BLOW YOU AWAY AND SAVE YOU SOME CASH AS WELL. I LIKE AMD IT KICKS INTELS BUTT ALL OVER THE PLACE ESPECIALLY IN VALUE SOMETHING WITH A 1600MGHZ FSB AND DDR OR DDR2 WILL SUFICE THINK ABOUT PCI EXPRESS BUT ON A BUDGET YOU MIGHT STICK WITH AGP 8X IT STILL THRILLS ME MOST OF THE TIME. I?M IN A SIMILAR PLACE MINES 3 YEAR OLD TECH, I BOUGHT 2.5 YEARS AGO. I?M TORN BETWEEN THE UPGRADE ABILITY OF 939 VS. VALUE OF 754 SOCKETS. PERFORMANCE ON BOTH WILL SMOKE MY XP2500 . WHAT EVER YOU BUY IT?LL BE OBSOLETE IN 18 MONTHS OR 24 MONTHS. SO ENJOY IT TODAY

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Not necessarily so
by Claptrap / March 3, 2006 7:11 AM PST

My friend bought a computer when 600MHz was the fastest CPU you could get. Apart from one of his two 9GB HDDs dying, the only other thing that has failed is a modem that got fried during lightning. His family is still using the computer happily for homework and surfing the Internet. I myself bought a second hand 486 PC for my business and used it untill three years ago, because I found it too hard to find compatible ink ribbon to the Epson printer and newer printers didn't have backwards compatible drivers. I still sometimes boot up the old pc to play old DOS games: I prefer old games because the gameplay is king and not the pretty graphics. The 486, which was made sometime in early to mid mineties, is still working as perfectly as the day it was bought.

My point is that there is no reason to panic, as long as you have backed up all the important files and have the necessary disks to re-install software - a habit you should adopt regardless of the age of your computer. If something does fail, it is not usually all of the components at once but you are quite justified to upgrade at least the failed component and anything that is closely dependent on it. The rest is up to your desire and the size of your wallet. Happy

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Please don't type all in Caps!
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / March 19, 2006 9:38 PM PST

it's MUCH harder to read, and people think you're SHOUTING at them!
-- Dave K.

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Buy Now
by rwhodgson / February 23, 2006 11:04 PM PST

Ive bought several computers over a 20 year period. If you think youre only going to buy once, your kidding yourself. Buy the most bang for the buck. Technology changes and with that comes demand. If you wait, youll never buy, and then give up on the chance of the computing world as we know it. Like email phishing, viruses, hackers etc...Just kidding.

Regards,

Bob

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I agree
by 350ZMO / February 24, 2006 1:28 AM PST
In reply to: Buy Now

Buy now. The most important thing to remember about aiming at a moving target is to take a shot. The PC market will always be in flux and the next great shiny new thing will always be around the corner. You can continue to lead it forever until it?s gone. But if you had taken that shot you?d probably be enjoying a feast today. And yes the bright new shiny technologies will have their flaws, they always do. Only time in the hands of millions of consumers and hopefully feedback and fixes will improve any new toys maturity. In your case, I'd say take that shot now. There is nothing magical about the new processor or OS that should make you wait. They will not be an end all. They will simply be another stepping stone in this endless flow. Whether those stepping stones will be short lived or not cannot be known until they come out and are in the hands of millions. This is more so for the OS than the CPU. But given what you have today, I'd say its past time to make that leap.

If you do choose to wait to buy the new stuff, I'd say wait a good 6 months after the processor is released and a good 18 months after the OS is released. Alternatively, you can wait until they are released to drive down the cost of today?s bright new shiny toys.

I always assume that when I buy the latest and greatest I am going to essentially be a beta tester. Sometimes I want to and sometimes I don't. If you are feeling like you want to pay through the nose for the privilege of being an unpaid beta tester for these new technologies, then by all means wait and buy the new toys when they first come out. In this case, I don?t think they offer that much for me to pay for that privilege. I?d buy now, let the new stuff mature and buy later.

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Am in the same boat....
by Bad Tom / February 23, 2006 11:07 PM PST

However, I have decided to wait until VISTA comes out before purchasing a new one..Having an older operating system does make your new computer seem obsolete much faster! Mr. Gates has enough money, I am NOT gonna pay for XP now and then upgrade to VISTA later on! Have 2 older computers that still function, in about a year I will buy a new AMD machine of some sort..

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Observe then pounce
by Willy / February 23, 2006 11:11 PM PST

Heck, if you need the system then buy what suits you. Things are going to change soon enough once MS Vista becomes available and h/w, etc will need to change over or adapt to it. It will be the next driving force of the windoze based systems. Though you can skip along to keep up it maybe a waste to buy a budget system when Vista will practically demand higher end componets and/or resources, so it may well pay to wait until it is available. As i see it a decent XP system is pretty awful to leave just to get the next new OS. Alot depends on your needs so decide. If this isn't a critial time then wait otherwise buy. Understand also things change relativly quickly in computers now, so buy what you truly "need" and alittle to grow on.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Whatever decision you make will be wrong
by Technojunkie3 / February 23, 2006 11:12 PM PST

Accept that and buy what you want today. If you keep your computers for several years most of the parts will be different/incompatible regardless of whether you wait a bit. If you want a faster Socket AM2 CPU in a year or two you'll probably want a new motherboard with the latest chipset to go with it, along with higher-grade RAM that'll be much cheaper by then.

I'd get an Athlon 64 X2 CPU, 1GB or 2GB of RAM, preferably a nVidia chipset (Gateway's new retail store machines look interesting), and should integrated graphics prove inadequate drop in a GeForce 7600 PCIe card in a month or two when they come out (should be a good midrange card, or go straight to the 7900 if your power supply can handle it). Get a good 19" or larger LCD monitor. Gateway's 21" widescreen LCD looks very interesting. If you ever buy a HDTV tuner, or even just play DVDs, you'll appreciate widescreens.

That will be enough for 64-bit Windows Vista late this year (2GB RAM preferably, RAM is cheap, easy to upgrade later though). You'll want the dualcore X2 CPU.

There's a lot to be said for custom-building your own PC but these days it's cheaper to buy a prebuilt machine at the big box retailers when they're on sale. I custom build because I'm constantly upgrading components. YMMV.

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Waiting for Vista
by john55440 / February 23, 2006 11:14 PM PST

I'm hopeing that my 2002 computer keeps going until I can replace it with a Vista Preinstalled system. I don't want another computer with WinXP preinstalled, because it seems to be a fundementally insecure operating system.

(And no, I don't want an Apple computer, and I don't want to change to Linux.)

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You must love OS's with security holes............
by nycboy0156 / February 24, 2006 12:14 AM PST
In reply to: Waiting for Vista

What makes you think that Vista will be any safer than XP was after it was initially released???

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buy now and later
by Jagular / February 24, 2006 12:20 AM PST

I like to upgrade every 2-3 years, at least my box. I seem to be able to get a monitor to last longer...

My approach is to buy last years technology that is closing out at good prices today. The advantage for me is that I'm upgrading steadily, but not at the cost of buying today's latest and greatest machines. Also, I'm not the guinea pig having to discover and work out the bugs on the "latest and greatest". I like to watch the forums and reviews and see what others' experiences are, so I can make an educated choice when I DO purchase something. I like the reviews from regular users, in addtion to the "official" reviewers. I'm not so sure about the new operating system that's coming... (I hear there may be some tradeoffs) but I know what to expect from XP and it works great as far as I'm concerned. Is the new operating system something really good for us users? or is it just another way for companies to make a ton more money?

I think waiting a long time and trying to get the "perfect" machine is like torture, and puts too much weight on the decision. I don't need my decision to last 5 or 10 years. I know I'm going to be upgrading again in a couple of years, or maybe sooner if it turns out one of the newer machines has a feature I really like. The reality for me has been that the newer machines have some gains but also some losses, like you mentioned... losing the use of some old software that you like, but the new systems don't support. Gains in processing speed and storage space can be irrelevant if your favorite software won't even run on the system.

As others have mentioned, it really depends on what you want to accomplish. How much money do you have to spend? I figure on about around $300/year keeps me moving forward technologically at what feels like a cost I'm willing to pay. At that rate, I don't feel so bad if the system I get isn't "perfect", plus, I know it's temporary.

Right now, I have my eye on the Emachines AMD64 3500+ machine. It packs a lot of power for the price. It was being demonstrated at Best Buy one day, running one of the most popular war games with ease. This machine, with a meg of ram was available for around $500. For my money, that's a LOT of computing power. If money were no object, I'd shoot for a more advanced gamers machine with the specialty graphics card etc. I'd expect to spend over a $1000 for such a machine. But I wouldn't expect to upgrade this type of machine every other year like I do with the less expensive ones I buy.

By the way, Emachines have had some challenges with reliability in the past, but they have gotten a lot better in recent years. Personally, I've owned a couple with only minor problems with heavy usage. I have no problem buying that brand if it's great value. If HP has a machine that matches up and it's only slightly more..... I would go with HP. I like HP. My current box is a Compaq, my 3rd Compaq, and it's fine, too.

Finally, I wouldn't ever buy used when there are such great deals on excellent systems being closed out to make way for the "latest and greatest".

Happy hunting!

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Your recommendation....
by metsfan421 / March 3, 2006 2:42 PM PST
In reply to: buy now and later

Being that you recommended an EMachine and that it has a meg of ram I wouldn't agree with your recommendation. EMachines always have issues, so buy a warranty if you do want to purchase one.

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eMachines
by OmegaGeek / March 3, 2006 7:16 PM PST

I bought an eMachine (to save a few $$$) and I don't know how they did it, but they installed a screwed up copy of XP. Didn't have a CD to erase and start over. What a mess!

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Waiting isn't the answer....
by Lloyd Stuber / February 24, 2006 1:59 AM PST

You would be "waiting" forever. I have read through all of the responses to your question and while everyone who replies to a call for help thinks that the advice they have given is correct, it is not quite always so, or at least not quite accurate. I don't mean to offend anyone and while I'm sure that some of my advice has caused others to roll their eyes, the advice given by everyone is because it is what the people believe to be true, in their own experiences.
I agree with quite a bit of what was said but a lot of it will depend on how knowledgeable YOU are and how much experience YOU have, as to whether it will help you. First off, you need to decide how serious of a "gamer" you want to be or if you are just trying to "catch up" to the technology. If it is serious gaming that your after, I'm afraid you will never be up to date as games are created faster than the average person can afford to update their hardware to match. Also, for gaming, it is going to cost at lot more than if you are just using a computer for everyday "stuff", at least if your serious about gaming. You decide.
Next, the OS. I give those unafraid souls who go through the trials & tribulations of any new operating system great credit. Without them none of the bugs would be found and (if they can) fixed. I have used every OS since DOS 2.0 with the exception of ME and NT and I have always waited for at least a year (except with DOS) or longer, to wait for the bugs to be worked out (which has never really happened anyway). Right now I use XP Pro on my main system and Windows 98 SE on my other computers. MY reason for that is that I wanted XP for the video work capabilities and I like 98 the best, for ease of use (I configure XP to look like 98!). As for Vista, I won't even think about it for a year or two, if at all. One thing to bear in mind when buying a computer from a store is that 95% of the time (or higher), you only buy the RIGHTS to use the OS that has been pre-installed and do not get a system disk with the computer. And if you have your own disk at home already, you don't need it pre-installed anyway (along with most of the other crap that is installed).
I have also found that I can build a system cheaper than I can buy one, usually with some better features. Now, I realise that not everyone is comfortable with building their own but in MY EXPERIENCE, it is the best way to go. I always compare a deal from one of the big stores (the ones that always show the price AFTER your mail-in rebate), and then price out the same or comparable system from my supplier (www.ncix.com). The thing with buying one of these "deals", is that you have to ask yourself if you need all the extras that usually come along with it.
So, my advice to you, from MY EXPERIENCE, is to determine what you want to do right now with a computer, shop around at the bigger stores and go to the smaller computer stores as well, decide if you want to start to learn more and build one yourself, decide how much you want to spend to start and then get it. The biggest problem that one encounters is that no matter how "up-to-date" the hardware is that you get now, it will be "out-of date" within a few months. There is always something bigger, faster and "better" coming out, so it is virtually impossible to keep "up-to-date". There really isn't a "correct" answer to your question or a wrong answer for that matter. It just boils down to what you want and if you are willing to learn new things and to take some chances on your own abilities. What works for me will not always work for the next guy or gal and for every positive argument or suggestion there is always a negative one as well.
I could continue to go with the pros and cons of all the hardware, software, etc., but it really wouldn't help a lot if you don't understand all that is being said. Research is your best weapon. Best of luck and remember: there are no stupid questions if you do not know the answers!

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