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2/3/06 Are you ready for Windows Vista?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 2, 2006 1:40 AM PST
Question:

I'm currently getting ready to either buy or build a new home computer. However, in anticipation of Windows' new operating system, Vista, to be released later this year--what is the best hardware to have inside the case that will prepare me for this? I'm wondering about not only the CPU, but motherboard, graphics board, fans, cases, power supply, single or dual hard drives (RAID), monitors, and so on. Or would it be wise to wait until the release of this new OS before getting this new system?

Submitted by: George L. of Sarasota, FL

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George, the answer depends largely on your needs. If you're buying/building a system because your old one is on its proverbial last leg, then sooner would be obviously better than waiting for Vista's final release. On the other hand, if you're just bored silly with your old system and it's perfectly fine otherwise, waiting may not be such a bad thing.

Buying now will give you that instant gratification; waiting will go a long way toward insuring that the system is Vista certified or at least compliant. Of course, you can buy now, while keeping in mind the system requirements for Vista in mind.

Prices will fall on the current cream of the crop as newer, faster, more powerful components will arrive on the market. The machine you buy today will be considerably cheaper in 8-9 months when Vista becomes available. It's a sad, ugly truth behind computers - they don't hold their resale value for very long.

A lot of what you will want to get will largely depend on what your needs are. Either way, I would seriously recommend going with an AMD processor. AMD (as you may have read) ate Intel's best and brightest for lunch in CNET's recent shootout. In fact, the slowest AMD processor beat the top of the line Intel chip in a number of the tests. Read more about it at http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10442_7-6389077-1.html

If you're a gamer, video editor, or uber-geek who has to have the latest and greatest hardware, THE chip to get would be the AMD Athlon64 4800+ X2 chip. This is the dual core Athlon64 model that's currently the top of the line. However, coming very soon, AMD is supposed to be releasing a 5000+ chip. Who knows what will be top of the heap when Vista finally ships.

If you're just going to do the basics, surf the web, e-mail, the occasional letter to be banged out in Word (or whatever word processor you happen to like), I'd still stick with at the VERY least, an Athlon64 single core chip based system. The reasoning behind this - 32 bit chips, while adequate for the tasks mentioned above, will be lacking in the performance department when Vista arrives.

As far as motherboards go, I've had my eye on a Gigabyte GA-K8U-939 board. It seems to have most everything I could possibly need or will be wanting in the foreseeable future - with only one exception - it doesn't have any firewire ports. However, given the K8U board has five PCI slots, finding room for expansion is not a problem.

The only other possible weakness this board may have is in that it has an AGP video slot instead of the newer PCIe (PCI Express) slot. For what it's worth, unless you're into heavy gaming or video editing the AGP based slots are more than adequate for the immediate task.

Power Supply: For what it's worth, your best bet is to get one that's at least 450 to 500 watts. Visit your local computer hardware superstore (CompUSA, Frys, Circuit City, etc...) and look at the power supplies. Lift the individual unit and see how heavy it is. The heavier it is for its size, the better. Cheaper power supplies tend to be fairly lightweight and tend to be a bit weak and underpowered. A power supply is merely a transformer that converts 120 volt AC current to 12 volt and 5 volt DC current. You want a heavy duty power supply with lots of heft.

Case: Get one that you like - but keep in mind that many cases ship with a power supply - consider what it comes with and how much it will cost to replace the PSU should the one in the case be underpowered.

RAM: Get as much of it as you can afford onto the motherboard. The more RAM you have available, the less Windows has to use a swap file and the snappier your system will be. I would go with a minimum of 1 GB. Given Windows' track record in the past few versions, 512 MB is probably going to seem to be a bit underpowered when you go with Windows Vista.

Hard drives: A lot of what sort of disk subsystem you get will depend largely on what you're planning on doing with your system. If you're the type who just does a few letters here and there, web surfing and email, you probably won't need a huge hard drive. On the other hand, if you're into video editing or other projects that take up a lot of disk space, plan accordingly. Either way, figure out what you're going to need and then at least double the value. I would go with at least a 160 GB or larger drive to start. One more thing to consider on hard drive choice - spindle speed. Your older drives are typically 5400 RPM or slower. Newer drives tend to spin at 7200 RPM or faster. Faster is better. The same is true of cache. Many drives these days sport anywhere from 2 MB to 16 MB worth of cache. The more the better - and more expensive. Stick with 7200 RPM or faster drives with at least 8 MB cache.

Standard Parallel ATA (aka EIDE) drives are generally adequate for most users - unless you're into video editing or heavy gaming. These two tasks are quite disk intensive and the faster the drive, the better. If you're into gaming and video editing, you should definitely think about getting a SATA (Serial ATA) drive. SATA has the benefit of having faster throughput.

It's also possible to use both EIDE/ATA133 and SATA drives in the same computer. Most of the mainstream motherboards on the market now will support both types. And if it says it supports SATA, it will also have EIDE/ATA100/133 support. Feel free to get say, a 60 or 80 GB EIDE drive to boot the computer and a nice big fat SATA drive for your data drive.

To RAID or not to RAID? That is the question...

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive - depending on who you ask) Disks) is a number of techniques for either speeding up data access or creating what's called "fault tolerance" - meaning if you've got multiple drives and one fails, you've still got your data or at least can rebuild it without having to dig through your backups... (You DO back up your data, right?) There are a number of different types of RAID. Read more about RAID types at http://www.bytepile.com/raid_class.php

Now then, the big question you need to ask yourself is do you really need it? How important, or better yet, how irreplaceable is the data in question? Is it just a place to store jokes and other misc. files that people send you via e-mail? Or are you running a business and your client list, inventory database, and other mission critical files are going to be stored on that machine? Another question is how often do you back up? Weekly? Daily? Monthly? Whenever you feel you're in the mood?

RAID 0 or a striped data set is great for those who need high performance - gamers and video editors. Raid 1 or a mirrored drive array is great for those who want a back up of their data without having to back up. Most of your typical motherboards that have RAID capability will offer those two types. Most of the other RAID types require specialized hardware and drivers.

Optical drive: As you're going to need one to install Windows and most other software, you might as well get a decent drive. Fortunately, DVD +/-RW burner drives are getting to the point of being dirt cheap. The drive I got about 6 months ago for about $60 is now selling for about $22. There's no real excuse for not having one of them any longer. Avoid Sony and Plextor - they're actually the same drive and the drive quality tends to be weak. The drives wear out fairly quickly.

As far as other components go:

Monitors: There are two main classifications for video output devices - old fashioned CRTs and the newer LCDs. Both have advantages. CRTs still have a slightly better picture and in my opinion, look better than the vast majority of flat panel LCDs. LCDs, on the other hand, are lighter and take up a LOT less desktop real estate. A large CRT monitor can also give you a hernia as they tend to weigh quite a bit. Of course, you probably won't be moving the monitor around that much. It will more than likely stay in one place until it drops dead and gets replaced. CRTs also tend to be cheaper than the flat panel equivalent.

Which one to get? Go to Best Buy, CompUSA, Circuit City, Frys, or any other computer superstore in your area and LOOK at the ones on display. Have the salesman give you a mixed demo of the capabilities of the monitors on display. It's something that you'll have to be looking at for 3-5 years so you want to be sure you're going to be comfortable with the unit. Get one that you feel comfortable looking at. No sense in going blind. Now, keep in mind you don't HAVE to buy the monitor at the superstore - be sure to shop around once you've got an idea of what you want to get.

Keyboard, Mice, etc... Once again, while you're looking at the monitors, look at the keyboards, mice and other devices you want on your system. Find a keyboard and mouse that you find comfortable and go for one of them.

Windows XP: The last big question here is the operating system. You can, of course, go with Windows XP Home, Professional, Media Center Edition and of course the 64 Bit variety.

Home and Professional are more or less identical in so far as the underlying guts go. The only difference is in the networking components and capabilities. Home will allow you to connect 5 computers to the host computer while Pro will let you connect 10. Pro will also let you connect to Windows domain controllers.

Media Center will allow you to watch TV, provided you've got a TV Tuner card built in. It's usually also configured with a remote control so you can kick back and watch TV, DVD movies, or other media.

The good, the bad and the ugly facts about Windows XP 64 bit edition...

The good: It allows you to take full advantage of 64 bit processors. Certain applications WILL run MUCH faster. But mundane tasks like word processing, email, etc..won't benefit much from XP 64

The Bad and The Ugly: Driver support, from what I've heard, is still lacking. Not having 64 bit drivers for your peripherals means you can't use those devices. Drivers are supposed to be coming but...

All in all, your best bet is to figure out what you plan on doing with your new computer. Consider your needs and double them. Shop around! Decide on whether you want to build your own computer or buy a complete system. Visit discount search engines like http://www.pricewatch.com to find good deals on the components you want to buy if you're building your own. Visit computer shows in your area (if available). The vendors there tend to have "Massive Price Wars" in order to outsell the guy in the next cubicle and there can be good bargains to be had if you shop around.

Submitted by: Pete Z.
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by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 2, 2006 1:40 AM PST
Answer:

As I have always seen after upgrading to a new version of Windows, the performance of my old pc hardware, go down terribly. If you love Windows like me, there's no question about you switching to Windows Vista. It's always going to be a yes. Luckily I have tested Windows Vista 5270 on my computer, and can probably give you a good opinion on what kind of hardware you'll be needing.

Let's start first, with the processor: With changing times, we need our computers to be able to give us better performance, without requiring us to be constantly upgrading our PCs and Notebooks. The processor is one of the most important parts of computer, and having more RAM and less processor power, won't be very practical. So here's what I suggest. Buy an Intel Dual Core processor, Intel Pentium D or any AMD 64-bit processor. Seeing that most of the new features on Vista give extra performance on 64-bit processors, I would never suggest the Pentium 4 series of processors.

The motherboard: We have many options for the motherboard these days and for Vista it would be best if you could get one of the motherboards that have nVidia
GeForce Graphic Cards bundled with them as a package. I tested Vista on a 6200GT(256MB), and found the performance was decent enough for home usage. If cost is not the problem, go in for a 6800GT(256MB) or 7800GTX(512MB). DirectX rendered objects look real on these. Any ATI-radeon with 256MB of memory would be as good. Also look out for motherboards with more than 1 AGP slot.

Hard Drives: The hard drive is the component where you save all your data, and wan't them to stay there for a long long time. Most hard disks that you get on clearance are the ones that don't perform as well the others. So I should tell you not to compromise on your HDD. Get a hard disk with a 2-year warranty(minimum), and at least 250GB of space. Having dual hard disks is a very good idea and a very good way to create backups with the RAID functionality, with which any data copied on the 1st HDD is also copied on to the 2nd one. I think a couple of Seagate Barracuda(s) should do the trick.

RAM/Memory: The temporary memory which acts as medium between the HDD and processor is the RAM or internal memory, which also determines how fast you can access data on your computer. Memory is becoming cheaper than ever these days, and Vista's requirement of 512MB of RAM is not enough. How much RAM you get depends on affordability. The more, the better. Anything between 1GB - 4GB will be good.

Display: Vista looks really good on High-Definition TVs. You should try using something of the size of Apple's Cinema Display, gives you a good pixels-per-inch output, without any distortion. Otherwise any CRT-monitor would do fine. Most times we find that Old is Gold, and if you compare the CRT to an LCD, it even lasts more usually.

This will be the configuration of my Vista PC..You may wan't to look at the Microsoft Website, to get any details I have missed.

Another suggestion would be to go in for an iMac or MacBook Pro, they're all a breeze to use with Tiger installed on each of them. They usually do everything you wan't them to do, though PCs still win the competition because of a wider set of applications and games.

Submitted by: Abhishek N.

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I think you answered your own question at the end: if possible, I?d wait (although if we all did that, the consequences to the industry would be catastrophic, but that?s not your problem).

I?d wait not only because that is the only way to be absolutely certain that your system is fully ?Vista ready?, but also because a new system will come with Vista included, which will presumably directly save you $100 to $300 compared to buying XP now and then upgrading to Vista later with a retail copy.

Also, if you buy a system with Windows XP after (or perhaps even shortly before) the arrival of Vista, many manufacturers will probably offer a free Vista upgrade for self-installation. This can be the best of both worlds, as you would effectively be get two operating systems (XP and Vista) at no extra cost. Even Microsoft itself has previously offered a ?technology guarantee? when new copies of Windows or Office came out, and if you purchased a copy of the old software during a certain time-frame, Microsoft would send you a free copy of the newer version by mail (look for online or store coupons). This is especially relevant if you are building your own system from components rather than buying an OEM system at retail. Finally, in the past, there have been huge ?bonus bundle? promotional programs associated with new versions of Windows and Office at the major retailers (that?s how I got my first digital camera, it came free with the purchase of Windows XP). Of course this is all speculation, since we don?t know exactly what?s coming or what offers and promotions will be available. But Vista is presumably no more than 10 months away, so I?d wait if you can. And note that there is a new version of Office scheduled to be coming this year as well.

If you can?t wait, however, any ?state of the art? system should be able to run Vista, and it?s likely that almost all XP systems will be upgradeable. Still, when picking components for a new system, I?d look for a motherboard that is upgradeable to dual-core CPUs and at least 2 gigabytes of memory (even if you get neither initially), and that has the ability to take a high-end video card upgrade (preferably PCI Express) even if comes with lower-end video or video on the motherboard. That way, if the video is inadequate for Vista, you can still upgrade to Vista-supported video without replacing the motherboard.

[Vista?s desktop will offer some video-intensive features available only to those with suitable video cards (Vista will run without these features on lower-end systems). Since it may be hard to know right now which video cards will fully support all Vista features, one approach here if you can?t wait would be to get a low-end video card that is probably ?Vista IN-capable?, but that is also ?cheap?, with an explicit plan to upgrade the video system later, when you will know exactly which cards are fully Vista-capable and certified.]

Any standard disk system will probably work with Vista, but go for a motherboard that has SATA ports (raid is optional, but most of the newer motherboards that have SATA also offer SATA raid). However, these are specifications which almost all new systems meet. In terms of capacity I?d look for at least 200 gigabytes.

The rest of the stuff (case, fan, power supply) is kind of generic and won?t change much for vista vs. XP. The power supplies that come with cases (especially cheap cases) are often inferior and can cause unexplained crashes, lockups and blue screens. What I?d look for is a quality power supply with at least 400-to-450 watts. The power supply rating itself unfortunately doesn?t tell you much about quality; for example, it is no reflection of the ability of a power supply to supply nanosecond-transient CPU demands for surge currents far beyond the stead-state ratings, yet such ability can be critical to a system stability (especially for high-end CPUs). When in doubt, paying $45 to $90 for a quality supply can be a really good investment in system stability, and a quality 400-watt power supply is usually a better component than a cheap 550-watt model. You can almost judge the quality of a power supply by its weight: the things that imbue quality (big capacitors, hefty heat sinks, large transformers) also tend to add significantly to the weight of a power supply as well. And finally, be certain that the power supply is UL- and CSA- approved.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, OH

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George,

Two things to keep in mind:

1. Every new release of the Windows operating system has inevitably required more computing power and resources than originally advertised;
2. They've never been released as planned - i.e., the release date has been pushed back at least once, and often repeatedly.
This is essentially a Catch-22 for someone wondering whether to invest in a new computer now, or wait until Fall! It's difficult to know exactly what you need to build a computer that can take full advantage of - and optimize - all of the new features and enhancements of the new operating system until the latter is released (or you have access to an advanced pre-release build). And holding your breath until Vista's release simply isn't a good idea. "August or September 2006" can easily turn into November/December - or Spring 2007.

But unless you have a pressing need to get/build a new computer, you'll probably be better off waiting. There are a number of reasons for this:

1. As Vista approaches its release, more information will become available regarding its quirks and real-life requirements (as opposed as the arguably unrealistic "minimum requirements");
2. More Vista-compatible hardware will become available as the operating system nears it debuts, which translates into more choices for you;
3. PC manufacturers will push Vista pretty hard, so you can count on attractive offers and a buyer's market upon its release;
4. CNET's Robert Vamosi recently pointed out that due to Vista's new security elements, antivirus vendors will have to redesign their scanning engines. Thus, there's a chance that upgrading to Window Vista will necessitate your investing on new antivirus software and perhaps other software as well. A brand-new PC with Vista-compatible hardware and bundled software might simplify matters considerably. (http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3513_7-6413950-1.html)

Make no mistake, the enhanced graphics engine of Windows Vista will require a very powerful machine, especially since it appears it will incorporate the "Aero" glass effect after all. You can find more about Vista's expected features, and get some more specific hardware advice, by checking the following links:

Inside Vista Windows Presentation Foundation: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3672_7-6331574-1.html

Hardware that's ready for Vista: http://www.cnet.com/4520-11488_1-6406935-1.html

Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 1: A first look inside is an older resource, but it contains a link to reviews of some performance PCs expected to handle Vista with flying colors. If you decide you want to build or get your new computer sooner rather than later, you can peruse the specs of these machines to get a better idea of what you might need: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3672_7-6300167.html

Best wishes.

Submitted by: Miguel K.

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So, you have been thinking about get a Vista-ready PC?

Guess what, any Gaming Fanatic (er, me...) out there knows the answer: think bigger, faster, and a way lot stronger. There are rumors running around that even Intel started thinking about some fancy 3D-graphics chip to be implemented on her latest motherboards, since this new OS promises to get you some heavy graphics (eye-candy, as known in gaming reviews), and it won?t even run on older PCs. Nothing to concern the latest major players in this field nowadays, namely ATI and NVIDIA. SIS and others, perhaps, may have some reaction to Intel?s planning about this new OS. Since it is all about aesthetics rather than functionality, any of latest Graphics Cards will suit you.

I have an experiment of my own running at home: a 400MHz Pentium II running the latest Windoze XP. Of course, I inserted some 300MB of memory in it before even trying to run it. Boy, it is not a pretty sight. It takes a few eons to boot, and another few millenia to load it completely. Once it is loaded, though, it runs around pretty smoothly. Great printer server/router/downloading drone. XP insures stability, despite it is soo slow. Expect the same from a 1GHz PC with mere 256MB of RAM for the new OS.

This "Vista" thing can?t even come close to such older hardware as my experiment these days, a nice bet is that it will come in a DVD, for a start. Do you remember, in the dark ages, insert disk #2 of #56? Well, this is what you can expect from the CD version of this new OS, since it is promised to be at least 2,5GB large. That means at least 4 CDs. Start thinking about large hard drives. 80GB are common today, they will be cheaper or disappear in this near future.

As for monitors, it is painful to look at a 800x600 screen resolution in XP, the best for an outdated 15" CRT monitor, that can?t take 1024x768 without causing you a headache. I wonder how much resolution will be the barely minimum for Vista, because XP already complains about anything below 800x600. Worse, it really annoys you about it, that its menus won?t fit, etc, etc....


In short, the new Vista come with a hardware price tag in it, that is, if you don?t mind waiting 5 minutes and 20 seconds for a PC to boot up. Just like the heaviest games, it will drag its carcass around in an old machine, begging you to get rid of your $$$ in the nearest hardware store. But back to the point, a minimum, fair configuration, that can take most of the blows that Vista (and anything else, actually) is ready to throw at you, would be:

- At least a 2GHz Pentium 4 / equivalent AMD. Those can?t even be found around my place nowadays, even the cheapest processor for sale is a 2.4GHz Intel / AMD equivalent. Anyway, chose AMD, they punch harder for the same cash. On every scale, from discount to premium.

- 512MB of memory. Expect nothing less, you are being ripped off with anything less. This much memory barely fits the present XP load, don?t even think cheaper.

- DVD reader / CD recorder. You won?t watch movies on your PC, but most recent software packages may ship exclusively in DVD media in the future. CD recorder are pretty obvious. DVD recorders are not a long shot...

- A pendrive, at least 256MB. Since floppies are dying, they must be replaced by the same mobility they used to have. EVERY single computer had floppies back then. Today EVERY single computer has USB. Not everybody has CD recorders today, you know. Plus, they don?t need any kind of software (Nero and such) in order to run. And you can boot using a Pendrive too.

- Any LCD monitor will keep you happy. Make choices on your own. I love my 17" CRT monitor, just because of gaming. You get a lot of free space in your desk without that massive CRT screen.

- At least 80GB hard drive. That?s fair today, and it will be for some 5 years. Just because the OS became 5 times FATTER, it doesn?t mean that every other piece of software you have will gain weight too. As for RAID, the equation is simple: RAID 0 for speed, RAID 1 for safety.
RAID has meaning when you have 2 or more hard drives, and how you combine them: record the same information on both, and you have redundancy, or RAID 1; record a piece of information on each drive and you can do it in half of the time, that is RAID 0. What is your treat, speed or safety?

- As I said before, any graphics card from ATI or NVIDIA sold today will suit you. A Geforce FX 5200 or a Radeon 9600 (those are really old) can probably run Vista without a hitch. You won?t find anything worse today.

- For Cases / PSU, I suggest some headroom. Chose some PSU with power to spare, say 500W+ and a case compatible to ATX and/or BTX. Better if both are from same manufacturer, and come together. Look around, Google around, but I am happy with my Thermaltake case and PSU. I heard a lot from Seventeam PSU and Lian Li case too, but then again, Google for PSU and Case hardware reviews. Lots of sites are specialized in benchmarking/testing every single piece of modern hardware (of course CNET too, heheh), and you can decide based on fact, not rumor. They really stress each piece (uuh, you haven?t seen a PSU up in flames on its nominal 380W power) and show you each result, and how they did it.

- Everything else, like keyboards, mice, printers, speakers, go more from personal choice and how much cash can you spend than some performance metrics, since most things in these areas tend to work just fine. Research 2 or 3 probable choices, and sort them out later (CNET itself works fine at this point).


I hope I have helped.

Such configuration as described above has a high chance of running Windows Vista, but since it is not out yet, surprises may arise. It doesn?t mean that anything lower won?t run Vista either. Predictions in this field are hard, not to say reckless. 6 months ago Intel was aiming at a 4GHz CPU; now it aims at multi-core systems. Go figure.

Submitted by: Luiz A.

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In my experience, it is always a good idea to wait a while after the first release of a new Windows operating system. It gives Microsoft a chance to work out the bugs in their software. Examples such as Windows 98, 2000, XP and Server 2003 all have major updates which are just fixes for the problems they missed.

That however, is not the point in question. As for waiting to get your hardware, you could wait. Someone might introduce a newer processor that could handle the OS better. Processors should be your key concern. No matter how much Memory (RAM) or Hard Disk space you have, the running speed of the machine is truly dependant on your processor. My advice would be to go with the AMD 64 bit processors (Athlon 64 and newer). They run great and have excellent speed, far better than any Pentium 4, even if they haven't reached 3GHz yet.

Mother board wise, I would suggest MSI, ASUS, or Gigabyte. All three companies make excellent boards that are more than capable of handling the 64 bit processors. From experience, MSI boards need the least amount of adjusting to handle the processor. And then from the board, you must decide on was Memory to get. Each manufacturer has a list of recommended Memory for their board. In most cases, these brands have been tested and proven to function correctly, if this is not the case on a listed brand, the companies I listed above do make note of it. Kingston, Wintec, and Corsair are all good companies for RAM.

Power supplies should be considered very delicately. Never buy a cheap PSU (Power Supply Unit). It will cost you in the long run. Cheap PSU's typically have bad regulating abilities and will, over a short period of time, kill your motherboard. Also, 300 Watts should be more than enough for any good computer. 400 if you intend to go heavy on the games. I personally use a 350 but it came with the case.

Hard Drives are solely up to your discretion. You could have a RAID configuration or not. all a RAID is, is a complex automated backup. It also requires two extra hard drives, outside of your primary boot drive, and that's the smallest RAID configuration you can have. It would be cheaper to buy backup software and a single extra drive. Backup software usually comes with the option to burn to CD's and DVD's as well as to other drives.

I would advise against using any Western Digital hard drives. They have a rather grand tradition of running fine for a few years and then just dying without any warning. The longest I've seen a Western Digital last is about 4 years. Seagate and Hitachi are my personal favorites. They run cool and last a long time. I've seen 8-12 year old Seagate hard drives running just as good as the day they were first installed. Quantum, a division of Maxtor now, also seems to be really good. Bought an HP with one in it 6 years ago and it's still running strong.

Graphics unit, I would steer clear of integrated. It plays havoc with your RAM. ATI is what I would advise. And depending on what you want to do with it, just look at the product description to determine which series to buy.

Case, Fans, and Monitors are all dependant on the user. You need a case that's at least big enough for your motherboard. Also one you like. Fans, one extra is usually all that is needed. However, you can add more or less as you like. Monitors are always the users choice. Big bulky 21", or a thin flat 19" LCD. It just depends on the money you have and the type you want. It's a lot harder to suggest a monitor without knowing what you're looking for or how many for that matter. Just go with what you can afford and like.

Submitted by: James K.

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Dear George,

Windows Vista will not be released for many months yet, but a lot of people are eagerly anticipating its release, including you and me!

Microsoft has yet to reveal the minimum system requirements. Suffice to say, it will be higher than Windows XP. And display driver standard will be strictly enforced this time to be Windows Display Driver Model only. Which means it must be certified by Microsoft.

Microsoft has been working closely with Intel and AMD, the two primary CPU vendors, and Intel / ATI / NVIDIA, the three primary GPU vendors, on "pre-certifying" certain hardware as Vista-ready.

Basically for CPUs, you'll need a MODERN CPU.

For Pentium 4's, that means a P4 with Hyper-threading, and preferably EMT64 (the 64-bit processing extension), but in a pinch Celerons will do. Dual core CPU are good also.

For AMDs they recommend any of the Athlon 64's (including FX's and Dual Cores) but the Semprons will do as well.

On the graphics side, Intel GMA 950 is Vista-ready, but any lower is not.

For ATI side, Radeon 9500 and higher, or X300 and higher are considered Vista-Ready .

And finally, for the NVIDIA side, any NVIDIA GeForce FX or later (5200 on up) are Vista Ready.

If you want to read the whole list, it's available at

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/Windowsvista/evaluate/hardware/entpguid.mspx

While the list is mainly for Enterprise use, it's helpful for home users to get an idea what Microsoft is looking for.

All this consideration does not change the basic principle of computer
purchase: "buy the most PC you can afford". However, that doesn't answer your question, buy now, or buy later?

Any "power user" system configured to run now should run Windows Vista with ease in the near future. I envision such a system as:

==Pentium 4 or Athlon 64, 3500+ or faster, dual core even better

==ATI X800 or NVIDIA 6800 or later video

==at least 1 gigabyte of RAM

==Any amount of hard drive you see fit, perhaps even RAID, probably 160 GB or more

==Power supply capable to running all that hardware, probably 450W or more

Of course, the more you wait, the more likely prices will drop on existing hardware, due to continuing fights for market share between ATI and NVIDIA as well as Intel and AMD. The ATI X1900 XFire is coming out soon and that should cause another round of price cuts in video cards.

On the other hand, you could be enjoying that new PC now, and still be ready for Vista when it comes out.

So decide soon, and have fun!

Submitted by: Kasey C. of San Fransisco, CA

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There is never a good time to buy or build, something better is always just around the corner.

If you're planning on building in the near future, I am currently recommending an AMD 64 or AMD 64 X2 processor. Vista is based on the AMD instruction set. This doesn't mean that it won't work with an Intel CPU, only Intel has to emulate AMD. In my opinion nothing works as well as the real thing. As always, purchase the fastest CPU you can afford.

Now that you have a CPU to build your system around look for a motherboard with the features that you want. I currently recommend motherboards with the nForce4 chipset by nVidia. As for brands I prefer Asus. The specific model will depend on what you need from your motherboard. I recommend a board that is SLI (Scalable Link Interface) capable.

SLI means nVidia video cards. You don't have to purchase two now, but if you do you can set up SLI immediately. You can purchase as much video card as you can comfortably afford and then purchase another one later when prices drop. One higher end card will out perform two lower end cards. In general you should spend as much on your video card as you do on your CPU.

As for cases, fans, and power supplies there are a million good and bad choices. As long as your fans are ball bearing they should serve you well. Good case manufacturers are Chieftec, Lian Li, Cooler Master, and Enlight. The actual design of the case depends on the number of drives you want to be able to install and how cool you want it to look.
Some cases come with power supplies and some require a separate purchase. If you purchase from any of the above manufacturers and it includes a power supply of the wattage you desire it should be fine for your use. If you want to purchase a separate power supply I recommend Antec, PC Power & Cooling, and Thermaltake.

The number of hard drives is up to you. You can get a fast small drive such as Western Digital's Raptor drives for your OS and then a larger drive for your programs and data. RAID isn't going to get you a huge speed increase if you go with RAID 0 (Striping) and if you lose one drive you lose all of your data. If you are worried about hardware failure you can go with RAID 1 (Mirroring) but you lose the space of an entire drive to protect you against drive failure. RAID does not protect your data from viruses or accidental deletion, only against hardware failure.

Submitted by: Robert N.

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Go ahead and build your system now. Parts are not going to change that much between now and the time that Vista is released and it is being written with drivers for currently available components.

As for suggestions about what components to use in your build that is more a personal decision than one that can be answered simply. Personally, I would recommend using a socket 939 Athlon-64 processor with a compatible motherboard. CNET's comparison of them against a P-4 showed me that I had made the right decision in building my last machine. Look for the features that you want on your motherboard before you buy and compare the complete set of features that are offered on each compatible motherboard. Do you want 4 SATA connectors? Do you need IDE RAID? AGP or PCI-E video? These are all questions that you must decide for yourself. I would have to tell you that you do need a dedicated video card with at least 128 MEGs built on it; 256 is certainly better. If you are going to do any video editing or have a TV card installed I would definitely tell you to be sure that you get one with hardware MPEG encoding as opposed to one with software encoding, as the support for the later is not as good in Vista or in Windows XP-MCE. The case that you do your build in is dependant on where you are going to place your system. Do you want a very quiet system? I would recommend a case from a reputable manufacturer and to buy one that does not include a power supply. Antec, Thermaltake and many others make various sizes of cases that will hold whatever you decide to put in them and can be made to be very quiet by the types of fans that you use.

Buy your power supply separately. Buy the most powerful power supply that you can afford. Price and quality do absolutely go hand in hand when it comes to power supplies, I have found. Do not skimp in any way on powering your system. You will never regret having more power than you need but you will definitely regret having one that is underpowered and is not capable of providing the power that you need 2 years from now when you have done a couple of upgrades. Even though the memory requirements for Vista say that 512 MEGS is basically the minimum, I would say that 1 Gig is the bare minimum and just as with the power supply bigger is better. Expect to take somewhat of a performance hit on your system if you use the onboard sound and do not have a separate sound card. The onboard codecs are fine if you do not mind losing the power from your CPU that they require to operate properly but again a dedicated card takes on that responsibility and leaves your CPU for more important tasks. Creative has even released Beta drivers for most of its current cards that seem to work pretty well for Creative drivers, which have never been known for their stability or lack of bugs. SATA drives are faster than IDE drives so I would definitely tell you to use SATA drives and to again buy more capacity than you think you will ever need. I have over a terabyte of storage on one of my computers and it is quickly filling up with different video and audio projects that I am working on.

Go ahead and build your system and buy the most system that you can afford. Shop around and look for deals on each component. Don't feel like you have to get each and every part from one store, whether it is an online retailer or a local brick and mortar store. Buy good quality components of the newer versions of each component and not ones that are based on chipsets that a year old or more. You should find that compatibility is not a problem and that you are ready for whatever the next wave of technology is that comes along.

Submitted by: George S.

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Dear George,

Since you're going with the Windows platform, hardware isn't your biggest concern. Why? Because Windows typically provides built in support for most available hardware, and hardware manufacturers universally support Windows. In other words get the hardware that makes sense for what you're doing, & don't worry about support in Windows, if it's not there today it certainly will be available in the near future.

I'm assuming you fall into the average user category, i.e. you'll be using your system for web related apps, & occasional word processing, and photo editing. I'd give different answer if you were an aerospace engineer or graphic artist.

For most users the case and power supply aren't of much concern, in other words the lowest priced models will do just fine. However, I'd say it is worth shelling out a couple of extra bucks for a high end case. You can typically re-use the case. What I've found is that low cost cases are very flimsy and use the *thinnest* metal possible. One analogy that comes to mind is the difference between a low end Kia and a Mercedes. As far as I'm concerned no matter how little you pay, if there is no quality in the product, you?re getting ripped off.

In terms of CPU I like AMD Athlon 64 single or the dual core. They have better performance than Intel?s chips when it comes to single process & OS related benchmarks. Vector benchmarks are a different story, the Intel dual cores are faster there, but since most users aren't heavy into vector processing the AMD's make more sense for them. In terms of memory get the fastest you can afford, it makes a difference!

In terms of the disk drives, you'll want to get a SATA drive at least 80 Gig. In terms of the systems overall performance the disk drive is crucial so get the fastest model you can afford. Forget RAID. It's too complicated and won't do you any good if its miss configured, and in fact can cause many headaches as well. Basically if you have to ask, then RAID isn't for you. If you're worried about data loss, burn DVD's periodically, or set up a LAN and use your old system to mirror your important files.

In terms of the video system, spring for a 19" or 21" LCD. You might want to consider getting video card like the All-in-Wonder Radeon X800 XT Video Card (256MB, AGP 8X, DVI, VIVO w/ Tuner). It will give you an additional 19 or 21" TV in your house.

Best of luck!

Submitted by: Burlen L. of Durham, NH
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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 2, 2006 1:41 AM PST
Answer:

The known hardware requirements are on the Microsoft site. The biggest issue is if you want to use the new UI or not (Aero/Glass) which requires a graphics card that supports LDDM.

Some computers may also require BIOS updates. I'd recommend that anyone who wants to run Vista and take advantage of all its features should wait a few months for Vista specific tested machines to be released. Manufacturers are already doing Vista testing and will be releasing Vista ready machines.

If you buy a machine now chances are it will run Vista, but you may not have access to certain features, and if your machine requires a BIOS upgrade and your motherboard/computer manufacturer decides not to upgrade your model....

Submitted by: Chad H.

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You should buy (or build) a new computer when you need it, not before, and not after. If you buy it in advance, you are wasting money. If you wait until after you need it, you are not solving problems that a new computer could be solving for you right now. When you buy it, get one that is current at the time, and then start using it.

That said, the current model computers being sold by major manufacturers right now will run Vista. Go large on memory and disk space. If you have to choose between memory and disk space due to budget, go for the disk space at initial purchase. It is much easier to add memory later, than to add disk. Avoid esoteric equipment, unless it is connected by some standard method such as USB2, and you should be fine with Vista.

No matter how well you think you are timing your purchase, it will be obsolete the day after you get it, so just get used to that fact. You are buying it to serve a purpose, and if it is doing that, then it is a good, well-timed purchase.

Submitted by: Roger D.

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Since we don't know too many specifics about the new Operating System, I would wait before purchasing or building a new computer. Considering the "minimum system requirements" that Microsoft has posted in the past, I wouldn't feel comfortable using those figures as a gauge in determining my new computer system. In the past, the Microsoft "minimum system requirements" didn't even come close to the actual requirements for a stable, high performance system.

I would also wait a few months after the new Operating System hits the market so that you can better judge the strengths and weaknesses of the new OS. At that time, you can better decide what you will include in your new computer. The delay will also give Microsoft a chance to issue whatever Service Packs might be necessary to debug the new OS.

Submitted by: fox13fb

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The first question you have to ask, is what is the purpose of the system that you are building. Are you building a system for typical business applications, a system for photo or video editing, or a gaming machine. The purpose of the machine will give you and anyone helping you with the design of the system a better feel for your needs and the capabilities of the machine. For example a machine built for typical business applications running in a server domain will not normally have the storage requirements that a stand-alone machine will require. A machine built as a gaming machine or video editing machine would be well suited to take advantage of the dual core processor technology that Vista will improve on, same with RAID technology. The factors will also effect things such as case size and design. How many external drive bays are required, just a single CD\DVD drive, or multiple drives or a card reader? How much space is available and where will the computer be located. Also the components inside could benefit from increased space to allow room for more cooling if you are running multiple drives or dual CPU?s or video cards.

As you can see, it is very difficult to give a definite answer without knowing the needs of the user and the purpose of the machine.

Submitted by: Bill B.

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This isn't really an answer, it's more of a consideration.

Remember, MicroSoft does NOT have a Software Testing Division. They use the general public to find their bugs, then they put out the fixes. (One of the ways they cut costs and make all that money...) I always wait at least 1 year before I upgrade to any new MicroSoft Operating System, to give them the opportunity to get some of the bugs out before I upgrade. So, build or buy the system that will work the best, but wait, wait, wait, before you jump on the any new OS bandwagon.

Submitted by: R. K.

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Honestly, the best approach would be to wait for Windows Vista to finally come out before buying a new computer. Here's why:

1: System Requirements may be very different when it ships.
2: HDCP Compatible hardware may be a requirement, or it may not.
3: The minute Vista goes Gold there will be worms and viruses out there ready to bite.
4: Brand new hardware that is compatible with Vista's erratic requirements may cost a lot of money.
5: Windows XP has much lower system requirements, and is a better choice right now, until Vista becomes stable enough to warrant a switchover.

A quick breakdown of all the technobabble I used:

System Requirements: What kind of hardware does Windows VIsta need and how fast or how big it needs to be.

HDCP: A new technology that requires compatible audio cards, graphics cards, and displays so you can watch high definition DVDs in high definition.

Worms and Viruses: Software made by bad people that will infect your computer and break down or slow down Windows Vista.

So, I personally would build a new computer for Vista after it has been sorted out. For now, I will enjoy the freedom of Windows XP on a slightly less new computer.

Submitted by: Michael H. of Tavernier, FL

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What I do is to go to a few different computer makers website such as Dell and a high end pc maker such as Alienware (which I won't recommend buying from Alienware) and use their site to configure a pc in the dollar range I wish to spend. They of course have all the latest hardware and software listed right there for you. I then decide what is best for me to get and then I can build my own with the latest and greatest.

Submitted by: Cameron J. of Amarillo, TX

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Hi!

I have been building computers for more than 25 years but I think I just built my last one. Dell offered me a discounted laptop computer last year at a price including WinXP/2 and my selection of attachments in a package I could not match! When Katrina hit I lugged it around and used its wireless as my only communication with the outside world, till I got phone and cable internet back. This Christmas I bought a HP desktop package for my wife again with XP/2, at Office Depot. I added a DVD R-W drive and wireless PCI card.

Why!? The answer is easy. Doing yourself, you have to buy an operating system at an inflated price; you have to spend time to search and purchase individual components; mess with multiple rebate paperwork; and you have no system warranty!

If you have time, wait for Vista and buy a discounted machine from Dell, or other
leading supplier, with Vista and specify the add-ons you need.

Good Luck!

Submitted by: Matthew G.

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WAIT !!!!!!!!!!

ESPECIALLY WITH MS PRODUCTS

I will GUARANTEE YOU people who buy the new OS VISTA !
If you don't remember when Windows XP came out, many people had Windows 98 & Windows ME, both which cost over $100 each. MS gave you no discount for being loyal or using their previous OS & they will not be any different with this one.

People who rush out to buy VISTA WILL HAVE PROBLEMS.
Today, your computer hardware & software are to run "smoother" with Windows XP. MS is not going to help any software or hardware company to make their products work with VISTA! MS figures if they don't, it's their problem, not MS!

SO, BUYER BEWARE!
MS has proven not to make quality products---just charge quality prices!!!! Wait 6 months after it comes out --- then see what happens. I am.

Good Luck

Submitted by: Mark

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I would not hesitate.. I think the requirements will be a lot less for Vista then what you would build.

I would be comfortable with 512 ram even 1 gig since ram is cheap. I like the AMD 64 bit processor. Foxconn makes a variety of enclosures. They have become my favorites to build with. Single or dual hard drives, raid or not, is a personal choice and really would not have anything to do with the OS (operating system).

One could wait on HD's for ever.. they go from 80 gig to seagates new 500 gig.. do you wait till they get more storage capacity as well? Happy

I would also mention, 128 meg video card as well Happy

Hope that helps,

Submitted by: Jim C. of Fort Wayne, IN

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This is a long answer, but that can't be helped..... You can bet that Microsoft's quest for an eternal revenue stream will place even more controls on the use of its new "Vista" OS (Operating System - like Windows, Linux, etc) compared to XP. Already the company has tremendously restricted the flexibility of its users, both commercial and independent. For instance, if you purchase Windows at Best Buy/Comp USA/Circuit City/whomever, and then install that purchased XP OS on a different system than the original PC, you will discover that Microsoft regards this act as a license violation and you will have to uninstall the original XP installation on the original PC and move it "officially" to the new PC with all the licensing restrictions and bother that this process implies and guarantees. Your "freedom" has been usurped by the exigencies of a seat-based licensing royalty structure.

Can you blame Microsoft for this? Hell no! If I were in charge at Microsoft, I'd require the same thing..... Is it "right" given the cost of retail versions of Windows? Depends on what you mean by "excessive" doesn't it? I mean, when Windows was first published, PC systems were in the neighborhood of $2000.00 - $3000.00. At that time the retail version of Windows cost a few hundred dollars. Now that PCs routinely sell for $500.00 or less, the retail cost of Windows is a few hundred dollars.

Manufacturers routinely charge what the traffic will bear, don't they? Who can blame them? If YOU were in business for yourself, wouldn't you allow your greed to determine the price of your product? But maybe Microsoft has real reason - balancing the price they charge against research and costs which we just don't understand.

Addressing your question about hardware, you need to know the background/source of your answer. Everyone has an opinion, most of which are pure, well, you know. The vast majority of users have only their own experience with a tiny number of different PC "platforms" and their prejudices color their reliability opinions. I've repaired well over 10,000 PCs, Notebooks, and Servers (aggregate) of all major OEM and most clone system manufacturers over a 12 year period. Outside of a few obvious red flags (no website, warranty language with misspellings, incorporated on Mars), most retail PCs are very close in reliability. Can you buy better? Sure! Could you, as an individual consumer, really tell if your "premium" system was "really" better? Probably not.

Soooo, how do you make a decision? Just buy a "first-tier" desktop system from a reliable retailer with a good OEM warranty. Simple, really. What if it goes south soon after purchase? Make certain that you have exchange rights at the retailer's location for a replacement system. Don't forget to back up your data (hehe)!

Notebooks are a different matter entirely. There is no such thing as a standard notebook. They're nearly all designed as custom systems, even those with the same name but with different model designations. The motherboard of your new notebook might just contain the discontinued motherboard of another system from the same manufacturer that had "problems" or didn't sell last year (overheating or an inferior BIOS are the usual issues from an engineering standpoint). This is an absolute fact, and your lack of inside knowledge is why you'll probably never know. The OEM may change motherboard part or manufacturing numbers, and this event will be buried in parts and manufacturing databases invisible to the average buyer - even invisible to repair people like me until a visual examination reveals a similarity and we investigate the coincidence further. I have personal experience of this fact.

Servers? Forget it. If servers from XYZ Corp are questionable or unreliable, the market will probably bury that manufacturer's product line quickly (but there ARE rare exceptions to this rule). Enterprise platforms don't follow the retail rules because most enterprises have what are called engineering and legal staffs. Unless you're a nutcase OEM, you won't, well, you know, mess with this market.

But getting back to the notebook market, which notebook should you buy? That's simple, too. Long-winded answer: Visit more than one store, enter them with humility, try to keep your mouth shut, be pleasant, ignore the nose jewelry or bad haircut, assume that the salesperson probably knows more about the systems than you do, look at the OEM smorgasbord, compare the screen quality (looking at the SAME image), consider the reputation of the OEM, analyze the warranty DETAILS, and leap off the bridge! Buy the L-O-N-G-E-S-T warranty you can, and NOT from the store. Buy your warranty ONLY from the OEM, again, not from the store. The OEM is the man. Period. "Store" warranties are usually, well, you know. I suggest looking at a few acceptable systems (features, price, whatever), going home with the relevant info, and visiting the OEM website. Restrain yourself and do this before you buy.

On this website, try to get a feel for the OEM. Go for a chat with Technical Support if you can. Kick the tires. Your notebook is more important than your car, isn't it? Absolutely! And MAYBE more than your house or spouse! Investigate the availability of extended OEM warranties (most OEMs market them) after purchase and before the original factory warranty expires. Some OEM warranties will cover a cracked display screen even if you use your notebook for a trivet, or a spacer while building your deck. The OEM warranty with the buyer is the only warranty that really counts, and OEMs usually respect this "trust", as it were. Third party store warranties? "And the store told you to call us about your bad display...?" Good humor, but avoid them, unless you're springing for an MP3 player or you're a personal friend of the chain's CEO.... and even then you might find "friendship" has different meanings to different people.

Hope this is of some assistance. I'm not on the payroll of any electronics manufacturer.

Submitted by: R. D.

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Hello George

Why wait ? You can have your fun now !
You can get an Intel Apple based system that has all the latest hardware goodies and advanced operating system features.

The Apple systems have already been hacked to run Windows and Linux software as well. The only potential problem ( unlikely ) is if MicroSoft puts some kind of lock into Vista allowing it to run on only certain kinds of hardware.

Apple has the latest iron such as PCI express, SATA, etc. Apple strives for compatibilty with the WINDOWs world and of course, MicroSoft uses Apple as a development lab.

Check out what MS is doing on the iPod front.

Regards

Submitted by: Gus. C of Denver, CO

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Answer:


Having some experience of both Windows and Mac computers I would strongly, even vehemently, recommend the Mac, especially the new G5 desktops. They are far superior in every way to Windows and are now compatible if you are worried about software issues. Living with a Microsoft PC is like living with an unstable neighbour - you don't know what's going to happen next. Windows computers are riddled with problems, are attacked incessantly by viruses, spam and spyware and are very sensitive to software changes. Macs live a long time and live well too. If it's possible to fall in love with a computer then it is indeed possible with a Mac. With Microsoft I find myself throwing my arms up in despair and can only think of divorce... so if you go with Vista, or whatever they call the latest patched-up quilt of an OS then you live with the consequences.

Submitted by: Jon W.
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An unpopular response: Avoid Vista
by 6MONTAGE / February 3, 2006 2:22 PM PST

One should consider avoiding both XP and Vista.

Windows 2000 is stable, reliable, more than adequate for both business and home applications, has repair and recovery features lacking in XP, and has a cleaner look and feel.

It's seems to me that there's a built-in unspoken game in the industry, with consumers as the pawns, where each new version of a Microsoft OS requires more hardware and more compatible software. In turn the PC manufacturers them "recommend" XP and will likewise then "recommend" Vista. If "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" appeals to you, stay with Windows 2000.

Better yet, learn and use open-source Linux or one of its commercial variations. Wintgreen PC's and other brands come with Linux Linspire pre-installed. And if you insist on MS products, there are programs that convert them easily to a Linux environment.

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Car
by LsuEduMsn / February 3, 2006 5:11 PM PST

Computers are not cars. There is no such thing as a cleaner look and feel.

You are just pushing Linux while Gates laughs at you all the way to the bank.

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Depends what you already have as OS.
by scottyat2 / February 3, 2006 10:00 PM PST

Okay! Good sound advise you have.
But what if you didn't purchase your PC with Win2000
or use 2000 at place of business.
Windows XP is a small notch above Win98se but much better than WinME.
VISTA will have to be proven that it's not a replica of "Longhorn" and besides Security Issues will also need to operate smoothly.
I don't care about all the "BETA" testers as many companies do test their products before consumer release. It doesn't guarantee its a good product.
I run Windows XP which I'm sure you've encountered problems with 2000. No program is perfect and subjected to abuse and pit-falls.
Yes! If you have Windows 2000 then stay with it till
it becomes a dinosaur and need to Upgrade your PC.
Some of us will eventually move on or find that Linux and iMac (Apple-MacIntosh) will be better suited.
At the time being ...I agree that VISTA should be avoided until it's stable in the market place.

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Consumer tested stability...yes
by Trailhop / February 3, 2006 10:19 PM PST

I'm no computer whiz, but one thing I will certainly do is wait until Vista has been on the market for awhile, before I decide if I want it. My XP Pro OS is running fine, I keep it maintained. So barring an unforseeable disaster, I'll keep using XP as long as possible and wait, and watch to see how Vista does.

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Wow! The battle rages on!
by rje49 / February 4, 2006 7:12 AM PST

Looking at all these opinions about hardware and software reminds me of what my hairdresser told me about the rules of conversation with customers - never talk about politics or religion. The reasons are obvious; people have strong beliefs and you can debate all day and nobody's minds will be changed.
We should add Intel vs. AMD, I.E. vs. Firefox, XP & Vista vs. Linex, etc. etc. to the list! If the people using this stuff didn't like it, they would change. Believe it or not, we don't all have to use the very "top rated" components to be satisfied.

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Linux is great, but there's better fine tuning in Windows

I used to have Win NT and as Win 2000 hit the market I installed it. It kept bugging me with a certain file not being available so I just forgot all about it right then...

Linux is absolutely great, one of my two computers runs with Suse Linux 10.0, it's great, looks nice, no rebooting even when installing apps or downloading upgrades. And you can install it on almost anything, no matter if it's a regular PC, a Power PC or x64 architecture.

Vista will have features (as I read on the Microsoft website) that the Linux world has had for a long time. For example, for general work you do not use an administrator account, but a standard user account.

On the other hand there is more fine tuning in Windows. Suse or apps that come with it don't recognise certain non-English characters that, say, XP does. XP runs much faster on slower computers than Suse Linux, not to mention web-browsing and downloading mail from pop3 servers.

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My Views on Vista
by wongtc / February 5, 2006 3:28 PM PST

I remember prior to the XP launch, Companies like HP, IBM etc had a XP ready logo on the machine...I would wait a bit till those machines are out before deciding by looking at those configuration.

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If you're not in a hurry wait, look, listen, learn ..decide
by sidey / February 2, 2006 7:22 PM PST

First up my advice is to ignore the bias rhetoric of the anti Microsoft element or the holy MAC crusaders claiming to save your soul from the evil empire of Darth Gates. Both are sadly lacking in credibility or sound advice.

Here's the truth. There are without question many good and valid reasons for buying a Mac and equally there are many good and valid reasons to go with Windows. I have both and trust me neither are perfect and if the radical element had enough integrity to be honest they would have to agree. Sadly they usually resort to double talk and/or the fear tactic of ''You'll be sorry'' neither of which is helpful to someone seeking unbiased advice.

As for those who clearly hate MS for what ever reason, I think its about time they realized that they are by and large the smallest of minorities and I doubt anyone other than the like minded really care what they think or why, because I believe most find the constant whining about MS boring and old.

But now to the point. Over the years I have been asked countless times for my advice as to what a person should purchase when looking for a computer. Those who give you a stock standard answer, no matter how well intended are not doing you a favor. My answer when asked the above question has always been to ask a series of questions for the sole purpose of determining what the user wants and expects from the machine they wish to have. My eventual recommendations have always depended on those answers and that recommendation has always been honest and unbiased. So based on the information given I may recommend Windows or Mac depending on which best suits the desired needs.

As for Vista, retailers will start to ship it with new machines sold from the release of the OS later this year. It is foolish to compare the mistakes and short comings of XP to Vista. There is a long held view that the release of XP was market driven rather than development driven and I think there is ample evidence to support that. However it has already been over 4 years since XP was released and at least four and a half years between the release of XP and Vista's planned release. There is every reason to expect that many the mistakes of the past have been learned, but if you or others expect the utopian perfect OS which will be forever faultless then my advice is don't get a computer at all because it does not exist in any brand.

If I have offended the delicate sensibilities of the anti MS or the ultra pro Mac camps all I can say is ....... get over it because I have no intention or inclination to respond to your hurt pride.

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Have to disagree with one point you made
by BobLap / February 2, 2006 9:37 PM PST

''There is every reason to expect that many the mistakes of the past have been learned, ''

I agree with most of what you say in your post, people will hate Microsoft just because they can, and there will always be an Apple, Microsoft, Linux battle going on.

However, if you really think that Microsoft has learned anything about rolling out a new operating system by looking to the past I have a slightly used, red/orange bridge for sale in San Francisco. Cheap.

Windows 3.0 then 3.1; Windows 98 then 98SE, Windows XP then SP1, and SP2 and we're still being flooded with updates even now.

The release of Vista is just as market driven as the release of any other operating system Microsoft has foisted on the public. Its what they do. They are a corporation out to make MONEY. The bean counters at Microsoft are forcing Vista out the door to an unsuspecting public just like they did with XP. The marketing people, not the designers, will declare the OS ''Good Enough'' and the heck with the public, we'll patch it later.

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back handed swipe there mate.
by Aussie_jack / February 2, 2006 10:41 PM PST

Youre entitled to your opinion as everyone is. I too agree with a lot of what sidey has said and I agree with you in saying "there will always be an Apple, Microsoft, Linux battle going on"
But I think it's a stretch to suggest hes gullible as you do in the Golden Gate comment because I think you miss his point.
XP was released hard on the heels of Win2k and ME and had there been more of an influence from development rather than marketing then maybe SP1 would not have been as necessary as it was. If in fact what you claim is true about "The bean counters at Microsoft are forcing Vista out the door etc" then it seems to me it would have been released last year as they originally planned.
As it is it's a year late so how much longer do you suggest they hold on to satisfy your skeptical opinion.
I just wonder how perfect your track record is and if its not perfect like the rest of us, would you like to go through the rest of your life being judged solely on your faults.

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history repeats itself
by puma / February 3, 2006 4:27 AM PST

xp was rushed thru early after apple's release of os x. it is also a lame attempt at the "look & feel" of os x. fast forward 5yrs later and apple releases os x 10.4 (aka tiger). so microsoft feels the heat to release vista prematurely

pay close attention to the new specs and technologies of os x 10.4 and you'll also see them microsoft. microsoft is no dummy. it's better to copy and spend less $ on research & development

oh yeah, about the back-handed swipe you made on the previous post, he judges on past m$ behavior as it is known as fact. remember that history repeats itself


ps: penguins make the best pets

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schoolyard stuff
by Aussie_jack / February 3, 2006 11:16 AM PST
In reply to: history repeats itself

The very transparent reason why Boblap took the swipe he did was because he very clearly is one of the anti Microsoft element Sidey makes mention of and it doesnt take rocket science to see youre a very biased Mac chest beater.
Its the pathetic schoolyard stuff that is so childish. Youre like a kid trying to shout down anyone else who holds an opposing view. The way I read it is Sidey makes a relevant point. Every time a question is raised that relates to Microsoft you kiddies from the I love Mac club and the anti Microsoft camp feel compelled to shout your opinions from the rafters and the thing is if it was actually relevant to the original question raised and actually contributed something positive to assist the persons request for advice (which believe it or not is the point of this forum), then probably most people wouldnt mind.
No where in George L's question does he seek advice on if he should stay with Windows or change to Mac. No where in his question does he ask for reasons why he shouldnt use Microsoft at all.
So you love your Mac, well good for you. My point is .... so what, why do you think people care (rhetorical question) and the same applies to the MS haters. None of what you or Boblap have written has been of any direct assistance to George L?s original question and clearly neither of you were capable of adding anything constructive. All you want is the means to make your useless and irrelevant comments.

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you're wrong puma
by sidey / February 3, 2006 3:23 PM PST
In reply to: history repeats itself

Look the reason why I made the point of advising George L not to take notice of either the radical pro Mac element or the ultra MS haters is that neither of you groups have any interest what so ever in contributing in some positive way towards providing a sound unbiased opinion as to what George L should do or what he should at least seriously consider which is relevant to his question.

Both you and BobLap proved that because to this point neither of you have made any positive contribution to the issue that may remotely assist George L in gaining the advice he has sought.

It is the purpose of these forums for people who can offer constructive, unbiased and honest advice to those who seek answers, not propaganda rhetoric.

Both you and BobLap are making arguments that are fundamentally flawed and untrue. You contend that MS is releasing Vista ''prematurely'' because of Tiger. Rubbish, Vista was originally slated for release at least a year ago, however it was very publicly postponed. How can something be prematurely released if it's a year overdue on its originally planned release. That's like saying a woman gave birth to a premature baby 12 months after she was due. It doesn't make sense does it and yet its the basis of your argument.

As for BobLap arguing that MS is forcing Vista out the door (again prematurely) for the sole motivation of MONEY. If that was indeed the case and the prime motivation then why have they forsaken at least one whole year of sales revenue? If it was all about money as Bob claims then why not release it when they planned to do ... one whole year ago, after all they supposedly don't give a hoot if its ready for release or not. Again a rubbish argument.

The thing is you are entitled to your opinions as poisoned as they are, but when you insist on impressing your views on others to the point where you cease to be constructive, then naturally people are going to dismiss your comments as irrelevant and divisive. The fact is no one cares to hear how much you hate MS or how much you love your Mac other than the few who share your bias.

My advice to George L stands and it is relevant to the issue he sought advice on. If he's not in a hurry then wait, look, listen, learn and then make an informed decision on what course to take that best suits his needs not just for the present but also for the near future.

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definatly agree with that
by rtsphoto / February 3, 2006 11:12 AM PST

Wait at least a year after it comes out to buy Windows Vista. Let other people be the guinea pigs. Allow time for all the drivers and fixes to catch up.

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Service Pack
by OmegaGeek / February 3, 2006 8:10 PM PST

Yeah, wait at least for service pack 1 b4 using Vista (and every other M/S O/S)

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Jesse Jackson
by LsuEduMsn / February 3, 2006 5:40 PM PST

Bob and Puma act just like Jesse Rainbow Jackson, they are trying to hard to get someone to listen to their view. Tell Al hello.

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Price
by tontoe / February 2, 2006 7:42 PM PST

Does anyone know how much longhorn vista will cost?

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what do you mean by price?
by puma / February 3, 2006 4:30 AM PST
In reply to: Price

do you mean up front cost at the counter? i would imagine under $200. if you're asking about the total cost of ownership over a few years, then that would be determined by the amout and level of exploits and the hrs and rate you pay a technician to fix it

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Crystal Ball
by LsuEduMsn / February 3, 2006 5:42 PM PST

Yes, he meant for you to look in your crystal ball and tell us all how much it will cost for the next 5 years - ms hater.

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Wrong answer
by NetSysILM / February 2, 2006 8:09 PM PST

To point out all the inaccurate statements in yout post would take too much of my time.

By the way, do you sell toasters at K-Mart?

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But then,
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 2, 2006 11:13 PM PST
In reply to: Wrong answer

if you say nothing about why you believe the answer to be wrong, then your post pretty much becomes ineffective.

If you do not provide an alternative answer, then why should anyone here bother to read your post?

For my part, I believe the answer given is excellent. It is well thought out, helpful, easy to read, accurate, and informative.

Your post on the other hand is negative, uninformative and unhelpful.

I am sure you could do better.

Mark

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Now this I do agree with
by Aussie_jack / February 2, 2006 11:25 PM PST
In reply to: But then,

Well done Mark. Should be more of this.

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New Computers
by Ron Geiken / February 3, 2006 1:21 AM PST
In reply to: But then,

The original answer was very good. There are all kind of skill levels in Computer users, and for someone that has a lower skill level, that kind of information can be extremely valuable. You are right in one respect, you should never criticize someone without offering an alternative viewpoint!

Ron Geiken

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Another Retort that proves saying more words <> saying more
by nstaff / February 5, 2006 9:03 PM PST
In reply to: But then,

So what you're saying Mark, is if I see you about to jump out of an airplane with a broken parachute you don't want me to say anything unless I can also tell you how to repair it?

Did you ever think maybe NetSysILM didn't provide an alternate answer because he wasn't sure of one? Maybe Windows Vista isn't his area of knowledge but maybe he knows hardware and has enough technical common sense to know the winning answer had things in it that were flat out wrong. Or maybe he knows how ungrateful most people will be and he doesn't think you deserve the time it will take him to write up an appropriate reccomendation?

But then again maybe he should have to post an answer - even if he doesn't have one. It can be like a 2 drink minimum type of thing - if you want to say anything at all, you must also include your solution. Wouldn't that just be awesome - it would be like 3 people who were totally on another level and then 80 gazilion amateurs insulting them and calling them stupid. Or better yet maybe the amateurs could just jump out of the plane with a broken parachute and figgure it out on their own.
/nick

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You born mad ....
by sidey / February 5, 2006 10:22 PM PST

.... or are you just mad at everyone.

There's a lot of maybes there. Seems to me if NetSysILM didn't provide an alternate answer because he wasn't sure of one then why claim to be able to set right inaccurate statements, but didn?t because he can't be bothered.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. Lot of talk, but all guess work. You had a lot to say in previous posts and I agreed with more than you might think. You also contributed something positive despite that chip on your shoulder.

The point Mark is making is simple enough. If a person disagrees then right here is their chance to put up. I don't take much to say someone's wrong ... any fool can do that. But what separates a foolish statement from an informative one is substance and anyway you cut it NetSysILM said nothing of substance. You're taking this out of context Nick and for what its worth you're destroying anything positive you may have contributed because you're now coming across as someone spoiling for a fight and it looks pretty lame ... but I dare say you don't care much.

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Well I guess you are kind of right
by nstaff / February 6, 2006 5:40 PM PST
In reply to: You born mad ....

As much as I'd rather think otherwise in some ways I am spoiling for a fight and do have a chip on my shoulder. Quite possibly Mark was right about NetSys - I really don't know. What I guess set me off about Marks post (and why I chose to play the maybe game with netsys) is that I believe very strongly that netsys was right and Mark well wasn't. So to me it was like even if Netsys didn't back up his remarks he still was right and even though mark did back up his he still was wrong. I then got even angrier because again, here was a moderator who people are listening to, simply because of the M next to his name and look what he's doing - he's ripping into the guy who posted the right answer and at the same time he's validating the wrong answer by saying things like how good the original post was. Then I also notice how Netsys didn't reply and to me that meant frustration as opposed to some loudmouth looking for a fight.

The other reasons Marks post really pushed my buttons was because his comment about not critisizing something unless you can offer a sollution is an oft repeated comment on message boards and in my opinion it's sole use is as a defensive parry and it's effect spins the discussion away from it's original point (much like it has here). I'm not saying Mark thought it through like that - what I'm saying is that that phrase along with many others has become an acceptable response in the online culture and everyone nods their heads in agreement "yeah man, don't critisize if you can't suggest something better" but no one has ever stopped to think about what that means because if they did they'd never say it again. I mean really - do you honestly not want to know if somethings wrong if you can't immediately be told what's right?

Anyway, once again I'm defending myself for having tried to help (which I could have told you would happen), just like I could have told you no one would point out to Mark that "if he says nothing about why he believes the answer to be RIGHT, then his post pretty much becomes ineffective as well". And saying "the answer given is excellent. It is well thought out, helpful, easy to read, accurate, and informative." is not only not the truth, but it's also just as empty and useless and unsupported as saying something is wrong and it sucks. Hence the subject line of my last post.
/nick

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Not trying to be right Nick ... just suggesting an option
by sidey / February 7, 2006 1:06 AM PST

Yeah well hey that's ok. Its your opinion and like ive said many a time before, we're all entitled to that ... even when we're wrong.

I personally think its a valid point that Mark makes and I don't think it's a comment that is especially unique to a moderator. It to me is a comment made by one person, directed at another person, who either chose not to defend themselves for their own reasons or may well have not returned to this forum topic and is unaware of Marks response.

To be honest though I find there is to some degree a contradiction in your views when you defend someone for making a critical statement without backing it up with detail and yet you pointedly almost demand detail in another post titled "Please post statistics".

In the end, I don't really care one way or the other. I guess the point I want to make is you're not going to be able to stop people getting it wrong. Like everything else people are not perfect. Picking fights and banging your head against the wall is hazardous to your health as well as anti social. Playing well with others is less dangerous and energetic. Just a suggestion.

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you just want to argue, but you'll never see it
by nstaff / February 7, 2006 5:40 PM PST

I'm going to say this as simply as I possibly can so at least this way if anyone disagrees I'll know they just want to fight and don't have any intrest in understanding each other.

You say Mark makes a valid point. What was Marks point? It was that to just say something is bad without giving any reasons is worthless and empty. Mark then goes on to say he thought the post was good and then he gave no reasons. Mark did the very same thing he was critisizing someone else for. Whats worse is that mark, out of anger, ego, or whatever, derails the right answer and puts his wrong answer back on top. There is no getting around this.

Now in regards to your reference to my other post. See you are getting confused here what the issue is - I never defended netsys because I'm am advocate of not supporting your opinions, I defended him BECAUSE HE WAS RIGHT. See and contrary to what anyone here wants to pretend, not supporting your right answer doesn't make you wrong (this isnt 7th grade math and you dont lose points for not showing your work). Likewise, you can deliver your wrong answer like a shakespeare sonet and it'll be no less wrong and no more useful. The thread where I asked for statistics was one where someone was making ludicrous claims and it's obvious they're wrong and my asking for statistics was because I know he can't produce any (oh yeah and also because he talked about them).

Anyway dont bother responding because I wont be back

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