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Looking to buy a new computer

by eBayJunkie / November 20, 2007 4:38 AM PST

This question is for a friend. She has an old Windows '98 system (inherited) and wants to buy something new to use and for her kids to use to do homework. At this point she has no real idea what she will be using her computer for in the future. What would you recommend she buy? (What specs should she look for?) Thanks!

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Sorry, More Information Is Needed To Make A Good Suggestion
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / November 20, 2007 10:49 AM PST

It's like saying: I want to buy a new car but I'm not really sure what I'm going to use it for..

How much are they willing to spend?

How old are the kids and what type of homework do they have? Grade-School or College? Are they artists which might require graphics improvements or are they accountants?

Do they play graphic intensive games on the computer?

Either way, right now is a good time to be looking for computers.. Check the newspaper advertisements for "Black Friday".. You can frequently find great deals.

Hope this helps and let us know more.

Grif

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Here's what I think
by tekchallenged / November 20, 2007 1:53 PM PST

If your friend has no specific requirements and has been using Windows 98, just about any new computer will be a step up and she'll be able to do internet, documents, play music, etc.
IMO, it's not so much what she gets, but what she pays to get it. What I did when I was looking at computers was to do a rough table of ram/hard disk size/processor/graphics/other features/price and compared what you get for your money. She'll find that some computers will have a celeron processor/512k ram/60 Gb HDD and yet be a similar price to ones with a core2duo/1Gb/120 Gb. If she finds one with a big HDD, more ram and a lower price, go for that one..... (And, depending on where she lives, ask for stuff - ask for an extra stick of ram, or a bigger disk drive - it's a competitive market and those things might cost a fair bit to buy retail but at cost don't set a supplier back much....)
In general terms, I'd get one with 1Gb ram (2Gb if she gets Vista) and maybe a 120 Gb HDD. For processors, look up Wikipedia which will tell you which ones are later and faster (I don't think a regular user could tell the difference when just doing internet or typing assignments - it's when you start playing games with fancy graphics that you can notice - if the kids decide to take up some new videogame that needs the latest graphics card she'll probably be looking at a new computer whatever she gets now, because the games seem to require bigger and better with every new release.)
In general terms, I reckon your friend should just get the cheapest she can with as much as she can get for her money.

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Buying a new computer
by eBayJunkie / November 20, 2007 11:14 PM PST
In reply to: Here's what I think

Thanks for the reply. Her kids I believe are elementary and middle school. She uses a computer for work but it's basically one screen that she inputs information into.

I will tell her to make a check list to compare computers (like you mentioned) and look for price knowing that she will probably update or replace the system within 5 yrs. -- at which time she will know more what she is looking for and the kids will be older and will want more bells and whistles.

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They might not want bells and whistles
by tekchallenged / November 21, 2007 7:43 AM PST
In reply to: Buying a new computer

It is really only necessary to get a machine with a fast processor and a big graphics card if you want to play the latest games with huge demands on graphics, so if the kids don't get interested in those sorts of games, their needs might never increase. I'm using a secondhand Dell Pentium IV with 512k ram and I can play games (just not the latest, fanciest, ones), do internet, documents, store photos, it's got a tv in it, the works - you don't need much to do everything (you can even do all that on a Windows 98 machine....).
We read computer sites the equivalent of high-performance car magazines and start thinking we need to be driving a souped-up car, when for the most of us an old Toyota is all that we need to get from A to B.
The only other suggestion I have is to get any extras like a TV card when she buys it - she'll get the right type and won't find out down the track that they've changed the connectors and she can't buy one any more. Also if the kids want any games, get them straight away - they keep increasing the requirements and they discontinue them after a short time.

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