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Need to buy new computer

by pack88 / September 7, 2006 12:43 AM PDT

Have to buy a new pc, Best Buy has 2 pc's in the price I am looking at $500-600 (tower only, I have a monitor etc.). They are emachines T6536 or HP Pavilion Media Center a1517x Desktop PC. Specs are:

HP 1517
PentiumD 805 (S) DC 2.66 GHz
1 GB memory
200gb disk

emachines T6536
AMD Athlon? 64 Processor 3800+ 2.4GHz
1GB memory
250GB disk

Can't find any reviews on the HP product

Any input on choice would be much appreciated.

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My thoughts
by john_mcdoogle / September 7, 2006 2:08 AM PDT

I'm not a fan of either brand, or any other brand you'll find at Best Buy or it's compatriots. I'm more of a build it yourself or buy a Mac sort of person.

That all being said, the HP has a potential advantage in being a dual core chip, but the eMachines has a 64-bit chip. At the present time, both features are pretty much useless, however that may soon change.

Only the 64-bit version of Vista will be able to play back the new gen high def videos that you will be seeing in the form of HD-DVD and BluRay movie discs in coming months. However, a dual core chip is likely to last a little longer when it comes to raw performance. Especially as software developers get better about taking advantage of multi-core chips.

It's kind of a crapshoot either way, but either system will probably last you for a good 2-3 years if you aren't into gaming. If you plan on making ANY hardware alterations, aside from adding more RAM or another hard drive, then the eMachines would probably have an edge. With the HP being a Media Center PC, your hardware options are going to be limited significantly. More so by virtue of it being an HP, which has never been known for making systems that are easily customized. Neither company has exactly been known for producing high quality systems either. HP was a bottom feeder when it merged with Compaq, another bottom feeder, some years ago, and eMachines was right there with them before being bought by Gateway, which has been desperately clinging to life for years. They haven't done anything to improve the eMachines line that I've been able to tell.

Dell is a slightly better option, though they have a problem with large batches of systems having problems due to faulty components. I think the jury is still out on Lenovo's takeover of IBM's computer business.

Apple has always been a maker of high quality systems, though a Mac isn't always an option for some people. The Mac Mini's are great little systems. Small and quiet, they're essentially a headless laptop stuffed into a small desktop case. They're a little expensive, but you do get quite a bit for your money. And you can't find a better desktop OS on the market today than OS X. If you're looking for just a system for light office work, like word processing, and web browsing, it's hard to beat a Mini. They even make great home theater hubs, since they're small and quiet, they're easy to put somewhere out of the way, they don't make a lot of white noise due to fans keeping things cool, and they have one of the best remote systems of any home theater PC.

All of these are just some additional options to consider. It's your money, so get whichever sounds best to you.

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Vista's 32-bit counterpart...
by John.Wilkinson / September 7, 2006 4:39 AM PDT
In reply to: My thoughts

I too read the articles that the 32-bit version of Vista would not be able to handle the new hi-def video, but several Microsoft insiders, including a couple Vista developers, have said that those statements were/are untrue and a result of a miscommunication. (There seems to be a lot of that going on.) Microsoft's official statement is that Vista, (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, will not restrict the playback of media content...that will be left up to the companies that provide your DVD playing software, such as Intervideo. In short, the 32-bit version will handle HD-DVD and Blueray provided you keep up on your updates and have compatible viewing hardware/software installed, just as is the case with DVDs on XP.

That said, I agree with John about neither being a clear winner...both are considered budget lines/brands. However, I would take the HP over the Emachines. Why? It may have a smaller hard drive but that processor does far better in the performance charts than the Athlon64 3800+. (Click here for the comparison chart.) It's also important to note that the Pentium D does support 64-bit processing, meaning the Athlon64 3800+ has no advantage over the Pentium D 805. Thus, the HP a1517x is by far the better deal, despite the fact that it has stricter requirements when it comes to hardware upgrades. (Media Center PCs are funny in that respect.)

Hope this helps,
John

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Thanks
by pack88 / September 7, 2006 4:59 AM PDT

Thanks for the replies, very timely and informative.

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