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PC for Engineering Student

by Gardyloo / February 9, 2005 1:25 AM PST

We are parents looking for a PC for an engineering undergraduate student. The school recommends a PC over a Mac because of the availability of engineering programs for PC?s. The school also recommends at a minimum:
Pentium 4, 3 GHz minimum
120GB Hard Drive
DVD CD-RW combo
DVD burner
Ethernet card
Windows XP Professional OS

Application software can be purchased through the school. LCD monitor is recommended to save space.
Last year they partnered with Dell, and have 8% discount pricing. We have two Dells at home and are pleased with them, but we?ve been hearing some bad things about their customer service lately. We realize that most people complain, but very few compliment, so we take the complaints with a grain of salt.
We ran into some info on a Sony VAIO VGC-RA820G Digital Studio PC for $1099 through Amazon. Although designed for media use, it sounds like a great machine for the price although we?d need to add the monitor and Ethernet card. The USB ports it has on the front would be a nice convenience not on our current machines. Ideally, we?d like a machine that would have room to grow instead of just meeting minimum requirements. The price and Sony?s reputation really caught our attention.
Can we get some input and recommendations from this group?

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PC for Engineering Studen
by jcrobso / February 9, 2005 1:40 AM PST

There are some who have had experece with Sony I will let them respond.
Since you have an engineering student maybe he should build his own PC to the above specs. As a student he can get XP Pro for $70. Buy buliding you can easly exceed the
min specs for a $1000.00 . John
Check out

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PC for Engineering Student
by Gardyloo / February 9, 2005 2:11 AM PST

Building her own is a brilliant idea, and something she'd enjoy; she likes to make and fix things. We'll pass the links on. Realistically though, she's so busy in school that there just isn't enough time unless she dropped a class (not good).

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by jcrobso / February 9, 2005 2:15 AM PST
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Dear John (jcrobso)
by Gardyloo / March 16, 2005 8:01 AM PST
In reply to: P.S.

Dear John, (jcrobso)
It's been about a month, and she's decided to take your advice to build her own. She's quite excited about it and is reading the on-line manuals you linked to. The Ops folks in my office are going to guide her a bit; they've all built plenty of PC's themselves, and have to service what they build so there's plenty of hands on experience.
Thanks for the excellent suggestion!

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She may desire to take
by John Robie / March 16, 2005 9:28 AM PST
In reply to: Dear John (jcrobso)
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Other Recommendations?
by pepsi216 / March 23, 2005 8:01 AM PST
In reply to: She may desire to take

Thanks John, I'm the student and I signed up for the CNET class you recommended.

I'm wondering what you'd recommend parts-wise for a system with the specs I need to bring it in around $1000. Many reviews seem to be for gaming components, and I don't game much. We're in California and have access to Fry's, with prices are similar to newegg. But you have to know exactly what you want; their sales staff aren't much help.

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Build with help from CNet class..
by John Robie / March 23, 2005 12:26 PM PST
In reply to: Other Recommendations?

Well, I am really not the one you want to talk to on this, and suggest you discuss with the teacher at the CNet school. One thing I am surprised is that your college didn't mention anything in their minimum recommendations about video graphics. Sort of like a lot of advertisements for computers, avoiding one of the most important 3 things IMO for computers.
Re my post here:

Since Intel recently came out with their Pent4 6xx series with 64-bit, and 2MB of L2 cache I have to go with the future, and think so with an engineering student. Although AMD Athlon has had the 64-bit support for some time and may be slightly cheaper, I still lean towards Intel for its other features. The Intel CPU can be a

Pent4 5xx series like the Intel LGA775 socket, Pent4 530J, 3.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 1MB L2 cache for $180.

However, I would spend the $57 extra and get the
Pent4 6xx series like the Intel LGA775 socket, Pent4 630, 3.0GHz, 800MHz FSC, 2MB L2 cache, EM64T support, for $237.

Gee, you want to build a $1000 computer,

$237 for the CPU
$148 for the Motherboard
$ 34 for extra cooling (a precaution)
$135 aprx for 1GB DDR2 RAM (may be able to get cheaper)
$ 85 for Western Digital 120GB 7200RPM HD
Total so far $639, that leaves $361 for

Graphics Card = (Well, can get less expensive PCI-Express around $100, but for this system I like the Nvidia GeForce 6600GT PCI-Express aprx $180)

Case for all this =
Power Supply, Quality 400 - 550 Watt =
DVD Burner (2nd Bay) =
Ethernet Card =
Win XP Pro OS = Aprx $150 - $185 (legal)
IEEE 1394 Adapter port(s)
USB 2.0 connector should be in mobo...don't know about cable wiring for them to front, etc..if included..
Card Reader =
Modem/Router = may not need for college
Keyboard =
Mouse =
Floppy Drive (maybe) =

Opps, almost forgot, they recommended a LCD Monitor = Can usually find a inexpensive 17" like see there are 17" Samsung model 710N with 12ms for $203 - $219.

You can get by with a $50 printer if needed.

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XP Pro Student Version
by Gardyloo / March 22, 2005 3:12 AM PST
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XP Pro Student Version
by jcrobso / March 22, 2005 11:56 PM PST
In reply to: XP Pro Student Version

It was on ebay. John

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Still the best buy for the money..
by John Robie / February 9, 2005 6:03 AM PST

to include a 19" LCD Flat Panel Monitor at $1199, but it may end today on Dell top series (8400) computers. Suggest you contact Dell to see if today is the last day. And yes the griping about Dell can be taken with a grain of salt. There are millions who do not read these help forums, have no problems with their computers factory, so do not post they are not having problems with Dell, Gateway, HP, Emachine, etc.

Goto and key in this "E-Value Code" in the box marked as such:

02624 - D50214H


Dimension 8400
Intel Pent 4 Processor 540 (3.20Ghz) with HT Technology
1MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB
WinXP Home Edition Operating System
1GB RAM, Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM
160GB Hard Drive 7200RPM
Free Upgrade to 19" Flt Panel (E193FP)monitor ($389value)
128MB PCI Express x16 ATI RADEON X300SE Graphics Card
Dual Drives:
Free 16x Max CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) for 2nd bay
3-year Limited Warranty(instead of normal 1 year), At Home Service and Tech Support & night & weekend.
Free Shipping 3-5 day (99 value) On line purchase only
Dell A-425 Speakers w/Subwoofer
Dell Quietkey Keyboard
Dell 2-button scroll mouse
Word Perfect, Powerful Word Processing
McAfee Security Center with Virus Scan, Firewall,Spyware Removal, 15 months.
Norton Internet Security 2004 - AntiVirus, Firewall, Anti Spam, 15 months.
Paint Shop Pro Studio Trial, Photo Album
Dell Jukebos - easy to use music player & CD buring software.
56K PCI Data/Fax Modem
Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0
Integrated Gigibit Ethernet

Can add or substitute for extra $$:

Sub Operating System for Media Center 2005 Edition $31.
Add Remote Cohntrol $23
Increase Hard Drive from 160GB to 250GB add $64.
Add floppy drive $24.
Increase Video Card (already has PCI-Express card)not necessarly unless intensive gamer) - several- I like for the money...256 PCI Express x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-Out) NVidia Geforce 6800 add $144.
Add IEEE1394 adapter $24. It comes with Audio Card Upgrade to SB Audogy 2 for $36.

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Yep, ended yesterday, cost several $100's more now.
by John Robie / February 11, 2005 2:44 AM PST


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idk if your still hunting
by ozos / March 25, 2005 9:48 AM PST

i'd suggest building the following system (with parts from

AMD Athlon64 3700+
(very fast CPU, i'd say it'll whip the P4 560 in any bench you can find, and probably ride the 570)

DFI LanParty UT nF3 250GB


CPU Cooling:

CPU Cooling fan:

Video Card:
GeForce 6800 128MB by XFX

i'm going to suggest the Lian-Li PC-65...but you can really get w/e you want (as long as it has at least 2 case fans)

Antec NeoPower 480W

and then of course w/e monitor you want
MS WindowsXP Pro SP2 (if you can get student discout do it)

i'd also suggest Norton System Works '05 and Norton Personal Firewall '05

academic versions of both exist
newegg no longer carries them

oh yeah

the entire thing should be less than $2000 including a 19" CRT (while they say LCD to save space, i say Flat CRT for two reasons: A) CRT's are better for graphics/gaming B) they save money (and heat the room, which also saves

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