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Rich Brown, desktops and PC components editor LIVE!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 27, 2008 4:28 AM PDT

Ask the Editors Live!

Topic: Desktop PCs

Got desktop PC questions? Or how about computer hardware component questions? Well if you do, you're in luck!

For one whole hour on Thursday, June 5, from 11 a.m. to noon Pacific Time, you'll have your chance to chat live and ask question about computer desktops with our special host, CNET senior editor Rich Brown. He'll be here to answer your questions on living-room PCs, Windows gaming hardware, or other desktop- and component-related matters, and much more. So get your questions ready for Rich and see you at this event!

Click here for upcoming Ask the Editors Live events and past transcripts of events.

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Welcome
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 3:56 AM PDT

Thanks for coming. Ready when you are.

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New PC or Keep old one
by mattburley1993 / June 5, 2008 4:04 AM PDT

I have a 5 year old Dell Dimension 4500 computer. It has a P4 2.4GHz and 1.25GB RAM. I am looking to either upgrade the parts or get a new computer. Do you think I should get a new computer or upgrade this one? The computer is fine for me but when I do my web editing it slows down a little bit.

Thanks Rich!

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Go new
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:06 AM PDT
In reply to: New PC or Keep old one

eMachines, Dell, and HP have decent new systems for between $300 and 600 these days, and they're all likely faster and have more features than that old Dell. I'd definitely go new.

Here's a few recent ones: http://reviews.cnet.com/4321-3118_7-6619780.html

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SATA and IDE hard drives
by apw76006 / June 5, 2008 4:09 AM PDT

Rich,

My PC uses SATA hard drives but I noticed that there is an open IDE port on the motherboard; does this mean that I can also connect IDE hard drives or should the IDE port only be used for devices such as optical drives?

Thanks in advance,
Adrian

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Depends on the motherboard
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:13 AM PDT

But I believe in general that if you have a single IDE port, as long as you stick with one type of device it should work with whatever you connect to it.

Just don't try to put a hard drive and an optical drives on the same port using a splitter.

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eMachines T5254 with IDE Hard Disks
by mattburley1993 / June 5, 2008 4:13 AM PDT

If I purchased the eMachines T5254 would I still be able to use my IDE hard disks with it or doesn't it support it?

Thanks Rich!

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Doubtful
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:16 AM PDT

We sent the system back to eMachines so I can't look at it any more, but if I recall right it only has a single IDE channel, which is currently occupied by the DVD-burner. Might work if you disconnect the DVD drive, but no promises.

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Portege R500
by Fratsooner / June 5, 2008 4:15 AM PDT

I saw that Toshiba came out with a new version that comes standard with 2GB of RAM and has Windows XP, instead of Vista. What do you think about this laptop? Is there anything coming down the pike from an ultraportable standpoint worth waiting on?

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Not hardware, but Windows Vista 32bit or 64bit?
by sbaxter / June 5, 2008 4:15 AM PDT

Looking to buy a new PC soon, but I'm not too sure exactly which Vista version I should go with, 32bit or 64bit?

What are the benefits of going 64bit, or should I even care? When will it make a difference? Sorry confused and need some explanations.

Thanks in advance, Rich!
SB

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More RAM
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:18 AM PDT

64-bit matters most right now if you need more memory. 32-bit only uses between 2.5GB-3.5GB at most (depending on other hardware). But for 4GB of RAM or more (digital media editing, games) you'll want 64-bit. Just make sure any software you need is 64-bit compatible or has a 64-bit version.

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DDR3 Memory
by beatgoliath / June 5, 2008 4:15 AM PDT

I have a Dell Precision 350 with a P4 2.8 GHz, 512 MB of DDR3 RAM, and an ATi 8600 series video card.

Is it worth upgrading the graphics card and replacing the motherboard to use, maybe 4 GB of DDR2 RAM?

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Assuming it's for graphics...
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:21 AM PDT
In reply to: DDR3 Memory

When I think Precision I think workstation, so I assume that's what this is for. You can get much faster 3D cards that that one for $100-$250 right now, so yup, upgrade that 3D card. As for the RAM, if you're in Vista you want 2GB or more, but you can't use all 4GB unless you're in 64-bit Vista. RAM speed probably doesn't matter too much right now, but DDR3 prices are coming down, so if you can find a deal, go for it.

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Media Center streaming to other PCs.
by ebmace / June 5, 2008 4:16 AM PDT

Have a new Entertainment desktop PC which is setup in the home office. Never before experienced Media Center but am intreagued by the TIVO-like functionality.

Wondering if I can stream shows wirelessly (and how) that I recorded on that new PC to a WinXP Home laptop elsewhere in the home?

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Need a centralized device
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:25 AM PDT

Remote desktop is a possibility, but it not really for video. Typically you need a centralized device or a media center extender. A Windows Home Server would be a good way to go.

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Crysis Crisis
by beatgoliath / June 5, 2008 4:17 AM PDT

What PC is best to run Crysis at Maximum settings? Does it exist?

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Well...
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Crysis Crisis

We just reviewed a $7,800 Alienware desktop that could only hit 40 frames per second on Crysis at 1,920 x 1,080. So...no.

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Video Cards. SLI or single.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 5, 2008 4:18 AM PDT

For right or wrong SLI setups still tax the most ardent gamer. My advice is to use the highest card they can afford on Tomshardware's Best Video Card For The Money (all work as single cards) for whatever latest list they have.

So far that's saved them from hardware or driver hell many times and games play very well.

I don't get why SLI is out except for bleeding edge or gamers that must get over 120 FPS.

Am I missing something?

PS. I like this Crysis tweak page -> http://www.tweakguides.com/Crysis_1.html

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SLI makes sense for two reasons
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:28 AM PDT

1: Bleeding edge users.

2: Upgrades. If you have an SLI motherboard and one 3D card, you can benefit by adding another, in some cases.

In general, you're probably better off spending more on the more expensive single card than shelling out for two midrange cards.

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CAT5 Capabilities
by Keithbambam321 / June 5, 2008 4:29 AM PDT

I have a CAT5 receptacle in my living room and in my computer room. Can I connect my PC and TV to these seperate receptacles and join my TV and PC? (Surf web on TV, Browse and listen to music from my PC through my TV, etc.?) Or would I still need a slingbox?

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Need video input
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:32 AM PDT
In reply to: CAT5 Capabilities

The best way to link the two is via a video input. DVI, HDMI, etc. HP has some purpose-made TVs that will connect to your PC via wireless networking, but there's a software layer on the TV that makes the connection. I don't believe what you're describing will work.

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Building My Own System
by beatgoliath / June 5, 2008 4:29 AM PDT

What are decent specs for a system building progect? I basically type scripts, surf the web, watch movies online, but my wife is a Sims 2 FANATIC and she is now in to First Person Shooters? She wants me to build her a rig? How can I run the Sims 2 (and ultimately sims 3) without breaking the bank?

Thsnks for your help! You answers to other questions, including my own, is spot on!

For Editor of the month? I'm thinking you...

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Shucks...
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Building My Own System

This Maingear system might give you a good guide: http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/maingear-prelude-amd-phenom/4505-3118_7-33056203.html

It's about $1,500, and will run pretty much anything. Can probably drop the CPU down to dual core and save some money, too.

This Dell gives a good idea of an Intel/Nvidia-based spec in the same price range.

For both you can drop the CPU down to a dual-core chip with a similar clock speed and probably be okay, too.

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user accounts in vista.
by djbrigidope / June 5, 2008 4:31 AM PDT

my friend is running vista basic on an older/oldish dell laptop.
(inspiron processor). logging into her primary admin level account is fine, however any additional account and vista seems to lock up requiring her to hard restart. i think at one time she had norton antivirus on there.. btu has since removed it. any ways to correct this without having to reload vista? thanks in advance- djbrigidope.

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Registry cleaner?
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:39 AM PDT

Shot in the dark here, but Norton may have left something in the registry that interferes with the account administration process.

Here's one that might work: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13845_3-9931230-58.html?tag=blog.3

If you can't track the problem down, can always back up the data, restore the original image (Dell usually includes restore disks), and start from scratch.

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What about DLNA? (cat5 and more?)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 5, 2008 4:38 AM PDT

While DLNA is not exactly on topic it does want to break down the digital barriers we see today. That is you get to watch your video, see pictures and play your MP3s across all the DLNA enabled devices.

As you can imagine. DRM proponents don't like it.

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no doubt
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:41 AM PDT

and as always, it's all about the content. i'm all for forward-looking tech specs and industry coalitions, but as long as the content providers make you jump through hoops, others' efforts can only help so much.

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CNET TV
by mattburley1993 / June 5, 2008 4:39 AM PDT

Hey!

Will you still be doing the CNET TV video reviews for Desktops, or will Joseph Kaminski be doing it?

I will miss your cool reviews if you arent doing that anymore.

Thanks!

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Team effort
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:43 AM PDT
In reply to: CNET TV

Joe and I are both tackling desktop video reviews. Hoping to get a few shot this week, but it's hard to get in the studio sometimes.

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Potential Apple Convert
by beatgoliath / June 5, 2008 4:43 AM PDT

I have been avoiding Macs for a long time. I have friends who swear by Apple, saying its better for graphics, media, and desktop publishing and video editing. What's your take? I hear they even run windows better than Micro$oft. What gives?

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Apple is great
by Sue.Volter CNET staff / June 5, 2008 4:47 AM PDT

The iMac is probably the best non-gaming $1,000-$2,000 desktop on the market right now. Ever since Apple went to Intel it leveled the performance playing field with PCs. I recommend it for mainstream users without reservation.

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