Need a new computer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sk1wbw, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. macrumors 68030

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Suffolk, Virginia
    #1
    So my Windows box is about 4 or 5 years old, and it wasn't a ballsy box to begin with. So the wife said she'd help buy a new one for Christmas for me.

    My main objectives are at least an i5 processor and an nVidia chip. RAM and harddrive specs are gonna be standard pretty much anywhere these days, so that's not an issue.

    I found an Alienware which has these standards. The low end has an i5 and an nVidia chip with 1 gig of VRAM. 4 gigs of RAM and a 1TB drive. By the time I get it, Windows 8 will be standard. Is 4 gigs of RAM enough for Windows 8, or would there be a noticeable lag there?

    Should I just spend some extra dough and get the Alienware desktop with 8 gigs of RAM instead?
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    mentaluproar

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    #2
    If you want OSX, buy a mac. If you want anything else, build it yourself.

    www.newegg.com

    enjoy.
     
  3. macrumors 68020

    LostSoul80

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    #3
    4 GB should be plenty for Windows 8.
    I'd upgrade to 8 GB of RAM for future proofing, even if they are a lot. It all comes to your use of the computer. Do you want a gaming computer? If so, having more RAM would probably help.
     
  4. Guest

    eric/

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Location:
    Ohio, United States
    #4
    I would start with 6GB at least.

    What's the budget and what are you planning on doing with it?
     
  5. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    #5
    Which type of Computer you need?

    Kindly define your specification,
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #6
    What is your budget? That Alienware may not give you the most bang for your buck and building your own may in fact get you some better parts than the Alienware for a similar price.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 68030

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Suffolk, Virginia
    #7
    Sorry, I don't build them, I just use them. :)

    I'm trying not to go over 7 or 800 or so and so far that Alienware has what I need and want. I don't do any gaming but I want an nVidia card, the POS PC I have now doesn't have one and it is very noticeable. I was wondering about the 4 gigs of RAM, but I might go with the mid range model with 8. We'll see.

    Thanks for the input, too.
     
  8. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    #8
    Stay away from Alienware. They charge insane prices for things you can get much cheaper.

    Building your own PC is super easy nowadays, and there are hundreds of guides online. By buiding it yourself you can customise the components to match your needs exactly.

    Building your own rig is cheap too. Even if you use the same components and whatnot as the Alienware rig you're looking at, the price for you should be much lower. Keep in mind, Alienware's profits come exclusively from assembling parts (Software provided by Microsoft, Hardware by Intel/Amd, Nvidia, Corsair etc.) - and by assembling it yourself you slash this cost.

    Plus - there's always the satisfaction of having built it yourself ;)
     
  9. stonyc, Nov 1, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012

    macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #9
    Building a PC is incredibly easy and there are huge dedicated communities that will help newbie builders like yourself.

    http://www.hardforum.com Look in the general hardware sub-forum for advice on parts.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc My new go-to place, one of their members even built an automated parts picker based on price and performance needs.

    I'm not trying to persuade you to do something you're not comfortable with... but building your own PC can be a highly rewarding experience that can not only save you a good deal of cash over proprietary systems, but can often net you better parts than what you might find in a similarly priced Alienware, HP, etc.

    Oh, and I also noticed that you said that you don't do any gaming... in that case, an Alienware is probably even a worse choice for your needs. They are more likely to be overpriced for their components given that they are marketed towards gamers.

    EDIT:
    Take a look at this build on buildapc: http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/128qvo/build_ready_800_gaming_pc_first_build_ever/

    Compare that to the Alienware that you found, and I would guess that this build beats it component for component.

    PLUS you get a 2GB video card, 8GB memory, and a 64gb SSD for your boot disk.

    EDIT2: Forgot to mention that the build I linked didn't include Windows 8, you can get an OEM disk from Newegg for $99 extra, and if you have an EDU email you can probably qualify for an educational discount straight from Microsoft.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    aarond12

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Dallas, TX USA
    #10
    Windows?

    If you really want to get a new computer, build your own and use components that can be used to build a Hackintosh. This way, when you come to your senses, you can erase Windows and install Mac OS X.

    http://tonymacx86.blogspot.com/search/label/CustoMac
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Location:
    Halfway between the Equator and North Pole
    #11
    Check out Velocity Micro: http://www.velocitymicro.com/ and their holiday edition unit, for $599. Offers lots of customization options.

    Like you, I don't want to build my own - but I don't want to deal with the crapware other manufacturers install or the low wattage power supplies Alienware and Dell use. So Velocity Micro is looking pretty good to me. My other option is having one built for me.

    Also want no part of Windows 8, since I want my existing software to run on any new rig.
     
  12. macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #12
    The hardest part of building a PC is buying parts that are compatible with each other (ie, buying the mobo with the right socket for your processor, etc). Thankfully that's also the easiest one to get help with thanks to forums like this or numerous other techie forums.

    Putting it together is easy, there's not much to screw up. If it looks like it fits in there, and it does fit in there, that's where it goes. There's really no ambiguity, it should be painfully obvious figuring out where the RAM goes, where the PCI cards go, where the SATA cables go, etc, just by looking. If you have a screwdriver, a bit of common sense, and the ability to use Google if you do get stuck, you can build a PC.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 68030

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Suffolk, Virginia
    #13
    Thanks for the tips, guys. I'll check it out. :)
     
  14. macrumors 601

    Plutonius

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #14
    It's similar to buying Monster cables when you need a cable (i.e not a good value). As others have stated, avoid Alienware and build you own computer to get what you want for the best price.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 68030

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Suffolk, Virginia
    #15
    Actually, the Alienware that I saw at Best Buy had more specs for cheaper than the other computers listed here.

    So now it's even worse as my internal cd rom drive in my computer **** the bed last night as I was burning an ISO image of Ubuntu. So now I'm in even a worse situation! LOL Dammit this pos I'm using is a horse and needs to be shot.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #16
    Have a link to the computer online? Because the i5 that I found on bestbuy.com didn't beat the one that I linked spec for spec.

    The other thing that you have to remember is that Best Buy will sometimes sell their computers with the software that they shipped with... at they very least, there might be some lag time for when they install Windows 8 on their machines.

    The other other thing you have remember about Best Buy is that their machines are going to come loaded with literally tons of crapware. Also, beware their Geek Squad "optimization" packages... if they're still doing that, whatever they install in almost all cases can and should be done by you... for free.
     
  17. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    #17
    This! You shouldn't even consider alienware as something you want. Overpriced garbage.
     
  18. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #18
    Alienware sucks. They were marked up and overpriced for a long time, but since Dell bought them, they've gotten even worse.

    You'll save at least a few hundred dollars building the same machine yourself.
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 68030

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Suffolk, Virginia
    #19
    Crapware I can uninstall, that's no problem. And I can maintain a computer, that is easy too.

    Here's the one I was looking at. Alienware

    I think I misread the lowend model. I thought it had an i5 but it doesn't. I'm not too much of a geek here, so I don't know the differences between the power supplies and some of the exact specs on CPUs.

    ----------

    I know Dell doesn't make Alienware, they just bought the company. Has the quality really done downhill? I wouldn't touch a dell branded computer with a 20 foot cattle prod. I've had them and they are really ******. However, if you want an awesome Linux box, they can't be beat.
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    mentaluproar

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    #20
    Agreed. Dells run linux very well. Aside from that, they are nothing special.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #21
    Let's go spec-by-spec against the Reddit build that I linked, well at least as much as we can since Alienware/Best Buy are pretty sparse with some details:

    CPU: Same
    RAM: Same amount, could nitpick about brands/reliability but won't for now
    HDD: Same amount/speed, see RAM for additional comments
    GPU: The video card in the Alienware is a generation behind, I would have hoped for at least an Nvidia 6XX by this point... that said, the 7850 is a superior card to the 545 by a good deal (source: http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/graphics-cards,1.html), check the various benchmarks there for more details, but simply put you are getting a current-generation video card with 2GB of memory versus a last-generation video card with half the memory
    PSU: I don't know Dell's OEM for power supplies, but PC Power & Cooling is very well respected brand for PSUs. There are better choices out there that I have personally gone with for my recent builds, but you could do a lot worse than the one linked in the Reddit build.
    Peripherals: personal preference, but for the most part we'll call this a wash

    Other:
    For $150 less, the Reddit build beats that Alienware you linked in its GPU by a huge margin, and I would trust the PC Power and Cooling PSU to last longer and be more efficient than something Dell shoved into their computer. Then let's not forget:

    In that Reddit build, you are also getting an SSD.

    Let me say that again, for $150 less... you are getting a better GPU, likely a better PSU... AND AN SSD. Sorry for the caps.

    I'm sorry, but that Alienware is just a bad deal. Even when you add the cost of Windows 8 to that Reddit build, you'll still save $50 or so and have significant upgrades in some of the core components.
     
  22. macrumors 65816

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #22
    "come to your senses" is maybe a bit rude, but this is very good advice.

    When I was building PCs I always used Asus mobos, but Gigabyte (highly favored by the Hackintosh crowd) is an excellent company and you won't go wrong with their stuff.

    If you never think about running OS X on what you have, you've lost nothing, so it seems like a no-brainer to me -- especially given that you've come to a Mac place for advice.

    Building is way easier than you might be thinking (as others have said). It's just snapping parts into place, except for fitting the CPU and its thermal paste. But even that's not really difficult.

    This week I had to change out a video board on a PC I built for a friend in 2004 -- I used first-line components and a really nice Lian Li black "quiet" case, so it's been going along happily since then. It's not nearly as quiet as my Mac Pro, but the PC Power & Cooling power supply is pretty quiet.
     
  23. macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #23
    The CPU isn't even that hard if you get a retail box... paste comes pre-spread and the retail cooler is quite respectable these days. Referring to Intel CPUs.

    RE: My previous post, you could even take the SSD out and save an additional $80... which then puts that Reddit build approximately $230 under that Alienware that you linked, OP. That's not chump change you'd be saving there... considering that the components listed are probably equal to or better than what were in that Alienware.

    And, also consider that those parts in that Reddit build could be switched around for some even better parts still... and STILL come under the price point for that Alienware.

    It's not about "coming to your senses"... it's your money, you do what you want with it... but I think it's pretty conclusive that you'll get a lot more bang for your buck, and most likely save some money at the same time, to build your own computer with parts that meet or exceed the parts in that Alienware.

    It's also a good learning experience... seriously.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #24
    Let's build a PC here, I'm sure others could find alternatives to the parts I picked for better bang/buck... but I've had good experiences with these brands:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mBoo

    CPU
    Not knowing the exact part in the Alienware, we're going with the i5 because you were enamored with the i5 originally. Plus, we want to match or exceed the Alienware part-for-part as much as possible.

    CPU Cooler
    None needed, the retail CPU kit will come with a pretty respectable CPU cooler itself. If you want to go after-market but still get some good price/performance... the Cooler Master Hyper Plus has been my go-to cooler for my past 2-3 builds ($30 at Newegg).

    Motherboard
    I've had good experiences with ASRock. Gigabyte and Asus are also good brands. I've not had much experience with some of the other manufacturers out there. You're getting one of the most recent chipsets here which should give you a measure of future-proofing. You don't get SLI or Crossfire with this board, but you said that you didn't game much, so no biggie. You can expand up to 32GB of memory if you ever chose to...

    Memory
    I like G.Skill, and at $37.99 you're getting to 2x4GB modules which leaves you room on that ASRock board to quickly expand to 16GB for only another $37.99.

    Video Card
    We're going to hammer that Alienware into the ground, so say hello to your XFX 7850 with 2GB of video RAM. XFX recently changed their warranty, but is still top-of-the-heap in terms of video card manufacturer warranties. Great company. An Nvidia 545? Hahahahahaha... oh, seriously?

    Storage
    YMMV with regards to hard drive brands... some swear by Hitachis, some swear by Samsungs. Western Digital is a known, respected brand and we're going with the Black edition to help keep your photos and videos safer... I have a 5 year old WD Black 500GB that is still kicking...

    Which brings me to the SSD... you want something to keep kicking for a long time... how about a kick to the face?!?! The Samsung 830's are still top-of-the line until their new models come out... and we're not mucking about with a 64GB drive here... we're going to 128GB. Put your OS and programs on this drive, store your pics, vids and documents on that WD Black... best of both worlds, my friend.

    You want to save some money? Fine, kick that SSD to the curve... you can live with that WD Black... but seriously... once you go SSD, you will never go back.

    Case
    It's a case. It holds your stuff. You want to keep your components nice and cool... if you wanted to go a little higher end, have a look at Corsair. They have done a great job in design ever since they entered the case market. Lian Li is also another well-respected name... some of their lower-end cases aren't as smooth as their higher-end cases, though. Cooler Master is another good name. Antec has been around the game for a long time, they know what they're doing.

    Power Supply
    650W is honestly, over-kill for your machine. But like I said before, we're going to hammer that Alienware into the ground... and I meant it. Gold has been tested the most, Silver second, and Bronze should meet and exceed your expectations. You could drop down to 400-550 watts and still comfortably supply power to your components, but at most you'll save maybe $20 under the one I included. Other good names in the PSU game: Antec, PC Power and Cooling, Seasonic, OCZ, and Silverstone.

    If you can spend the extra to go modular, it's worth considering... tidier cables = better air-flow = cooler PC. But if you invest a little time in tidying your cables (zip ties are your friend here!), you can achieve a nice environment for your internals.

    DVD
    It plays stuff. If you want to step up to Blu-Ray, expect to spend about $50-60 or so to get into the entry-level Blu-Ray burners. A little less for just a player.

    The Bottom Line
    $813 after promos and rebates.

    $730 without the SSD.

    Budget another $100 or so for Windows... either way, you're looking at $913 to completely blow that Alienware out of the the water, or $830 to meet and/or exceed that Alienware part-for-part.

    Either way, that Nvidia 545 is a deal-killer at that $899 price point... You're paying $899 for 1-2 year old technology, when for that same price or even less you'll be getting current-gen technology on each and every component in your machine.

    SSD or no SSD, this computer will take whatever you throw at it and laugh in your face for a good long time.
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #25
    IMO my custom watercooled PC cost me less than 1k to build. I loved it! Seriously it is not hard to build a PC, its easy than replacing the belt on your car or chasing after a loose dog. There are even youtube videos that go step by step, but overclockers and Tom's Hardware also have great tutorials. I had a M14X and it was definitely from Dell, because the damn thing had the blue screen of death once or twice a week! It was awful! I spent $1400 on it! I regretted that purchase, and that's what led to me DIY PC's and Mac's :D.


    Thomas
     

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