It's actually happening... the wife wants a PC </sigh>

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DCBass, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. DCBass macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Hey everyone,

    Not as big of a deal as the title sounds. Here's the deal:

    My wife is interested in getting a new pc laptop for grad school this Fall and this is what she's mostly decided on: the HP dv2000t.

    Here is the config we would order:
    1.83 Core Duo
    2x512 MB RAM
    80GB Hard Drive
    128MB NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 7200
    HP IMPRINT Finish + Microphone + Webcam
    DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
    Intel Wireless with Bluetooth
    Microsoft Works/Money ( i know works sucks. we can get office cheap through her work.)
    3-year HP Express Repair extended service plan

    My price: $1,194.98

    It seems to be a fine looking pc from what I can tell, but it's brand new, so there aren't really any reviews, except from this one guy's blog. Any thoughts regarding this model or hp's in general?

    Also, I haven't owned or maintained a pc in quite a while, and I want to make sure my wife is set up properly. What anitvirus, firewall, and other security programs should I install? We make favorite mac app lists all the time, but what are some must-have apps for Windows?

    a couple more questions:
    1) is it worth $75 to upgrade from the 1.83 to 2.0 Core Duo?
    2) should I get the "Genuine" Windows XP backup cd?
    3) is it worth the $25 to go from Intel GMA 950 to the 128MB nvidia listed above? she'll never put a game on there, but will it make a difference otherwise (e.g. future-proofing)?

    another thing, please no fanboyism. I understand and agree with most of the pro-mac arguments, and I obviously would prefer she got a macbook, but there's certainly no harm in having a 'mixed' household.

    Thanks in advance everyone for all your help.

  2. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    1) Sure, but if you are after bang for buck 3) is really really good.
    2) Definitely, Windows is usually stored on a hidden partition on your system drive these days thanks to Billg's paranoia
    3) YES!!!

    As for security what I'd recommend..

    1) AVG Free antivirus, very good for something that is free. I dare say it is better than Norton
    2) Acronis Trueimage, very handy app for restoring your windows back to a "known good" configuration
    3) Last but not least, MakeMeAdmin. It is not even an application, it is just a simple shell script.

    Ultimately it really depends on her usage profiles, if she is one who always downloads stuff and installs various Bonzi Buddy/Weather Bars on her computer, she'd face lots of trouble in Windows one way or the other. But if she has a somewhat fixed usage pattern and always uses the same few applications (ie: MS Office, and maybe a game of Freecell here and there, and maybe MSN with her friends) the recommended approach would be to...

    1) Upon receiving her computer, install the applications that she has decided she want to use
    2) Set a password for the administrator account
    3) Put MakeMeAdmin somewhere where it is handy, I recommend the QuickLaunch tab
    4) Make her usual work account (presumably the one she is currently logged in as), a limited user under Computer Management
    5) Log out and log in again

    When she needs to install some application next time simply start MakeMeAdmin, and using the command prompt launch the installer for the application to install. Does require some basic knowledge of how to use the prompt, but I assure you one thing when you do this.. it will be 99% as secure as MacOS.
  3. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    You really want that Windows backup CD - with some of the horror stories coming up about the WGA program (up to 20% genuine Windows installations misidentified as fake and requiring CD proof), having your own back-up CD would be eminently sensible.
  4. Mr Skills macrumors 6502a

    Mr Skills

    Nov 21, 2005
    Just out of interest, has she considered the MacBook/BootCamp option?
  5. andrewheard macrumors regular

    May 16, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    I definitely agree with that. I got a virus a little while ago while using Norton. I was downloading stuff I shouldn't (keygens). I scanned the file and Norton says no its totally clean but it really wasn't. Destroyed my computer, had to reinstall. I then checked that keygen with AVG and sure enough, "Virus Found".
  6. andrewheard macrumors regular

    May 16, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
  7. kiwi-in-uk macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2004

    Also, I tend to use Zonealarm instead of Windows Firewall, Firefox instead of MSIE, and Thunderbird instead of Outlook (I use neither Office Outlook nor Outlook Express).
  8. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    Well for my usage profile (as outlined above) coupled with Firefox it is not like Spyware can creep in and install itself without me knowing either. Instead of running tons of spyware scanners in the background what I'd recommend is just having a firewall app (like Zonealarm) that does egress application blocking.

    When a funny application tries to connect to the Internet when it doesn't have to you know something's up.
  9. DCBass thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2004
    Washington, DC

    Thanks everyone for all the helpful advice so far, and so fast too! I suspected that I would have to install a variety of programs. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me.

    Mr Skills, yes, she is aware of the Boot Camp option. However, both of us would rather she didn't have to deal with that extra layer of complexity. Frankly, I'm pretty confident that I would accidentally screw up the whole laptop (I know that Boot Camp is supposed to be pretty easy), and besides, she really dislikes mac os x, so why force her to have it? (believe me, i've tried :) )
  10. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    I would try to get your wife to use a MacBook so that she can dual boot windows and Mac OS.

    If she is intent of going with the PeeCee-

    1) Go for the 2GHz Core Duo.
    2) Get the backup copy of XPee. (reinstalling windows is a normal task on most PCs).
    3) Keep the dedicated graphics card.
  11. SeRgIo_42 macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2004
    That's a good machine.

    Even if in the next two years she decided to move on to
    another laptop, you could still have fun using Linux on it.

    Regarding upgrades, I doubt she will notice any real difference
    with a 2Ghz cpu. I would recommend to max out the memory instead.

    Get the cd. Disasters happen.

    Ad-aware and Spyware Blaster do the job on my machine fairly well.
    95% of all bad stuff happens when the user does something odd
    (opening unknown messages, visiting "dangerous" sites, installing
    software without reading what it does, etc). A permanent solution
    for avoiding Windows reinstalling steps would be :

    After installing all common software,

    a. Install DriveImage XML.
    b. Create an image of your whole hard drive.
    c. Save the image in DVD (or multiple cds - this program create
    the 650MB pieces automatically if you want)
    d. Create a bootable Windows CD (or DVD or USB Drive or whatever)
    using BartPE (this should ship with every Windows copy).

    That's it. If anything happens, plug your USB/CD/DVD on your
    machine. It will boot from it and you have BartPE.
    From there, run DriveImage and recover everything from
    the images you created.

    Have fun,

  12. andrewheard macrumors regular

    May 16, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    What I do is I have 1 of them scanning in the background while the rest of them are there for on-demand scanning. SpywareBlaster is actually neat in that it just blocks many known spyware domains preventing you from even downloading them. I doesn't run in the background either. It just edits the IE/Firefox blocked sites and the windows hosts file.

    Does ZoneAlarm use a lot of system ressources? My sister is going off to college and won't be hidden behind a router like her computer is now. I figure ZoneAlarm would be a good idea if it doesn't slow her computer down too much. She should have gotten a Mac.
  13. andrewheard macrumors regular

    May 16, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    Just out of curiosity, would you need 2 CD-ROM drives to pull this off? I mean if you've got BartPE running off a disc, how do you get the drive images off another DVD?
  14. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Apart from definitely getting the backup CD's and the graphics card if she does any gaming, I would also upgrade the RAM to at least 1GB.

    Also assuming you aren't upgrading to Vista when it's released it is probably worth upgrading to XP Professional as MS are currently only going to support XP Home for 2 years after the release of Vista (which realistically will be within the next 3 years) If you want to keep it for a while go for XP Pro as that will be supported by MS for an additional 5 years (so 7.5 to 8 years in total)
  15. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Zone Alarm is OK from a resources perspective but puts up loads of pop-ups asking for programs to access the internet which gets very old very fast, you end up just pressing yes which means spyware could easily be granted internet access. If she isn't a geek then I'd recommend Norton or McAffee, even though they cost they are a lot easier to use.


    The university may well give Norton or another AV package away free, you should give their IT department a call and find out.

    EDIT 2

    Windows Firewall won't protect you enough on the network, you need a third party program.
  16. JurgenWigg macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2006
    I run a PC and a Mac still, and while I still prefer my beautiful mac, there are just some things that need to be done on a PC.

    The setup sounds pretty good. However- if she's never going to be playing any games, and unless she's a graphics designer/video editor, i'd recommend against the step-up graphics card. It's just throwing money at getting the latest and greatest... something I would really like to do, but can't exactly afford.

    As to setting up the protection, I'd recommend Norton Anti-virus, even though they extort more money from you every year *grumble grumble* as well as this nifty little piece of software called Spyware Doctor. It comes as a limited featured free-ware but it's fully functional for killing spyware and I really like it. Also be sure to get firefox vs. IE
  17. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Being in grad school myself, time for games is null. Unless she is just going to school and not really working. Then she may have more time than I do. But far as the comp goes, that is a decent machine and she'll do well with it.
  18. someguy macrumors 68020


    Dec 4, 2005
    Still here.
    Email me her HijackThis and silentrunners logs in a couple weeks when her system is "running slow for some reason". :p
  19. SeRgIo_42 macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2004
    Not necessarily. In this case it might be a better idea
    to use a USB drive (which contains BartPE).
    Also, BartPE has also support for networking which would allow
    you to get these files off other PC.
  20. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    I'm not attempting to convince you to try to persuade her again but am just curious to hear what it is she doesn't like about it...

    I have two potential switchers (both colleagues) on the brink at the mo and am interested in hearing people's objections to OSX. Sometimes, as someone who uses a Mac day-in, day-out at work and at home, I take using OSX for granted and forget what an obstacle it seems to present to others.
  21. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004

    Download AVG for antivirus, and download the Google Pack (includes Ad-Aware for antispyware, FireFox, Google Earth, and Adobe Reader 7).

    1) It's a decent upgrade, though if you're not a power user, you probably wouldn't notice a huge difference.
    2) Yup.
    3) DEFINITELY. That's a huge upgrade, quite significant. Not only is the NVidia significantly better at gaming, but the Intel GMA 950 will sap some of your system RAM for use whenever you do anything that involves 3D rendering because it doesn't have its own memory.
  22. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    You could set it up for her without her ever having to deal with boot camp, then set it to boot Windows automatically so she never has to even see Mac OS X is on there (unless you choose to by holding the Option key on startup).
  23. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    My dad dislikes Macs as well. Never really found out why. He whines about the price, doesn't want to try something he's not used to (despite the fact that he's constantly having trouble using Windows and having to call me for help over the simplest things), and is generally just stubborn about it.
  24. steamboat26 macrumors 65816


    May 25, 2006
    Arlington VA
    My mom has an HP desktop, and has never had problems with it. For anti virus and other stuff we use Norton System Works, Norton internet security, and some generic spyware blocker. System Works and Internet security have some of the same features (like anti-virus), but are somewhat different.
  25. codo macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2006
    England, United Kingdom
    I'm with all you guys recommending AVG - Does the job extremely well on all our Windows machines.

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