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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member plynch71's Avatar
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    Arrow Help with specs for new PC

    Just lost my job...
    I would like to start freelancing and need to buy a PC. I've talked to a company that custom builds PCs according to your needs (I do graphic and web design and would be using alot of the adobe products as well as dreamweaver).
    Basically they told me I would need a
    -Pentium 4 with 2.5 Ghz
    -hard drive with at least 80 GB
    -around 512 of RAM
    -Video card with 80 MB
    -Windows XP
    -Monitor 22"
    -other assorted gizmos that I couldn't
    figure out what exactly they were!
    But the price tag was a little over
    $2,300. I wasn't planning on spending that much! Do I really need all this power or is it much more expensive buying from a shop like this as opposed to purchasing on-line.
    Any, any advice would be much appreciated.
    Pat

  2. #2
    Alt+F4= User Control ;-) rabmurdy's Avatar
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    I am running what you describe above, except I only have a 2ghz....

    I got a shop to custom build it for me in 24hrs for 350 which also included nic cards and all cabling.

    I paid 70 for a 'soiled' showroom 19in monitor, which had been on display for 3 months.

    Optical mouse and keyboard set me back 15.

    I reckon you are being overcharged, if you know how to put it together you could do it far cheaper than what you have been quoted.

    If you have a friend who knows about these things they could save you bucks big time...
    "If something is too hard,give it up. The moral my boy is too never try anything"
    "Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand"

  3. #3
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Why do you need all that?

    An 80 gb hard drive? You will never fill that up unless you have alot of digital music or video. Not typical web developer stuff.

    2.5 ghz processor? Right, if you don't play games or do digital media conversions or 3d image rendering then you don't need that fast of a processor. 1.5 ghz would probably be enough. Additionally cheaper AMD processors outperform intel on office applications, web browsing, and most productivity software. Intel wins with multimedia applications, rendering, encoding, etc. Apparently this computer salesmen doesn't know that...

    Moving on, 512kb of ram. Okay, fine. But you can buy ram for dirt cheap. Infact you'd be better off getting the minimum ram and upgrading yourself.

    Video card with 80mb? First of all there is no such thing. You can get a 32 mb card, a 64, a 128, you can't get an 80mb one. Second of all unless you're playing games you don't need one. A 32mb card should be fine and cost less than $50. For more than $50 you could get a 64mb one which isn't a bad idea.

    22" monitor? Thats huge. Do you even want something so large. Go to a computer store like CompUSA, BestBuy, or Circuit City and look at the monitors (I doubt you'll even find one so large at those stores). Pick a size you like at the store then go online and find the best deal.

    Finally, most computer companies will custom build you a system for free. Dell for instance, so that isn't a value added service.

    You could also get that same computer at dell for much much less than $2300. I know someone who bought a similar PC from dell a couple weeks ago for $1100.

    I would go to Dell (http://www.dell.com/us/en/dhs/produ...en_desktops.htm)

    Buy a Dimension 8250 before wednesday. You'll get a $150 rebate, a free 19 inch monitor upgrade, a free ram upgrade, and free shipping.

    Get the cheapest processor option, the cheapest sound option (Again, unless this is a gaming/music system) the cheapest support option (1 year). Get 256 mb of ram (you'll only pay for 128) you can always upgrade later. Get a CD burner, no second CD drive, and no DVD drive. Don't buy any blank media or other extras like that. Get the cheapest video card, cheapest everything else.

    The cost? $1,088 before $150 rebate.

    I just customized one out, the code for it to bring it up is "6V699 - 825XPSU" -- but I've never been able to find a place to enter the code...

    You could even price out a cheaper dell like the 4550's. This one comes with a 2.5ghz processor still, really really high quality ram (rambus 1066mhz), 60gb hard drive, 64mb graphics card, etc etc. All for under a grand. So really you're almost getting everything that company was trying to sell you and you're getting it for less than half as much.

    Got to buy it by wednesday though.
    Last edited by aspen; Mar 4, 2003 at 10:43.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  4. #4
    pg for mild peril cow's Avatar
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    i agree with aspen, you don't need that much computing power for what you're doing. i'm using a hp xe3 laptop with a 800mhz cpu, 256mb ram and a 20gb hard drive and it runs photoshop, illustrator, dreamweaver, freehand, etc. without any problems.

    check out gateway.com as well for some good deals.
    "There's no justice like angry mob justice!" --Seymour Skinner

  5. #5
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    also don't forget to save the receipt. It is deductable after all.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Member plynch71's Avatar
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    Wink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you - you've given credence to what my intuition told me. I have no time to lose - I'm off to some websites. I'll let you know how it turned out.

    Pat

  7. #7
    googlicious graymatter bvarvel's Avatar
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    i do 90% of my development work on a dell 600mhz laptop with only 256MB of ram. while this isn't the optiumum setup, i have absolutely no problems running homesite, outlook, photoshop 7, apache w/ php, mysql, notepad, and several instances of IE simultaneously. i've developed over 60 sites with this setup and it works just fine for me.. i even work on the road from my truck... your local 'builder' sounds like they have absolutely no ability to determine what the customer 'needs', but rather what will increase their bottom line the most.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard xyuri's Avatar
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    hell, a "Video card with 80 MB" ???? They dont exist


    Probably the most processor intensive thing youre going to be running it dreamweaver(MX), other than that you dont need a very powerfull computer to do what you want.

    I mean, plynch, I survive doing exactly what you do, but on a 266mhz, 64MB RAM but I have a Duron 900 system waiting for a Boart to stick it on.
    Last edited by xyuri; Mar 4, 2003 at 15:37.

  9. #9
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Xyuri I don't know how you do it... thats pretty weak. I couldn't stand working on something so slow, or with windows 98, I'm sure you're not running anything better than 98 or 95 on that system.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard xyuri's Avatar
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    haha well, I was running 2K (out of persistance) for a while, untill I couldnt stand it anymore. I mean, I was in a 166, then bought a 333, but i busted the mobo on that so I had to borropw my friends mother one which is what I have now.

    It's not too bad actually, it runs out or ram just browsing the net, but once you clear that (using RAMPage) you can use textpad and PWS before it crashes or hangs for about half an hour I'm going to go insane.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Just a few contentions and suggestions.

    1. Don't get an onboard sound or video card, you'll likely regret it later if you do need to upgrade
    2. If the place in question is overcharging for RAM, certainly get the minimum and upgrade.
    3. Look at DDR RAM, preferrably 333, as you will notice the speed more on the RAM than on the processor
    4. Speaking of processor, I'd look at 2.0GHz. Certainly 1.5 would be fine, but the extra boost is worth the 20$ difference
    5. A 17" monitor is more than fine, even for gaming
    6. I'd buy a 64MB graphics card, even if you aren't a gamer. The cost of a GeForce2 is like 50$ anyways, and you won't regret it if you do decide to buy a half-decent game.
    7. Look at a 30GB harddrive, and make it 7200rpm or higher, instead of the extra space. /GB cost will only come down, so buy something decent now.
    At the end of the day, it's all about options and the future. Buy what you need, but not so little that you'll regret it in a year or two.

    And, certainly, look at Dell's sites for deals. If there isn't one you want on now, wait a few weeks, they tend to rotate them every 2 weeks, and you'll likely find one you want right quick

    J
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
    Twitter: @jeremywright

  12. #12
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    I am going to ignore the rest of the specs, and head right to comments regarding a monitor.

    If you are spending lots of time aligning pixels in Photoshop, working with complex paths in Illustrator, alignment in Pagemaker or InDesign, then you will appreciate a good flat screen LCD monitor. Don't go cheap and get a bargain basement run of the mill 19" CRT. Using a CRT is exactly the same as staring into a huge lightbulb...which gets pretty darned tiring after 8 hours of intensive graphics work.

    I have a 17" Apple Studio Display which effectively gives me a 20" screen size, at 1280 x 1024. The more palettes you have open (especially in PS or InDesign) the more screen real estate you have to move them around. I can work 10+ hours on my Mac, and though I may feel mentally tired, my eyes are not sore, foggy or strained like they have been when I worked with a CRT.

    Coding and programming is not the same as drawing fine lines or getting an image just right. Spend the extra money on a good flat screen monitor and your eyes (both now and in the future) will appreciate it.

    Initially I didn't want to spend $1500 CDN on the Apple Display, and instead wanted to go for the $300 CDN Viewsonic CRT. My wife convinced me that although it cost more initially, it was an investment in my overall health more than anything else.

    There are some great 17" LCD's out there for PC's these days. Dell has some nice ones. Pick one of those up, or Samsung, Viewsonic etc. are a good choice too.

    geof

  13. #13
    Non-Member Forlorn's Avatar
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    What they told you is a rip off and you don't need all that stuff. Here is my setup

    2 Monitors (17 and 15) (2 15's work perfectly too)
    120 GB and 40 GB HDD (40 Should be enough for you though)
    GeForce 4 Ti 4200 128 MB (Because of high gaming and duel monitor support)
    OnBoard Sound (Works fine for me)
    1 GB of RAM (perfect for design)
    P4 2.0 GHz with MSI MotherBoard with 6 USB Ports, 2 Firewire and Surround Sound + Ethernet Card included.

    What I have won't cost you more than $900

    A 2.5 would be nice but its pricey. You don't need a 22" monitor as everything works with resolution. If you plan on working at 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 then I can understand going with a big monitor. As for HDDs I say go with something 40 GB or more. The programs won't take more than a few GB with Windows being installed. With 40 GB you should have enough to save all your work but I recomend later down the line to get something around the 80 or 100 as a spare HDD to save all your work. Only if you become really big or if you are making a lot of money. For Video Card I would say a GeForce 4 Ti 4200. Its a cheap card yet it has duel monitor support which for me in design has become the most powerful thing I ever done with this computer. For sound a standard sound card is perfect. I've had mine for 3 years never died on me once and if does I have a spare. OnBoard sound works very well as well. RAM you should stick anywhere from 768-1 GB of RAM. That is enough for designers as you can run more than one program at a time. As for a motherboard I would go with a MSI. I've used MSI's all my life pretty much and I love them. Best MotherBoards on the planet I think. Never die on me, BIOS is very easy. If you are looking for a system with EFI (http://news.com.com/2100-1001-985600.html) then you will have to wait a few months. But EFI will be a standard in a few months.

    Quote Originally Posted by plynch71
    Just lost my job...
    I would like to start freelancing and need to buy a PC. I've talked to a company that custom builds PCs according to your needs (I do graphic and web design and would be using alot of the adobe products as well as dreamweaver).
    Basically they told me I would need a
    -Pentium 4 with 2.5 Ghz
    -hard drive with at least 80 GB
    -around 512 of RAM
    -Video card with 80 MB
    -Windows XP
    -Monitor 22"
    -other assorted gizmos that I couldn't
    figure out what exactly they were!
    But the price tag was a little over
    $2,300. I wasn't planning on spending that much! Do I really need all this power or is it much more expensive buying from a shop like this as opposed to purchasing on-line.
    Any, any advice would be much appreciated.
    Pat

  14. #14
    ********* Genius Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plynch71
    Just lost my job...
    I would like to start freelancing and need to buy a PC. I've talked to a company that custom builds PCs according to your needs (I do graphic and web design and would be using alot of the adobe products as well as dreamweaver).
    Basically they told me I would need a
    -Pentium 4 with 2.5 Ghz
    -hard drive with at least 80 GB
    -around 512 of RAM
    -Video card with 80 MB
    -Windows XP
    -Monitor 22"
    -other assorted gizmos that I couldn't
    figure out what exactly they were!
    But the price tag was a little over
    $2,300. I wasn't planning on spending that much! Do I really need all this power or is it much more expensive buying from a shop like this as opposed to purchasing on-line.
    Any, any advice would be much appreciated.
    Pat

    They're trying to pull a fast one on you. I'd go insane with a 22 inch monitor. Heck, my 17 inch is just fine for everything I do.
    Mike
    It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

  15. #15
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    Er yeh... what they said a... complete ripoff for what they have specced and b... completely unnecessary. You don't need half that. It's just me, but all systems I spec out use AMD processors on ABIT or ASUS boards... they will be "faster" <sigh> than Pentiums etc, and significantly cheaper.
    I swear to drunk I'm not God.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Member plynch71's Avatar
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    I'm glad I gave you a chuckle - but the 80MB video card was probably my mistake - it's hard keeping these numbers straight!
    You read my mind (Geof) - the monitor is what I'm having trouble deciding on size etc. I had been working with a 19" CRT and felt that it was too small considering tool bars and palettes. I had made the assumption that most designers were useing larger. Also, I had heard that the LCDs don't have as accurate a color display - have you found this. I know I was shocked when I saw their price, but then again, your eyesight is invaluable.

    Pat

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    If you want a really great monitor, get a Solarism LCD. They've got the colour and accuracy you need. You'll likely spend 700$ on it, but you won't regret it

    LCD's are fine for designing on, most of the old myths don't apply. Don't buy crap and you'll never notice a difference while sitting at your desk

    J
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  18. #18
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I'm still going strong on a PIII 933 MHz HP desktop at home, and a 750MHz Dell Latitude notebook at work. Hopefully both will be upgraded soon, but it's fine for what I do, which is mostly Dreamweaver MX, Photoshop, some Flash, and the usual Office/Web stuff. Don't believe that shop's hype, they're just trying to fatten up their wallets at your expense.

    Along those lines, I say stay away from retailers when asking for advice on a system. As a test one day, I went to my local Dell kiosk asking them if they had a good notebook that was great on battery life and that performance wasn't really an issue. I would have been happy if they gave me a response like "Here's a 1.6GHz with 3 hours of battery life". I'd have been sold. But instead they try to bombard me with their highest-end system and tell me I can install an extra battery in it, which is DEFINITELY NOT what I asked for.

    Moral of the story: Salespeople are not motivated by satisfying your needs. They are motivated by bigger checks. Don't believe the hype.

  19. #19
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    I agree with Jeremy. I have never had a problem, beyond the odd Pantone struggle, to get the right colours from your machine to the printers. I assume this is the same with PC LCDs, but I can set up a multitude of Display Profiles allowing me to switch out everything from Adobe RGB to ColorMatch RGB to the NTSC standard. I've calibrated my monitor and have it set at a default color spec which seems to be an inbetween for them all.

    But colour issues are less of an ordeal compared to how you will feel after long hours in front of the monitor. Spend the extra money on a good LCD (read lots of reviews if you can too) and you will no doubt see, yup pun horribly intended, the difference. Plus hey, if you step it up to at least 1280 x 1024 it's unbelievable how much space you have to push stuff around on the screen. There are no drawbacks to an LCD that I can see, besides the initial outlay of more cash.

    oh and....buy a mac

    geof

  20. #20
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    The things you definitely do not want to skimp out on are a nice ergonomic keyboard. a nice ergonomic chair, and a nice ergonmic (optical) mouse.

    Those are the things that you'll definitely get the most use out of.

    Vinnie, Dell recently had a sale (ended the 27th) where they had a pretty good laptop (above 1ghz... don't remember the rest) for $599 after rebate. They also just released a whole new line of notebooks, but those are high end ones.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Member plynch71's Avatar
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    Well, I finally made a purchase! I almost got one of the Dell's, but I couldn't commit before the sale was over (they through in a 19" monitor upgrade.) But, just as well because as I further researched, I decided I wanted a Viewsonic P95F monitor ($279 with shipping from Proadvantage.com) - it has an aperture grille which allegedly eliminates distortion, a flat screen and a really high refresh rate (107) cutting down on flicker, which is what makes the eyes tired. As far as the LCD screens, everything I read still says that they're not as color rich and crisp as a CRT and recommend the CRTs for graphic design. Maybe the average person could not detect this shortcoming, but with the prices so high, I'll wait till I want to replace this and hope that technology has advanced, prices go down or both.
    As far as the computer, I was about to buy an Athlon 2200 from ABS, then saw some really good sales at good ole Best Buy on Compaqs, but they were either too powerful or not enough, so I called up Compaq and custom ordered one with an Athlon 2200, 80MB harddrive, and 256mb of Ram (has capacity for 1GB), a CD RW and DVD rom, all for $625, before a $50 rebate. The only downside is I have to wait around 19 days for them to assemble it then shipping time, but otherwise I'm delighted. Under $1,000 is really better than I had hoped for.
    Thanks for all your help. I hope this can help someone else - the moral of the story is to be well informed and shop around!!!


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