Advice on a new computer


I am about to hit the shops and purchase a new Desk PC. Wondered if anyone could give me some good advice before purchasing. I am a freelance web designer and use the the following software: Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrabat etc. My current computer is getting quite slow. I know my software rather well, but am not a computer techie, so the hardware part is a bit daunting for me. I don’t have a real allegiance to any one computer company.

Info on my current PC is as follows (not sure you need all this, but anyway):

Windows Vista Home Premium
I use a Dell Dimension DM061
Processor is Intel(R)core™2CPU 6300 @ 1.86 GHz
Memory(RAM): 2.00 GB
32-bit operating system

I have a Netgear Router in another part of the house and am linked to it with a Wifi adapter.

I thought that maybe part of the reason my computer is so slow is the large software I am using. I am considering purchasing an external hard drive and keeping the larger software (Dreamweaver) etc. there and opening it on the external hard drive when I need it. Not sure if that would help, but thought it might.

I really like macs, but can’t afford both, so am staying with a pc since seems like the majority of people use PC’s so tend to design toward that population.

Thanks for any advice you can provide.


If you like Macs, then you should really consider buying just a Mac and using Boot Camp (free) or Parallels to test your sites in Internet Explorer.

Here are my tools:

Don’t know if I want to make a complete 180 on computers, think I’ll stay with a pc. Other members in the family use the computer too so should stay with PC for now… Although the thought is tempting :).

An external hard disk won’t affect the speed of your computer, in fact it might make your programs load slower as USB isn’t as fast as the direct connection to the disk. If you want a new machine, aim for a CPU with at least 2GHZ, 4GB ram (if you can afford it - adobe products drain a lot of memory), a 500GB hard disk and a decent graphics card (for photoshop) - You don’t want the on-board graphics, you want a decent built in GPU. All in all, it depends on your budget, but there are a lot of decent models out there. Upgrading to Windows 7 would make a LOT of difference too (It’s MUCH faster than Vista). :slight_smile:

I have to say that I use an old Windows XP with 2,5 GB of RAM and 300 GB of HDD and I am very happy with it.

Now, if I was to buy a new computer for designing I would spend more on the RAM and the Graphic Card than anything else and follow Alex counsel although I personally seriously considering to buy a Mac. :smiley:

Thanks everyone for the input, that really helps.

you mentioned getting a “decent graphics card (for photoshop)”. Can you elaborate on that? What would be a really good one (I’m not really sure what a graphics card is, but will do some research online) :).

I’m glad to hear that you think Window 7 is good too. I will most likely upgrade to that with the new computer, but hadn’t really heard if it was considered a good product. I certainly haven’t been happy with Vista.


Graphics cards basically do all the visual stuff you see on-screen, if your doing graphic work in photoshop it’s a must have item because generally the kind of graphics your motherboard can produce won’t match a dedicated card doing the work and ensuring you get the best graphics possible. The main people you will see making graphics cards (when you look at machines) are Intel, NVIDIA and ATi. Personally I prefer NVIDIA but it’s really up to you which you go with, if you have a decent graphics card in the machine, photoshop will run smoother and you’ll find it a more pleasurable experience trying to render high quality images. :slight_smile:

Wow, thanks.

You also mentioned that “You don’t want the on-board graphics”. Is this something that you choose to have added to your computer when you order it? How do I request that it not be included???


All computers have onboard graphics (else the monitor wouldn’t see anything!), what happens is when you plug in a dedicated graphics card, the other one is disabled (either automatically or through the BIOS). The manufacturer will have dealt with this when the machine was built if you purchase a new machine complete. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all your help. Now I’m ready to hit the stores…


there are a couple good online resources out there… generally, you’re going to find better deals out there online vs. brick and mortar stores like best buy…

Building a computer is a very viable way to get the specs you sound like you need at a decent price. check out this site for some guidance on how to build a computer

Thanks, I’ll check the link. Great idea. Thought I’d check out Dell and Gateway online too. They’re the only ones I am really familiar with.

Is there anything special I need to get in a monitor for web design? I assumed most of the emphasis would be on the hard drive.


Monitor size isn’t much of an issue, remember that your visitors will use a variety of devices, some big some small. So there’s no guarantees that what you buy will cover every base. My advice would be if you get a large monitor, you have the advantage of being able to test at high resolutions and then resize the browser window to lower resolutions so you can see how your site will be affected for people with less available space. There’s no guaranteed way of testing for available screen size, but a larger workspace gives you more options - and you can see more stuff on the screen :slight_smile:

If you use Adobe products, the emphasis would probably be more towards CPU, RAM and the graphics card (because those are the things which decide how fast things load and how many tasks you can have running at one time) - hard disk space is a factor but most $200 laptops have something like 250gb which would hold the entire adobe suite anyway - so it’s not so much an issue (unless your going to have seriously huge images or raw video) :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the advice. This will help me to get the right product the first time and not wale at my computer all the time when it really was my lack of knowledge and not the computer’s fault :).


The two computers that have been recommended to me in my online search are below. Any thoughts on which one would be best??

HP Pavilion Elite HPE-110f Desktop PC:


Dell Studio XPS 9000 Desktop Computer:

I tried calling Gateway, but the service just trying to get information was ridiculous. Gave up on them.


Specifications are below on the two pc’s…

HP Pavilion Elite HPE-110f Desktop PC $729.99

* Experience genuine Windows 7§§§ Home Premium 64-bit
* Get reliable performance from the 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 925 
* Multitask with the 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM
* Enhance multimedia with the 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card
* Store data on the high-capacity 1TB SATA hard drive
* Label discs with silkscreen-quality text, photos, and designs using 
   our cool LightScribe feature1

Dell Studio XPS 9000

Intel® Core™ i7-920 processor(8MB L3 Cache, 2.66GHz)
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
No Monitor
16X DVD+/-RW Drive
3GB4 DDR3 Tri-Channel SDRAM5 at 1066MHz - 3 DIMMs
500GB6 7200 RPM7 SATA Hard Drive
nVidia® GeForce® 310 512M GDDR3
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
Integrated 10/1000 Ethernet
1 Year Basic Service Plan


Sarb - i don’t want to talk you out of it if you really really want to buy a new pc, but there are a number of things you can do before spending almost a grand on a new machine.

Just a few things you can do yourself or with help from a somewhat handy friend include…

Defragging your hard drive - upgrading your RAM - upgrading your graphics card…or adding a card if your system currently has built-in graphics.

I used to reformat my HD and reinstall my OS about once a year back when Win98 was around and that always improved things greatly. I’m not a big fan of Vista and still use XP on my desktop, but chances are a reinstall of Vista would improve things for you there.

With a Dell machine you probably have a set of discs or a hidden partition on your HD that can be used to restore your computer to its like new condition and your only investment there is your time to backup your existing programs and files and then reinstall things.



P.S. Looking at the 2 systems you mentioned, I’d go with the HP and maybe put the money saved from not buying the Dell into a better video card if needed. Both of those video cards are more entry level cards but might work ok for what you’re doing.

If your buying your computer for graphic/development, the XPS 9000 is highly overkill, unless your a gamer, then that would be fitting. If you are going to buy a desktop, I reccomend the XPS 8100. I have the 8000, and she is a beast of a desktop. Never have a hiccup with Photoshop CS4, VS.NET, and SQL Server Manager opened up at the same time. It’s easy to overkill, but you also want to plan ahead, so you can run apps that hit consumers 3 years from now.

Good Luck

I would Like to add here one more pont that the user should always keep the backup of data in order to ensure a fool proof data recovery in case of hard drive crash.