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View Full Version : What is the best choice for a new PC



Ghost
14th June 2007, 22:46
Hello all,

As my current system is getting a bit older I am planning to upgrade to a new machine, as my motherboard is incompatible with some of the new technologies now out I can't upgrade this one further so I plan to sell it in the papers or online after I have transferred all my files to the new machine.

I don't have much knowledge about putting together a good system that can last a couple of years and is compatible to all the new technology still to come, perhaps some of you could help me with assembling a 'dream machine'.

Also, something I am also a bit stuck with is what kind of OS I should have on the new computer, I shall be honest; I don't have a legal version of Windows XP on my computer.
When I get a new computer I will probably need to get myself a legal version of Windows but I am not sure which to get.

Things will probably be all Vista in the future but on the moment there are still to much complaints and I am not sure that programs I use like Dosbox are compatible with it, but XP is almost out and I would find it a waste if I would have to buy that and later Vista legally.
Any suggestion

AlexJ
14th June 2007, 23:19
Hello all,

As my current system is getting a bit older I am planning to upgrade to a new machine, as my motherboard is incompatible with some of the new technologies now out I can't upgrade this one further so I plan to sell it in the papers or online after I have transferred all my files to the new machine.

I don't have much knowledge about putting together a good system that can last a couple of years and is compatible to all the new technology still to come, perhaps some of you could help me with assembling a 'dream machine'.

Also, something I am also a bit stuck with is what kind of OS I should have on the new computer, I shall be honest; I don't have a legal version of Windows XP on my computer.
When I get a new computer I will probably need to get myself a legal version of Windows but I am not sure which to get.

Things will probably be all Vista in the future but on the moment there are still to much complaints and I am not sure that programs I use like Dosbox are compatible with it, but XP is almost out and I would find it a waste if I would have to buy that and later Vista legally.
Any suggestion

I'd stick with the not quite legal XP for the moment, and wait until Vista stabilises before buying it. My Vista PC (bought brand new ready built with it pre-installed incidentally, so it's not my poor design) crashes with a Blue screen of death more often than Windows ME used to.

As for spec, Harrison will probably be along shortly to give you advice on that (no doubt with an AMD processor at it's core ;) )

Harrison
15th June 2007, 00:01
As for spec, Harrison will probably be along shortly to give you advice on that (no doubt with an AMD processor at it's core ;) )

:lol: You know me too well!

Ghost, what price range are you looking to spend on a new PC? If you tell me that I can do you a list of components to recommend to you that fit into that price range.

Personally though I would say to hold on for a bit longer if you can and purchase a new PC, or the parts to build one, at the end of August. The reason is that Direct X 10 graphics cards haven't been out very long, and neither has Windows Vista. The instability within Vista at the moment is due to hardware drivers. By the summer the drivers will have matured enough to make for a more stable system and the Direct X 10 graphics cards will have started to drop in price allowing you to get a bargain.

As for the OS to choose. If you are looking to legally purchase one then definitely wait a bit longer and then get Vista once the instabilities have been fixed. Waiting for the first Service Pack to be released for any Microsoft OS is always the best thing to do before using it as a main OS.

As for compatibility with existing software. It is true that Vista is not as compatible as XP and 2000 have been with older software, but the simple solution to that problem is to setup the PC to dual boot so you can load XP or Vista. To do that make sure you install XP first before Vista or it won't work.

Ghost
14th August 2007, 00:45
Hello Harrison,

Do you know if there has been any progress on Vista drivers and the service pack?
October is approaching and I would have liked to buy a new PC this year without running into annoying OS related problems.

I already have a couple of games I haven'tbeen able to play yet and in October Half Life 2 Episode 2 will be released which I really would like to play.

Back here someone I know has already suggested that I could better wait until next year with the purchase of a new PC but that would mean I won't be able to enjoy the game releases during Christmas. :(

Harrison
14th August 2007, 13:44
There hasn't been any news of a Vista service pack yet, but I don't expect one to be released until at least the end of this year. As for Vista drivers I think the situation is improving, but the graphics drivers especially are still far from perfect.

The current best solution is as I mentioned before, to do a dual boot XP/Vista setup to have compatibility for all games. That situation will not likely change either because due to the changes in the way graphics and audio work in Vista older software will never work properly.

If you want to current good gaming PC then you will still have to pay quite a lot for a decent Direct X 10 graphics card (200+). nVidia DX10 cards are still currently the best to go for, as AMD cards are still lagging behind in performance. But it isn't worth going for the budget end of DX10 cards as they just cannot perform well enough for gaming. Some of the recent budget cards cannot even manage to run Call of Duty 2 in double figure frame rates which is no good.

But for the CPU it isn't the best time to buy. AMD are currently completing development on their next CPU and we won't know how good that is until it launches. If you did want to buy now then an Intel Core 2 Duo is probably the best way to go, or a Quad core if you can afford the extra. I personally would still buy an AMD dual core, but that is just because I prefer how AMD chips work and run cooler.

Sharingan
14th August 2007, 18:36
Myself, I've been leaning towards upgrading to a Core 2 Duo E6600. The E6600 is oft-lauded as being the Intel chip that currently has the best price/performance ratio. It has good gaming performance, can be overclocked quite a bit (on air-cooling), and is supposed to run cool, too (compared to the Prescott P4, anyway). I have no idea how it compares to the latest AMD processors, though.

The thing that bothers me most about PC gaming hardware is just how quickly it becomes outdated. It seems that as soon as you order a piece of kit, something new and 50% faster will have come out. That wouldn't be a big problem in itself, were it not for the fact that developers often want to take advantage of newer hardware, creating games that require more and more power to run well. Want to play Game X, but don't have a DirectX 15 card? Too bad, sucks for you.

That's why I generally tend to stick to consoles for gaming.

AlexJ
14th August 2007, 22:19
There hasn't been any news of a Vista service pack yet, but I don't expect one to be released until at least the end of this year. As for Vista drivers I think the situation is improving, but the graphics drivers especially are still far from perfect.

The current best solution is as I mentioned before, to do a dual boot XP/Vista setup to have compatibility for all games. That situation will not likely change either because due to the changes in the way graphics and audio work in Vista older software will never work properly.

Vague dates have been released for the service packs - Vista will have one in Q3/Q4 2007 around the same time Longhorn Server is released and XP will have it's final SP3 sometime in 2008. The problem at the moment is still with the graphics drivers, BSODs are still quite common although less thanks to recent NVidia updates. Now it's more likely for Aero to stop working instead and go back to basic mode which while annoying is definitely preferred to the whole thing crashing.

On the games not working, I've had surprisingly little problem getting XP games to work on it, even older 9x titles seem OK if they worked on XP. I'd imagine in the future (but not short-term) we'll see a Dosbox style emulator for 9x/XP games.

Harrison
15th August 2007, 01:59
I read last week that the next Windows server release may be put back to next year, because M$ have had to devote more developers to other projects such as Silverlight and continuing Vista development. I expect they will release Vista SP1 either the end of November so that PCs sold during the Christmas period will come with it preinstalled, or at the very start of the new year.

Ghost
15th August 2007, 23:45
Hello all,

I am a bit ignorant on this subject but if I understand well Harrison, you would recommend that I wait another while until the problems are solved with Vista and that new CPU is out?

Harrison
16th August 2007, 10:16
Yes. It is just a time of transition for Windows and the PC at the moment. Due to Vista not being out that long it hasn't had time to mature. It isn't so much hardware, but software and driver support that we still need to wait a bit longer for.

The Direct X 10 graphics cards are still also very new and require time for their drivers to become stable and work well with Vista's desktop features. They will also start to drop in price towards the end of the year and we should start to see more affordable cards with power closer to the top end cards currently out.

There is also currently still the issue with Audio cards that isn't completely resolved by Creative, or the developers of on-board audio drivers. This issue is due to Microsoft dropping all support for DirectSound 3D in Vista. This is actually one of the biggest compatibility problems for Vista as many older games completely rely on this for their audio to work. If you try to run a game that needs DirectSound 3D to work propery Vista will jus disable the audio. Creative have now released a beta of a DirectSound 3D emulation layer for their newer sound cards but that still isn't perfect. Also this means that any games with EAX audio to not work as they did in XP.

So it isn't so much waiting for hardware to come out as you could constantly be in that situation. You just need to say, right I'm buying a PC, and select the best hardware available for your budget at that time. It is instead just waiting for the hardware manufacturers to get fully up to speed with Vista and for them to release stable hardware drivers that support legacy emulation so that older software and games will all run better than they currently do.

Ghost
19th August 2007, 03:09
Hello Harrison,

After reading the arguements you and the others have made it seems it would be for the best that I waited a while longer before the purchase which is a bit frustrating for me, I just have paid for the upcoming Bioshock (Collector's Edition BTW) and I had hoped that I could finally run it together with Halo 2 and STALKER.

But I do not want to run into all kinds of mess which a lot of PC users complain about on the moment.
Perhaps I can ask you all for more suggestions for what kind of computer components I should look out for.

Right now I plan to spend a 1000 Euros on a complete new PC, but that might become more.

Harrison
19th August 2007, 10:17
OK, the spec you should aim for once you do purchase a new PC is as a minimum the following (these are based on a self build):

Dual Core CPU - Essential as this next year will see a lot more games taking advantage of the two cores. Quad core isn't needed for gaming so not worth the additional expense. At the moment Intel Core 2 Duo is ahead of AMD.

2GB of ram - Vista is memory hungry so I highly recommend 2GB as the minimum. But for gaming you will need to stick to the 32bit version of Vista, so the maximum is also 3GB. Yes, 4GB is meant to be the maximum addressable memory by 32bit Windows, but I've been reading that it won't show up beyond 3GB in Vista at the moment, so it pointless spending money on more. Don't buy budget ram, it's a false ecconemy and never costs that much less that decent brand ram.

500GB HD - This should be the minimum size of HD to aim for. Always get the largest HD you can when building a new PC as you can never have enough space. Especially as many current games require a few GB each to install, so they will quickly eat into the space. 500GB drives are currently the cheapest drives per GB so at the moment the best option is to buy two for 1TB of space, and stick with SATA drives these days.

DVD Drive - NEC SATA DVD-RW is what I recommend. Just get whatever the current model is at the time you buy the PC. And try to get an SATA one, rather than the older IDE type. Blu-Ray is still too expensive to even consider.

Motherboard - I always buy Asus motherboards. You might pay a bit more for them compared to some other makes such as MSI, but you do get what you pay for. Asus boards are always of very high quality and come with a lot of features and extras.

Soundcard - Unless you have money to burn just stick with the motherboard's built in sound. You won't ever notice any difference between that and a dedicated sound card these days. But as I mentioned in the previous post this is one of the current issues with Vista so hopefully the driver makers will work out a solution soon.

Graphics card - At the moment nVidia 8800 series Direct X 10 cards are the only ones to go for for gaming. Don't touch the lower budget cards as they are designed just to display the desktop of Vista nicely and struggle in games. There are rumours of some new, faster models due out soon. The GTS looks like a good choice at the moment, but things change quickly with graphics cards so in two months it could be very different. Also get a graphics card with a minimum of 512MB of ram. You will need this to run the current games well.

Case - This is personal preference. But do make sure you get a case that has plenty of space within the case for air to flow and pick one with 12cm fans at the front and rear of the case as they shift a lot more air than the smaller 8cm fans and are much quieter. I highly recommend the Thermaltake Tsunami and Saprano cases. I have systems built around both, as well as using both to built other peoples systems.

Monitor - Get the largest screen you can, but a good quality make. There are a lot of larger 20-24" LCDs now becoming very affordable. Samsung is a good make to look at. And use a DVI cable to connect it to the graphics card. It makes a huge difference compared to VGA.

I think that is everything. Keyboard and mouse are personal preference. I always like Microsoft Intellimouse Explorers but you might like something different.

I hope that helps.

FOL
19th August 2007, 11:14
ASUS Mobo?

Damn you have been lucky then, every ASUS mobo i had gave me nothing but trouble. I would personally recommend, either ASROCK, or my favorite MSI.

Harrison
19th August 2007, 15:41
I used to always buy MSI motherboards and most have been good with quite a lot of features and extras included. And I actually still have three PCs with MSI motherboards in that are working nicely. One is my test server. I also always like the red pcb's they use. But I have had two MSI boards fail with the more recent ones I've purchased. One completely died and wouldn't even respond, but I got an identical replacement mobo on ebay for 10 and that is so far still working, and and the second had a combined IO and IDE controller failure which wasn't good. However I would still consider a motherboard from MSI if it had the right features and good reviews.

And I've used quite a few Asus boards over the years and never had any problems with them. I never buy the lower budget models though, always opting for the higher spec ones with as many features as possible. My current main system has a Asus A8N-SLI Premium (nearly bought the A8N32-SLI Deluxe at the time but the price was too much for the differences) which is the best motherboard I've ever encountered and it looks great with the dark blue PCB and heat pipes. And it has an amazing feature set with a ton of extras including a lot of backplate ports and SATA cables. I've also built three systems around an A8N-E motherboard, and I know at least one other here has used the same motherboard.

Did you know that ASRock is the budget brand of Asus?

FOL
19th August 2007, 16:15
Did you know that ASRock is the budget brand of Asus?

Nope, only got my current mobo, cause my brother bought 1 and said how good it was.

Maybe ASUS got their act sorted now, cause last mobo i had was 3 or 4 years ago.

Ghost
24th September 2007, 00:07
Hello all,

Well the matter regarding my mom's inheritance has finally been resolved so I now have some money available to purchase a new PC.

Its rather late here now but I would like to ask for suggestions and advice of you tomorrow.

Tiago
24th September 2007, 09:11
That's why I generally tend to stick to consoles for gaming.

It's also my opinion! I remeber same years ago, you could buy a very good video card for 75 . Today to get a good video card .... not even with 150 ....
not to mension the rest of the PC....

Harrison
24th September 2007, 12:00
Let us know a complete budget you are willing to pay for the new PC, and what sort of things you would like it to have? Also will the budget include a monitor?

Demon Cleaner
24th September 2007, 12:33
I also prefer playing on a console, which wasn't the case 10 years ago. As I'm only playing sport, racing or RPGames (mostly), I prefer playing them when lying on the couch instead of sitting on a chair just in front of the PC.

If you want to play RTS or FPS games, then of course the PC is the best choice. But if you equip your next gen console with a mouse and a keyboard, you can also enjoy those games on console.

Ghost
7th October 2007, 20:49
Dammit, I wanted to complain how sporadic I pop here once in a while only to discover that there has been a response to my post and question.

I am going to do this in reverse order as Harrison's response is the most relevant for my dilemma.


Hello Demon Cleaner,

While consoles have their good points and I do play with them I do not consider consoles to be the ultimate replacement to the PC.

Next to official releases there are also loads of mods a player can download for his or her favorite games, indie games and of course emulators which allows a gamer to play the classics of yesterday once more.

Often when those classics are released on a console you have to pay extra for them.

Regarding RPGs on consoles, IMO the line between them and action adventures is rather thin.
The player always has limited options to do something outside a rather forced path.


Hello Harrison,

I find it a little bit difficult in how to start with the response, this month is my birthday, last year's was rather crappy so I really want to make this one better by planning what kind of PC I am planning to get.

Unfortunate I am still rather illiterate on this subject so I really depend on suggestions of people like you what components I should go for, and what Operating System (I still have some concerns regarding Windows Vista).

Regarding the monitor, I am still using the Liyama MF-8617E/T Vision Master and I thought I could also use it for the new PC.
I would like to get some new equipment for the PC while I am at it, some of these still is years old.

Next to a new PC I would like to get;

- A new Keyboard
- A new Mouse
- New Speakers

Though I will probably use it for school too in time its primrary use on the moment is to run the internet and the latest games that have been released (Bioshock looks mockingly at me).
I guess that would be the best description of my expectations.

Harrison
8th October 2007, 16:23
I would still need a rough budget to give you a good spec for the price, with everything I listed above still being relevant, including the CPU, amount of ram, HD etc..

For graphics card - Games are slowly starting to gain support for DirectX 10, so it is a good idea to buy a card that does support it. Some new games will already improve the graphics if such a card is detected.

At the moment I would recommend the nVidia 8800 GTS. It's not a cheap card but as you want to be able to play the latest games the graphics card is going to be a central part of your new PC. The GTS is a cut down version of the 8800 GTX and Ultra versions, and is currently the best card for the price. And with Vista it will run all DX10 games very well.

And regarding the OS. I would recommend you do now get Vista as the first Service Pack is due out at the end of this year and will fix all the current known bugs in the new OS. But I mainly recommend it because games in the coming year are going to start requiring Vista to take full advantage of the hardware because DX10 is Vista only, so running in XP will run the games in DX9 mode.

The best solution at the moment is to install XP and Vista on the new PC, so you have the best of both OSs. It's not hard to set this up. You just need to partition the HD with a partition for each OS and a third for the remaining space for files. Install XP onto the first C partition, then once complete install Vista to the next D partition, and then you have a boot menu when you turn the PC on and can boot into each OS. Each and for older games running them in XP is a much better solution than trying to get them to run in Vista.

Finally as I already said, if you give me a rough total price I will make you a list of compatible components for the price.

Ghost
8th October 2007, 19:33
Oh shit, I forget one of the most important questions.

Sorry about that, well I had around 1000 Euro - 1200 Euro in mind, but then I would expect a machine I could use for at least two years before I have to upgrade again.

Harrison
8th October 2007, 20:17
OK. I will do you a list of hardware for that price range and post it this week for you once I have time.