Help me pick a computer

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Cobra Commander
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Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:17 am

I have a desktop that is about 7 years old and I think it's time to replace it. I can still browse somewhat effectively but it lags a bit when opening word documents and sometimes when viewing videos. I mostly just want a desktop that will last for a number of years like this one has without having to mess around with upgrading different parts. For a number of reasons I do not want to build a computer so please do not suggest building my own computer as an option.

I'd like some input on the following points:

i7 vs. i5 - My understanding is that unless you're doing really complex work like video editing the i7 with hyperthreading is overkill. I think the i7 adds about $100 to the price of the computer so it seems like an i5 would be fine for me. I've done some research and I don't think the new Ryzen processors are going to significantly affect the price of the "lower end" processors although they are certainly driving down the price of the high end processors significantly.

RAM - I have 4 gigs of RAM now and it's definitely not enough. When I view the performance analyzer it's having "faults" from time to time which means it is running out of RAM and writing to the hard drive which makes the computer move at a glacial pace. I'm thinking about getting 16 gigs of RAM (8 x 2) just to future proof it a bit. I realize I'm "overpaying" a bit but I don't want to have to deal with finding comparable RAM and seating it down the road.

Video card - I don't really game a lot other than say a flash game here and there when I'm bored and I don't see myself becoming a hardcore gamer either. Thing is, most of the computers I'm looking at with 16 gigs of RAM seem to come with higher end video cards. I'm just wondering if I'll realize any benefit at all from having a nicer video card (say, for example, a GTX 1060 vs. the integrated graphics cards that come standard).

HDD or SSD - I was thinking I'd like to have a smaller SSD for the boot drive and pair it with an HDD. From what I've read the SSD will improve loading time of programs like Word and Excel and also vastly improve boot up time.

Win 10 home or pro - I think as a basic user I would not need the pro version.

The desktop I am strongly considering buying has the following specs: Intel Core i5-7500 Processor 3.40GHz; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5; 16GB DDR4-2133 RAM; 1TB HDD + 250GB SSD, Win 10 home. I can get this computer for $720.

Another option that I confirmed with Microcenter is that if I buy a lesser model computer I can customize the parts I want to upgrade and so long as I buy the parts at Microcenter they will install them for me for free if I buy a PowerSpec computer. The only exception is they will not configure the SSD as the boot drive and reinstall windows. I prefer not to have to do this myself.

killjoy2012
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by killjoy2012 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:07 pm

Your path/conclusions sound fine. I'd favor 16GB RAM vs. 8GB for a long term play. Understand that if you don't buy/include a dedicated video card, using the embedded will steal from RAM. And given today's SSD price point, I'd probably favor just buying a large 1TB+ SSD and forgoing the magnetic drive altogether. Only reason for the magnetic drive is if your storage needs exceed ~1 TB -- torrents, plex, etc.

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Toons
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Toons » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:31 pm

You can get so much desktop computing power for so "little" money compared to years ago.
I would not "half-step'.
Look for an I7 with 16 gig of ram.
You won''t be sorry.
I upgraded my desktop about a year ago and I purchased more than 'I needed'
So glad I did.
17,16 gig,ssd.
:happy
http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/productd ... =287_title
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:37 pm

Toons wrote:You can get so much desktop computing power for so "little" money compared to years ago.
I would not "half-step'.
Look for an I7 with 16 gig of ram.
You won''t be sorry.
I upgraded my desktop about a year ago and I purchased more than 'I needed'
So glad I did.
17,16 gig,ssd.
:happy
http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/productd ... =287_title


Thank you. Just curious but why do you recommend the i7 over the i5? From the research I've done my understanding is that the only difference between the two is that the i7 has hyperthreading and the i5 does not. I suppose if you are doing super intensive data processing or video editing the 8 virtual cores might be useful but is the average user going to see a benefit here? My understanding is that most tasks now are still linear and don't make full use of the existing quad core technology.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:40 pm

killjoy2012 wrote:Your path/conclusions sound fine. I'd favor 16GB RAM vs. 8GB for a long term play. Understand that if you don't buy/include a dedicated video card, using the embedded will steal from RAM. And given today's SSD price point, I'd probably favor just buying a large 1TB+ SSD and forgoing the magnetic drive altogether. Only reason for the magnetic drive is if your storage needs exceed ~1 TB -- torrents, plex, etc.


Thank you. I looked at my current computer usage and I'm storing about 120 gigs on my computer right now. The HDD included in the model I'm thinking about getting is probably unnecessary for my relatively minimal storage needs but that's what it comes with and I doubt it adds much to the cost. Understood on the video card. I was planning on getting a computer with one and I suppose its just a matter of whether to get something more basic like the 1050ti or the 1060.

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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:42 pm

Slumlord wrote:RAM - I have 4 gigs of RAM now and it's definitely not enough. When I view the performance analyzer it's having "faults" from time to time which means it is running out of RAM and writing to the hard drive which makes the computer move at a glacial pace. I'm thinking about getting 16 gigs of RAM (8 x 2) just to future proof it a bit. I realize I'm "overpaying" a bit but I don't want to have to deal with finding comparable RAM and seating it down the road.


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pochax
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by pochax » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:46 pm

i do not think you need a graphics card for what you described.

i would suggest the following PC:
https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01N5SXZY8/ ... VM2KO?th=1

and add 8GB RAM (easiest upgrade) for a total of 16 GB. i do find the responsiveness with multiple tabs open a tad better with 16 GB RAM.

the one thing lacking with this setup will be no SSD. you can do the upgrade yourself although i think you need to be a bit computer savvy to make sure you get the OS on the SSD as the boot drive.

if you want the SSD right from the get go, here is one relatively inexpensive option with a 256GB SSD:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6883795652

but you will probably still want to add 8 GB RAM and you will be limited on total storage at 256GB.

edit: i would add that you may want to consider updating more often (every 3-4 years) and spending less on the computer since CPU and memory technology get updated frequently. but to each his own.
Last edited by pochax on Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

carolinaman
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by carolinaman » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:46 pm

Since you have had your current PC for 7 years, you will likely want the new one to last for years. Based on your current usage, either choice sounds fine. However, the more advanced technology may be much more relevant in 3 years. Remember, you are buying for the long term. I usually try to get the latest technology and over configure with memory and storage, recognizing that by the time I replace a PC, what I have is barely adequate. IMO, that is the right mindset to use when buying a PC to last a long time.

LiterallyIronic
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by LiterallyIronic » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:06 pm

From what it sounds like about your usage, yeah, you could get by with an i5 and a GTX 1050ti just fine, I'm sure. But I definitely wouldn't go below 12GB RAM. 8GB has been the standard for a long time, and it's getting long in the tooth. I would certainly get a SSD for booting. And I'd probably recommend an HDD to go along with it, for mass storage, no smaller than 2TB.

While you'd get by with those parts, I would imagine, I still don't recommend them. I recommend an i7, 16GB RAM, and nothing less than a GTX 1060. Why? Because I'm an enthusiast who runs an i7 6700k, 32GB DDR4-3200, and GTX 1080.

Here's a good site for comparing video cards: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html. They have one for CPUs as well, but it's a much more convoluted page.

inbox788
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by inbox788 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:38 pm

I'd go cheap. Begin with a needs assessment. What programs do you need? Have you gone to the cloud yet? Do you use iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome? What are you dependent on a 7 year old desktop? You've lived with it so far, so your needs aren't that great. It's possible you don't need a replacement, but if you're set to get one, consider a laptop or other alternatives. And if you choose a desktop, don't go cheap, but don't go all out either. Get something mid-ranged that's value priced for best bang for buck. Upgrade a bit more frequently than 7 years if you need to.

A comparison point:
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/desktops/i ... 90F1007QUS

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:48 pm

inbox788 wrote:I'd go cheap. Begin with a needs assessment. What programs do you need? Have you gone to the cloud yet? Do you use iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome? What are you dependent on a 7 year old desktop? You've lived with it so far, so your needs aren't that great. It's possible you don't need a replacement, but if you're set to get one, consider a laptop or other alternatives. And if you choose a desktop, don't go cheap, but don't go all out either. Get something mid-ranged that's value priced for best bang for buck.

A comparison point:
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/desktops/i ... 90F1007QUS


Pretty sure it's time for a new one mostly due to the RAM issue described above. I could buy new RAM but it's really hard (for me) to find compatible RAM. I tried buying some GSKILLZ RAM and it didn't work. Also, my Mobo can only support 2 gig sticks so the max I can get with this computer is 8 gigs of RAM. I used the Crucial computer analyzer tool and the Crucial RAM that I could get would be about $60 for 2 x 2 gig sticks.

My needs are pretty minimal and there's a little nagging part of myself that tells me I should go cheap. I've been shopping the deals for a while and if I was going to go cheap I'd probably get this one: http://www.microcenter.com/product/4748 ... p_computer
(DDR4 instead of DDR3, slightly better processor, slightly better integrated graphics). There's another part of me that's like "come on man, you're so cheap and never buy anything for yourself you should just splurge on this one thing."

bloom2708
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:01 pm

If you are going to "go big", why not get the specs you want in a laptop over a desktop?

Use an external monitor, keyboard and mouse (quite inexpensive) and you have a desktop that is also a laptop with built in UPS (battery of the laptop) and uses much less power.

It is very hard to take a desktop with you, but a laptop can be move quickly. You might spend $200 more but it seems worth it.
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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:12 pm

bloom2708 wrote:If you are going to "go big", why not get the specs you want in a laptop over a desktop?

Use an external monitor, keyboard and mouse (quite inexpensive) and you have a desktop that is also a laptop with built in UPS (battery of the laptop) and uses much less power.

It is very hard to take a desktop with you, but a laptop can be move quickly. You might spend $200 more but it seems worth it.


I just received a laptop from work that is ridiculously expensive for my job function (i7 processor, even has a touch screen interface) so if I need portability I can just use that. Also, as you noted, I would be paying a bit more for the same specs. The only thing I would really be doing that's mobile is browsing news stories or forums and I can do that on my phone.

Also, if you can believe it, up until now I was using a 10 year old laptop when I had to travel places. It's basically a brick and Internet Explorer will no longer even load up. Chrome will load but very slowly.

inbox788
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by inbox788 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:31 pm

Slumlord wrote:Pretty sure it's time for a new one mostly due to the RAM issue described above. I could buy new RAM but it's really hard (for me) to find compatible RAM. I tried buying some GSKILLZ RAM and it didn't work. Also, my Mobo can only support 2 gig sticks so the max I can get with this computer is 8 gigs of RAM. I used the Crucial computer analyzer tool and the Crucial RAM that I could get would be about $60 for 2 x 2 gig sticks.

My needs are pretty minimal and there's a little nagging part of myself that tells me I should go cheap. I've been shopping the deals for a while and if I was going to go cheap I'd probably get this one: http://www.microcenter.com/product/4748 ... p_computer
(DDR4 instead of DDR3, slightly better processor, slightly better integrated graphics). There's another part of me that's like "come on man, you're so cheap and never buy anything for yourself you should just splurge on this one thing."

I'm surprised you're having trouble updating RAM. What model computer do you have? I assume Windows; what version? It's probably not worth spending the money on just the RAM as you might find another bottleneck or problem.

Anyway, people have shifted towards mobile computing, so the needs for a desktop have decreased and in many cases eliminated. I don't need a desktop anymore, except occasionally. Most of what I do is on the web and cloud, so I've been using iPad and Chromebook, and their capabilities are very low end. I was thinking of replacing my desktop for a while, but I'm coming to the realization that I don't need to because I don't really use it any more on anything that I couldn't do elsewhere.

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:18 pm

Slumlord wrote:I have a desktop that is about 7 years old and I think it's time to replace it.
{...}
The desktop I am strongly considering buying has the following specs: Intel Core i5-7500 Processor 3.40GHz; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5; 16GB DDR4-2133 RAM; 1TB HDD + 250GB SSD, Win 10 home. I can get this computer for $720.



while i confess i have no official certifications, i am very confident when it comes to computer specs/issues.

my take on this is: if you are just barely dissatisfied with your current very out-of-date desktop, then a very capable 1080p beast like the 1060 mixed with a true quad-core Kabylake is overkill.
but on the upside, this will last you the next 7 years easily as well!!

- Processor: the i5 is all you need. your assumptions the i7 is overkill are correct. if you need 8 threads, you wouldnt have to ask.
- RAM: anything 8GB and higher is fine. any speed, does not matter. in a desktop you can always upgrade in future for more. for future proofing, 16GB is a great sweet spot right now.
- Graphics: the GTX 1060 will run almost all current AAA titles at 1080p at 60FPS on high detail. if this does not mean anything to you then you are correct in assuming it is overkill. if you are getting a deal then sure, but if you can find something with a GTX 1050 or RX 470 it might be better suited. integrated graphics will also be fine for you as well (will play netflix at 4K!)
- Storage: SSD.SSD.SSD. either by itself or paired with a 1TB HDD is fine. if you dont have one now youll realize you can never go back. the single biggest upgrade to the responsiveness of your system you can do.
- Windows: home. you can google the specs on Pro, and if none of those are needed then avoid. there are no speed advantages either.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions! happy hunting and good luck with your purchase.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:21 pm

inbox788 wrote:
Slumlord wrote:Pretty sure it's time for a new one mostly due to the RAM issue described above. I could buy new RAM but it's really hard (for me) to find compatible RAM. I tried buying some GSKILLZ RAM and it didn't work. Also, my Mobo can only support 2 gig sticks so the max I can get with this computer is 8 gigs of RAM. I used the Crucial computer analyzer tool and the Crucial RAM that I could get would be about $60 for 2 x 2 gig sticks.

My needs are pretty minimal and there's a little nagging part of myself that tells me I should go cheap. I've been shopping the deals for a while and if I was going to go cheap I'd probably get this one: http://www.microcenter.com/product/4748 ... p_computer
(DDR4 instead of DDR3, slightly better processor, slightly better integrated graphics). There's another part of me that's like "come on man, you're so cheap and never buy anything for yourself you should just splurge on this one thing."

I'm surprised you're having trouble updating RAM. What model computer do you have? I assume Windows; what version? It's probably not worth spending the money on just the RAM as you might find another bottleneck or problem.

Anyway, people have shifted towards mobile computing, so the needs for a desktop have decreased and in many cases eliminated. I don't need a desktop anymore, except occasionally. Most of what I do is on the web and cloud, so I've been using iPad and Chromebook, and their capabilities are very low end. I was thinking of replacing my desktop for a while, but I'm coming to the realization that I don't need to because I don't really use it any more on anything that I couldn't do elsewhere.


I believe I have a Lenovo Lenovo H230. There's no stickers on the side and I didn't write this information down so the sole source of that information is the Crucial system scanner so I assume that thing works. With the RAM I just bought something that matched the specs of what the Crucial scanner said my systems takes but I tried to find a cheaper one so I got DDR3 1600. There's other stuff too like amps and current or whatever that I might have gotten wrong. I know I seated the RAM properly though because I tried using only the new RAM and when that didn't work I put the old sticks back in and they worked. I realize for computer types all of this stuff is like playing with legos but for me its not. I barely managed to install a new power supply and a cheap video card in this computer but that's about the extent of my upgrading abilities.

I guess I use the computer mostly on the days I telework. While I do have a work laptop I like sitting at my big U shaped desk and using Citrix to log in. Sometimes I take breaks from work to play a game or two. :)

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:26 pm

1600mhz might have been too fast. seems to support in 1066mhz.
but no matter. it would not be worth your money to pour more into this system.

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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by abuss368 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:28 pm

A little over two years ago, we purchased our first Apple computer. A MacBook Pro 15" screen. We are very happy and this is the best computer we have ever owned.
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andrew1976
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by andrew1976 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:36 pm

I was a lifelong PC guide until the iPhone and iPad were gateway drugs to the MacBook and iMac world. I like how Mac's come preloaded with word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Also, the integration of my iMac and MacBook Pro with my phone via texting is revolutionary. I enjoy using the Apple products more since they don't crash or are simpler to use.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:40 pm

PFInterest wrote:
Slumlord wrote:I have a desktop that is about 7 years old and I think it's time to replace it.
{...}
The desktop I am strongly considering buying has the following specs: Intel Core i5-7500 Processor 3.40GHz; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5; 16GB DDR4-2133 RAM; 1TB HDD + 250GB SSD, Win 10 home. I can get this computer for $720.



while i confess i have no official certifications, i am very confident when it comes to computer specs/issues.

my take on this is: if you are just barely dissatisfied with your current very out-of-date desktop, then a very capable 1080p beast like the 1060 mixed with a true quad-core Kabylake is overkill.
but on the upside, this will last you the next 7 years easily as well!!

- Processor: the i5 is all you need. your assumptions the i7 is overkill are correct. if you need 8 threads, you wouldnt have to ask.
- RAM: anything 8GB and higher is fine. any speed, does not matter. in a desktop you can always upgrade in future for more. for future proofing, 16GB is a great sweet spot right now.
- Graphics: the GTX 1060 will run almost all current AAA titles at 1080p at 60FPS on high detail. if this does not mean anything to you then you are correct in assuming it is overkill. if you are getting a deal then sure, but if you can find something with a GTX 1050 or RX 470 it might be better suited. integrated graphics will also be fine for you as well (will play netflix at 4K!)
- Storage: SSD.SSD.SSD. either by itself or paired with a 1TB HDD is fine. if you dont have one now youll realize you can never go back. the single biggest upgrade to the responsiveness of your system you can do.
- Windows: home. you can google the specs on Pro, and if none of those are needed then avoid. there are no speed advantages either.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions! happy hunting and good luck with your purchase.


Thank you. Any thoughts on whether the PC in the OP is a good deal (Intel Core i5-7500 Processor 3.40GHz; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5; 16GB DDR4-2133 RAM; 1TB HDD + 250GB SSD, Win 10 home) for $720 (includes 10% savings for open box)? Seems like people return products for all kinds of reasons so any reason not to go open box?

deikel
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by deikel » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:01 pm

Not sure if this is an option for you, but in most cases where the PC (or Laptop) goes slow or sluggish it is the windows operating system that is the issue, not a question of hardware getting old.

So, my first suggestion would be to clean up the PC a lot (the old defragmentation, cleaning up booting and background programs running without you knowing and somesuch.

My second suggestion would be to use Linux instead. You will be amazed as to how 'fast' your old system becomes under Linux.

If you just want to try Linux, you can use Linux from a USB stick or CD rom (eg Knoppix or Ubuntu) to get a feel for the system and program and see if you like it. My 7 year old laptop that was lagging, went from blah to great - this assumes you use it for the usual stuff and no specialty software is running.

And I would urge you to stay away from W10 - its a resource hogging, ugly operating system IMO. I will never upgrade from W7 to 10
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immidiatly and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:06 pm

i think its a pretty good deal actually.
a 7500+SSD+HDD+1060 6GB+RAM is about $650 if you buy your own parts (pcpartpicker.com).
that doesnt include a case, win10 license, power supply, or motherboard.
depends on the warranty/return policy for open box. if its final sale, then definitely boot it up in store and make sure it works!

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Toons
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Toons » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:07 pm

Slumlord wrote:
Toons wrote:You can get so much desktop computing power for so "little" money compared to years ago.
I would not "half-step'.
Look for an I7 with 16 gig of ram.
You won''t be sorry.
I upgraded my desktop about a year ago and I purchased more than 'I needed'
So glad I did.
17,16 gig,ssd.
:happy
http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/productd ... =287_title


Thank you. Just curious but why do you recommend the i7 over the i5? From the research I've done my understanding is that the only difference between the two is that the i7 has hyperthreading and the i5 does not. I suppose if you are doing super intensive data processing or video editing the 8 virtual cores might be useful but is the average user going to see a benefit here? My understanding is that most tasks now are still linear and don't make full use of the existing quad core technology.



Having purchased quite a few computers since 1993 experience has taught me,anyway,to purchase more processing power and ram than I think i need at the moment.Technology moves forward so fast that a few years down the road the added Ram and extra processing power will keep up.
By the way I do have an I3 Desktop I purchased about 3 years ago.
The processing capabilities are quite noticeable between the I7 and I3.
At this stage Of my life(in retirement) I don't hold back when making purchases .
I get the best performance and quality I can find. :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:17 pm

deikel wrote:And I would urge you to stay away from W10 - its a resource hogging, ugly operating system IMO. I will never upgrade from W7 to 10


Deikel,
while win10 upgrade tactics were sick and not appreciated, and the telemetry options have had some issues as well, i ask that you at least look at some well validated data:
- win10 is not resource hogging, it is much more responsive, even on older hardware.
- ugly is a personal opinion so will be ignored.
- also realize you are markedly less protected on an old system as well.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07 ... r-old-pcs/
http://www.zdnet.com/article/will-windo ... s-7-users/

- PFInterest

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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:19 pm

Toons wrote:I get the best performance and quality I can find. :happy


:sharebeer
with the caveat that the best performing PC components are rarely necessary for most ppl and definitely a waste of money given their planned obsolescence.

bloom2708
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:28 pm

deikel wrote:And I would urge you to stay away from W10 - its a resource hogging, ugly operating system IMO. I will never upgrade from W7 to 10


This is good. I said the same thing when Windows ME came out. I am still on Windows ME. :oops:

Ok. I am not. I spend 9 hours every weekday on Windows 10. Fast, rock solid, no memory issues. Buy a Mac if you want. Go Linux if you must. Your mileage may vary.
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iamlucky13
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:32 pm

My thoughts in order of priority

1.) Get an SSD. This is currently the option with the single biggest effect on day-to-day performance, especially boot-up and program loading. It also actually helps get the most out of your RAM, too, because virtual memory on an SSD is far faster than virtual memory on a spinning drive.

2.) Processor: the i3 series is fine for web browsing and word processing. The main difference between the current i5 chips is the i3 has 2 cores that can hyperthread, while the i5 has 4 cores, so the i5 is better for multi-tasking or parallel processing, and the i5 has a slightly larger cache which gives a modest advantage during high processor demand.

I also have nothing against AMD. I just don't know their product lines very well.

3.) RAM requirements depends on actual use, not single "right" number. A typical Windows 10 install will use around 2 GB on its own, so 4 GB gives you enough for Windows and most moderate demand tasks, and 8 GB should give you room to run larger programs or multiple programs. I run a 2 year old gaming rig with 8 GB. The only time I've had trouble is when I leave my browser up with dozens of open tabs while I play a very resource intensive game.

My work computer also has 8 GB of RAM, and I'm about to ask for an upgrade because I work with very large, memory intensive CAD models. Currently, my CAD system is using 6.2 GB, of which 4.4 GB is in virtual memory. I have another 1.5 GB dedicated simultaneously to a piece of engineering analysis software. This is definitely enough to bog down my system, but not nearly as badly as you might expect. Having an SSD definitely helps.

If anybody is having trouble doing basic office tasks and browsing on Win10 with 8GB of RAM, it's probably because you have an insane amount of bloatware on your computer.

Even if you really are certain you want 16 GB of RAM because it's relatively cheap, do not let it dictate your shopping. The system you mentioned in your original post adds a $200 video card you don't need in order get $75 worth of RAM. Upgrading RAM yourself is reasonably easy. That leads me to...

4.) Graphics - Intel and AMD both have surprisingly competent integrated graphics processors. I waited several months to get a graphics card for my computer, and in the meantime played several older games (Left 4 Dead, Starcraft 2) at near maximum quality settings on the integrated graphics processor with no problems. These are much more resource intensive than flash games.

Shared graphics memory isn't worth worrying about with 8 GB of RAM.

0.) There's a very good chance reformatting and reinstalling Windows on your current computer will significantly improve performance. Most users seem to accumulate a non-trivial amount of bloatware over a few years, running in the background, providing no value to you. However, a reformat and reinstall is inconvenient and time-consuming, and at 7 years, I completely understand wanting to replace it.

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Nicolas
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Nicolas » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:35 pm

I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple Store almost a year ago. It's got a 21.5" 4K retina display, i7 chipset, hybrid SSD, bluetooth keyboard & mouse, and 16 gigs of RAM. Never had an Apple computer before. We love it.
Last edited by Nicolas on Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:38 pm

Nicolas wrote:I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple Store almost a year ago. It's got a retina display, i7 chipset, hybrid SSD, and 16 gigs of RAM. Never had an Apple computer before. We love it.


this is more than twice the price of what the OP has listed, and does not supply twice the compute power.

acanthurus
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by acanthurus » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:40 pm

My 9 year old Win7 computer (Core2 Duo, 8GB ram) just got a cheap SSD and Linux installed on it. I'm good for another few years. Linux has gotten stupid simple to install and run, much better experience than when I tried it ten years ago.

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Nicolas
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Nicolas » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:43 pm

PFInterest wrote:
Nicolas wrote:I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple Store almost a year ago. It's got a retina display, i7 chipset, hybrid SSD, and 16 gigs of RAM. Never had an Apple computer before. We love it.


this is more than twice the price of what the OP has listed, and does not supply twice the compute power.


Granted. Still, we like it. :happy

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:46 pm

Nicolas wrote:
PFInterest wrote:
Nicolas wrote:I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple Store almost a year ago. It's got a retina display, i7 chipset, hybrid SSD, and 16 gigs of RAM. Never had an Apple computer before. We love it.


this is more than twice the price of what the OP has listed, and does not supply twice the compute power.


Granted. Still, we like it. :happy


that is all that matters!

iamlucky13
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:52 pm

andrew1976 wrote:I enjoy using the Apple products more since they don't crash or are simpler to use.


I'm trying to think when the last crash of my either my Win 7 or my old Win XP home computer was. Probably somewhere around XP service pack 2?

Can it really have been 12 years? Even if it's been more recent, it's obviously so rare as to make no impression on me.

The work computer is a little more problematic, both because of bugs in other software I run, and an apparent hardware problem with the video card.

I guess simpler to use depends on what you're doing. I have not enjoyed my few forays into the Mac world. I think it's more a matter that Apple's way of doing things clicks better with some people, and Microsoft's way clicks better with others. Hence perhaps part of why Microsoft trying to imitate Apple frustrates most of their users.

Regardless, I don't advise switching operating systems just because somebody else told you they like the other one better. If you're used to Windows, stick with Windows unless you've had a chance to try MacOS in more depth than just playing with a display model at the store, definitely like it, and know that all of the programs you need to use are compatible.

iamlucky13
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:54 pm

acanthurus wrote:My 9 year old Win7 computer (Core2 Duo, 8GB ram) just got a cheap SSD and Linux installed on it. I'm good for another few years. Linux has gotten stupid simple to install and run, much better experience than when I tried it ten years ago.


I last tried Linux probably 6-7 years ago. Ubuntu Linux was actually *easier* to install and get running than Windows.

I still needed Windows, though, and no longer have time to manage multiple systems, so I haven't really touched it since.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Cobra Commander » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:01 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:My thoughts in order of priority

1.) Get an SSD. This is currently the option with the single biggest effect on day-to-day performance, especially boot-up and program loading. It also actually helps get the most out of your RAM, too, because virtual memory on an SSD is far faster than virtual memory on a spinning drive.

2.) Processor: the i3 series is fine for web browsing and word processing. The main difference between the current i5 chips is the i3 has 2 cores that can hyperthread, while the i5 has 4 cores, so the i5 is better for multi-tasking or parallel processing, and the i5 has a slightly larger cache which gives a modest advantage during high processor demand.

I also have nothing against AMD. I just don't know their product lines very well.

3.) RAM requirements depends on actual use, not single "right" number. A typical Windows 10 install will use around 2 GB on its own, so 4 GB gives you enough for Windows and most moderate demand tasks, and 8 GB should give you room to run larger programs or multiple programs. I run a 2 year old gaming rig with 8 GB. The only time I've had trouble is when I leave my browser up with dozens of open tabs while I play a very resource intensive game.

My work computer also has 8 GB of RAM, and I'm about to ask for an upgrade because I work with very large, memory intensive CAD models. Currently, my CAD system is using 6.2 GB, of which 4.4 GB is in virtual memory. I have another 1.5 GB dedicated simultaneously to a piece of engineering analysis software. This is definitely enough to bog down my system, but not nearly as badly as you might expect. Having an SSD definitely helps.

If anybody is having trouble doing basic office tasks and browsing on Win10 with 8GB of RAM, it's probably because you have an insane amount of bloatware on your computer.

Even if you really are certain you want 16 GB of RAM because it's relatively cheap, do not let it dictate your shopping. The system you mentioned in your original post adds a $200 video card you don't need in order get $75 worth of RAM. Upgrading RAM yourself is reasonably easy. That leads me to...

4.) Graphics - Intel and AMD both have surprisingly competent integrated graphics processors. I waited several months to get a graphics card for my computer, and in the meantime played several older games (Left 4 Dead, Starcraft 2) at near maximum quality settings on the integrated graphics processor with no problems. These are much more resource intensive than flash games.

Shared graphics memory isn't worth worrying about with 8 GB of RAM.

0.) There's a very good chance reformatting and reinstalling Windows on your current computer will significantly improve performance. Most users seem to accumulate a non-trivial amount of bloatware over a few years, running in the background, providing no value to you. However, a reformat and reinstall is inconvenient and time-consuming, and at 7 years, I completely understand wanting to replace it.


Thank you, a lot of useful thoughts in here. I tend to agree with you that the video card is a bit overkill. The problem is that it's hard to find a system pre-configured with an SSD as the boot drive that doesn't come with a high end video card. I don't have confidence in my technical abilities to swap out an HDD for an SSD as the boot drive nor is it something I want to devote the time and frustration to fixing.

I'll admit to being a bit of an obsessive deal hunter and liking to get things at a bargain price. This set up, combined with the open box offer, seemed like a really good deal even if a bit more than I need.

froman118
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by froman118 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:03 pm

For normal day to day usage the SSD for boot and OS is the biggest influence on performance. If you aren't gaming then you don't need a separate video card. The integrated video on Intel CPUs from the last 4 years can handle any usual desktop task and video playback (my HTPC is running a 4 year old $40 Intel Celeron G1610). If you aren't doing video work and lots of encoding then CPU doesn't really matter. 8 GB of memory is still plenty.

This is the cheapest preconfigured system with a decent size SSD I could find at $520:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 795652#top

My main machine is running an i7 4790, 8 GB ram, 1 TB SSD, 3 TB data drive, 750 Ti video card. I host Plex, media for the HTPC, a bunch of databases and web apps and game a bit.

rgs92
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by rgs92 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:32 pm

Let me plug Puget Custom Computer (PCC). I bought my desktop from them 7 years ago and nothing ever failed in it (a Serenity model).
And they let you call them up or email them anytime afterwards and actually talk to them. They build them there and use quality parts.

Tips:
Only use solid-state drives except for large backup external drives.
Get a core i7, period.
Get at least 8gb of memory (16 is better).
Get a decent fanless NVIDIA graphics card.
Eliminate fans wherever practical (you will probably still need a case fan though).

Call up PCC and ask them for advice. They won't try to oversell you or give you the hard-sell.

There are other good custom-makers out there, but I have had very good experience with PCC and will use them again.

covertfantom
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by covertfantom » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:36 pm

I'm going to buck the trend and say NOT to replace your computer. Not yet anyway. I would argue that you should do a full system reset (i.e. 'format the hard drive') and restore the system to stock. The reason I say that is because there's a good chance that you've never done it and you just have years and years of 'gunk' in the system that would melt away when you do a system reset.

The current computer you are describing is on par with current mid/low range hardware. Alot of mobile devices these days still come with 4 GB of RAM. My 6 year old i5 2500k is still more than powerful enough for the uses you are describing.

If you were slightly more technically inclined, I would recommend upgrading the RAM and SSD. You can get 8 GB of RAM for $40 on eBay and a 250 GB SSD for about the same. That would give you a computer on par with some of the fastest mobile laptops out there.

If you do decide on a new computer - WAIT for Ryzen. The reason it is only significantly affecting pricing on high end parts is because they've only release the high end version of Ryzen to compete with Intel. The mid/low end Rizen parts should be coming out in the next 3 months and will be a far better $/performance ratio than you can currently get.

killjoy2012
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by killjoy2012 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:10 pm

The problem with that approach is that at 7 years old, his HDD and power supply are ticking time bombs. And to spend a couple hundred dollars replacing them with an SSD and quality PS, you might as well just replace the PC. It's not worth the effort of imaging drives, swapping components, etc. only to still have a mostly 7 yo PC.

deikel
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by deikel » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:15 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
deikel wrote:And I would urge you to stay away from W10 - its a resource hogging, ugly operating system IMO. I will never upgrade from W7 to 10


This is good. I said the same thing when Windows ME came out. I am still on Windows ME. :oops:

Ok. I am not. I spend 9 hours every weekday on Windows 10. Fast, rock solid, no memory issues. Buy a Mac if you want. Go Linux if you must. Your mileage may vary.


On a PC system that has vastly 'better' hardware than the Windows ME system I presume ?
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immidiatly and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.

rgs92
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by rgs92 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:31 pm

Do power supplies have a short lifespan? I had only one die in my experience, but I didn't know they were that vulnerable to failure. Thanks for any insight here.

VaR
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by VaR » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:50 pm

Just some random thoughts that might inspire additional thinking:
1. OP, I think you've done some good thinking about your needs and your strategy and it's all sound. Pulling the trigger on the open box system at Microcenter is a good choice. Do take the advice on booting up the computer at the store if you can. I do worry a little about open box when it's not a device where people can mess with it.
2. I concur about the SSD being the single greatest source of performance improvement for you. Though memory comes a close second. I'd think about getting a bigger SSD instead of a secondary HDD unless you have a good use case for terabytes of storage. OTOH, what's you backup scheme? Backing up your SSD to the HDD is an semi-acceptable solution.
3. "Web browsing" can describe a range of use cases nowadays. With 20 tabs open in Chrome with a bunch of crappy flash sites or lots of HTML5, I can max out a hyperthreaded quad core i7 and use many GB of memory. I have 32 GB, btw and that is definitely overkill for web browsing.
4. Are you going to leave the computer on all the time? How sensitive are you to background noise? I built my computer especially for being quiet and energy efficient. As a plus this tends to translate into high quality parts that last a long time.
5. Consider whether an all-in-one or small-form-factor computer are for you. They are not for everyone and definitely not me, but they are at least worth thinking about and ruling out if inappropriate.

cordial
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by cordial » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:57 pm

If you are not going to be gaming, you have no reason to be installing Windows. Save yourself the money and install Ubuntu or your choice of GNU/Linux distro. At the same time, you'll be protecting your privacy and freedom. Windows 10 is literally spyware/adware.

PFInterest
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by PFInterest » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:28 pm

rgs92 wrote:Do power supplies have a short lifespan? I had only one die in my experience, but I didn't know they were that vulnerable to failure. Thanks for any insight here.

They are common failure points. The lifespan depends on the quality, with some luck thrown in.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 pm

Get a MAC and be sure to get 8gb of memory which is plenty for a MAC and also an absolute must is a solid state hard drive - 500gb hard drive for a casual user is plenty. Buy high quality system with the best and biggest display you can afford and it should be good to go for 10 years.

MrUnsure
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by MrUnsure » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:02 am

Why not just get a docking station for your laptop?

whanaumark
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by whanaumark » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:08 am

Depending on where you live (major city recommended) I would take a look at craigslist for desktop computers. It seems that gamers upgrade frequently and resell nearly new machines at a hefty discount to new

I recently got myself a home desktop for $600 including 2 monitors. i7, 24Gb ram, tip top graphics card.

One tip : use https://pcpartpicker.com/ to price out the computer based on the parts in the craigslist ad - you can feel good about the discount on new you are getting!

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:14 am

deikel wrote:Not sure if this is an option for you, but in most cases where the PC (or Laptop) goes slow or sluggish it is the windows operating system that is the issue, not a question of hardware getting old.


Highly concur. I took care of the PCs in our workplace literally from the first IBM Personal Computer (with two 5-1/4" floppy drives) up until retirement two months ago. I lose track of the times I would do a wipe-and-reload and notice a marked performance increase. The only reason that a Windows computer's hardware seems "slower" as it gets older is that so much cruft (background crud, add-ons, operating system "band-aids" to address vulnerabilities) gets added into the mix as time goes by that it loads the system down more compared to its out-of-the-box state. (By the way, if your computer, like many, came with pre-installed crud that you never use, you might try removing all those programs, as a lot of those preload resident stuff that only takes performance away from the system.) Nothing really changes about hardware as it gets older, only the software. (The only two exceptions I recall seeing was one instance of a system slowing down and becoming sluggish due to a hard disk that was on the way out and causing a ton of re-reads, and a case of thermal throttling because the CPU's heat sink had become clogged with dust and lint.)

So, my first suggestion would be to clean up the PC a lot (the old defragmentation, cleaning up booting and background programs running without you knowing and somesuch.

My second suggestion would be to use Linux instead. You will be amazed as to how 'fast' your old system becomes under Linux.


+100. If you can use Linux for what you want to do (browsing, email. simple spreadsheets and word processing), give it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. You'll also be less likely to pick up malware, since Windows viruses don't run on Linux. (DW got concerned after a recent report of Windows hacking, and asked if I could set her up with a dual-boot with her existing Windows 7 and Linux Mint. She now uses Linux as her primary environment, only switching to Windows if she needs something workplace-related.)

If you just want to try Linux, you can use Linux from a USB stick or CD rom (eg Knoppix or Ubuntu) to get a feel for the system and program and see if you like it. My 7 year old laptop that was lagging, went from blah to great - this assumes you use it for the usual stuff and no specialty software is running.


If you try this, keep in mind that operating from a CD / DVD is going to be orders of magnitude slower than operating from a hard disk, so ignore the sluggishness in that case and remember that running from a CD / DVD is simply a "demo". If you can arrange to try from a USB stick, it'll be somewhat better.
Anybody know why there's a 20-pound frozen turkey up in the light grid?

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Flymore
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by Flymore » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:26 am

cordial wrote:If you are not going to be gaming, you have no reason to be installing Windows. Save yourself the money and install Ubuntu or your choice of GNU/Linux distro. At the same time, you'll be protecting your privacy and freedom. Windows 10 is literally spyware/adware.


Ditto! :D

kjvmartin
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Re: Help me pick a computer

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:57 am

PFInterest wrote:
Nicolas wrote:I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple Store almost a year ago. It's got a retina display, i7 chipset, hybrid SSD, and 16 gigs of RAM. Never had an Apple computer before. We love it.


this is more than twice the price of what the OP has listed, and does not supply twice the compute power.


With Apple, you're not paying for raw computing power. They optimize their software/hardware in house and develop a very smooth user experience. The "specs" are a bit misleading. I owned a Windows 10 performance rig that had much better specs than current model Mac, but the performance was equal (outside of gaming).

Apple takes the lead on support, average longevity, and ease of user experience IMO.

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