May 17, 2006

Getting a New PC...

I get this question most of the time... "Can you recommend a good PC for me?"

I usually ask, "What do you do with it?" and they'll always answer, "Well, you know, stuff... like surf the Internet, maybe play some games, I'll probably do some work with it as well."

I will usually sit down with this person and work out a proper spec with them because based on their requirement, the
PC would be either more expensive or cheap. (^_^)

These days, we are just so spoilt for choice. We have PCs of so many variety and we can "pimp" them up as much as we like by fitting in a plastic see-through panel to light up the interior of our PCs as well as put in customized knobs and buttons to control various audio and video functions. These are definitely NOT for your average PC user.

Anyway, surprisingly, some IT professionals came up to me, asking me what kind of PC they should get and whether the spec was good enough. Its a very strange feeling with work colleagues working in the IT industry comes up and asks you this question when you think that they should know better... :P However, I reckon that these people had no interest in PC hardware/software because they are just pure developers, even though some of them have about close to 10 years of being in the industry.

Oh well, when these individuals come to me, I usually give them a better spec on what they would need as I reckon that they would be doing some work from home (because some of them don't have laptops from work) and so, they would be bringing their work home using USB thumb drives.

Anyway, here's my regular spec for someone who's NON-IT professional, who would prefer to use the PC to just surf the net, maybe store some pictures/movies from their digital camera, and perhaps do a little bit of light office work. Of course, the budget would determine the speed of the CPU and amount of RAM as well... (^_^)

1. CPU: P4 3.0GHz (Hyper-Threading)
2. Hard disk: 80 - 100GB
3. RAM: 256MB (single piece)
4. Audio: Standard
5. Video: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (embedded on motherboard)
6. Ports: USB 2.0, Firewire (optional)

1. CPU: Speed can be a factor, depending on what you are doing with your machine. If the PC is used for working on documents and odd spreadsheet or two, a decent processor speed of 2.4GHz should suffice. On the brand of the CPU though, well... It depends. I'm all for Intel (yayyy!!!) but I'm not ruling out AMD chips either. AMD chips tend to get a little hot and so, hopefully, the CPU casing would have enough fans to keep the PC nice and cool. If you play games, well, you've got to get a pretty decent CPU in order to keep up with the latest specs required to play that favourite FPS of the day - F.E.A.R, Half-Life 2, etc... BTW, don't dismiss the dual-core processors out there. Hee...

2. Hard disk: 40GB or 60GB is probably what most vendors provide these days. However, some people "neglect" the fact that some of the hard disks these days come with a speed of their own. Standard is 5400rpm (speed of which the disk spins so that you can read data faster), while higher ends come in 7200rpm. Of course, there's the issue with whether to get SATA or not. Well, to cut the long story short, getting a SATA hard disk is very good (a ltitle pricey though) because data transfer speeds are higher than standard IDE. Ok, in short, faster data transfer speeds, the faster some of your applications may run.

3. RAM: Plenty of RAM is good but if the PC's processor is slow, sometimes, it just doesn't cut it. Why do we need so much RAM? An application needs two important factors, enough memory to store some of the processing work and a good CPU processor to proccess that work. If basic document/spreadsheet work is being done, a decent 256MB should be good enough to start with. If you're looking to the future, get 512MB at least. For developers/gamers out there, start out with 1GB of RAM and if possible, max it up as much as your pocket can handle! (^_^)

4. Audio: Unless you want to turn the PC into a media center, get a good audio card with Dolby or THX support. If spare cash is available, bundle in those 5.1 speakers as well. Kekekeke...

5. Video: Tricky business here. Plenty of brands and make out there... Anyway, to get through this minefield, its a very simple business. If graphics editing and gaming are involved, avoid the integrated graphics card and opt for a separate card. These days, the graphics card comes with some RAM or VRAM of their own. Standard starts from 32MB and high ends can reach up to 1GB or more. As for brands, I'm kind of impartial but of late, I'm very impressed with ATi branded cards because of the performance provided. Hehe, that doesn't mean that I'm not accepting nVidia cards too.. (^_^)

6. Ports: Well, the standard would be to get 4 ports for USB, however, if you plan to have USB, make sure its USB 2.0. Why? USB 2.0 transmits faster. Don't worry about support for your older USB devices, because the speed will naturally decrease to match what version the device can support. Something interesting would be Firewire, which allows you transmit data at lightning speeds! Its quite popular with the people in multimedia world because they need to upload/download huge chunks of data. Another thing overlooked is probably Bluetooth support. Well, you can get the Bluetooth dongle for pretty cheap and it connects to your USB port.

Anyway, this is just my 2 sen on what I deem on the qualities of picking up a basic PC. If you want to talk about modding it, well, its a different forum altogether. If you have other comments to add on, please feel free to do so! Somet of the stuff I mentioned could be already outdated or completely wrong... (^_^)

Oh well, here's a good site to go to check out all the prices and information regarding PCs --> Lowyat.Net....

Meanwhile... I'll just dream up my dream PC. **slurp**


  1. smoething to talk about the usb port.
    Although mine is usb 2.0 but im using service pack 1 which usb2.0 is only ALLOW on SP2 and u need genuinue windowsXP to install that -.-

  2. wow... not sure about the usb2.0 enabled only by sp2 as my old pc is only usb 1.0. ^_^

    anyway, i'm not sure about this, but i think there should be some crack out there for sp2... :P

    however, i do not condone pirate o/s. if u mau free one, try an opensource *nix one which looks like windows... kekeke


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