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Old 01-19-2006, 02:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Which computer should I get?

I'm looking to buy a relatively inexpensive desktop computer for the family. I will be running some memory/CPU intensive applications and have cable internet so I want a fast, powerful computer that won't become obsolete too quickly. I figured I'd get some opinions before I decide, probably on one of the following two systems:

HP Pavilion Media Center a1310n
AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3700+ (2.2GHz)
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
2000MHz HyperTransport System Speed
64KB Instruction Cache + 64KB Data Cache, 1MB Level 2 Cache
1.0GB Dual Channel PC-3200 DDR RAM (Expandable to 4.0GB)
200GB 7,200RPM Serial ATA Hard Drive
ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics

Dell Dimension E310
Intel Pentium 4 Processor 640 w/HT Technology (3.2GHz,800FSB)
Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 400MHz -2DIMMs
160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900

Both are around the same price ($630 - 650 USD). I'm just interested in hearing how you would rate these two systems based on these specs. Which one seems like the better choice in your opinion? How does the AMD Athlon 64 3700+ compare to the Intel Pentium 4 640? I notice the Intel has HT tech and a higher processor speed, but I've heard good things about the Athlon chips. Also, the Dell has DDR2 RAM compared to the HP's PC-3200 DDR. What difference, if any, does this make? Please keep in mind that I really don't want to spend any more than this so dual-core based computers are pretty much out of the question. Thanks to everyone for your feedback.

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Old 01-19-2006, 02:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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In this I would opt for the AMD system, generally they would outperform Intel in their class and above. I'm not liking the media center, it isn't really much of a great OS in my opinion. As an even better word of advice get a system from a smaller computer building business, even the most expensive stores will outdo brand names like HP in value. If you are sure of what hardware to pick then you can choose custom parts or otherwise have a pre designed custom system, either way youll get more bang for the buck.

3700 is a great processor by the way.

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Old 01-19-2006, 02:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I would recommend going to www.monarchcomputer.com or a similar reseller which will let you customise it

for a little information about Athlon 64's against Pentium 4's:
AMD has created the P-rating (or Performance Rating) which measures their performance against other CPU's. they were originally designed to compare with their old Thunderbird processors, but also compare well against Pentium 4 processors.

basically, a 3700+ CPU will roughly compare with a Pentium 4 at 3700MHZ
it has to do with the actual architecture of the CPU. the Athlon CPU's will process instructions in a fewer amount of clock cycles than Pentium 4's

also, DDR2 does not give Intel CPU's much of an advantage in memory bandwith.
to communicate with the memory, the Pentium 4 has to talk to a memory controller on the motherboard which then talks to RAM

but the Athlon 64 has its own memory controller on chip, so it can communicate to memory a lot faster.
although DDR2 will give the Pentium 4 a slight edge, only because DDR2 is faster.

But after about Q2 this year, Athlon 64's will also support DDR2. this, coupled with their onboard memory controller will give the Athlon 64's a big advantage.

Hyperthreading (HT) is a technology Pentium 4's use. it basically tricks the computer into thinking there are 2 CPU's, so it will send 2 instructions at once.

Intel has now made dual core Pentium 4's (called Pentium D's) which render Hyperthreading obsolete.

however, AMD also released dual core CPU's after that. they released them later on, because they spent more time on them, and they outdo the Pentium D's in just about everything, including price.

if you use CPU-intensive programs, it might be worthwhile to get a dual core CPU.
there's the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ for starters
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Old 01-19-2006, 06:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'd be more receptive to customizing a system if I knew more about the other components (cooling fan, battery, etc.). Anyway, I'll probably go with the HP because of the Athlon.
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I too have been looking at the a1310n - But I was also looking at the T6420 from eMachine. both are sub 600 dollars.
I also thought about Dell but just talking with people here and at work I'm kinda shying away from them.

I've been leaning a little more towards the eMachine, because of the PCI Express x16 for future upgrading of the Video Card.
They were ranked Average by PC Word in the 12/15 issue. No computer was ranked Above Average and only CyberPower was ranked below Average.
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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go for the AMD system. if you want we can help you customise a parts list for a custom pc.
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i would also go with the hp system as it has the amd athlon which i think is much better than intel, and the facts prove that!! the hp system has better graphics also, however i agree that media center isnt great, and u should try xp pro!!

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