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Old 07-23-2007, 07:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help on picking the right computer

Hi guys. I have a Dell Inspiron 5160 Laptop which I purchased in 04, and after a slew of problems (2 motherboards, LCD, CD drive, heatsink, fan, hard drive, blue screen of death only curable by reinstalling Windows, and now the SECOND power cord [lucky I have an extended warranty]) I am really looking to replace it. I know I would be happy if I had something that performed as fast as it did. It has a Pentium 4 processor, an upgraded to 1 G of memory, and 60 G hard drive (came with 40, replacement was 60).

I am not sure if I want a desktop or laptop. I know I can get a lot more bang for my buck with a desktop, but I would need a monitor and the bundles on Best Buy and Circuit City's websites throw me for a loop. The prices look good but I don't know how much the monitor would be (definitely would want a flat panel). I use my current laptop to tote around the house a lot, and I guess deep down I really do want another notebook but the problem is, I leave mine on nearly all day and I really think I wore it out. The fan runs on high constantly again, started only weeks after the heatsink and fan were replaced, and I think it's just not built to stay on as much as I leave it on. Maybe there are some notebooks that have a reputation for holding up to being left on awhile? All I know is I'm VERY disappointed with this Dell. It has also been taken apart so many times that nothing fits anymore and the screen doesn't close, and often pops off one side. The whole thing is a mess.

I don't know with these new processors, what is comparable to what I have now within Intel and AMD (when using Vista). I also don't know the difference between Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium. Could someone explain that?

I don't know about brands. I will not have another Dell. I have heard good things about Sony Vaios, but they seem kinda pricey.

I think whether I get a desktop or laptop, my maximum price is about $500-$550. Pretty cheap, I know.

So if someone can help answer the above questions, and recommend some good laptops and desktops that would be great. I would preferably like to not have to order them so I can go see them in a store and also get one right away.

Thanks so much.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

Well, what stores do you have around you? staples, best buy? circuit city, office max, office depot, etc?

It sounds like you want a laptop/desktop hybrid; portability and constant usage.... On a side note, if you leave it plugged in all the time, take the battery out, it can help keep the life longer. The slow constant charge doesn't do it good.

$500-$550 is fairly cheap for a laptop, especially if you want to buy retail. Being able to look at the laptop and feel it out before you buy is defiantly a good want.

Several of my friends are happy with their HP/Compaqs. I hear acer is a good laptop brand, I own a ThinkPad though.... It really depends on what is available in the stores in your area, (might check local computer shops as well). With most brand names, Dell, HP/Compaq, and especially Sony you buy alot of brand name. The cheaper brands, Acer, systemax, and lots of others, often offer the same performance and good to high quality products. I would not buy dell, but you already know that now.

Realize that you will not be able to get a high end laptop that will last several years for specs. At the $500 range, I would expect Web surfing, office usage, light games, (really light), dvd playback, etc. Is this what you plan to use it for?

Figure out what you really want. The desktop would be more current, but less portable. If you go with another laptop, and it really starts running the fans alot, look into the cooler pads you can get.

The best thing to do is look through your local circulars, (newspaper ads), and see what is available, you can also look online as most stores have them. Also, because school is coming around the corner, you should be able to get some nice back-to-school deals.

Best thing I can suggest is to look around and post links/specs of what you see. If you don't mind ordering online, then we can help do research as well.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

Yes, what you said I'd be using it for is right.

Also could you tell me, based upon what I said, what sort of processor I would need thats comparable to my Pentium 4 by both Intel and AMD. And could you also tell me the differences in Vista Home Basic and Premium? Thanks for your help.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

Sorry, I can't answer the Vista question directly, I would not use vista if you could avoid it on a laptop anyway. too much of a sys-hog, in my opinion.

but the best I can do is Windows Vista: Compare Editions
since i've never used vista yet... I will be sticking with XP Pro for a year or two more.

Do you know what type of processor you have? right clicking on the my computer icon, then clicking properties will help show the speed, in Ghz, and processor type. The website review I found says 3.2Ghz with 1MB l2 cache... which is fairly good already if its correct. A program like CPU-Z will help tell you all the information you would want to know about your CPU.
Dell Inspiron 5160 Specs. Laptops Specifications.

If such is the case, then lets see. anything over those specs. so for the Ghz, any chip over 3.2 Ghz, and any AMD that has 3200+ or higher.

Staples currently has one laptop that might meet your needs, they don't list full specs though, and online resellers are starting the back to school stuff.
Acer Aspire 3100 1711 Notebook PC - AMD Sempron 3500+, 1GB DDR2, 120GB HDD, Dual Layer DVD RW, 15" XGA, Windows Vista Home Premium LX.AX60X.013 at TigerDirect.com

If you can wait/price watch for the next month or so, I would highly consider that because you will get alot of good back-to-school deals, and even if the price on the laptop doesn't drop that much, you might get added bonuses for free. (i.e. free laptop bag, memory upgrade, OS upgrade, hard drive upgrade, etc.)

Quick edit -- I'll look at what you have listed, and (you posted while I was still typing), I notice most are desktops, If you want desktop, its a whole-nother ballgame.

Edit 2 -- desktops... it would be better to order from an online reseller, as you can get better deals and the need to see it first to check hand positions and such are less needed, (as they would be for the laptop). Realize that with the desktop, as you said you need a monitor, these can run from $100 and up. $100 is cheap, unless you get something like a 15 or 17", I spent something like $350 on my 19: Samsung monitor when I got it. But realize that samsung is a high-quality LCD brand and I bought it almost 2 years ago. You can get decent 19"s for ~$150 now. (but still something to consider). The poorer quality ones will be under $100, realize that if there is a sale/clearance, then its possible to get a decent quality LCD for under $100.

I also note that you said "also get one right away.". Makes it a bit hard to get into the Back-to-School deals, but we can see what we can come up with.

I just glanced over the desktops, because you an get better for the money by buying from newegg or tiger direct; and for the laptop, it looks like it could do the job... I'll spend some time searching around. Can I get your zip code so that the circulars I look at are in your area and not Montana?

Actually... looking around at some of the sites for retail chains, that laptop find you found is better then what I'm finding for the price range. Ok. looking at newegg and tiger direct that laptop you found is probably the best you'll get for the price. that $300 off clearance is hard to beat, but it says its out of stock as well,
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Old 07-23-2007, 10:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

Thanks for your help. My zipcode is 48135 (Garden City, MI).
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Old 07-23-2007, 10:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

ok, here are my finds.

Staples.com®. that was easy®.
Staples Circular Savings
Same laptops, just one has cheaper price, other provides more details.

Check these desktop packages, come with monitor and printer. (2 days only sale)
All Desktop Packages

Couple notebooks, check weekly ad for actual listing, these are just links to the non-sale laptops.
Gateway - T2080 Notebook - MT6711 ($499)

(slightly smaller screen, $399)
Acer - Aspire Notebook with AMD Turion™ 64 - AS5050-3785

If you buy at staples, you can use their money back program. I forget how much you get back though.. 1 or 2% i believe, might not be worth it if there is a lot better deal at another store. but if two are offering the same price for the same thing, you can get a slight advantage at staples. Also if you find a laptop at the best buy or circuit city that is at staples at a higher price, staples has a 110% price-match program. (there is only a staples where I am... so I know alot about their programs.) Also if the retail price is more expensive then the online price, you can ask that they price match against their own website, and they will give you back 110% of the difference. I don't know if the other stores have a similar program.

Edit -- most of these end July 28th.. except for the 2 day, I don't know when that ends/.
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Old 07-24-2007, 12:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

I really like this one, though it's on the upper end of my price range, it has everything I want and more.

Best Buy - Weekly Ad Specials

Also the eMachines listed here has a price you can't beat, and I like the first Acer as well.
circuitcity.com - Weekly Ad -
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help on picking the right computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by lasalle_1983 View Post
I really like this one, though it's on the upper end of my price range, it has everything I want and more.

Best Buy - Weekly Ad Specials

Also the eMachines listed here has a price you can't beat, and I like the first Acer as well.
circuitcity.com - Weekly Ad -
For the eMachines....
1) yes the price is low, but the specs are as well. The processor it has is low end, and the memory is too low to consider with vista. (realize that Vista has a minimum of at least 1GB of ram, and its recommended is 2GB.)

2) I would buy dell before eMachines. eMachines is owned by Gateway, if you didn't know, not really a bad thing, just a comment. eMachines have been known for poor quality, but have gotten a little better.

From the ones listed, if you went desktop I would buy the best buy one you listed. (the one that is quoted in this message).

The best buy one should perform alot better then the eMachines, better processor, and not just in raw speed, as it has 2x 512K cache instead of 256K. (can make a noticable difference). and it has twice the memory. The best buy one comes with a screen and printer as well, and is still under your $550 budget. The graphics are not the best, but should be more performance then you would have gotten out of your old laptop.

Acer is also nice, because they allow you to open the case and upgrade some of the parts, (i.e. drop in another hard drive, or install a sound card, or other PCI device), with out voiding the warranty. Or when I talked to the sales rep last time I bought an Acer they said that. (might void best buy's warranty but shouldn't void Acer's, but best to not chance it anyway.)

If it has everything you want, then go for it. better to spend a bit more for something you want then try and go cheap and regret it later. I've done that soo many times that my next computer will have a lot high budget. (i.e. my $800 budget computer now has $1,800 worth in upgrades..., I wish I knew I would have spend soo much initially so that I could have just gotten a better computer initially). But I got a computer with only some of the things I wanted, and found that I did indeed upgrade to get them later, at more cost to me.

My recommendation thus far, get the last best buy desktop.
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