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Budget PC for parents

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September 12, 2006 5:47:47 PM

I told my parents I would build them a new computer to replace their 700 mhz computer before i move out in the next month or so. i can assemble the system no problem, but I need some budget part recommendations... I don't want to make them a crap system, and I'd like to make them a dual core if its affordable so I don't need to make them a new one next year.

They have a flat screen already from the last one i made them so my budget is about $500. They use the computer primarily for MS Office and to browse around on the internet. Suggestions on parts? or a complete budget system?

Oh, and the computer is stored in an area with poor ventilation from the sides & back.

More about : budget parents

September 12, 2006 6:14:56 PM

As a shop tech who doesnt sell computers, but works on them i recomend the newest Emachines. After being purcahsed by Gateway, they are great machines and do anything a normal non gamer might need, at a low low price. They are more reliable then most others such as dell and compaq (tested to be true by Consumer Reports).


The other machine I would recomend would be one of those small HP's floating around. They are about $380 and as your parents might say, its "cute". Very functional but not as fast as its soo small, they use a moble processer. There are some with AMD's processor which is a bit faster, but most have 2gb of ram, 250gb HDD space... and lots of everything else.

Let me know.
September 12, 2006 6:18:13 PM

Quote:
I told my parents I would build them a new computer to replace their 700 mhz computer before i move out in the next month or so. i can assemble the system no problem, but I need some budget part recommendations... I don't want to make them a crap system, and I'd like to make them a dual core if its affordable so I don't need to make them a new one next year.

They have a flat screen already from the last one i made them so my budget is about $500. They use the computer primarily for MS Office and to browse around on the internet. Suggestions on parts? or a complete budget system?

Oh, and the computer is stored in an area with poor ventilation from the sides & back.



Get a cheap case that looks okay, an AMD single-core (or if you feel generous a dual core),a board with on-board video and 512MB Ram. It´s perfectly doable. I´d stick with an ASrock board so you can use older ATX PSUs... 8)
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September 12, 2006 6:20:59 PM

thanks but i was planning on buying all of the components seperately and building it myself for tech support purposes - they won't call tech support, they'll call me, lol.
September 12, 2006 6:22:55 PM

Quote:

Get a cheap case that looks okay, an AMD single-core (or if you feel generous a dual core),a board with on-board video and 512MB Ram. It´s perfectly doable. I´d stick with an ASrock board so you can use older ATX PSUs... 8)



YIEKS!

Dont suggest that. They will end up with a horrible computer with a warrenty that sucks, and a big headache if they plan to keep that homebuilt computer for more then 2 years.
September 12, 2006 6:23:58 PM

With a $500 budget, you may be better off (Bang-for-buck wise) getting a setup from Dell or HP. The mass produced budget systems give you greater value. The more money you can budget, the more attractive a self-build will look.
September 12, 2006 6:24:54 PM

My parents bought an emachines PC for work and it sucked, increadibly slow considering it was a 3.2ghz P4 but this could have been a one off and I have nowhere near the experience of Comptia_Rep.
September 12, 2006 6:36:00 PM

Most Emachines now come with 512 MB of ram. The cheap of the cheap Emachines only had 256 and ... gulp 128mb of ram(they dont any more).
This lead to slowness of the computer after a while because of memory shortages when doing Word, email, and...

Dell still sells their lower end with only 256mb of ram, and they are evil because 1, you have to order it, 2 tech support sucks, and 3, parts get very expencive when you need to replace them. Example, on the mid range dells, the case fan is $80. Ya $80 for a 80mm fan.

Emachines I have delt with over then phone (equaly among all brands) and they are quite helpfull. Their systems are upgradeable, (memory, CPU) and most are still using the 754 3200+ / 3400+. They do not *usualy have a video card slot for upgradeability and neither does Dell, but we arnt talking about video game players.


Look at these systems as an example too.

Compusa has a
Compaq laptop $300.
P4 3ghz emachine 512mb ram and everyother standerd item $199.

Bestbuy has the mini HP
Hewlett-Packard - Pavilion Slimline 3300+ Desktop s7500n
Mobile AMD Sempron™ processor 3300+; DL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 200GB hard drive; 512MB PC3200 DDR SDRAM; 9-in-1 memory card reader; LightScribe labeling

I like it alot, and its under 500$
September 12, 2006 6:47:23 PM

Quote:
Definately build one. I dont know what socket those emachines are but are they upgradeable? Probably 939.

I think the best bang for the buck would be a sempron64 system. The processors are dirt cheap and perform well. Also very overclockable. Besides if you go AM2 socket you can upgrade to a dual core later or even quad core early next year.

Make sure you use DDR2-800, cas 4 not cas 5. You will need it later when you upgrade. If your thinking about what to buy at least buy your DDR2 -NOW-, the prices are skyrocketing on DDR2 memory.

Also AM2 mobos are dirt cheap. I'm using the MSI K9N0-Neo, I paid $80 4 months ago, Im sure its cheaper now. Its a Nforce5 550.

Good luck.


Since you have been posting for a while im going to finger you out. (no other meaning intended).

He requested a simple computer for his parents, which they were using a 700mhz computer previously. Spending soo much extra money to provide extra upgradeability is usualy not recomended because if they are on a budget, they arnt looking for awesome. Being able to upgrade to a new Quadcore with 4gb of 1333fsb ddr2 doesnt help them send an email any faster. Now if they are new tech savy (the 700mhz part doesnt suggest that), they might be interested in making movies and doing some really neat stuff they havent thought of, but most basic computers will do that anyway. Granted this website is all about the best, but some times proper or informed advice works beter (which you did, cause you stated it was for upgradeability).

I still recomend getting a budget PC (emachines stands out) and setting it up so your parents dont have to mess with it more then they want to.

--> REMOVE Mcaffee, REMOVE Norton prebundles... they suck.
Get AVG Free, GET SpySweeper. Set them up for automatic Defrags and updates and leave it at that. They will be happy they have just what they need and dont have to work harder using it.


Edit*... ROFL thinking about suggesting to the older customers know that if they upgraded to a semp64 from their old 700mhz, they could overclock it later on.
September 12, 2006 6:59:36 PM

Quote:

Get a cheap case that looks okay, an AMD single-core (or if you feel generous a dual core),a board with on-board video and 512MB Ram. It´s perfectly doable. I´d stick with an ASrock board so you can use older ATX PSUs... 8)



YIEKS!

Dont suggest that. They will end up with a horrible computer with a warrenty that sucks, and a big headache if they plan to keep that homebuilt computer for more then 2 years.

:lol: 

But it´s cheap, will suffice and it´s a good starting point. He can always choose better/more expansive components once he made his list and sees he still has a few bucks left to spend.
September 12, 2006 7:06:40 PM

Ya ok. Unless he lives with his parents, as soon as he buys this computer its up to his parents to keep it working. If they want a computer to last, and be (their) problem free, they want a warrenty and a name brand. The name brand makes it easier to fix later on by shops. ASRock mobos SUCK badly very badly, and they are hard to find once they get a year old. You recomend to build one because you CAN build and maintain one, and it benefits you. For older people (forgive me if they arnt old, and you are young, i mean no discrespect), they want a comptuer that works and does what its supposed to do always. You cant get that from a computer you want to overclock, and keep mindlessly upgrading for no other reason except to throw already limited money at.

There are other factors in this situation, im just going all out because I hate when I get called over to some ladys house to work on her computer and find out she has a Dell XPS fully loaded, just to send email and talk on MSN to her kids. I hear all the time " but company X said this was the best so why am I having problems with it?".
a b B Homebuilt system
September 12, 2006 7:12:15 PM

All items from Newegg

Rosewill Case w/ 450 watt PSU
ASUS A8V-VM Socket 939 Motherboard (onboard video/sound)
AMD X2 3800+
2x256 Meg DDR-400
80 Gig SATAII Hard Drive
Lite-On DVD Burner
Windows XP Home SP2B

Total Cost: $469.94

-Wolf sends
September 12, 2006 7:13:29 PM

I do not suggest going with emachines, because after working as a tech for a few years I see at least 3 a week with failed psu/motherboards but Im not sure if these are post or pre gateway buyout. mainly with the celeron 2.7 and athlon xp 3000+
September 12, 2006 7:18:33 PM

Quote:
All items from Newegg

Rosewill Case w/ 450 watt PSU
ASUS A8V-VM Socket 939 Motherboard (onboard video/sound)
AMD X2 3800+
2x256 Meg DDR-400
80 Gig SATAII Hard Drive
Lite-On DVD Burner
Windows XP Home SP2B

Total Cost: $469.94

-Wolf sends


Emachines:
PSU (fine for upgrading, ~350watt)
Mobo: usualy ASUS (for AMD builds)
Processor: 3400+ (more then fine for sending email)
HDD: 100gb ata133
DVD burner 16x (light scribe i dont think so)
Window XP home sp2

Total Cost: $199 with full coverage warrenty.
Jee wizz I think I would choose to save $270 dollars.
Slaps Wolf.
September 12, 2006 7:27:10 PM

I think I'll have to agree with Comptia_Rep, for inexperienced users it would benifit them to buy a pre-made system.

Btw the emachine we have is under a year old and has 512mb, if only my parents had consulted me first :roll:

At the moment I am using a Packard Bell and it has been amazing, it was expensive at the time but fantastic performance in games considering a radeon 9600.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 12, 2006 7:40:56 PM

Quote:
All items from Newegg

Rosewill Case w/ 450 watt PSU
ASUS A8V-VM Socket 939 Motherboard (onboard video/sound)
AMD X2 3800+
2x256 Meg DDR-400
80 Gig SATAII Hard Drive
Lite-On DVD Burner
Windows XP Home SP2B

Total Cost: $469.94

-Wolf sends


Emachines:
PSU (fine for upgrading, ~350watt)
Mobo: usualy ASUS (for AMD builds)
Processor: 3400+ (more then fine for sending email)
HDD: 100gb ata133
DVD burner 16x (light scribe i dont think so)
Window XP home sp2

Total Cost: $199 with full coverage warrenty.
Jee wizz I think I would choose to save $270 dollars.
Slaps Wolf.

Could you please provide a link? A quick browse of eMachine's web site shows the cheapest system they have at $319 (after $50 MIR) and it's not even close to the specs desired by the OP.

-Wolf asks
September 12, 2006 7:41:41 PM

AMD AM2 x2 3800 $151
MSI AM2 Motherboard with Integrated graphics $56
2x512mb DDR2-533 Ram $102
WD HDD 160GB $55
Linkworld Case $17
Cooler Master 430W PSU $34
Lite-On DVD Burner $29
Windows XP Home $88

Total = $531

No point in going 939, prices are almost the same as AM2 except ram which is dearer for an older socket.

if you dont need case/dvd burner then you are on budget!

also consider this

Barebone $150

all you need is cpu, ram, hdd, dvd burner + xp install disk. its dearer than currently suggested case, psu + mboard in total, but does contain a better mboard.

hope this helps you
September 12, 2006 7:45:45 PM

Quote:
...I'd like to make them a dual core...

...They use the computer primarily for MS Office and to browse around on the internet...


Lol sounds like some hardcore MS Officing and Internet browsing to require a dual core CPU !

Just buy a:
3200+ AMD (single core) for about £60
Mobo with onboard Graphics (S939) for like £60
512MB RAM for like £35
Antec Sonata case and 450W PSU for 'bout £70
then buy a massive HDD, TV Tuner and anything else you wanna randomly stick in there...
a b B Homebuilt system
September 12, 2006 7:51:08 PM

I noticed that newegg is giving away free motherboards with socket 754 Athlon 64 3400+ CPU's. They must be trying to clear out socket 754 inventory. $99 for 64-bit Athlon and motherboard... that's not bad. I bet the parents wouldn't mind the older technology.
September 12, 2006 7:59:45 PM

Quote:
The other machine I would recomend would be one of those small HP's floating around. They are about $380 and as your parents might say, its "cute". Very functional but not as fast as its soo small, they use a moble processer. There are some with AMD's processor which is a bit faster, but most have 2gb of ram, 250gb HDD space... and lots of everything else.


Working on that little HP POS is about as much fun as giving a message to the internals of a spining garbage disposal.
September 12, 2006 8:00:48 PM

COOLMAX CP-500T EPS12V 500W ($50)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Great buy for the price because it has dual 12v rails with strong amps (18 per rail). It has the added bonus most in this price range do not with Active PFC. Despite the fact that the cable sleeving looks like it was put together by someone from the rainbow coalition, it does boast some good specs.
September 12, 2006 8:08:14 PM

Why a prebuilt? If the original poster knows enough to build a machine, he/she can provide any support the parents may need, and likely without being on hold for who knows how long. Besides, if the parents do want something added in after a year or so, a prebuilt makes it tough, as they provide little additional space and brackets, etc. for adding on. They don't need dual core, not many people do. Go for the socket 754 deals and they could easily have a nice machine with plenty of RAM for under $500. If you insist on prebuilt, I'd certainly go Acer over eMachines. In fact, I'd go Acer over Dell or Gateway, too.
September 12, 2006 8:11:22 PM

I guess the main questions are whether you;

a. have the time to build them a new comp
b. want to build it as opposed to buying it
c. mind if they ask you to come if anything goes wrong- as opposed to phoning the manufacturer of a pre-built system.

If we are looking at emachines then here's one for $500 plus $50 rebate;
http://www.emachines.com/products/products.html?prod=T6...
which seems reasonable. Up to you officespacer.
Also this one $539.99 again with a $50 rebate;
http://www.emachines.com/products/products.html?prod=T6...
which compares well with the custom build one posted earlier.

Quote:
I think the best bang for the buck would be a sempron64 system. The processors are dirt cheap and perform well. Also very overclockable.

I think thats where he got it from, don't take this as offense, I'm just reporting the facts and I really don't want to get on your bad side :wink: also those voices talk about much more interesting things then PCs
September 12, 2006 8:12:35 PM

Quote:
Edit*... ROFL thinking about suggesting to the older customers know that if they upgraded to a semp64 from their old 700mhz, they could overclock it later on.


Show how little you know. My dad is 80 and he can OC a 6300 faster than you could load new drivers for your USB-powered LED flexlight. He could build a PS from scratch faster than you could swap out a burnt fuse. And he no doubt, has snuffed your sorry butt repeatedly on WOW.

Dad ROCKS. You suck.

Oh, and if you heard the last subwhoofer he designed and built, you'd feel like the dude in the old Maxell poster. (96 cubic foot transmission line enclosure, four 12" drivers with free air resonance of 20 Hz, 2.6 KW amplification) Imagine an 80 year old cranking Dirty Deeds, knocking nearby pictures off the wall and cracking the plaster on the 2nd floor ceiling.
September 12, 2006 8:15:30 PM

Quote:
Definately build one. I dont know what socket those emachines are but are they upgradeable? Probably 939.

I think the best bang for the buck would be a sempron64 system. The processors are dirt cheap and perform well. Also very overclockable. Besides if you go AM2 socket you can upgrade to a dual core later or even quad core early next year.

Make sure you use DDR2-800, cas 4 not cas 5. You will need it later when you upgrade. If your thinking about what to buy at least buy your DDR2 -NOW-, the prices are skyrocketing on DDR2 memory.

Also AM2 mobos are dirt cheap. I'm using the MSI K9N0-Neo, I paid $80 4 months ago, Im sure its cheaper now. Its a Nforce5 550.

Good luck.
I'm gonna have to agree with MrsBytch on this. A Sempron will run everything they need, run nice and cool(notice OP mentioned bad airflow). I would just change the platform suggestion to either s754 or 939...not worth it for them to go AM2. They will probably be happy with on-board video and sound as well... should be a cheap system to build. Last month, i built my Wife's folks a Sempron64 2800+ s754. ECS mobo :oops:  (onboard sound/video), 512MB Kingston HyperX, 400W Fortron PSU and used their old HD/OS...case, etc. It runs great, and they're happy... $237 Canadian....can't beat the price. Mobo is iffy though.
September 12, 2006 8:17:05 PM

Commodore64...

64k memory, a floppy drive and a modem slower than molasses in january...

and don't forget a dot matrix printer!!!

imagine the power behind 64k memory.....

ok, I tried not to laugh.. lol
September 12, 2006 8:17:15 PM

Quote:
Edit*... ROFL thinking about suggesting to the older customers know that if they upgraded to a semp64 from their old 700mhz, they could overclock it later on.


Show how little you know. My dad is 80 and he can OC a 6300 faster than you could load new drivers for your USB-powered LED flexlight. He could build a PS from scratch faster than you could swap out a burnt fuse. And he no doubt, has snuffed your sorry butt repeatedly on WOW.

Dad ROCKS. You suck.

Oh, and if you heard the last subwhoofer he designed and built, you'd feel like the dude in the old Maxell poster. (96 cubic foot transmission line enclosure, four 12" drivers with free air resonance of 20 Hz, 2.6 KW amplification) Imagine an 80 year old cranking Dirty Deeds, knocking nearby pictures off the wall and cracking the plaster on the 2nd floor ceiling.Cool....what's he driving those subs with? NAD..Please say Bryston... :p 
September 12, 2006 8:23:33 PM

Quote:
Edit*... ROFL thinking about suggesting to the older customers know that if they upgraded to a semp64 from their old 700mhz, they could overclock it later on.


Show how little you know. My dad is 80 and he can OC a 6300 faster than you could load new drivers for your USB-powered LED flexlight. He could build a PS from scratch faster than you could swap out a burnt fuse. And he no doubt, has snuffed your sorry butt repeatedly on WOW.

Dad ROCKS. You suck.

Oh, and if you heard the last subwhoofer he designed and built, you'd feel like the dude in the old Maxell poster. (96 cubic foot transmission line enclosure, four 12" drivers with free air resonance of 20 Hz, 2.6 KW amplification) Imagine an 80 year old cranking Dirty Deeds, knocking nearby pictures off the wall and cracking the plaster on the 2nd floor ceiling.


Yes I understand those types. Since I work near a science military base, I do see people who come in and have been programing since the 70's and know what they are doing. But that post does not benifet your knowledge and arguement one bit.

If you were to tell that to someone else whos buying a computer for ther parents they would not respect you. "my dad can so why cant your dad? he must suck".

And the primary reason I suggest a prebuilt computer is to releave your parents of any hassle down the line. If you dont ented to work on their computer, give them a comptuer that is easy and cheap for someone else to work on it.

I also missed the dual core part. If you need a dual core to browse the internet, my suggestions wont help. As for the 199 emachines, I stated it comes from COMPusa. Check it out.

And Also Clue69Less, I speak from experience, running a computer shop and working with the average computer customer for 12 years, not what my Dad can do.
September 12, 2006 8:24:13 PM

Aw come on, you know he was talking about inexperienced users as opposed to old users. Also I would have to agree your dad does rock, remind me a bit of my grand-dad. He hasn't got into PCs yet but he does the same thing with practically anything mechanical. Man, I feel so useless :oops:  in comparison
September 12, 2006 8:27:21 PM

Quote:
I think the best bang for the buck would be a sempron64 system. The processors are dirt cheap and perform well. Also very overclockable. Besides if you go AM2 socket you can upgrade to a dual core later or even quad core early next year.


Uhh... you mentioned overclocking right there.

As far as getting a pre-built machine is concerned. I build my parents a computer a year or so ago and I refused to buy a pre-built one. I understand that they can often be a little cheaper, but I would trust my own PC building skill over any pre-built system. Before the system I built my parents, they had a Compaq. Working on that POS was insanely difficult. Doing it yourself can be a little more expensive with a budget system, but you know all of the parts are good quality (assuming you buy good parts) and having built it yourself, you know exactly what is in it and what could be wrong. Also, I find that there are vastly fewer problems with systems that I have built than with those pre-built ones.

That being said, I was working with a budget closer to $800 and was able to build a system that would probably be better than a similarily priced pre-build. It is basically a decision between quality and ease of fixing vs possibly cheaper and better (maybe) pre-built system.
September 12, 2006 8:56:36 PM

ASRock is not on the quality list BTW :) .
Ya and I agree with Gm0n3y, as long as you want to support your own PC when they need it, build one. But if you know how to support your own PC just fine, then you could save the 300$ that I pointed out and work out any querks that arise from a prebuilt one.



Urk ok gone on too long. Everyone here has given good reasons to do either. Please reply to us :( .
September 12, 2006 10:09:33 PM

Quote:
Edit*... ROFL thinking about suggesting to the older customers know that if they upgraded to a semp64 from their old 700mhz, they could overclock it later on.


Show how little you know. My dad is 80 and he can OC a 6300 faster than you could load new drivers for your USB-powered LED flexlight. He could build a PS from scratch faster than you could swap out a burnt fuse. And he no doubt, has snuffed your sorry butt repeatedly on WOW.

Dad ROCKS. You suck.

Oh, and if you heard the last subwhoofer he designed and built, you'd feel like the dude in the old Maxell poster. (96 cubic foot transmission line enclosure, four 12" drivers with free air resonance of 20 Hz, 2.6 KW amplification) Imagine an 80 year old cranking Dirty Deeds, knocking nearby pictures off the wall and cracking the plaster on the 2nd floor ceiling.Cool....what's he driving those subs with? NAD..Please say Bryston... :p 

Actually, he does have a pair of Bryston monos - but they are running the mids and top. He was running a pair of hot-rodded Adcom monos on the subs when I heard (read: FELT!) them last. We measured peaks of 1.3KW a side... Brings an all new meaning to "low end punch".
September 12, 2006 10:16:10 PM

Quote:
And the primary reason I suggest a prebuilt computer is to releave your parents of any hassle down the line. If you dont ented to work on their computer, give them a comptuer that is easy and cheap for someone else to work on it.

And Also Clue69Less, I speak from experience, running a computer shop and working with the average computer customer for 12 years, not what my Dad can do.


Yea, well, we know you like to tease on this forum, so you got some back. Tuff. Thing is, the OP wants to build it and is willing to provide service. Good excuse to go see the folks. I do loads of family PC maintenance, installs, etc., every trip home. Keeps me from getting sucked into the political discussion du jour. I've heard so many horror stories of people that had to deal with warranty issues and getting shafted, I can see someone wanting to provide in-home support for the parents. I think it's cool that the guy wants to build them a box.
September 12, 2006 10:18:07 PM

Atlhon 64 (754 or 939) single core. Maybe 1GB, perhaps 512MB of RAM though the former will enhance performance considerably using MS Office and XP. I'd recommend a true 64 (not a Sempron) 3200 or 3500. A decent HDD ($50 80GB Seagate SATA or SATAII) and a Burner ($30 NEC 3550A). Decent Case & PSU. Add maybe an nVidia 5700 or even a 6600. Coming from what they had, this will be the fastest PC imaginable and will last for years. They'll be very pleased. You'll have stayed within budget and this will be quite easy to maintain. Everybody wins. What's not to love?
September 12, 2006 10:21:41 PM

Quote:
... hope this helps you

Yes, thank you very much and thanks to anyone else who suggested parts... which is what I was looking for as said in the original post.

For everyone else - thanks for your input, but i'm not interested in buying a premade, and i don't need kick a$$ specs, it just needs to get the job done and last for a few years. I built a computer for my sister that cost $300 (without monitor) that works very well and thats all i want to do again. i'm just not caught up with budget parts these days and needed some low-end part advice.

ps. who the hell overclocks their parent's computer??? lol...
September 12, 2006 10:24:23 PM

Quote:
If you insist on prebuilt, I'd certainly go Acer over eMachines. In fact, I'd go Acer over Dell or Gateway, too.


Acer is coming on!
September 12, 2006 10:28:44 PM

Cant say I see alot of them or deal with their tech support, but I do like their Ferrari laptops quite a bit. Carbon fiber hood (top) is quite the touch.
September 12, 2006 10:33:47 PM

Quote:
Cant say I see alot of them or deal with their tech support, but I do like their Ferrari laptops quite a bit. Carbon fiber hood (top) is quite the touch.


Yea, that's pretty snaz. I have had a Travelmate 4200 for 8 months or so - it's been on the road a ton and has been incredibly solid. And it was dirt cheap at Comp USA. A friend picked up an Acer desktop recently and it was another sweet deal. He got their 24" monitor and it looked very good. Time is the test.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 12, 2006 10:34:35 PM

I talked my father-in-law into updating his computer with a graphics card instead of his onboard video. Afterwards, he said he couldn’t tell the difference. Since he doesn’t have any games, all I could do was show him how nice a very impressive screensaver was. All he said was “Meh...” Stick to the onboard video, they won’t know what they’re missing.
September 12, 2006 10:36:03 PM

You ever see the first acer desktops. I got one in 1997 I belive, and it was black, and was screwless, and really easy to work with. And very heavy.


Now that was unheardof in 1997. Great case, i dont remember the computer it'self though.
September 12, 2006 10:37:33 PM

Quote:
I talked my father-in-law into updating his computer with a graphics card instead of his onboard video. Afterwards, he said he couldn’t tell the difference. Since he doesn’t have any games, all I could do was show him how nice a very impressive screensaver was. All he said was “Meh...” Stick to the onboard video, they won’t know what they’re missing.


Different people react very differently to audio, video, etc., stimuli. Often, it is actually a lack of training, believe it or not. That's why it is always smart to upgrade the things the user points out as the primary problems/weeknesses. No guarantees there either...
September 12, 2006 10:41:18 PM

Quote:
You ever see the first acer desktops. I got one in 1997 I belive, and it was black, and was screwless, and really easy to work with. And very heavy.

Now that was unheardof in 1997. Great case, i dont remember the computer it'self though.


We had one at work. Someone got it all infected, IT refused to deal with it since it was outside of their IBM mandate and the owner was too much a dufus to fix it. So it was like molasses and therefore impossible to really study in reviewer mode. Still, the name was tainted and it mad eit a little hard to go for this laptop until I looked at the features and all of the extras the sales guy tossed in. Free MS office, bluetooth, etc.
September 12, 2006 10:43:21 PM

I wouldn't spend more than $50 on the video card if they're not heavy gamers. You can get retail GeForce 6200's off of NewEgg for $30. Crappy, for sure, but still overkill for web surfing and MS Office. In fact, even Intel GMA 950 would be more than needed if they're not gaming.

Dual-core is unnecessary as well but with prices so low, what the hey. I'm thinking that Athlon 64 would be ideal. My parents are using two Athlon XP 2600+ (Barton) computers and even those are too fast for them. In fact, my mom is using a 500MHz Pentium III and she refuses my repeated offers to upgrade.

Here's what's really important: RAM. If your parents use computers like the majority of the population, they'll have a gazillion windows open at the same time and another gazillion programs running in the system tray. It's inevitable. I'd put 1GB of RAM in there, a DVD drive, and a DVD+/-RW burner.
September 12, 2006 10:49:03 PM

Now if one thing that CAN NOT BE DENIED it is Mr. Xonitex's post. You must not skimp on the ram. 512 or beter.
September 12, 2006 10:58:44 PM

Quote:
My parents are using two Athlon XP 2600+ (Barton) computers and even those are too fast for them.


Too fast? Is that as bad as having too much money?

Burn, Blasphemer!
September 12, 2006 10:59:07 PM

I have to agree with the RAM suggestion. They don't really need a dual-core. If I had to buy it, I would look for:

-A Celeron or a Sempron (If it's the same or about the same price, an Athlon 64. Socket 754, 939, or AM2 doesn't matter since the parents will never upgrade themselves anyway). Far as clock speed, I say go for the best bang for your buck. If you can pick up a mobo/CPU combo for cheap, go that route.
-1 GB of RAM. Newer programs seem to be memory hogs these days.
-Any cheap harddrive. Far as retail goes, Best Buy always runs good deals and so does Office Max. I've seen 160GB for $60.
-On-board sound and video is sufficient, but I would throw in a cheap graphics card. Even an old FX Nvidia would be fine.
-At least a DVD-RW.

Then again, I would just pick up a EMachines or a Compaq, and delete all the crapware they won't need.
September 12, 2006 11:40:55 PM

Yeah, crapware sucks. My dad got a Dell Laptop a few weeks ago and its paging file use on startup (after completing all the initial setup programs and restarting) was 400MB! A lot of the best software is free, anyway - AVG Free, Ad-Aware, Spybot, etc.
September 13, 2006 12:12:35 AM

Quote:
...Imagine an 80 year old cranking Dirty Deeds, ...

One of my favorite songs! But this thread is all about "done dirt cheap"...
September 13, 2006 1:09:33 AM

I did really well w/ a acer from comp usa its got a 3400 sempy/512 pc3200/160 gig hd/(MB is biostar)/3 pci 1 8x agp/dvdcdrw//win xp//not a bad basic pc for $312.00 plus tax,, and not a lot of pre bundled crap,and i recomend avast for virus protection
!