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Should I buy this machine?

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July 29, 2010 8:46:03 AM

Hi , I don't know very much about computers so I'm coming to you guys (or gals) for help.

Currently I am using an Emachines T6528 computer with AMD Athlon™ 64 3500+ processor (2.2GHz, 2000MHz system bus, 512KB L2 cache). I have 2.5 gb of memory on it and 160 gb hard drive. Emachines Specs Page. I got this machine about 3 or 4 years ago. I use the internet alot, listen to music, watch Netflix streaming and other online videos, game lightly (sims 2, farmville (lol), Sid Meier's Civ 4, Fear). My machine has been able to handle all these to my liking (I'm not too picky). But now it's starting to lag a bit and I think it's time for an upgrade.

Recently I saw in my local Fry's ad a Lenovo H215 desktop featuring AMD Athlon II X2 215(2.7GHz). Here is the specs for it on newegg: Lenovo h215 Specs.

I'm wondering if this is a good machine to get for most of my needs with an option to possibly upgrade the graphics card or other things to continue to play my games in the future. The machine is on sale for $329 and that's all I have in my budget really. But would be able to spend some money on the graphics card in the next month or so. So is this a good base machine to start with? Does it give me room to upgrade it in the near future?

Thanks for the help!

More about : buy machine

July 29, 2010 9:37:06 AM

Welcome to the forums! :) 

F.E.A.R. Combat/Multiplayer?? What is your username? :D 

Anyway... on newegg here's a great refurb for $319.99, $9.99 shipping:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU - Intel Pentium E5300
RAM - 6 GB DDR2
HDD - 750 GB
Graphics - Intel GMA X4500

This is faster than the Lenovo you suggested, and recertified PCs should be fine. It has a PCI-E x16 slot so later on you can add a graphics card.

Normally I'd suggest to build your own, but OEM < $300 PCs can't be beat.

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July 29, 2010 10:47:13 AM

Hi Mia, it's gr8 that you are thinking about a new machine but don't just throw away your old machine because it's "lagging". There are ways to make it faster, you know --- much faster.

Now I'm saying this only because you said that you don't know much 'bout computers. Dunno how much you do know, but have you cleaned out the temporary files? They are the single biggest reason for slowing your pc down. Not hardware.

Try these steps first : ---

1. Go to start > run > %temp% > enter. Clean out every thing in the appdata>local>temp folder.

2. Go to start > run > msconfig. Click on the startup tab on the top of the window that opens. Disable (uncheck) EVERYTHING apart from your anti-virus & firewall. (And I mean EVERYTHING). Click "apply" then "ok".

3. Lastly, download a free registry cleaner (only a free one --- do not pay a dime for those things). CCLEANER from Piriform is a good safe example. Install it, run it , and you will feel your system has sped up considerably.

4. If even this does'nt do it then a clean install definitely will. There's nothing that a clean install wont solve. I'll guide you through if need be.

First try steps 1 - 3. Step 4 is the ultimate solution. You'll need to back up all your files, and use "Imgburn" to create iso images for your copyrighted softwares (office,photoshop, etc.).

Feel free to ask any questions. I'll be happy to guide you through anything (as I'm sure will the other members of this forum).

Do not throw your money away just because your system has slowed down with time. It can be made brand new with just a few software tweaks. Trust me, that's what I do ALL the time & what's more, it's really really easy. You may not realize that now, but once you do, you'll never let another repair guy touch your PC.

Of course if you just need some shiny new hardware, that's your call ("shiny" being the operative word --- not necessarily better).

But just give my suggestions a go anyways. It'll be fun to learn, innit? (Again, I don't know how much you actually know, so pardon me if I sound condescending). Just honestly trying to help.
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July 29, 2010 10:57:56 AM

P.S. --- Scan for spyware, adware, malware. They always slow your system down. What AV / Firewall / Security software do you use?
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July 29, 2010 12:44:50 PM

I think I'll agree with the Hyper-meower (btw, how many meows do you get at the same time?). As-is, that machine would be a lot stronger than what you have now. As budget permitted, I would add a quality PSU like a 380W Antec Earthwatts, then a video card. Even a HD5570 would be a great improvement over integrated. It wouldn't use much power, but a lot of OEM PSUs are utter crap.
Your other option, IF you're interested, would be to "suffer" with what you have until you've saved up $550-$600. Clean up your machine, paying particular attention to Startup items. There are resources online that will identify every item you find. Go to http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm and read over that, BEFORE you take the more drastic steps suggested by calguyhunk, then find item lists at http://www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php?letter=&filter=&... . While you're saving money, read up on building a PC; it isn't difficult. If you have passable manual dexterity, can even recognize hand tools, and have a reasonable amount of patience and attention to detail, you can build a pretty impressive machine for $600. Of course, you may not have the time or any particular desire to build your own PC, but if you even think you might, at least do some reading on it. There are a lot of guides online (including in these forums), including videos on YouTube.
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July 29, 2010 5:58:12 PM

Onus said:
As-is, that machine would be a lot stronger than what you have now.


Yes, you bet it will be. But really, how much power do you really need to play farmville ??? !!! :)  I mean seriously!!!
And also a "lagging" computer is no reason to buy a new one. It can ALWAYS be rectified & you know that. Especially since she/he says " My machine has been able to handle all these to my liking" . In any case, you don't need any more than an Athlon 64 (2.2 Ghz) to surf, watch Netflix, & play farmville. That CPU with 2 Gb ram should be plenty (with a bit to spare) provided, it's perfectly maintained, which it apparently has'nt been, & that's what I am trying to set right.


@ Mia
The only reason to buy a new system is if you're feeling flush (which you apparently are not) & wanna see shiny new hardware on your desk. My steps will definitely bring your machine's old glory back and keep your hard earned money in your pocket.

And I think Earthwatts is a bit of an overkill for a $300 PC anyways. If you wanna get yourself a new one, get an Antec Basiq 350. Trust me, the Basic series is just as good. I use it in a lot of my builds --- NO complaints whatsoever. Much better price/performance ratio.

If you need a whole new system though, buy the components from newegg/tigerdirect/geeks/compusa or any online retailer of your choice (assuming you're in the US --- if you are not, then you can still find a reliable online retailer in YOUR country) and find somebody to assemble them for you @ a low rate. You'll get a much better system that way.

It would be even better & more cost effective if you can find a friend, relative, neighbor, colleague, SOMEBODY to do that assembly thing for you for beer & pizza :D  .

I'll guide you through the buying / choosing the hardware bit for your budget. Really, it''s gonna be exciting & enlightening and you'll never go back to buying pre-assembled PC's ever again.
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July 29, 2010 8:16:34 PM

@Lmeow - I don’t play F.E.A.R. but my fiance does, sorry. He does want to play F.E.A.R. 2 one day though and our current machine can’t.

@calhunkguy - I don’t know much about computers but my dad knows a bit. He says to just buy a new one but I like my computer and I am hesitant to toss it out because it’s still usable in my eyes.

I am currently doing a disk cleanup on it now. I do need to do a scan for spyware, adware, and malware I just got to download a program. I currently use McAfee VirusScan Enterprise that I got a year ago for free when I was in college. The problem with my virus scan is that it takes 5 to 8 hours to completely scan my computer for viruses and I’m not sure if that is normal. Is it?

@jtt283 - When I have more money saved I think I’m leaning towards building my own based on what you all are saying on here. I know if I get the parts my dad can put it together for me.

I don’t really play games that much anymore due to time but my fiance wants to be able to play some more recent games instead of having to stick to older releases due to my machine’s capability. But I think I’m interested in trying to stretch out my comp’s life span with some tweeking/upgrades.




Now if i’m going to upgrade my current machine then what are musts at this moment in time. I was able to upgrade my memory from 1.5 gb to 2.5gb just yesterday and it does run a little bit faster.

I was thinking that I would need a new graphics card (duh, right?) because anything is better than what I currently have. But by doing that does that mean I need to upgrade my PSU (is that my powersource?). In my local Fry’s ad I saw a ATI Radeon HD 5450 512MB pci-ex video card for $39.99 or is that not good for my machine? My dad says if I upgrade I should just get a new motherboard...is that necessary?

Thanks for everything so far, this is all helpful information!
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July 29, 2010 8:30:45 PM

Onus said:
I think I'll agree with the Hyper-meower (btw, how many meows do you get at the same time?)


I changed my CPU to the :3 Meownom II X9, with nine meows working simultaneously. The old Core iMeow was a single meow with Hyper-Meowing which duplicated the meows to over 9000. :D  Unfortunately Tom's does not support Hyper-Meowing therefore I changed the CPU.

Mia, what is your fiance's F.E.A.R. username, if I may ask? :) 

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July 29, 2010 11:02:46 PM

Thirty-two or so years ago, I had a hypermeowing cat. His voice was harmonic, so he sounded like two cats were meowing; it was a beautiful voice, even when he was being loud (which wasn't too often).
Flash is 3D accelerated now, so even Facebook games will see some improvement from a discrete GPU.
Even the worst Basiq is at least mediocre, but for inexpensive efficiency, Earthwatts are hard to beat. In any case, I will not buy any PSU that does not have full range Active PFC (no little voltage switch) and 80+ efficiency. Seasonic has some good, inexpensive models that qualify too, in the 300W-350W range.
While it is true that a lagging computer can almost always be improved, some of the titles the OP listed (e.g. FEAR) will NOT run well on integrated graphics, even the latest. I'm sure most Tom's regulars are pretty good at keeping their PCs tuned up, but a newbie claiming limited experience could cause inadvertent harm as well. As the resource requirements of even common desirable software increase, even a "clean" machine may lag. She's got an old, single core Athlon. It may outperform an old P4, but quite frankly it will not be up to running a lot of today's software particularly well. I generally prefer being pretty frugal myself, but sometimes a lot of effort on dated technology is fighting a losing battle, especially on a tweak-resistant OEM machine.
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July 30, 2010 4:08:32 AM

^ Meow. <3

F.E.A.R. is ancient and runs very well on high end hardware, however, with slower computers it runs terribly. I used to have a laptop which had an Athlon X2 QL-65 2.1 GHz, and an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4530 - it managed around 40 FPS, 50 FPS max on low.

An upgrade would definitely be needed. :) 
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July 30, 2010 5:55:18 AM

Virus scan that takes eight hours? I mean EIGHT HOURS? seriously?

OK, here's the deal. How many Gb's of programs/applications/information do you have on your hard drive? The time taken for a complete scan will always depend on that.

Now, firstly, get rid of Mcafee, Norton, or any such piece of bloated non performing junk. Many people will have many different views on this, & I don't wanna get into a debate with fellow forum members over this, but depending on whether you wanna use free or paid AV software, go for AVAST (free) or Kaspersky Internet Security (paid).

Again, get rid of Mcafee / Norton. These bloatwares slow your PC down enormously, besides being completely ineffective. They sell because of their financial might, not their technical knowhow.

For now, you can download Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware, Super Anti-spyware, Ad-Aware (free edition).

Before running a scan, make sure you clean your disk up, and get rid of all junk old programs that you no longer use.
And definitely, go through steps 1 thru 3 that I mentioned in my first post. If nothing else works, step 4 DEFINITELY will.

And no, you cannot cause any "inadvertent harm" to your PC's hardware with any of my steps. Only the registry can get corrupted, & that's why I'm not suggesting "regedit.exe" or a even a strong registry cleaner. In any case, as long as you have your Windows installation cd, everything, & I mean everything can be sorted out. There's absolutely nothing that a re-installation wont fix.

If it comes to that, we'll do that too. But till such time, try out the other steps that I've mentioned thus far.

And yes, you know your computer ain't exactly cutting edge stuff. The problem is technology progresses so quickly these days, that the stuff you'll buy today for 300-500 bucks will get ancient in another couple of years.

Once you do decide to go for a new PC, it's better to invest in new technology, (at least 800 - 900$ for the desktop alone, excluding OS, peripherals - monitor, etc. totaling @ around $1000 - 1200 ) that'll stay new for a few years to come.

So save up, & we can do all that next year. Meanwhile, keep us posted on your progress :) 

P.S. - Please back-up your programs/photos/videos/music on a DVD-R/USB Pen Drive.
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July 30, 2010 6:58:37 AM

Mia813 said:


I think I’m interested in trying to stretch out my comp’s life span with some tweeking/upgrades.

Now if i’m going to upgrade my current machine then what are musts at this moment in time. I was able to upgrade my memory from 1.5 gb to 2.5gb just yesterday and it does run a little bit faster.

I was thinking that I would need a new graphics card (duh, right?) because anything is better than what I currently have. But by doing that does that mean I need to upgrade my PSU (is that my powersource?). In my local Fry’s ad I saw a ATI Radeon HD 5450 512MB pci-ex video card for $39.99 or is that not good for my machine? My dad says if I upgrade I should just get a new motherboard...is that necessary?

Thanks for everything so far, this is all helpful information!


Fistly - Yes, the PSU is indeed your Power Supply Unit. (It's the metal box at the top - sometimes bottom - corner of your computer case. And no, you don't need to upgrade it now unless you add a new GPU, and that's where the trouble starts. OEM's normally don't allow PSU upgrades,you see.

Secondly - No, a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) won't at all speed your PC up even by one percent. It will however facilitate graphics intensive games though, like COD, WOW, Crysis etc. Farmville, Mafia Wars etc don't really need anything more than IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) & you already have that on your mobo. If you absolutely have to get a new one, get a Radeon HD 4650 (with 1 Gb memory) that you can keep for your new build next year.

Suggestion : SAPPHIRE 100254HDMI Radeon HD 4650 1GB 128-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 (only $46) @ newegg.

(Do you know, if you even have a PCI-Express 2.0 x 16 slot on your board) ?

Thirdly - A mobo replacement, as suggested by your dad ain't gonna speed up your computer at all.
What it will do is it'll facilitate upgradation of your system later on. But I wont suggest that because it's well neigh impossible to upgrade on branded PCs. The cases (as is everything else) are proprietary, and half the regular non-proprietary components don't fit easily. So changing a mobo on an OEM PC ain't gonna solve any problem whatsoever.

In any case, don't waste money on this PC any more with mobos, gfx cards, etc. Use it for another year or so, especially since you're attached to it, and then build yourself a new assembled (not branded) one that'll have gr8 upgradeability, any given day.

However, if you do wanna add a gfx card, the Radeon HD 4650 I suggested, will be a gr8 investment within your budget, even though it'll not speed your PC up even one bit. If you just wanna speed things up, forget about this for the time being.

Finally, when eventually you do decide to get a new machine, do it yourself. It ain't half as difficult as you may think it is, and you / your dad/ fiance are gonna enjoy the experience of building your own tremendously. It'll also save you some money. Trust me on that one, Mia.

EDIT

P.S. - I'm not calhunkguy, but calguyhunk :kaola: 
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July 30, 2010 8:29:13 AM

I thought they allowed PSU upgrades... seeing as my friend just replaced the stock PSU with a Cooler Master Elite 400W for his HP Paviliion, or are you talking about slim cases? If so then I suppose you're right. Normally motherboards don't allow CPU upgrades.

There's not much point buying a graphics card considering that her CPU will bottleneck the graphics card quite badly - a CPU upgrade really is needed, the types of activities she wants to do with her computer won't be easily done with an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2 GHz single core. However... seeing as her motherboard is an OEM based model, she will most likely not be able to upgrade her CPU, and regardless it's socket 939 - a dead socket & without any decent CPU upgrades available.

Mia, either save a bit more if possible as calguyhunk suggested, or if you cannot wait, then just buy the PC. It's better to make your own, but with that budget it's cheaper to buy from Asus.
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July 30, 2010 9:57:47 AM

Lmeow said:
I thought they allowed PSU upgrades... seeing as my friend just replaced the stock PSU with a Cooler Master Elite 400W for his HP Paviliion, or are you talking about slim cases? If so then I suppose you're right. Normally motherboards don't allow CPU upgrades.

There's not much point buying a graphics card considering that her CPU will bottleneck the graphics card quite badly - a CPU upgrade really is needed, the types of activities she wants to do with her computer won't be easily done with an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2 GHz single core. However... seeing as her motherboard is an OEM based model, she will most likely not be able to upgrade her CPU, and regardless it's socket 939 - a dead socket & without any decent CPU upgrades available.

Mia, either save a bit more if possible as calguyhunk suggested, or if you cannot wait, then just buy the PC. It's better to make your own, but with that budget it's cheaper to buy from Asus.



She'll at least need a Regor 250 (AM3) on a 785G chipset mobo, if she wants to stick to AMD, or go with E53/5400 on a G31/41 (LGA 775), if she wants a cost effective Intel solution .

And yes, I know LGA 775 is not exactly bleeding edge, but it's not dead. They are still releasing new CPU's for that socket (maybe not more powerful ones) so please guys, don't get started. The thing is, on her budget, she can't get a 1366 now, can she? And in any case, even the 1366 will be "dead" after the hexacore 990x. So by that logic, people should'nt be buying i7's either !!!. WHOAH !!!

@ Lmeow

I think if a Dell PSU goes bad, you have to buy it from them. Aftermarket PSUs don't fit into that slot from what I've heard. Anyways, I've never used a branded one, nor has anyone in my entire extended family, I don't think (uncles, aunts, cousins).

And I have been advising her against the gfx card, coz it'll do nothing to speed up her computing at all, but the good thing is, if she indeed decides to go for it, she'll be able to keep it for her next build. But only after checking compatibility...

@ Mia

Do you have a PCIe x16 slot? Check that before (if at all) you invest in the card.

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July 30, 2010 10:09:49 AM

calguyhunk said:
She'll at least need a Regor 250 (AM3) on a 785G chipset mobo, if she wants to stick to AMD, or go with E53/5400 on a G31/41 (LGA 775), if she wants a cost effective Intel solution .

And yes, I know LGA 775 is not exactly bleeding edge, but it's not dead. They are still releasing new CPU's for that socket (maybe not more powerful ones) so please guys, don't get started. The thing is, on her budget, she can't get a 1366 now, can she? And in any case, even the 1366 will be "dead" after the hexacore 990x. So by that logic, people should'nt be buying i7's either !!!. WHOAH !!!

@ Lmeow

I think if a Dell PSU goes bad, you have to buy it from them. Aftermarket PSUs don't fit into that slot from what I've heard. Anyways, I've never used a branded one, nor has anyone in my entire extended family, I don't think (uncles, aunts, cousins).

And I have been advising her against the gfx card, coz it'll do nothing to speed up her computing at all, but the good thing is, she'll be able to keep it for her next build, if she indeed decides to go for it. But only after checking compatibility...

@ Mia

Do you have a PCIe x16 slot? Check that before (if at all) you invest in the card.


I'm kinda confused... did you quote the wrong person originally? Because I never said LGA 775 was dead or anything at all, I even linked her to an Pentium E5300 PC.

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July 30, 2010 10:14:28 AM

@ Lmeow,

No man, I wrote it for the forum members, who keep saying that ad nauseum.

What I wrote for you is adressed directly to you as in --- "@ Lmeow"
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July 30, 2010 10:27:33 AM

Oh ok, I just thought you were answering my paragraph then running some extra notes or something.
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July 30, 2010 10:43:16 AM

@ Mia

The problem with buying branded / pre-build is that once again, a couple of years down the line, you are gonna have problems with upgradeability.

And in any case, whether you buy branded or assemble one yourself, in any price range ($300 - $3000) or anywhere in between, you've gotta learn to maintain your PC, otherwise no matter how expensive / powerful your hardware is, it'll definitely start lagging over time & going to a mechanic / technician / repair guy is gonna be A. - Expensive & B. You won't even know whether he's actually helping you in the long run, or charging you money for nothing.

Trust me, maintaining your computer on a weekly / bi-weekly basis is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3. Even apart from regular maintenance, some people recommend a yearly OS re-installation anyways.

This PC WILL get back it's speed after a re-installation, alright, but you've got to start maintaining it from now on.
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