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Why is this PC so cheap?

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July 31, 2010 1:55:54 AM

Hey,

I'm looking at buying a new PC and I came across the Acer Aspire X3900 (links below) and at a glance it seems like great value for money. It only costs $943 AUD (Australian Dollars) which is great. But I have my suspicions. Could it be this cheap because of it's small form factor meaning there is no room for expansion?

Maybe also because it doesn't have a Nvidia or ATI graphics card. In the documentation it says it has "Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator HD, Microsoft® DirectX® 10 support", is that integrated graphics or a graphics card? on the officeworks site where I am purchasing the PC ,it has Dedicated Graphics meaning it can't be integrated rite? It also says the audio is integrated and is High Definition with 5.1 surround sound support which sounds pretty good so why get a Sound Card?

On a sidenote, I am using this PC for Adobe After Effects/Photoshop, game programming, browing the internet, gaming (not the latest games though, older games like Unreal Tournament 2003 and Grand Theft Auto 3), video and image editing/rendering and more. I am no techy in the areas of editing motion graphics and game programming, I am learning it through online tutorials and I don't believe I need a really powerful computer to do this stuff considering I am a beginner/beginner-intermediate.

Anything else to say about this PC?

Thanks in advance.

-Brandon

OfficeWorks- http://www.officeworks.com.au/retail/products/Technolog...

Product Documentation- http://acer.com.au/acer/wr-resource/1845004674/upload/E...

More about : cheap

July 31, 2010 2:42:38 AM

It is cheap because it uses all cheap components except the Intel Core i3-530. I wouldn't trust the PC for any type of upgrades.

It is using integrated graphics not a graphics card. To add a GPU, you will need to look for a low profile card (maybe an upgrade to the PSU, as well).

It will handle what you need for what you are doing. If you get more into Adobe, programning above beginner/beginner-intermediate, you will wish you would've went with a quad-core. Have you looked a the possibility of an AM3 system? (Athlon II X4 635 or Phenom II X4 945)
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July 31, 2010 3:28:38 AM

Hi unisykolist, Welcome to Tom's ---

Firstly, the machine ain't cheap. If anything it's slightly more expensive than it needs to be.

2. Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) is an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor), which means that the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is integrated into your mobo. That's a good thing, coz it saves you the extra cost of buying a GPU (gfx card) separately. As long as you don't intend to play graphics intensive games like COD, WOW, GTA, Crysis etc. or don't get into professional video editing, etc IGP should suffice (especially, GMA 4500 HD is pretty good). If however you choose to take up serious gaming or video editing, you'll need to invest in a good gfx card, like GTX 460 (Fermi) / GTX 280,or Radeon HD 5850 / 5770 depending on your budget.

Dedicated graphics only means that the comp wont use the CPU's (Central Processing Unit's) processing power for it's graphics requirements. It has a separate - "dedicated" - Graphics Processing Unit. In this case the GPU happens to INTEGRATED into the mobo (Hence IGP).

3. Similarly, you don't really need an additional sound card unless you are heavily into sound editing, or are the consummate audiophile. Sound & LAN (Local Area Network) cards are almost always integrated into the mobo these days.

4. Now 'bout Photoshop and the like ---

Depending really on whether you choose to do it as a hobby or a profession, and your budget, you should go with at least a HD 4650 / 5570 or one of those more expensive & powerful ones I mentioned above.

I can be more specific with my recommendation, if I have a bit more information about your budget & requirement.

4 Last, but DEFINITELY not the least ---

DO NOT BUY A BRANDED PC. I / we @ tom's can definitely help you put together a much better PC with much better value, quality and upgradeability.

What's more, you are gonna enjoy doing it yourself & while at it, you're gonna learn a lot as well.

If you have more questions, just ask ---
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July 31, 2010 4:06:03 AM

P.S. - You may be a beginner now but hopefully, you wont be so forever. Then you'll definitely need more headroom for expansion / upgradation. A branded PC will not allow you to do that, & you'll end up spending a whole lotta more dough just to stay in touch with your requirements / current technology.

Everything they use is proprietary. They intentionally make it extremely difficult for you to upgrade. In any case, if you have to buy a gfx card, you can bet that the stock PSU (Power Supply Unit) ain't gonna cut it and you'll have to invest in a better PSU with higher wattage anyways, thereby rendering your old PSU useless & thereby, a waste of money. (That is, if your new unit even fits into the slot provided by the OEM !)

So start out from scratch. It's gonna be way better in the long run. Trust me on that one.
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July 31, 2010 5:02:31 AM

There are about $500 in parts in that machine.

You will save $400 if you build it yourself. More if you are a student and can snag an academic license for W7(about $30)

The satisfaction.....priceless.
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July 31, 2010 6:43:15 AM

Wow...I never thought it was that much of a rip off. $500... and I could save $400?! I don't really know what to say. Is this how computer manafacures make money? I've looked up various prices on the auspcmarket and it seems that...

Motherboards= $200
Case=$100
PSU=$100
CPU=$200-$300
RAM= $150
+Graphics and Sound (Intergrated or Dedicated)

How can it be $500 >.< Haha, I know your right because you seem to have lots of experience in this area but I don't understand.

Anyway, thanks for the advice.

(oh, and remember all this money is Australian Dollars ^.^)
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July 31, 2010 6:45:14 AM

calguyhunk said:
Hi unisykolist, Welcome to Tom's ---

Firstly, the machine ain't cheap. If anything it's slightly more expensive than it needs to be.

2. Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) is an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor), which means that the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is integrated into your mobo. That's a good thing, coz it saves you the extra cost of buying a GPU (gfx card) separately. As long as you don't intend to play graphics intensive games like COD, WOW, GTA, Crysis etc. or don't get into professional video editing, etc IGP should suffice (especially, GMA 4500 HD is pretty good). If however you choose to take up serious gaming or video editing, you'll need to invest in a good gfx card, like GTX 460 (Fermi) / GTX 280,or Radeon HD 5850 / 5770 depending on your budget.

Dedicated graphics only means that the comp wont use the CPU's (Central Processing Unit's) processing power for it's graphics requirements. It has a separate - "dedicated" - Graphics Processing Unit. In this case the GPU happens to INTEGRATED into the mobo (Hence IGP).

3. Similarly, you don't really need an additional sound card unless you are heavily into sound editing, or are the consummate audiophile. Sound & LAN (Local Area Network) cards are almost always integrated into the mobo these days.

4. Now 'bout Photoshop and the like ---

Depending really on whether you choose to do it as a hobby or a profession, and your budget, you should go with at least a HD 4650 / 5570 or one of those more expensive & powerful ones I mentioned above.

I can be more specific with my recommendation, if I have a bit more information about your budget & requirement.

4 Last, but DEFINITELY not the least ---

DO NOT BUY A BRANDED PC. I / we @ tom's can definitely help you put together a much better PC with much better value, quality and upgradeability.

What's more, you are gonna enjoy doing it yourself & while at it, you're gonna learn a lot as well.

If you have more questions, just ask ---


Thanks alot for the advice. On a sidenote, I do have one question...This PC has an Intel i3 Processor. Why is it called an i3 if it doesn't have 3 cores? Same goes for an i5, an i5 core only has 2 cores (and I think it has 2 virtual cores?) so why is this?
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July 31, 2010 7:19:38 AM

they are just brand names, nothing to do with number of cores.

Core 2 is the same, there are core 2 quads and core 2 duos.
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July 31, 2010 9:04:09 AM

Honestly man, I have looked at some prebuilts, the ones I've looked at, not impressed. Here is the deal, sometimes you may even spend less on a prebuilt, I think that's why most people like them. However, the ones I've seen tend to use the cheapest, lowest end parts they can find. In other words, many times when people buy a cheaper prebuilt, they do not realize that they are getting a cheap machine now, but they are going to be paying someone to fix it down the road when it most likely fails.

I also suggest doing your own build. It's actually not hard, and you can get good parts up front. So you can build in those expandibility options for down the line. That way, when you decide you want to upgrade, you can. My rig for example is 3 years old, it's an older amd rig, but according to what I've been reading about my particular board, with a bios update, I should be able to toss in a new AMD quad, either Athlon II x4 or Phenom II x4, still got 2 more slots for extra memory, so I could turn my 3 year old machine into an almost brand new powerhouse for minimal investment. If you get the right stuff up front, yet another joy of building yourself.

But steer clear of the prebuilts man, guys I talk to say they design those things to run for 13 months, long enough to get you out of warranty. Once you are out of warranty, what do they care because you are either going to pay to have it fixed, or you are going to buy a new one.
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July 31, 2010 10:09:54 AM

Coolermaster Case with 420w 30amp/12v psu $79.00
24x Dvd player/burner $39.00
Asus AM3 Motherboard $79.00
AMD X4630 2.8Ghz Quadcore CPU $124.00
4Gig Kingston 1333mhz Ram $139.00
Nvidea GTS250 Graphics Card $129.00
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200rpm Hard Drive$117.00
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit $125.00
Assembly Charge $150.00

GRAND TOTAL $981

This system would pi$$ on the office works special, actually be a pretty decent little gaming rig also.

If your not interested in building yourself you can pick your components from a reputable shop and they will assemble it for you and install your OS, generally around 150-200 bucks to assemble.

This list was from a shop in Perth, http://www.ple.com.au
You will find similar shops in your state, you will generally get things a bit cheaper too if your in the eastern states, we pay a bit more in WA.

If you want value for money and are not really willing to assemble yourself this is your best bet.

The reason prebuilts are so cheap is because the parts they use are cheap $h!t.
The motherboard will be the cheapest most low end board they could get there hands on
The power suppy will be the same
Even though it has 4 gig of ram they never mention the speed do they? Or the brand for that matter
Even though the Hard drive is a 1TB unit it is a 5400rpm cheapy probably made by singchungfukachicken inc in china.
Plus the system I listed above includes a video card for photoshop/gaming, intel gma integrated graphics are good for watching movies and running windows aero themes, thats about it.
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July 31, 2010 10:25:30 AM

Unisykolist said:
Wow...I never thought it was that much of a rip off. $500... and I could save $400?! I don't really know what to say. Is this how computer manafacures make money? I've looked up various prices on the auspcmarket and it seems that...

Motherboards= $200
Case=$100
PSU=$100
CPU=$200-$300
RAM= $150
+Graphics and Sound (Intergrated or Dedicated)

How can it be $500 >.< Haha, I know your right because you seem to have lots of experience in this area but I don't understand.

^.^)


Motherboard= $50
Case= $40
PSU= $30
CPU= $130
Ram= $100
You forgot the OS =$120

$470, throw in the cheap $h!t keyboard and speakers and you hit the $500.

Im being very generous to them in way of prices remember there buying units in the thousands at one shot. There cost for that system is more likely around the 400 mark.


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July 31, 2010 1:39:31 PM

Hi Brandon, the nomenclature aside, lemme tell you that the Core i3 (clarkdale) processors have 2 cores - not 3, contrary to what the name might suggest & it uses Socket 1156.

Currently, only AMD makes tri-core processors for their Phenom & Athlon II range, based on the AM3 socket.

Core i5 however has both dual core (clarkdale), as well as quad core (lynnfield) processors. (also socket 1156)

The core Core i7 range has both quad core (lynnfield/bloomfield) as well as the "extreme edition" hexacore (gulftown) ones. The lynnfield ones use the LGA 1156 socket, whereas the bloomfield quad core & the gulftown hexacore ones use socket LGA 1366.

At the moment, the i7 980x is their most powerful processor, but soon, the 990x is gonna come out. Word is, that Intel's gonna retire their newest 1366 socket after that, to be replaced next year accompanied by the "x68" chipset. :fou: 

They're gonna use that for their new octacore (8 cores) processors. Take that !!!

They are also gonna ditch 1156 for 1155 & they are not gonna be backwards compatible either :( 

You wanted to know, so there you go. And yes, it's a tad confusing even for me.
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July 31, 2010 1:48:56 PM

But technicalities aside, the thing is, you don't really wanna buy a pre-build / branded one. Trust me. Especially when you have 950 Aussie $ = 900 US $ (approx) to play around with. Unlike what some people are suggesting, Acer might not be selling you trash, but they sure as heck are ripping you off.

Umm...or may be not. The thing is if you buy the parts yourself & get it assembled by a pro, you'll end up paying pretty much the same, give or take, depending on the prevailing rates in Australia, mate. ;)  So you gotta do it yourself. Assembling a computer is child's play - trust me.

If - as a guy - you enjoy the regular guy stuff like gadgets, gizmos, cars, bikes, sports (footy, rugby, cricket, whatever !), you are gonna fall in looove with computers --- Trust me, it's addictive.

But before you take the plunge : ---

1. Do some research. Read up some discussions on different forums, and also download the Wikipedia pdf. It's a bit long and winding (and a bit long in the tooth), but if you're interested, it's gonna be pretty informative & enlightening.

2. Watch some You-tube video tutorials.

Remember, at first, it might just make you a bit nervous, but let me repeat this for you - Assembling your own comp is easy as 1 - 2 - 3. And what's more, it's addictive. Once you get a taste of it, you'll never ever let any PC repair guy get anywhere near your beloved toy. I know I don't :D 

Spend a few days on the net researching "how to assemble a desktop pc ". Google it, and go through all that you can find. Once you start feeling a bit confident, (not over-confidence, mind you --- a little bit of nervousness is good --- it'll make you cautious) the best thing to do, I suppose, is to reverse engineer an already assembled PC. The best way to learn always is hands on experience. No textbook / video tutorial in the world will ever give you that.

If even after all the research you are still not sure 'bout opening up your own pc, buy an old one for peanuts, or find one in the local junkyard to start your reverse engineering experiments. Some of the ports might have changed, (like IDE - SATA, AGP - PCI - PCIe, etc) but the basics STILL remain the same.

Do that, and you're good to go. And in any case, we're here to help you. Just keep a camera handy to post shots of your progress, just in case.

Once you do decide to take the plunge (hopefully, it's just a question of when, not if), order the parts from a reputable online / local retailer, and read the taxation / shipping / RMA / exchange / warranty fine-print.

So what are you waiting for? Get cracking with your research. Do this and you'll thank me once you're done.

But before that, ask any & I mean as many questions you want to. You know what they say, dontcha?
"The only stupid question is the one you don't ask" :sol: 
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July 31, 2010 6:16:45 PM

Unisykolist said:
Wow...I never thought it was that much of a rip off. $500... and I could save $400?! I don't really know what to say. Is this how computer manafacures make money? I've looked up various prices on the auspcmarket and it seems that...

Motherboards= $200
Case=$100
PSU=$100
CPU=$200-$300
RAM= $150
+Graphics and Sound (Intergrated or Dedicated)

How can it be $500 >.< Haha, I know your right because you seem to have lots of experience in this area but I don't understand.

Anyway, thanks for the advice.

(oh, and remember all this money is Australian Dollars ^.^)


I understand that the AU$ is about on a par with the US$.

i3-530 $115
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
4gb of DDR3 ram $82
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Antec 200 case $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Corsair 400w psu $50. $30 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Gigabyte H55 Motherboard $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Windows 7 $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
total so far $522.

Add in kbd mouse, and monitor. DS reader is about $10. DVD about $30.

Of course, prices may be higher where you shop, but the parts above are a good starting point.

The Quality of the psu offfered is unknown, and usually a cheap minimal one.
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August 1, 2010 2:50:34 AM

While the Aussie dollar is reasonably on par with American dollar we still pay substantially more for the same components

13-530 $135

4gb ddr3 $139

Antec 200 $70

Coolermaster 460w psu $65

Gigabyte H55 Mobo $117

Windows 7 $125

Total $651 Plus Dvd,kbd mouse and ds reader

Total $745

I dont know why we pay more, theres no good reason for it but we do.
We also have nowhere near the availability or options in the way of parts that you guys in the states do.

It pi$$'s me off no end.

Just to rub salt into the wound I pay $79 a month for an 8mb internet connection. The fastest I can get here with 40gig peak and 40gig off peak.
If I wanna bump that up to 50gig and 60 off peak? That'll be $129 sucker thanks for coming :( 
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August 1, 2010 3:45:19 AM

tonkatuffmofo said:
While the Aussie dollar is reasonably on par with American dollar we still pay substantially more for the same components

13-530 $135

4gb ddr3 $139

Antec 200 $70

Coolermaster 460w psu $65

Gigabyte H55 Mobo $117

Windows 7 $125

Total $651 Plus Dvd,kbd mouse and ds reader

Total $745

I dont know why we pay more, theres no good reason for it but we do.
We also have nowhere near the availability or options in the way of parts that you guys in the states do.

It pi$$'s me off no end.

Looks to be about 20%. Bummer.

I can't get much past 10mb internet in USA. Speed doesn't matter much for surfing, but downloads can be slow.

If you build it yourself, the satisfaction is priceless.

Just to rub salt into the wound I pay $79 a month for an 8mb internet connection. The fastest I can get here with 40gig peak and 40gig off peak.
If I wanna bump that up to 50gig and 60 off peak? That'll be $129 sucker thanks for coming :( 

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August 1, 2010 9:19:06 AM

Lol I do build my own.

But for some people $150 is a small price to pay to have it put together by a shop.

I was merely suggesting it as an option to the OP.

It is still a better solution to buying a prebuilt branded system.

At the end of the day the decision lies with the OP and I would prefer that a person asking these questions is aware of all available options to him.

Some people are just not confident enough or in a lot of cases simply cant be a$$ed going through the hassle of putting a pc together themselves.

Damn I wish we had a newegg equivelent over here.

Currently chasing a q9650 for my lga775 system, currently running an E8400@3.8Ghz and finally found a game that can bottleneck the sucker (BFBC2)
Looks like Im gonna have to get one out of the states or Hong Kong.
Theres like 3 available in the whole of Aus and there asking $600 and up for them the ba$tards. Thats what its like for higher end parts over here though.
Theres just not the same amount of demand for high end gear over here as there is in the states. :( 
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August 1, 2010 10:49:01 AM

tonkatuffmofo said:


But for some people $150 is a small price to pay to have it put together by a shop.

LOL --- 150 bucks "a small price for a pc assembly".

You should be able to assemble an automobile for that price :lol: 

tonkatuffmofo said:


there asking $600 and up for them the ba$tards


Could you elaborate on that? Do you mean 600 bucks "for a Q9650"? Surely not. Damn !!! That's a big a$$ amount to pay for a last gen quad on 775.

Damn !!! I'm still in shock. You better check the latest prices dude, or at least give a link for us to check that out. :o 
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August 1, 2010 1:50:59 PM

calguyhunk said:
LOL --- 150 bucks "a small price for a pc assembly".

You should be able to assemble an automobile for that price :lol: 


You took my comment out of context, for someone who knows how to put a system together yes save the money, for someone who doesnt or doesnt have the time $150 is not a lot here in Australia, maybe in America it is, different economies mate.
Your giving advice to a person who by his own admission doesnt know a hell of a lot about the technical aspects of a PC, its irresponsible to not offer him all available solutions for getting a good deal/system.

Personally I wouldnt trust half the blokes offering advice on toms to install a video driver on my pc let alone shell out advice to some poor sod putting a pc together.
No offense to yourself but Im sure you know what I mean.



calguyhunk said:
Could you elaborate on that? Do you mean 600 bucks "for a Q9650"? Surely not. Damn !!! That's a big a$$ amount to pay for a last gen quad on 775.

Damn !!! I'm still in shock. You better check the latest prices dude, or at least give a link for us to check that out. :o 


Your right its been a month since I last checked, there down around 520-550 now, bargain!!!!! Ill order one tomorrow!!!

http://www.pricespy.com.au/c_747.html?d=13790
http://www.shopbot.com.au/pp-intel-core-2-quad-q9650-pr...
http://www.pricespy.com.au/c_363.html?d=13790

Your not in America anymore Toto.
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August 1, 2010 3:43:39 PM

tonkatuffmofo said:
You took my comment out of context, for someone who knows how to put a system together yes save the money, for someone who doesnt or doesnt have the time $150 is not a lot here in Australia, maybe in America it is, different economies mate.


I don't know if you know how to put together a pc but assuming that you do, you do realize how much of a colossal waste it feels, right? Not just in terms of money, but just the feeling of getting ripped off for something that at a basic level at least, ain't exactly rocket science.

I do respect the sentiments of people who are disinterested in going through the whole thing (& they are actually in the majority), but for me, it's like having a chauffeur. Would I pay somebody to drive my car? (A lotta people do, & I respect their bank balance :D  )

You said something 'bout installing a video card. Good for our OP, he ain't about to get one. :) 

About newbies learning to assemble computers : ---

I remember reading a terrific 78 page thread on ocn where a complete noob who had paid around 300 bucks to a local system builder for a Q9650 based 1500$ system learnt not only to oc (which is why he came to the forum @ the first place, bcoz his son wanted to play FSX), but ended up replacing virtually every component, and in the process built a whole new pc on his own, just on the advice of fellow forum members.

tonkatuffmofo said:
Personally I wouldnt trust half the blokes offering advice on toms to install a video driver on my pc let alone shell out advice to some poor sod putting a pc together.

No offense to yourself but Im sure you know what I mean.


None taken. You're right. I would'nt either. And it's not just here, but life in general. You gotta be very careful as to who you take advice from. Coz it can eventually end up doing more harm than good if you don't know $hit from shinola yourself.
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August 7, 2010 1:24:14 PM

Wow, thanks for the advice everyone. I haven't checked this thread for a number of days, meanwhile I have been researching A LOT and I've discovered heeps and now I'm planning a build of my own. I've made a thread for it, it's here if you would like to see it (please do :)  )

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/292034-31-build-good-...

I now know never to buy a prebuilt PC! Thanks and I really want to build my own PC not just because it is way cheaper but because it's fun. ^.^

(many people were saying I forgot the OS, I've already got an OS)
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