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New $500-600 office PC build

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July 18, 2011 4:37:22 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: This Week

Budget Range: $500-600. This includes Windows 7 operating system

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Basic office applications(tax software, Word/Excel, etc), web surfing

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com

Country of Origin: USA


Parts Preferences: I Don't care if it's AMD or Intel. I'm looking for performance at least at the level of the i5 2400, though if that's overkill for office application you can recommend less. Current build is a "duo core" 1.8ghz, so pretty much anything will be an improvement!

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1024x768

Additional Comments: A quiet PC would be nice, and if an energy saving power supply is in budget I would appreciate it, though it's not necessary. I will have to include windows 7 in the budget.

Also, I am willing to buy non-newegg items if they offer a significant deal. I know that RAM and hard drives are often on sale all over and I will pick them up from amazon or microcenter for instance(online only, no b&m) if there's a good deal this week.

Thanks!

More about : 500 600 office build

July 18, 2011 5:00:31 PM

Seriously if you are planning on doing basic office work , i5 2400 will be an overkill, a build like the would cost less than $500. Here's one :

HDD & DVD Writer: $52- Seagate Barracuda & LiteOn DVD Writer

Motherboard & Case: $80- Biostar 880G+ & HEC Blitz

CPU: $80- AMD Athlon II X4 630(Cheap OEM CPU, to do everything)

Cooler: $15- Cooler Master RR H101(The OEM CPu does not have a heatsing so get this one)

OS: $100- Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64bit)

RAM: $32- GSkill NS 2X 2GB

PSU: $40 -Antec Basiq 430

GPU: $70-Sapphire Radeon 5670(optional, capable of handling games in case you decide to try out a few)

Total: 469 USD

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July 18, 2011 5:18:00 PM

CPU: $125 i3-2100 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: $32 2x2gb (4GB) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOTHERBOARD: $60 ECS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE: $50 PS-05 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: $40 430w 80 PLUS CERTIFIED http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: $40 WD 500GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GFX Card: Onboard

DVD ROM: $16 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

+100 for Windows 7

Total Cost: $463

That is a good base configuration, and if you feel like having an extra $100 in your pocket out of the budget, this will excel at all of your needs for quite awhile. Now I'll discuss upgrading options

You can get an i5-2400 for $70 more, so if processing power is really important to you, that would be the way to go. However, the i3-2100 has really awesome computing power and is comparable to AMD's quad cores and Intel Core2Quads, while only consuming 65 watts!

With the extra money, you could get a graphics card. For $100, you can get a pretty decent graphics card (definitely for your resolution). The GTS 450. It is DirectX 11 compatable and comes with OpenGL 4.0, so it is a pretty up-to-date card. However, the i3-2100 comes with integrated graphics that should work just fine if you don't play many games or grahpic intensive applications.

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

Then there are SSDs! SSD's are super fast hard drives that have no mechanical parts, making them a lot quieter, however they are a lot more expensive than traditional Hard Disks. If you were going to get an SSD, Look at one of the two I'm posting below. (and still get the hard disk drive for storage of files)

$108 50GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$120 64GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hope that helps!
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Related resources
July 18, 2011 5:20:34 PM

Check out my $400 build here.
http://www.squidoo.com/electronicandmore
Combo the CPU and MB to save. (-25)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Take advantage of the HDD + CD/DVD combo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
This should total to about $387.
Plus windows the total will be $487.

Llano is AMD's new chip line that will have a GPU in the CPU. (APU) It's a solid line and saves energy compared to a dedicated card + CPU. Plus it offers really good APU performance and a decent CPU.
Review: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-a8-3850-llano,2...
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July 18, 2011 6:04:14 PM

boeing114 said:
CPU: $125 i3-2100 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: $32 2x2gb (4GB) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOTHERBOARD: $60 ECS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE: $50 PS-05 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: $40 430w 80 PLUS CERTIFIED http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: $40 WD 500GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GFX Card: Onboard

DVD ROM: $16 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

+100 for Windows 7

Total Cost: $463

That is a good base configuration, and if you feel like having an extra $100 in your pocket out of the budget, this will excel at all of your needs for quite awhile. Now I'll discuss upgrading options

You can get an i5-2400 for $70 more, so if processing power is really important to you, that would be the way to go. However, the i3-2100 has really awesome computing power and is comparable to AMD's quad cores and Intel Core2Quads, while only consuming 65 watts!

With the extra money, you could get a graphics card. For $100, you can get a pretty decent graphics card (definitely for your resolution). The GTS 450. It is DirectX 11 compatable and comes with OpenGL 4.0, so it is a pretty up-to-date card. However, the i3-2100 comes with integrated graphics that should work just fine if you don't play many games or grahpic intensive applications.

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

Then there are SSDs! SSD's are super fast hard drives that have no mechanical parts, making them a lot quieter, however they are a lot more expensive than traditional Hard Disks. If you were going to get an SSD, Look at one of the two I'm posting below. (and still get the hard disk drive for storage of files)

$108 50GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$120 64GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hope that helps!


i'd go with the setup above^ except with this PSU ($29):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

an i3-2105 (better onboard graphics) $139.99:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this case (will have good enough cooling and its quiet): $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this RAM $21 after rebates:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

a Low power, caviar green, 500GB HDD: $49
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

which comes to $357.93 +$99 for windows 7 64bit (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) + free PandP = $457.92
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July 18, 2011 6:18:37 PM

if by "duo core" you mean a socket 775 Core 2 Duo clocked at 1.8 GHz, then i'm not sure what type of office work you're doing but I play games on a core 2 duo 2.8 GHz so that's pretty well overkill. You probably just need a reformat on your current rig if this is the case.

If it's some Pentium D 1.8 GHz then I can see why you're wanting an upgrade. You don't need much for an office PC so long as you have a modicum of patience, but if you really want to spend the cash I'd reccomend something like this.

Msi H61m-P21 1155 MoBo-59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Blu ray burner for backing up to Blu ray discs 99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OR

ASUS DVD burner 20.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD Caviar Blue 500 Gb drive 39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

InWin case & PSU 44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Team Elite 4G stick of ram (not a kit, one stick)24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
A 4 gig kit runs around 35 bucks and you don't see a big difference from dual-channel mode

Pentium Dual core socket 1155 77.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or

Windows 7 Professional x64 125.00 after rebate ($10)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or

Windows 7 Professional x32 139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Depending on what you're doing, how your office network is set up, if you'll be running older apps dependant on native 32 bit computing, you might consider professional 32 bit, As it can join into domains and enter Xp virtulization mode, and natively runs 32 or older processes.

If none of that matters, just go with HP x64, it's cheaper and more futureproof.

If anybody is trying to sell you more than that for an "office" computer, either you're not looking for an office computer or they're working on commission. Price of this rig comes out to just under $375.00 and should perform well in an office scenario. The only reason I'd reccomend a Blu-Ray burner is for backing up large amounts of files, even if you only do it once a month, for archiving.
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July 18, 2011 6:30:38 PM

Well the computer is a standard built dell from 2006, if that gives you an idea of the age. Probably a ton of "foistware" or at least unnecessary crap on it slowing it down. I'm building it for my dad.

he uses it primarily for his accounting business, so I will have him check with the software company about 64-bit compatibility. I have a feeling they are going to tell him 32-bit only, but we shall see.

I'm currently favoring either the llano build or one of the i3 ones(was thinking i3 2100 myself before posting this). Graphics are seriously not an issue, I can guarantee that the most intense gaming taking place will be spider solitaire.

He might be interested in the SSD, how much of a difference in speed are we talking about if he installs his operating system on that vs. the sata hdd?
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July 18, 2011 7:38:25 PM

Up to 3 times better boot up speed and Im not sure exactly, but many times faster installation!
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July 18, 2011 7:42:47 PM

ok cool I'll pass on the information and see if he wants to spend the money.

based on the review and benchmarks, I think I'm going to go with the intel over amd. the integrated GPU on the intel looks great, but if it's not going to ever be utilized the intel just outperforms it for straight cpu based processes.
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July 18, 2011 8:08:41 PM

Oh, also an SSD uses over 10 times less power ;) 

And yes, good idea. The Intel's Sandy Bridge are the ones to beat!
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July 18, 2011 8:25:32 PM

don't go with Llano, the only advantage to a desktop Llano chip is graphics, those of which you shouldn't need in a number crunching machine. Most likely you'll need to use 32 bit software, and i'd think possibly windows 7 Pro would be needed for joining domains.

Again, I doubt he needs an i3 for what you're looking at, the dual core pentium i quoted has a good clock and decent cache, anything above that would just be paying more and probably never using the excess.

An SSD will, in my experience, smoke a traditional hard drive, but of course the price, not so much the small sizes, make them of lesser interest for an office PC.

If that dell has never had a reformat (I assume it's running XP) it's probably bloated with the original dell garbage and has some other crap on it from 5 years of use.

I'd back up your dad's stuff if he doesn't have it on a network or keep regular backups already, and reinstall, just make sure to get the drivers downloaded from dell (dell is cake for drivers, put in your service tag and go.) or a second computer handy for any downloads you might need and do a reinstall so long as you can find the disc for the version he has (if it's vista all 32 and 64 bit versions are the same.)

Bear in mind a recovery disc/partition from dell still loads the bloatware on it but you can clean that off with PcDecrapifier. It's not as good as just not having it on in the first place but it works

Either way, if you're dead set on a new PC, I wouldn't go too high on it, since you'll end up spending more than you really need. even if it's only 100 bucks more, that's 100 bucks.
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July 18, 2011 8:29:14 PM

I would still opt for a Sandy Bridge i3 over a Pentium E series. The Pentiums are really old and outdated, where the i3 will be very future proof, while costing around 20-40 bucks more. The i3 is definitely worth it.

Also, with the Sandy Bridge i3, you could buy an 8-16 gb ssd which is cheaper, and set up SSD Caching, which gives you a lot more speed (mostly write speeds), and doesn't cost as much as a higher capacity ssd.

Also, since they are the same price, go with the 64 bit operating system. 32 bits are getting outdated, and can't even support up to 4gb of ram!
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July 18, 2011 8:43:42 PM

hsilman said:
Well the computer is a standard built dell from 2006, if that gives you an idea of the age. Probably a ton of "foistware" or at least unnecessary crap on it slowing it down. I'm building it for my dad.

he uses it primarily for his accounting business, so I will have him check with the software company about 64-bit compatibility. I have a feeling they are going to tell him 32-bit only, but we shall see.

I'm currently favoring either the llano build or one of the i3 ones(was thinking i3 2100 myself before posting this). Graphics are seriously not an issue, I can guarantee that the most intense gaming taking place will be spider solitaire.

He might be interested in the SSD, how much of a difference in speed are we talking about if he installs his operating system on that vs. the sata hdd?


64-bit supports all 32-bit software, so compatibility shouldn't be a problem at all.
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July 18, 2011 10:31:36 PM

ps3hacker12 said:
64-bit supports all 32-bit software, so compatibility shouldn't be a problem at all.


a 64 bit OS can emulate 32 bit software, it can't run it natively, for older software this can cause issues, especially for software that has to use the kernel, which is the reason you have specific 32 and 64 bit drivers, they aren't emulated.

That said, MOST 32 bit software does work on 64 bit windows. However in the business world, especially financial, you'll find number crunching programs that are 10 or so years old that are still used for compatibility, for lack of updating, or for the companies preference.

Past that, some older devices such as dot matrix printers (still used for payroll or compatibility with older programs) only have 32 bit drivers available.

Also, any 16 bit programs (windows 3.1/DOS era) will not run under a 64 bit OS.
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July 18, 2011 11:55:23 PM

Well you can always run a Virtual Machine for older programs, but I don't think youll have any problems with somewhat modern software ;) 

What software are you running?
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July 19, 2011 8:53:02 AM

internetlad said:
a 64 bit OS can emulate 32 bit software, it can't run it natively, for older software this can cause issues, especially for software that has to use the kernel, which is the reason you have specific 32 and 64 bit drivers, they aren't emulated.

That said, MOST 32 bit software does work on 64 bit windows. However in the business world, especially financial, you'll find number crunching programs that are 10 or so years old that are still used for compatibility, for lack of updating, or for the companies preference.

Past that, some older devices such as dot matrix printers (still used for payroll or compatibility with older programs) only have 32 bit drivers available.

Also, any 16 bit programs (windows 3.1/DOS era) will not run under a 64 bit OS.


32bit drivers won't work at all for 64bit windows, this can be a problem especially with older scanners/printers which only have older (32bit) drivers.

In actual real world use, there is little/no performance difference.

The WOW64 ("Windows on Windows") feature provides the libraries necessary for the apps themselves to run in native mode, plus it plays traffic cop with the needed registry and file location re~direction. On the processor level the binaries also execute natively. No tricks are necessary here because because x64 is an extension/superset of the x86 standard, rather than being something completely new.

A couple caveats:

The first is that (any) 64 bit OS will require native 64 bit . In the time of XP64 this could regularly be an issue, depending on the installation. For Vista 64 it was less of a problem due to Microsoft requiring valid 64 bit for any company wishing to use the Windows Logo. A little rough out of the gate, but largely solved now. For Win 7, Microsoft continue to insist on both sets of , and the model has not changed between Vista and 7. Indeed, many of the members here are using Vista 64 drivers in their Win 7 installations.

Secondly (as you said) - There is a limitation that when running in 64 bit mode that 16 bit code cannot be executed. So if you have stuff like really old games, or old 32 bit games which have 16 bit installers you could have an issue with those. Should there be a want/need, you may virtualize the OS of your choice (XP or Win 2K, or whatever), and run the apps there. The disadvantage to that approach is that hardware acceleration isn't permitted. But the old 16 bit apps were designed for systems which are orders of magnitude weaker than what we have now. So they should run well, regardless.
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July 19, 2011 12:39:43 PM

I think the extra $100 is worth it to get the i3 just for future proofing purposes.

As for the software, there's a lot of smaller ones, but his main tax software is called ATX, and it is updated every year. I'm just going to have him call today, they have excellent customer support(technical and otherwise) so I'm sure they can tell him if x64 will be a problem with the older versions, which he has to access regularly to get old tax data for his clients.
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July 19, 2011 4:53:25 PM

Get Windows 7 Pro if youre worried about it. It has compatability modes for just about every version of windows.
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July 20, 2011 2:44:32 AM

Looks good! But if you can, that PS05 case is a really kick butt case for it's price ($50). It's very quiet too. But if you don't want to, the case you have should work just fine. ;) 

Also, you can skip the AC adapter I think. Power Supplies come with one I believe.
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July 20, 2011 4:46:34 PM

My thoughts

Good call on the power cord, I would have suspected the drive to come with one, but it turns out the greenwatts skips the cord to "help the enviroment" (wouldn't be anything to do with saving a buck on each PSU i'm sure)

The Green series of WD drives are only 4200 RPM (less power, less noise, less performance) It's not a hard and fast downside but you're sacrificing performance for reduced noise and power usage. They're also said to be more reliable but I don't have enough personal experience to say either way on that.

If he's expecting snappy load times I'd suggest a WD Blue, which are more middle of the road. The Green is not a sub-par drive, just want you to know what you're getting.
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July 20, 2011 5:23:59 PM

If he plans on keeping the OS and applications on the SSD, will there be a noticeable slowdown accessing simple data from the hdd if we go with the green one?
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July 20, 2011 5:34:39 PM

EDIT: The green apparently uses "intellipower" which spins at 5400 RPM or higher, based on energy usage, not 4200 RPM as I had previously stated, this is still lower than a standard 7200 RPM, however.

probably depends on the size of the file. A word document? Probably not, especially if Office is installed on the SSD. a big-ass Excel file? maybe, if you had a watch out and timed it.

There have been people who swear up and down that it's slower than their previous drive, whatever it was, but having installed windows 7 on a few of them, I haven't noticed a giant difference, not that i was sitting there waiting for it, but i can also say they don't crawl along.

A good comparison is that all laptop hard drives are running at 4200 RPM. Do you notice a difference between two similarly specced machines, one a laptop and one a desktop? maybe not so much, Is there a stopwatch difference, yeah probably of a few seconds.

It's all about tolerances. In most modern machines, especially to people who are used to waiting for an older machine, the time it takes to do most anything blows an older machine out of the water. If you're consistantly on the cutting edge of new tech and are used to running everything off an SSD then you'll probably be wondering why it's taking so damn long.

A good example is with my boss. I was always wondering why he'd freak out if anything on the computer I use took more than a few seconds to process and proclaim that the computer probably had an infection, until I discovered he had a computer that ran nothing more than office and an internet browser with 8 gigs of RAM, an SSD, a 9800 and a generation 1 i5 processor. (it was cutting edge when it was built)

Yeah when you're running office on a rig like that you're bound to notice a difference when it takes more than 5 seconds to load an excel file. But if you're used to it taking a while (like your dad probably is) then he'll probably be tickled with anything modern you throw at him.

TL;DR an enthusiast would notice the difference, your dad probably won't.
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July 20, 2011 5:54:11 PM

great, thanks a lot for the explanation! I hope the SSD makes him happy, I think it's very cool technology and he gave me the thumbs up when he heard the performance vs. cost decision.

I'm mostly considering the green power supply and HDD because it is probably going to be a 24/7 on machine and I figure the prices are similar to "satndard" power consumption technology and the savings over a few years(3-5 probably) will add up.
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July 20, 2011 7:32:22 PM

Looks good ;)  Hard drives aren't necessary slow, but the problem is they can only access 1 file at a time, and there are moving parts so they are more prone to dataloss or corruption. SSDs are definitely the way to go for a boot drive, but you really can't beat the capacity of standard hard drives, so they work good for file storage.

I forgot to ask, but will have an external device (like an external drive or server) that he can back up his files on?
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July 20, 2011 7:53:50 PM

yes he already has multiple external HDD, dvd backups, and even an iomega zip drive! don't know if the zip drive will be compatible(I think it's an ide internal one) but it's not a big deal.

He has a tech person where he is(I'm 6 hours away) locally, who he is going to ask about data migration from his old pc. Tax software company said they can't guarantee anything prior to 2008, but multiple forums suggest win7 pro in compatibility mode works fine so I'll have to get him that. As soon as I get word that the data can be moved, I'm putting the order in.

So glad I found this forum a few months ago, you guys are so knowledgeable!
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July 20, 2011 8:15:31 PM

Sounds good ;)  And haha, we try anyways. Good luck on your build! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I've built a few :) 
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July 20, 2011 9:11:20 PM

I don't believe the ZIP drive will work, at least not guaranteed.
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July 20, 2011 9:18:27 PM

ZIP Drive? Are you talking about a floppy drive because you mentioned it was IDE.
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July 20, 2011 10:54:21 PM

Hah, haven't really heard of them, hence I'm only 16 :p 

So you said it was an IDE interface?
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July 21, 2011 1:17:13 PM

yeah it's OLD. back when 100MB of storage per disk was a big deal.

He keeps his old quickbook backups on it, but I think he recently put them on cd-r media so it's no big deal. I can probably find an ide to usb adapter or enclosure if I have to.
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July 21, 2011 2:43:08 PM

You could probably find a motherboard with an IDE connector. Or even an add on card, like a pci express
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July 21, 2011 2:52:04 PM

you can find USB ZIP drives for fairly cheap, it would probably be a better option, as i've heard complaints that some drives don't work with IDE add-on cards.
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July 21, 2011 4:06:00 PM

I suppose the point is moot anyways if he backs up his .QBW files onto cds now anyways.
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!