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Homeschool mom needs help!

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August 22, 2011 6:59:46 PM

Hello,
I have spent 3 weeks now researching computers. Have found 2 and would like opinions. The http://www.amazon.com/Microtel-Computer%C2%AE-Quad-Core... has a graphics card that newegg.com is loud and not reliable. The http://www.amazon.com/HP-Pavilion-h8-1020-Desktop-Compu... is really more than I want to spend and HP is spinning off this division so I am not sure about support. Then, never to miss a "schooling" moment, I thought maybe our son should build one. Looking for: video editing and graphics computer (he is in concept art). Any thougts would be greatly appreciated because my brain is about to explode with the finer details of these computers!

More about : homeschool mom

August 22, 2011 7:30:09 PM

Generally speaking, building is cheaper than pre-made systems, and the you can also fine-tune everything to meet all your needs and nothing more. One thing would is he should do a LOT of research into parts, (like start reading articles and threads on this site) well before purchasing anything. Also, if you go that route, newegg.com is probably the go-to place for individual parts (as well as full system setups).

For example, the one I built a few months ago is priced similarly to the Microtel but has better video card/RAM/processor. If you don't need it now, have him do a self build, but make sure he reads up on ALL the components thoroughly as well as guides to the physical building once the parts are acquired.
Hope that helps!
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August 22, 2011 8:00:14 PM

I've yet to be able to build a low -> mid level computer cheaper than a "Store bought" system. But then I would NOT buy some of the Low end/cheap/poor quality components that come with these systems. Generally the PSU is normally of low end quality.

Wife need a new system PDQ, so took her to the store and she bought a "cheap" system. 6 Monthes later I built her a Low end I3 system and gave her "store" bought system Away FREE.

Building a new system can also be a learning exprience in electronics. Walmart sells a Digital Voltment for about $15. and instructions on use are FREE, just google How to use a digital voltmenter. NOT Required, but adds to the "learning" experience.

You can also look at tigerdirect for "prebuilt" systems, Just make sure you replace the PSU in most cases.
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August 22, 2011 8:12:59 PM

Go with the DIY route, that way you get to pick the parts you want and most of the time it's cheaper. Select the largest room in your house so you have plenty of space to work with. Just remember not to build on carpet because that will cause static which is not good for computer parts.
If your stuck, there's plenty of members here who'll gladly help out. :) 
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August 22, 2011 8:33:54 PM

Thanks for the advice. Any thoughts on those two computers. How do you tell which components are "cheap"? When you look at all the components, I just don't know which is the one NOT to buy. I wish I had thought of this sooner. Now with school starting, I doubt we will have time to build one!
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August 22, 2011 8:38:52 PM

so I know a few things we do want... i.e. i7 or AMD Phenom II x4 (unless there is a faster one), 8 gb RAM, video card 1 gb but i need HELP here, 1Tb storage, dedicated audio (i think he needs this for video editing but I never seen this on any computer I have looked at).
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August 22, 2011 8:40:58 PM

What video editing programs she uses?
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August 22, 2011 8:43:21 PM

When does school start?
It doesn't take that long to build a computer, you can get a whole new machine up and running in a single day (minus the time you wait for parts to arrive). But newegg are pretty fast with their shipping.
What is your budget?
Do you need keyboard, monitor, mouse, and speakers?
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August 22, 2011 8:57:48 PM

Now days, DIY or home built is definitely more expensive than store bought IME.

The advantage to home built is you can pick all the hardware to best meet your needs though it may be more expensive than a store bought. The disadvantage to home built is you need a lot of technical expertise to assemble and tune the PC for proper, reliable operation - which many folks are unprepared to do as it's a STEEP learning curve filled with lots of frustration even for experienced PC builders. In addition you have NO Tech Support if you're building your own PC. That can mean a lot when issues pop up and they will many times during the build and even after you have a basic functioning PC.

While I fully encourage people to learn how to build a PC, it's important to weigh ALL of the pros and cons before jumping in with both feet as you could end up with a pile of parts, a blown budget, a frustrating experience and no working PC. Some times a local PC shop will build a custom PC for a very competitive price and you usually get some Tech Support after the sale - so this is also an option worth considering, depending on your needs.
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August 22, 2011 9:40:10 PM

I have a few weeks. I would like to keep it at $800 or under. I do need a new monitor and I am looking at LG Electronics
19 inch Widescreen LED LCD 1360X768 5M:1 E1940S-PN VGA DVI Tilt 5MS from Provantage $114. I am not sure if I need 8ms response, but that is what I have been told, so this may not be what i want. any ideas? I have speakers and mouse, but need a new keyboard

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August 22, 2011 9:42:37 PM

michxymi said:
What video editing programs she uses?


will be using Photoshop cs5 and maybe Premier Pro cs5.5
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August 22, 2011 9:46:15 PM

beenthere said:
Now days, DIY or home built is definitely more expensive than store bought IME.

The advantage to home built is you can pick all the hardware to best meet your needs though it may be more expensive than a store bought. The disadvantage to home built is you need a lot of technical expertise to assemble and tune the PC for proper, reliable operation - which many folks are unprepared to do as it's a STEEP learning curve filled with lots of frustration even for experienced PC builders. In addition you have NO Tech Support if you're building your own PC. That can mean a lot when issues pop up and they will many times during the build and even after you have a basic functioning PC.

While I fully encourage people to learn how to build a PC, it's important to weigh ALL of the pros and cons before jumping in with both feet as you could end up with a pile of parts, a blown budget, a frustrating experience and no working PC. Some times a local PC shop will build a custom PC for a very competitive price and you usually get some Tech Support after the sale - so this is also an option worth considering, depending on your needs.



This might be an idea! I could at least get a price from them. Still need to know which graphics card, and I am concerned about cooling (fans etc).
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August 22, 2011 11:24:45 PM

RichterFry said:
I started this thread last night and it seems that we have about the same budget (mind you, this is the Canadian version of newegg)

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/318949-31-forums

Hopefully this helps you, I know it helped me quite a bit :) 



This has been helpful! thanks!
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August 22, 2011 11:32:58 PM

If I buy... does anyone have a comment on Gateway ZX4351-UR20P 21.5-Inch Widescreen All-in-One Desktop (Black)? I am again concerned about cooling and whether this type of system is slower than a tower with similar cpu and graphics. I am really after the best graphics.
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August 22, 2011 11:56:31 PM

All in one is basically like a giant laptop, their cooling won't be any better than a traditional computer case. Also because of their tight space, processing and graphic power are usually on the weak side.
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August 23, 2011 2:53:05 AM

lp231 said:
All in one is basically like a giant laptop, their cooling won't be any better than a traditional computer case. Also because of their tight space, processing and graphic power are usually on the weak side.


thanks so much for the information! I am do NOT want to buy something that is going to need replaced in the next 2 years. I don't mind spending a little more for something that will be able to last for a few years. I just need a processor and graphics card that will allow for lots of video editing and art/drawing/painting. There seems to be no end to the number of computers you can review. Any opinions on favorites?
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Best solution

August 23, 2011 3:54:26 AM

Don't have a favorite because I build my own. If I were to pick between common known brands, I'll go with HP.
But with them selling their PC division, I think I'll go with Dell instead.

Here is what I came up with for under $800
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3.0GHz $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 chipset $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory: Mushkin Enhanced 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333 $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Graphics: Sapphire HD6770 1GB GDDR5 $119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hard Disk: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB 59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Power Supply: Antec HCG 520w $58.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Optical Drive: Sony DVD writer $19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: Cooler Master Elite 330 $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Monitor: Acer 21.5" LED @ 1920x1080 $119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Keyboard: Microsoft USB 200 $8.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit w/SP1 OEM
$99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Subtotal $787.89

And for that Microtel system. I went to newegg, tried to configure it as close as possible and that system came out to
$637.89

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August 23, 2011 11:49:24 AM

lp231 said:
Don't have a favorite because I build my own. If I were to pick between common known brands, I'll go with HP.
But with them selling their PC division, I think I'll go with Dell instead.

Here is what I came up with for under $800
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3.0GHz $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 chipset $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory: Mushkin Enhanced 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333 $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Graphics: Sapphire HD6770 1GB GDDR5 $119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hard Disk: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB 59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Power Supply: Antec HCG 520w $58.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Optical Drive: Sony DVD writer $19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: Cooler Master Elite 330 $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Monitor: Acer 21.5" LED @ 1920x1080 $119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Keyboard: Microsoft USB 200 $8.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit w/SP1 OEM
$99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Subtotal $787.89

And for that Microtel system. I went to newegg, tried to configure it as close as possible and that system came out to
$637.89


Thank you!!!
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August 23, 2011 8:25:04 PM

lp231 has a good looking build there. I'm surprised no one said it yet, but if you are looking to spend less, and i7 is probably not the way to get, although it is the better processor, it's performance per price is not very high. AMD probably has the best performance per price, if that is what is important.

Honestly, that system is a solid setup and will likely accomplish all your goals (also can upgrade processor in future to the AMD Bulldozer if needed sometime after it comes out).

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-your-own-pc,2601.html
Good guide on researching/purchasing/installing. Little over a year old, so some details may be a bit outdated, but not enough to cause problems.

Also, I would suggest a "Best Answer" to lp231, if you feel that that is the direction you will go.
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August 23, 2011 9:37:49 PM

I agree, I would just purchase another fan for the CPU. People tend to not like the stock fans and you can get them for 30 bucks
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August 24, 2011 9:42:33 PM

so lp231... I am trying to find a computer with all those things you listed... any chance someone makes that particular configuration? I have not found it! Who wants to make that for me? :}
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August 24, 2011 10:50:07 PM

$450, But I'd swap out the PSU which would add about $50
MSI H67MS-E33 Core i3 Barebones Kit - MSI H67MS-E33 (B3) Board, Intel Core i3-2120, 8GB (2x 4GB) DDR3 RAM Kit, 2TB HDD, 24x DVDRW, Radeon HD 6770 1GB, Thermaltake V3 BE Mid Tower, DiabloTek 600W PSU
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...
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August 25, 2011 3:23:29 AM

country12 said:
so lp231... I am trying to find a computer with all those things you listed... any chance someone makes that particular configuration? I have not found it! Who wants to make that for me? :}


You might have a chance if you go to a local computer shop where they customize in building new computers.
Why not build it yourself or you and your son can build in together.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ETu53QfDwk
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August 26, 2011 3:57:57 PM

So I think maybe I have found a Dell that is close to what I need.
Dell XPS 7100

Software & Services
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64Bit, English edit
PROCESSOR & GRAPHICS CARD AMD Phenom™ II X6 1055T + ATI Radeon™ HD 6670 1GB edit
SERVICE PLAN 2 Year In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosis

Does anyone have a review or a site that review this ATI graphics card in this computer? Also, is the AMD Phenom II x6 as fast as the i7?
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August 26, 2011 7:33:37 PM

country12 said:
So I think maybe I have found a Dell that is close to what I need.
Dell XPS 7100

Software & Services
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64Bit, English edit
PROCESSOR & GRAPHICS CARD AMD Phenom™ II X6 1055T + ATI Radeon™ HD 6670 1GB edit
SERVICE PLAN 2 Year In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosis

Does anyone have a review or a site that review this ATI graphics card in this computer? Also, is the AMD Phenom II x6 as fast as the i7?


Generally i7 is faster, but as I mentioned earlier, an i7 vs. the AMD x6 is going to perform only somewhat better for one big price increase (looking at only the numbers, the cheapest i7 is $85/GHz and AMD's x6 is about $54/GHz - again, only general numbers, not a perfect comparison, but the point stands)

If you want the best of the best that is around now, go i7, if you want to get more bang for your buck, go AMD.

The video card is a bit older (the 6600 series, and the currrent is 6900) but it is probably going to be a solid card that will get what you need done (no expert, but video editing isn't going to be the most graphic intensive task, unless he's planing to make the next Avatar).
Review:http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6570-radeon-hd-6670-turks,2925-16.html

Tom's won't be able to help you much past this much or prebuilt systems.
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August 26, 2011 8:02:54 PM

doublepedaldylan said:
Generally i7 is faster, but as I mentioned earlier, an i7 vs. the AMD x6 is going to perform only somewhat better for one big price increase (looking at only the numbers, the cheapest i7 is $85/GHz and AMD's x6 is about $54/GHz - again, only general numbers, not a perfect comparison, but the point stands)

If you want the best of the best that is around now, go i7, if you want to get more bang for your buck, go AMD.

The video card is a bit older (the 6600 series, and the currrent is 6900) but it is probably going to be a solid card that will get what you need done (no expert, but video editing isn't going to be the most graphic intensive task, unless he's planing to make the next Avatar).
Review:http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6570-radeon-hd-6670-turks,2925-16.html

Tom's won't be able to help you much past this much or prebuilt systems.


6600 isn't older, it's just a mid-range card, suitable for basic use, light gaming.
Both 6600s and 6900s are part of AMD's HD6000 series.

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August 26, 2011 9:35:17 PM

lp231 said:
6600 isn't older, it's just a mid-range card, suitable for basic use, light gaming.
Both 6600s and 6900s are part of AMD's HD6000 series.



thanks!
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August 26, 2011 10:13:43 PM

When you are looking around on neweggs site look for the combo deals. They have tons of them and just play around with them till you come up with the cheapest setup. DO NOT BUY A CHEAP POWER SUPPLY!!!!!!!! <---------If the price of the ps is cheap or too good to be true then it probaly will go out in a cloud of smoke and take everything with it. The reason right there ALONE is why building your own is better then a dell,HP, and emachine(they all put the cheapest parts possible!) Just think that everybody is out to make money and nothing is for free so the old saying "You get what you pay for" Is almost always true with any electronics!
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September 6, 2011 1:14:52 AM

Thanks to all for the help! I have purchased: ZT Affinity 7618Mi Desktop PC with Intel Core i7-2600 Processor, 1TB Hard Drive, 16GB DDR3 Memory, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (Monitor Not Included) thru Walmart $749. Also a ASUS ML228H 21.5" Ultra-Slim LED Backlit LCD Monitor - 2ms, 1920x1080, HDMI. ($158) The computer did not come with an adapter to connect to wireless internet so I got a superfast (Netgear N600) for around $50. So far it is lightning fast and is handling the Intuos 4 drawing pad and all the graphics just great!
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September 6, 2011 1:16:03 AM

I did talk to ZT about their 350W power supply. He said I could upgrade but the machine is really very energy efficient so i wouldn't need to.
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September 6, 2011 1:34:22 PM

Best answer selected by country12.
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