Buying a computer for college.

OK...I can get a system from practically anywhere. Whee. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me in a shopping list for "What I want in a computer." (I'm willing to either buy custom or mass-produced, but building myself is not likely to happen.)
Now, before we go on, the University of Scranton's BARE MINIMUMS for useful connection to their network. Note that Win3.1 and Linux/Unix are NOT supported:
233Mhz Pentium
64MB RAM (128MB preferred)
4GB HDD w/ at least 200MB available
15" SVGA monitor
4x CD-ROM drive
10/100BaseT Ethernet adapter (INSTALLED IN MACHINE)
MS Office 2000/XP

As my dad noted, these are pathetically easy. I'd like better than the minimums. Penta's need/wantlist:
1. Preferably Not WinXP. I've heard mixed reviews about it, but if anyone has any stories re it and college life, let me know. I'm currently using Win98, and am very comfortable with it. Unfortunately, I hath no CD for it that works.
2.SNAP-AWAY case, that can take a fair amount of abuse. I use a cane. It hits things. The tower would have to go UNDER my desk, as the rooms are small.
3.This computer is going to be used half/half for work and play. Work may include a CS major, though I'm not very sure. I'm starting on a history track.
4.I hit my keyboard with decent force, I'm told. Compensations for that aurally would be welcome.:-)
5.It needs to be able to use headphones, attached/detached from a convenient place. FYI, I'm largely blind (still have good enough sight to use a normal computer), and it'd suck not to have headphones as my textbooks are read to me (it's a possibility with some of them).
6.It should be easily upgradable if that's needed, depending on how my academic track goes.
7.We're in a dorm, folks. A freshman dorm. SPACE IS LIMITED.:-) Also, the user is kinda blind. Keep that in mind.:-)

Heeeeeeelp? Please?

Also, on Macs: They are, theoretically, supported. Theoretically. However, 90-95 percent of the Uni's computers are PCs. Enjoy.

Thanks in advance,
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  1. You don't mention how much you wish to spend but I would suggest you visit a computor show such as listed in this link::

    Speak to the salesperson, fully describing your needs. They can usually build a system and test it in an hour or so. Be certain about warantees and service provided if you have a failure. Other than building it yourself, I believe you'll get the biggest bang for your buck this way. They sometimes install an operating system, but I can't speak to the legality of this.

    Things to consider:

    The basic system you describe is really now obsolete. It would pobably easily handle classroom work and assignments, but would be inadequate for the latest animated action games.

    Windows incorporates features which you may wish to use. Click Start- help- contents-accessability to view options.

    How long will Windows98 be supported?

    Instead of a tower, you might get a desk top configuration, whereby you could place the monitor on top of PC as we did in early the late '70's. It would give you more space under desk and make it easier to reach and change wiring.

    Instead of a tower, you might get a desk top configuration, whereby you could place the monitor on top of PC. It would give you more space under desk and make it easier to reach and change wiring

    Besides other basics, as a minimum, get a R/W CD drive, 60 GB 7200rpm HD, Quality video and sound boards and a 1+giga hertz CPU (Carefully consider AMD vs Intel).

    If you want to spend more money, perhaps a laptop would be best.

    As far as getting Windows software, obviously the only legal way is to buy it. You may be able to revive your old Wndows CD, if it's scratched, by rubbing it softly with jewlers rouge

  2. Basically any ATX case and CRT monitor won't take up too much room. You will be okay. My brother had a nice computer setup when he was in college. He did most of his work right in front of the computer.

    The REAL problem with small dorms is not space, but ventillation. Be sure you provide space in the front as well as the back for your computer to be ventillated, or else it will heat up real bad. Also, try to make sure you get a case with good airflow. Most people have computers that are completely dead inside, without any flow at all. This is acceptable in a home with larger rooms and more space, but in a dorm with very little air flow this is a must. Maybe this is being a bit too cautious but my brother's hard drive died because it was too hot due to lack of circulation. A lot of people unfortunately don't know how to take care of their computers. They think it's a box and they can place it anywhere.

    Basically the main things you should worry about are not suffocating the case (providing good airflow in both the front and back of the case), getting an ATX (rather than full tower, which is too tall for some desks and is just a big waste of space), and making sure it's quiet. You're in a small room so you (a) don't want to piss off your roomie and (b) the smaller the space, the louder the sounds are going to be because they echo off the walls and bounce back towards you so any fans you have inside the case will be amplified in terms of sound.

    Also, just a general warning about dorms. In enclosed spaces, the chances for electromagnetic interference is very much increased, so keep in mind of the major players here: The speakers and their cables, the monitor is probably the worst, the computer and the fans inside, cellphones, and large wooden desks made of very dense wood will be prone to heavy vibration. People have linked extreme amounts of EM interference from things like giant power lines to cancer but it's never really been proven. It's kind of like how DDT is linked to causing cancer in animals but not in humans, but we still don't allow people to fish in the Hudson River just to be safe.

    Finally, last but not least, buy a high quality surge protector--you'll thank me later. It shouldn't be more than about $60. In such an enclosed space you need as high a quality of signal output as possible and a bad surge protector may eventually destroy or damage the things that are plugged into it.
  3. How about get a notebook instead?
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