New Desktop PC Purchase Advice Needed

July 10, 2014 at 20:01:41
Specs: Windows Vista
Wanting to buy a new desktop computer in the next month or so. Would like to spend as little as possible. Budget of $300-$500. Using computer to use internet, and other basic tasks. Don't need any bells and whistles. Would like computer to last hopefully at least 5 years or more.
Any brands to avoid?
What specs would you suggest?
Which version of Windows? If I can find a computer with a version of Windows 7 which version is best?
Which websites offer the best deals to buy computers?
Would you suggest avoiding refurbished or would that be a good option?
Thanks for the help. 

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July 10, 2014 at 21:15:42
Personally, I would always suggest building your own computer, it is generally less expensive AND you get to pick out the exact parts.

But I understand that it isn't possible for some people.

One of the biggest things to look for is Warranty. If a computer has a 5 year warranty, it will likely last at least that long. And even if it doesn't, you can have it repaired for free.

I personally don't have much experience with pre-built computers, but my relatives have had good results with Asus and Toshiba, although both were laptops. The same might not be true with their desktop computers.

As for brands to avoid, I once had a bad experience with an Acer desktop, basically had cheap RAM that failed after ~4 months - just note I RMA'd it and got it fixed pretty fast, and this might not be true for most of their systems, just my personal experience.

On many sites, such as, you can view customer reviews of the computer, which can be very helpful.

As for specs, you could probably get by with a 2 core processor at about 3 GHz, and 4 GB of RAM.

As for hard drive, you could really store basic programs for surfing the internet etc. on a 50 GB hard drive. You wouldn't need much more than that unless you download a lot of movies or games. Nowadays, the lowest you can really find is around 500 GB. Your other option would be to get a 50 GB solid state drive, which would be considerably faster at loading programs etc. for around the same price.

As for Windows, Windows 8 is considerably better for performance, but if you're more comfortable with the Windows 7 interface, go with that. You really don't need Professional or Ultimate edition, Home Premium should have all the features you need.

As I said, I haven't bought a computer in quite a while, so I don't know of many sites, although I'm sure someone else on here could point you in the right direction.

As for refurbished, it's pretty much the same as I said above, check reviews and warranties, and you should be fine.

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July 11, 2014 at 03:25:44
Overall I'd be inclined to look at Dell - both tower systems and possibly even their laptops (which latter usually cost a wee bit more?).

I've had good experience with Dell overall - privately and at work. Friends in USA have had several Dell Dimension towers over the years and been very happy with them; and also the Dell (USA) support.

HP/Compaq for a while lost it for a while - but seem to have recovered some kudos over the last few years?

I have had god experience with assorted Acer laptops over the last 10yrs; their Aspire series not the least. Similarly the more recent HP/Compaq; and Dell.

I wouldn't be inclined to buy a "used" computer; unless it was "really" cheap and reasonably current in terms of specs (basic) and able to run at least win-7 and also win-8x if preferred. Don't fall for an old XP system which may have been upgraded to win-7, as for very little more likely you would find a win-7/win-8x system...

A local what we used to call a "mom and pop store" might have locally made/assembled kit that will suffice. But if possible buy new, and ensure it has a warranty of at least one year; and get that in writing.

Unless you're really into building your own... buying one ready to go is by far the easier path; and does allow you a degree of support (within reason). And of course in either situation you can always come here and elsewhere on the web for help if needed.

A desktop/tower system would be more flexible too if you ever wished to add in anything anon in terms of hardware; and also upgrade the hard drive at least. If you don't need portability then what point to pay for that aspect with a laptop?

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July 11, 2014 at 09:40:54
How do you feel about Windows 8? You might have no choice if you buy a new system. Do you need all the components (monitor, mouse, keyboard, speakers, etc) or just the tower? Walmart sells refurbished units running Windows 7 fairly cheap. For example:

HP Pre-Owned, Refurbished Black DC7900 Desktop PC with Intel C2D Processor, 4GB Memory, 1TB Hard Drive and Windows 7 Professional (Monitor Not Included) - $198

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July 11, 2014 at 11:22:48
Do you think that this would be a good buy?

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July 11, 2014 at 11:40:56
Like I said, a Terabyte hard drive (that's 1024 Gigabytes) is kind of overkill for most everyday users. A typical movie is around 1.5 GB, so that's over 650 movies, plus a little room for a few programs.

Also, 8 GB of RAM isn't really going to help much, anything above 4 GB is pretty useless unless you do things like gaming or video editing.

With that being said, I think it looks like a great deal. I haven't looked that far into it, just the specs, so I don't know what kind of reviews it has or how long the warranty is. Just make sure you do your research, and shop around for a little bit - there might be an even better deal.

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July 11, 2014 at 22:51:14
Which of these computers would be a better option?


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July 12, 2014 at 08:00:21
That's kind of difficult.

Just looking at what you would be using it for, a quad core at 3.1 GHz and 8 GB of RAM is quite overkill.

At first, when I saw the processor in the second computer, I thought it was...weak. That's only because most A4 CPU's are dual core. As it turns out, that one is the only quad core in that series. This means that the processor is equivalent to another A series dual core running at 3.0 GHz. Generally, Intel processors are about 50% more powerful, meaning that the 3.1 GHz Intel is 4.5 GHz in AMD terms.

That being said, you don't really need the extra power.

I really think that the second one would be the best choice, performance wise, for you.

At the same time, for only ~$35 more, you can considerably increase your performance and future-proof your computer, which is a very good deal in my opinion.

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July 12, 2014 at 09:37:07
One minor caveat (waring) re' Best Buy... A little while back here at CN there was a post about the limitations of their support and warranties... The poster was told he had a 3 months warranty only - and (allegedly) that wasn't made clear to him... The problem(s) he was having likely were there when he bought the kit (but he didn't know enough at the time to realise they were present - within that 3 month period).

Check "very" carefully anything to do with a warranty/guarantee; and the support BB are offering - especially for used/second-hand/rebuilt kit...

The minimum I would look for is 12 months - none of the "it's only got a 3 or 6 months warranty..." routines. Ensure if you do buy any used kit (from wherever) that it is working properly and fully when you get it; put it through its paces... and if "any problems/issues at all" then go back to the vendor and insist they're fully addressed and resolved.

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July 12, 2014 at 10:51:56
I believe both had a 1 year warranty, I could be wrong though.

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July 12, 2014 at 12:09:24
Always wise to check - and hopefully they will have a one year... As I said the poster here a wee while back only found out by accident what his situation was...; as sadly he didn't check at time of purchase.

Also ensure you get some for of written warranty; and also suitable disk (or disk) for possible re-installation of the OS etc...; at the least a recovery disk set.

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July 12, 2014 at 13:48:15
Should this one be considered? If I decide to buy this one should I buy the warranty? Should it be the 3 or 4 year?

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July 12, 2014 at 14:34:31
In truth once a given (decent make/model) gets beyond the first few weeks or so they "usually" don't go down... My experience is that if they're going to fail they will do so in the first few weeks...

I'd see what others feel in terms of an extended warranty...; although it appears that the one in your link above - doesn't include a warranty (unless you pay for it)??? I'd double check that with Amazon if considering it... A phone call likely would clarify that situation.

If I was going to buy the warranty then I'd for the 4yr (the price difference isn't huge). But also need to know who actually is responsible for supporting that warranty and who will actually service it if needs-be. In the UK (and Europe) it depends a lot on where you buy a given branded computer from as to who actually supports the warranty aspect... For example - buy an Acer laptop from a department store or supermarket etc. (Tesco...) and you're stuck with whatever level of expertise they can/will offer. Buy it from a recognised Acer outlet - usually on-line - and the warranty "may" be better supported.

Currently I'm in the UK so not current, as once was, on what's happening in USA/Canada - re' local stores and warranty situations.

You might do well too to check with your local stores too. Those local techy types who often know what they're doing; build good basic kit - with some future-proofing in terms of expansion and growth into the next generation of M$ windows at least.

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July 13, 2014 at 09:27:14
Do you really want Windows 8? And why do you keep increasing the price? You said all you want to do is "basic tasks".

The downside to the PC I linked to in response #3 is it's an older model with 4GB DDR2 (rather than DDR3) memory. However, it's only $200, 4GB memory should be plenty for your intended purpose, & it has Win7 rather than the dreaded Win8. If you find the onboard graphics to be insufficient, you can add a cheap graphics card & still be way ahead of the game.

For example. here's a card for just $10 after rebate:

I deliberately stayed away from "slim-style" systems with my 1st suggestion, but if that's not a problem for you, here's one with 4GB DDR3 memory for $242. It has an AMD CPU rather than Intel but it has better integrated graphics:

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July 13, 2014 at 12:04:10
Do you think that a refurbished computer would last at least five years?
Maybe a newer computer would last more than 5 years? What do you think?
Thanks for the suggestion of
I will consider it.
Thanks for all the help and answers. I apprciate it.

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July 13, 2014 at 12:43:03
What do you mean by "last"? Any computer you buy, whether it's brand new or used/refurbished, will be "outdated" in 3-5 years. That's just the nature of electronics. For example, some people are still happy with their 15 yr old standard def TV, while others MUST have the latest & greatest HDTV & will upgrade whenever there's a minor change in technology. The same goes for computers - there are still plenty of people using 15 year old systems to access the internet & do "basic tasks".

If you mean if it will last physically (as in hardware), it's always a crap-shoot. There are plenty of posts about new systems with hardware problems. The most likely things to burn out are the things with moving parts - usually hard drives, fans, or power supplies.

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July 13, 2014 at 13:15:57
Set yourself a limit (a budget cap/top maximum).

Drop down about 10-15% below that; go for Windows-7 (32 bit); and ideally 4Gig of RAM max/. (More later if/when you feel you "really" need it or can afford it - but as observed in earlier posts 8Gig would be "overkill".) A hard drive of 250-500Gig would be more than adequate(?); a cd/dvd burner (of course).

If you already have a monitor and keyboard.. you're done in terms of basic kit...

You may (likely will) need a basic office package. Typically you can go for the student version of Office (and 2010 is fine - don't wast money going up to to 2013); or use one of the free Office equivalents. These free equivalents emulate all the basic Office stuff; can read M$ formats; and export files in them too - and best of all they're "free".

Unless you're going to be into "serious" gaming etc. don't wast money on an "all singing, all dancing" graphic/displays card; and similarly an overall system that is similarly disposed.

The 10-15% you have put in reserve might be useful later; even go towards a monitor/keyboard/mouse if you don't have any of them already?

I have a 1998 Dell Dimension tower that works fine; has M$ DOS 3x, 98SE, NT4WkStn/Svr, W2K, XP-Pro installed. Works fine. Also have an even older UK made desktop that will still run 98SE/NT4...

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July 13, 2014 at 15:58:33
By lasting I meant not needing new parts or hardware repairs. If repairs are needed they are not expensive repairs.
My current computer I have had more than five years could even be ten years. In that time it has never needed a part or hardware replaced. Reason for wanting a new/different computer is the speed is really slowing down.

That is what I am hopeing to find in new/different computer.

Do you think that is possible with a refurbished computer?

I am not opposed to a refurbished computer.

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July 13, 2014 at 17:32:50
If you're not into heavy gaming etc. then any refurbished (decent brand) say 3yrs or so old might well be fine.. If you find such kit that attracts, go on-line for reviews of it around its launch date?

I'd be inclined to win-7 rather than win-8x... as overall it's settled down pretty well; drivers various are available for most current accessories (printers scanners etc.) and some legacy/older kit too (for win-8x that's not always the case).

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July 13, 2014 at 19:06:51
Want a computer with a card slot to be able to put photos on computer.
Forgot to say that in my original post.
Does the computer suggested in #13 have that slot?
Is that called an sd slot? If not what is the name of that slot?

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July 13, 2014 at 19:10:21
Doesn't look like it has one built in. You can usually find an SD to USB converter:

I'm sure you could find one even cheaper too.

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July 14, 2014 at 12:48:36
Which of these computers is a better buy? Which one is faster?


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July 14, 2014 at 17:56:04
I couldn't find any warranty info for the second one, so be wary.

Again, this is a hard decision, as the first is probably a little better than what you need, but the second is...

At first glance, the second would seem that it fits perfectly with your requirements, and with a very reasonable price tag.

But after a little closer inspection, you see that the RAM is DDR2, which is quite outdated to be honest.

It does (supposedly) have a 500 GB hard drive, which is just right for you, but after I read the product description a little ways down, I'm not so sure:

"It is equipped with a 160 GB Hard Disk Drive for you to store and manage your important documents."

They also spelled internet like "nternet", so whether this is a 'reputable dealer' is questionable.

Well, it is Ebay after all.

I actually think the first computer is a very good deal. It has basically everything you could need (besides a monitor) - keyboard, mouse, and optical drive.

Processor and RAM look about right for what you'd be using it for. As I said before, I really doubt you would actually us 1 TB of storage...

On the other hand, that probably equates to it being about $20 more expensive than a 500 GB...which is certainly better than having to buy and install a new hard drive yourself should you use up the 500 gigs.

It also has quite a few expansion slots, so should you decide you want a better rig you could always add on later.

The reviews looked overall very good, one problem you might have is that it only has a VGA Port, but they sell converters for HDMI and DVI if that's all your monitor supports.

As for performance, I'd say the first one. Like I said above, the second has the older RAM.

Even though it's true that an AMD 3.0 GHz doesn't equal an Intel 3.0 GHz processor, the difference is usually less in some of the older chipsets.

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July 14, 2014 at 18:23:15
Thanks to everyone for all the help and advice so far. I really appricate it.

Would there be any reason to spend a few more dollars to buy this one
instead of this one

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July 14, 2014 at 18:44:49
Not really. In fact, you get several more expansion options and ports with the cheaper one. I suppose the processor might be more powerful (due to it being Intel) but really you wouldn't notice a difference.

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July 15, 2014 at 13:41:05
Mom is paying for the computer. She said to get a new computer not a refurbished one. Since she is paying for it I want to find the best computer for the least amount of money. Do you know of any cheaper than the ones listed?

Which of these would be the best one?|83-220-403^83-220-403-Z01%2C83-265-818^83-265-818-TS%2C83-220-399^83-220-399-TS%2C83-220-404^83-220-404-TS&percm=83-220-403%3A%24%24%24%24%24%24%24%3B83-265-818%3A%24%24%24%24%24%24%24%3B83-220-399%3A%24%24%24%24%24%24%24%3B83-220-404%3A%24%24%24%24%24%24%24

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