Author Topic: Help me choose my new computer, please!  (Read 476 times)

Offline Jacob

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Help me choose my new computer, please!
« on: May 13, 2017, 11:40:26 PM »
I need a new computer.  My brother and I have two, both Dells, one running XP and the other Vista.  The XP one, despite its age, is still humming, allowing me to use it as a crutch due to my inability to choose a new computer.  But frustrations recently have led me to decide that now is the time.

https://lacpdx.com/gnu/ThinkCentre

I've been looking at this site for awhile since I have long planned that my next computer will be a Linux machine.  But I just don't know enough to know the least expensive one I can choose while not skimping on RAM, the ability to stream, and play games now and then (Crusader Kings II for instance).

For those of you who know what you're looking at when looking at CPU specs, which one of those would fit my needs best?  Do you have any suggestions for a different vendor, one which will install my preferred Linux distro?

Thank you for helping me move past my paralysis by analysis.  :)
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Offline Gardener

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2017, 12:32:38 AM »
Why not just get something w/ whatever OS on it already, which has your preferred specs, and install LinuxMint or something? It's not hard.

Regardless of what you get, it will still run better than bloated Windows systems with Linux...

ETA:

Vista!? Really? XP I understand... but VISTA!?


« Last Edit: May 14, 2017, 12:36:19 AM by Gardener »
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Offline Jacob

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2017, 11:08:51 AM »
Vista!? Really? XP I understand... but VISTA!?

It was not my choice when the computer was purchased.
“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”
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Online Miriam_M

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2017, 01:32:57 PM »
Sigh.

The simplest of machines for any user, the Mac.

Yes, there will be an outcry about cost.  But know that I have never purchased a new computer.  Always used.  The "price" of PC's has always been greater in the long run, and by long I don't mean 10 years but 1-2.  Whether repair, turnover, untamable viruses, new hard drives, or uncountable user hours trying to get the machine to obey commands, stay organized, and not destroy its own data, the two platforms cannot be compared.  Despite the fact that I had a great Lenovo touchpad.

Started as a happy Mac family -- all with carefully chosen used computers.  Wandered from The Faith (haha) when, after required work engagement with PC's and comfort with them, I used the same one at home as well.  Major mistake.  More than 600 extra dollars later, within a couple of years of use, and several data-destroying viruses later (which overrode regularly installed and regularly updated virus protections), I have reverted, and computer heaven has rejoiced.  The cost I initially "saved" could have been applied to a Mac.  I lived and I learned, and in the meantime lost irreplaceable data connected with my own personal business.

I'm never going back.

My brother worked in the tech industry, was serially married to several PC's, and would argue about their superiority ad infinitum to the rest of the family, until one day, about 5 years ago, he also had an illumination and similarly has never looked back.

Nevertheless, best of luck to the OP.  (Not sarcasm!) 
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2017, 02:25:57 PM »
For desktops, the build-your-own route gives the most benefit for the least cost.

Computers are so powerful these days that almost anything will work.  My 8+ year old PC ran all that time without a single malfunction until this year when I replaced the video card ($50).  It's capable of running 3D modeling programs, rendering and could probably run almost all the latest games if I wanted to install them.

The specs for Crusader Kings II require a computer that would have been considered top-of-the-line in 2004.

Offline Gardener

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 09:58:32 PM »
Vista!? Really? XP I understand... but VISTA!?

It was not my choice when the computer was purchased.

I'd be interested in seeing what would happen if you loaded ubuntu or linuxmint on it... bet it would run faster relative to now, even if not fast in general.

FWIW -- If you run VM's, you can run anything you can get in .iso format. Somewhere on a thumbdrive I have Win95. lol. Might not be an awful idea to simply get a killer box or build one, and run a fairly stripped down host OS but then have VM's for production. Set em up how you want, snapshot a clean image, backup your files regularly, and if it all goes awry just revert to last known good snapshot. Much easier than messing with a dedicated box if you want versatility.
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Offline Kaesekopf

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 11:22:24 PM »
I've got an Alienware Alpha (revision 1?).  It was around $400, and it's a tiny little doodad.  It works great for me, I've had it going on 2 years and it is still snappy and powerful. 
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Offline Greg

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2017, 01:09:15 AM »
Macs are the best.  Have a 24 inch iMac in the kitchen  and it has run for 7 years, without a blip.  On for 5-10 hours per day, every day for 7 years.  Still going strong.  In the kitchen.  That is a pretty harsh environment.

Cost $1300 dollars new  - best money I ever spent.

Second best.  My iPad. 

Only problem....some versions of some software I use are not as good.  Skype for example.  It works, but the Windows version of Skype is superior in terms of layout and use ability.
 
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Offline Gardener

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 12:42:12 PM »
Macs are the best.  Have a 24 inch iMac in the kitchen  and it has run for 7 years, without a blip.  On for 5-10 hours per day, every day for 7 years.  Still going strong.  In the kitchen.  That is a pretty harsh environment.

Cost $1300 dollars new  - best money I ever spent.

Second best.  My iPad. 

Only problem....some versions of some software I use are not as good.  Skype for example.  It works, but the Windows version of Skype is superior in terms of layout and use ability.

That's because it rides on a UNIX architecture.

The "hackintosh" is becoming quite a thing -- running MAC OS on PC hardware. Involves some "tricking" of the OS to think it's on Apple hardware. If one doesn't need Apple specific software, just general use, Linux will accomplish the same thing with a fraction of the cost.
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Offline Greg

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 01:18:00 PM »
I have a strong suspicion that Mac hardware is more robust too than the typical PC stuff.  The only thing they make that I have had trouble with is the lightning charging cables for portables/mobiles.
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 08:35:16 PM »
Cheapo PC's from Best Buy are certainly lousy but the business-grade laptops and quality components from a hardware supplier are good enough.  I'm running my laser in the woodshop with a 15 year old Compaq that came from the offices of a local pharmaceutical company.  One of the CNC machines is run by a 12 year old HP business laptop.

The only computer that really gave me problems was a $500 PC that came pre-built from Tiger Direct.  All the ones I've built from scratch ran fine and were retired when the motherboards would no longer accept hardware upgrades to accommodate new software.  But that's not a big problem anymore since software isn't advancing at the pace it used to and doesn't require better computers every year.

Online Miriam_M

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2017, 12:43:40 AM »
I have a strong suspicion that Mac hardware is more robust too than the typical PC stuff.

Know it.

Quote
The only thing they make that I have had trouble with is the lightning charging cables for portables/mobiles.

This is also accurate.  Mac chargers wear out rather quickly.  That's just about the only downside. That's way more trivial than the laborious design of PC hardware and software (which costs the consumer in the form of time and $) and than the cost of lost data.

Listen to Greg and me.
 

Offline Gardener

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2017, 09:14:01 AM »
Macs have problems just like anything else man made -- their market share is lower, so problems won't be as widely known. I suspect that most users look at a Mac still going strong and think it's superior to a PC's components, but do they stop to consider whether or not they are comparing similar quality components? As Akavit noted earlier, business machines tend to run better -- they have more expensive hardware. Often, those machines are sold to an organization w/ a warranty package and it behooves a company like Dell or IBM to make sure they are better made.

Mac hardware is typically setup in a way which makes it very hard to upgrade, expensive to repair, etc.; the OS is programmed to recognized non-Apple hardware and say, "nope, not my rodeo...". Hence, the tricking of the OS with the hackintosh sub-culture. The high processing of graphics is not available in a Mac, like on a PC running Windows or Linux, except in their very expensive varieties. I don't think the OP wants to go down that road based on what he and his are currently running.

At my old job, one of the desktop support guys was a former "Apple Genius Bar" tech -- meaning, he fixed them when they broke. He straight up said they are no better than PC's of similar quality hardware. He was well-versed in both PCs and Macs. The secret was the OS, because it rides on a UNIX architecture. When that breaks it does so in a spectacular fashion. Linux is much the same, being an offshoot of UNIX. Windows is a bloated system and has a lot of problems.

The supposed anti-virus by design argument of Macs also goes to the software. The market demands attackers don't waste their time, generally, writing malicious code for what is essentially a pretty Linux machine. However, that is changing. A big security concern for Windows, in my mind, is the automatic running as admin/cloud-connected account. It's convenient for both users AND attackers.

If the OP wants performance, he could easily buy some good PC components, build his own, load a graphically -pleasing-user-friendly version of Linux (say, Ubuntu or Mint), and either play games and use it that way or even load up some VMs w/ Windows and do that. He could also just buy a PC w/ Windows loaded, strip it down how he wants on the OS, image, save that image on a hard drive, and load whatever he wants (or even dual boot!).

I'm not anti-Mac, but I am pro-sensible. Apple sells an experience, but they don't necessarily sell higher quality. I mean, it's kinda like saying, "My BMW is a much better buy than your Iranian Saipa. Buy BMW!" Well, why not just buy a Honda?
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Online Miriam_M

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2017, 12:34:50 AM »
Mac hardware is typically setup in a way which makes it very hard to upgrade, expensive to repair, etc.;

...which is important when a machine (such as most PC's) needs constant repair or replacement, not when the machine is designed well enough (Mac) that it will typically live a long and happy life under the guardianship of a contented owner.
 ;)
 

Offline Akavit

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Re: Help me choose my new computer, please!
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2017, 01:03:03 AM »
Mac hardware is typically setup in a way which makes it very hard to upgrade, expensive to repair, etc.;

...which is important when a machine (such as most PC's) needs constant repair or replacement, not when the machine is designed well enough (Mac) that it will typically live a long and happy life under the guardianship of a contented owner.
 ;)

The Mac achieves its reputation by restricting options to ensure people pick a solid platform.  The vast array of options for PC's means that the average person will make choices that are inappropriate for the application.  But for those that do have working knowledge of computers, the versatility and customization options are very nice and you can get a lot more performance for much less money.

The reason my PC's run forever is because I either purchase business-grade components or gaming hardware designed for over-clocking (but I run at normal speed) and I always build a computer in a quality case and install a good CPU fan.  Heat is the primary enemy of any computer so proper cooling is important and a good case is a necessary foundation for this.  A reliable power supply is also critical and a UPS system doesn't hurt either.  People that do not understand this will need luck to end up with a good PC.
 
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