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Hardware Suggestions

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by JC231, Jan 5, 2011.

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  1. JC231

    JC231 Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
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    Hi. It's possible that I may upgrade to a better computer sometime this year and I wanted some suggestions on hardware based on my preferences.

    I'm currently running the following:

    OS: Windows XP Professional SP3
    Motherboard: Asus M2A-VM
    Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ 2.1 GHz
    Memory: Crucial 1 GB DDR2 PC2-5300 (667 MHz) x1, Samsung 512 DDR2 MB PC2-5300 (667 MHz) x2
    Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO 256 MB
    Power Supply: Ultra 500 W X-Finity

    I mostly multitask with Web-browsing, light gaming, office productivity (Word, Ecel, etc), and occasionally an audio player. I frequently find myself with several Notepad, Word, and Excel documents open, as well as 1-2 Firefox browsers with several tabs each open, and occasionally a game and/or audio player running, and that's the kind of situation I'm looking for a computer to be able to handle smoothly and without slowdowns.

    I am dissatisfied with my computer's speed when multitasking (even though it has a dual-core processor) as well as graphical glitches like minimizing or closing a window that was overlapping another and the former leaves a blank outline over the window that remains, slow startup (1.5 to 2 minutes cold; my wife's running Vista and her's seems to start up much faster compared to mine) which includes a couple lengthy black screens in between the motherboard screen and Windows XP loading screen and finally to the desktop (I see that as time wasted) - is XP slower than Vista/7 on startup?

    I was just wondering, based on my current hardware, where I could improve, perhaps some examples of current products, and your reason why the new hardware is better. Also, I was wondering about hard drives and fans. My computer, cleaned out regularly by me (physically, dust and such) seems to make an awful lot of noise at times (seems like when the HDD is looking up something, but I opened the tower up and thought the noise was coming from the CPU fan. The noise is kind of a grinding sound and it occurs from time to time (but I've made sure no wires or anything are obstructing the fan blades). I'm not happy with it and it sounds destructive; I just want a quiet computer. Also, what are the pro's and con's for HDD's and SSD's? I have always used HDD's and am not familiar with the latter other than minor Wikipedia research. And what is better/more reliable (if any difference) when talking about RPM; my current one is a Hitachi 160 GB (really 149 GB, probably taken up by Windows, those resource pirates...) @ 7200 RPM; I'll never have a need for a main high-capacity HDD; I only use 40 GB at the moment, or 51 if you count what's taken up by (presumably) Windows (and that's with a copy of my files on the HDD as well as a duplicate on my 2 TB WD EHD (got that this past Black Friday for $69 because I was scared my HDD was going to go kaput and I wanted a backup anyway). Thoughts between (old) 5400, 7200, 10000 (or higher if they exist) and those new (to me) SSD's?

    I gave you my useage preferences earlier. Now here are my hardware preferences. I like room in my tower. I'd probably opt for a standard ATX model as my current one is a "Mini-Tower mATX Chassis" that I got pre-built from TigerDirect back in '07 without doing my research. Not roomy at all - I can't even put in RAM without squeezing my hand in there past the bundled up cables. Perhaps a removable motherboard would be ideal (I know they're all removable but I mean something that's an easy "quick remove" type). I like a lot of space on the motherboard so it's not all cramped, so again probably an ATX motherboard.

    For processors I was thinking one of the AMD Phenom II X2 or X4. My friend got the X2 555 BE and says his computer is really fast. I was reading however that multiprocessing demands a lot and even modern dual-core CPU's can have a hard time keeping up, which was why I didn't take a quad-core off the table. I have a dual-core CPU at the moment, and it is faster than my old P4 single-core, but I guess I've gotten spoiled with speed and now I want something even faster. My computer seems ok (I have no complaints) doing basic stuff like using Windows Explorer to navigate through folders, open calculator and notepad, but it slows down when I multitask and open programs such as Firefox and run virus scans. Based on the usage I listed above, what do you recommend? I'm not looking for top-of-the-line because it will be obsolete (but still get the job done) in a few years so I'm just looking for something nice, gets the speed I want for multitasking, and won't break the bank ($150 is already pushing what I believe is reasonable).

    For video cards, I thought it would be nice to have a nicely rounded out 1 GB card, but all the model numbers (which I've read don't mean a thing) are so confusing. I never plan to play those games that get benchmarked like Crysis or anything, and I don't plan on running dual monitors or do video encoding and the like, just want something that will run Diablo 3 (when it comes out; I know Blizzard aims its standards at systems that aren't top-of-the-line so they can appeal to more users) and also not cause that minimized window overlap remnance I was talking about earlier (not sure if that's video card or RAM related) and also provide good video playback if I watch movies on my computer (which I sometimes do, about half computer and half TV via the PS3). I guess I'm searching for something just above mid-range that will make me happy for years yet won't cost a fortune ($150 is about the most I'd be willing to pay).

    For RAM, I like options. I don't want a motherboard with 2 DIMM slots. 4 would be more my speed. I have 2 GB right now (I know it's 1x 1 GB and 2x 512 MB; I don't know if that has any negative bearing on my performance; I've read RAM is best in pairs and, well, I have 3 sticks... I tried putting 4x 1 GB sticks of Hynix or some brand RAM in from a Dell and got a video card motherboard beep about half the time, cleaned the dust out of the video card fan and it fixed it for about 3 startups and happened again and proved to be unreliable so I took the RAM out and put back in my 3 sticks totaling 2 GB. Also I didn't notice any speed increase when going from 2 GB to 4 GB (startup, program opening, etc), and it only said 3.25 GB on my system info (I read that's a windows issue (my XP being 32-bit))) I think I got all the close-parentheses needed there, heh. Well I was thinking maybe 4 GB to start with option to upgrade to 8 if I felt like it. Thoughts?

    Additionally, for a power supply I remember reading a while back that you want W enough to cover all your devices, and having a bit over is recommended for safety/peace of mind. I played around with a computer configuration a while back and all the components I selected put the PSU requirement needing around 600-750 or more (didn't include things like mouse/keyboard/speakers/monitor). Could always splurge for a 1000 W and be done with it, heh. Oh, and fans. My computer has a fan on the video card, in the power supply, at the back of the tower, and on the CPU. The two on the CPU and at the back are the same size (I think). My computer, with these 4 fans, right now sounds like a desk fan on medium power setting. I would like quieter for when I watch movies, etc. In the living room 20 feet away I can faintly hear my computer running. I'd like that to change. Any quiet fan suggestions (size, brand, etc)?

    Well, if you've read this far, I applaud you and thank you for that time. Any suggestions you can give are most appreciated. Thanks again.
     
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