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Author Topic: Best home office desktop  (Read 3369 times)
azv105
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« on: November 28, 2012, 12:26:26 PM »

Hi
While people are discussing about the latest tablets, I am a bit old school. I would like to know the best configuration for a home office desktop. I do a considerable amount of work from home. Suggestions, please?

I do a lot of word processing, and internet browsing (streaming audio and video). I am not keen on online games, etc. Dell Studio seems interesting but pricey. I also would like that my desktop not get obsolete anytime soon.

Thanks.
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egilson
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2012, 2:25:25 PM »

Though this is probably more pricey than the Dell, if I could get anything right now, I'd get the refurbished 27" iMac currently offered through Apple's online store. Given its specs (2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5, 4GB memory, 1TB hard drive, 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW), AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory
), my experience would be that if I threw some more memory in it and got Apple Care, I could use it for at least the next five years.
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azv105
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2012, 3:11:53 PM »

Thanks, egilson. I am not a big fan of apple. Some of the software I currently use would not run on apple.

Can you please suggest Windows machines?
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janewales
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2012, 10:36:41 AM »


There are so many Windows machines that a specific recommendation is going to be difficult, OP; when I was using Windows, I relied on magazines like PCWorld and PCMag for reviews, so you might try that route.

I will say that one thing that always irritated me about my Windows boxes was how noisy they were-- especially the various Dells I owned. They were big gaming machines, though, so they had heavy-duty fan systems. Still, if you can actually play with the machine you're thinking about, rather than simply ordering online, you would be able to see whether the thing sounds like a jet taking off...

You can of course run Windows on a Mac: I made the switch to Mac some years ago now, but on one machine (a 27-inch iMac) I have a Windows partition, for software that is Windows-only.

One last thing about Dell: once upon a time, they had pretty great service. By the time I made the switch away from Windows machines, that had changed. I'm not sure what the current situation is, but it's worth thinking about after-purchase support (both in hardware and software terms), depending of course on what kind of user you are. Again, the big magazines often run yearly stories about the results of customer-satisfaction surveys.
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larryc
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2012, 11:02:39 AM »

PCs are now an undifferentiated commodity like #2 corn. Walk into your local big box store and give them $500 and you will leave with an excellent machine. 
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pgher
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2012, 6:35:45 PM »

My university has a desktop replacement program where all faculty & staff PCs are replaced every 3 yrs.  They have a "standard" build and a "power" build, which are both Dells and both reasonably high performance.  The "power" build has more RAM and a faster processor, and the individual has to pay the difference.  Anyway, my logic is that someone who knows more than I do figured out what's cost-effective.  Maybe your U. has a similar program, and you can see what they get?
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tee_bee
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 11:17:58 PM »

PCs are now an undifferentiated commodity like #2 corn. Walk into your local big box store and give them $500 and you will leave with an excellent machine. 

As usual, Larryc hits the target. I just scored a sweet Lenovo tower for $450, no monitor, at the computer store near me that performed miracles with a sketchy hard drive--replaced and transferred data without a hiccup.

My point: even if you buy the service plan at Best Buy, you have to deal with the idiots at Best Buy. They once held my MIL's computer for three months for a repair I could have done in a day if I had the parts on hand. But if you buy from a computer store that also does computer repair, you'll likely get good service.

I once bought a refurbished machine from a similar store for $500 and got several good years of service from it.

All that said, you can do pretty well by just going to the nearest store that sells computers (Best Buy, OfficeMax, Staples, etc.) and walk out with a fine machine for home office work.
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egilson
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 1:04:09 AM »

My only direct experience with Dell products is with the "business class" laser printer at my fall gig. That experience makes me hope that Dell makes much better computers than they do printers, since I've been tempted to gather everyone on the floor, hand out ball bats, and ask, "Has anyone seen the movie Office Space?"
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larryc
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 1:18:22 AM »

Here is what I mean, a Google product search for PC towers priced between $450-800: http://bit.ly/V8hdDR

A better geek than I could pick out some differences, but they are all essentially the same machine. And a really good one.
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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 3:53:22 AM »

The more generic the computer you buy, the easier it will be to replace components (since the big companies like to use proprietary form factors).

Our next home desktop will start with one of Lian Li's fabulous-but-expensive cases (such as this one), and fill it with components of my choice, but if you are not comfortable putting together a machine from scratch then I suggest either buying a cheap generic system (from eBay or a local non-chain shop) or - if performance and robustness matter - going to either one of the enthusiast gaming computer companies (eg Falcon Northwest or Cyberpower) or to one of the serious business computer companies (eg Polywell or Xi Computers). - DvF
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tee_bee
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 8:47:15 PM »


I'd go for a bigger name like HP, Sony etc as if anything were to go wrong they should (should!) have better support.
Personally I had a Dell for a while and found it to slow down very quickly and often broke so I can't recommend them.

You've not bought an HP lately, have you? Very poor customer support ratings. I've had good luck with Lenovo. Dell's quality has really declined.
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azv105
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 3:03:32 PM »

I haven't bought one yet. Given the huge price tags, I am contemplating learning how to build a computer myself.
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aristotelian
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 4:22:23 PM »

I am pleased to say that I just finished building my first home PC. In this case it is for home theater use. It did not save me any money, but I was able to customize it to exactly what I wanted, and it was a fun project to involve my kid.

If you aren't up for that, pretty much what larryc said, PCs are very much interchangeable these days. The brand is not as important as the guts. The key thing is the processor.

At the low end of the spectrum, Intel Atom will accomplish everything you need, but you will find it somewhat slow (however, it is worth nothing that it is the most energy efficient, if that is important to you). Intel Celeron and Pentium are solid for entry level office and media use. I used the Celeron G540 in my new computer and it is more than enough. If you really wanted good performance, go for one in the Core i3 series.

Core i5 and i7 a really recommended only if you play video games or do intensive media work (e.g. editing and encoding videos).

For the uses you describe, I think if you spend more than $450 you are spending too much.

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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 4:48:41 PM »

I haven't bought one yet. Given the huge price tags, I am contemplating learning how to build a computer myself.
Won't save you a bundle.

How much do you want to pay (complete system, including monitor, unless you already have one)? - DvF
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azv105
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 11:59:45 PM »

dvf: I was thinking of spending $250 to buy a decent computer. Looks like that won't be possible :-(
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