Gaming Question (Black Friday)

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factorialite
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Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby factorialite » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:31 pm UTC

Here's the deal. I'm going to get a new computer on Black Friday, and I'm not great with computers at all (although I did read the Beginner's Guide by Larson). I was wondering which of these computers is right for me.
I want something that plays Orange Box well, and something that will last me 2-3 years.
Without further ado:
Deals found using: http://bfads.net/Search/BlankSearch/all+all+27/
Best Buy:
$200 - eMachines
Vista Home Premium
Celeron 420 Processor
1GB RAM (At first I wrote 1MB RAM. Is that too small?)
160GB Hard Drive
No Graphics Card Stated

$400 - Compaq DualCore
Vista Home Premium
Pentium DualCore Processor
1GB RAM
250GB Hard Drive
No Graphics Card Stated

$680 - HP Core II Duo with Intel VIIV technology
Vista Home Premium
Core 2 Duo Technology
2GB RAM
400GB Hard Drive
integrated 802.11g wireless
No Graphics Card Stated

Circuit City:
$230 (+ $250 mail-in rebate*) - Acer
Vista Home Premium
Intel Pentium D Processor 925
1GB RAM
160GB Hard Drive
Intergrated SiS Mirage 3+ graphics
*- I really dislike mail-in rebates, so I'd prefer not to do this unless the deal was exceptional.

$500 - Pavilion Media Center PC
Vista Home Premium
AMD Athlon 64 X2 DualCore Processor 5200+
2GB RAM
320GB Hard Drive
No Graphics Card Stated

$770 (+ $270*) - Pavilion Media Center PC
Vista Home Premium
AMD Athlon 64 X2 DualCore Processor 6000+
3GB RAM
500GB Hard Drive
"WIFI, TV tuner, PVR, and media center tools"
*- I really dislike mail-in rebates, so I'd prefer not to do this unless the deal was exceptional.
-end-

So, those are my realistic options (I have a laptop and am not in love with it.). Since I go to Purdue, I can get OS-es cheap. I also have a fairly savvy friend who may help me build a computer if these deals aren't super great amazing. Please help me make a responsible choice here!

Thanks!

P.S. I'm willing to buy any of them, but money is still a factor (I'm looking for the best deal and am not happy with spending lots of money).

eviljebus
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby eviljebus » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:16 am UTC

Well, just because I have to, I'd always start of by recommending you build you're own computer. It is a great learning experience and it just makes you better with your computer in general, but I understand most people aren't up to this, but if it does sound like something I can help you with that too. So... as for you're list, to start out with you said you want to play Orange Box, so lets look at its requirements:

Minimum[2]:
1.7 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 8 compatible video card

Recommended:
Pentium 4 processor (3.0 GHz or better), 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card

Side note: recommending a DX8 or DX9 recommended card is just stupid, because the a low end DX9 card compaired to a high end DX9 card is like compairing... well I'm not good with alogies so lets just say the high end pwns the low ends face x10^50.

As for your list, I don't see any of them that include a dedicated graphics card, which concerns me because I don't realy see you playing TF2 or HL2:E2 without one. So on those grounds all of them would be a big 'NO' but you can add one in yourself quite easily, it'll just cost you a little extra to buy one sperate.

As for the CPU Celeron is another way to say 'low end version of a Pentium', and the D is quite dated IIR, so I'd go with their one of the Athlon X2's or Core 2 Duo's because I've heard nothing but good things about them.

As for RAM, again IMO 1gb is a little low now a day, and 3 is higher than you need 95% of the time I'd say 2gb is a good number for now.

In summation I'd say:
$500 - Pavilion Media Center PC
Vista Home Premium
AMD Athlon 64 X2 DualCore Processor 5200+
2GB RAM
320GB Hard Drive
No Graphics Card Stated

OR

$680 - HP Core II Duo with Intel VIIV technology
Vista Home Premium
Core 2 Duo Technology
2GB RAM
400GB Hard Drive
integrated 802.11g wireless
No Graphics Card Stated

You can make the decision between them I guess on if you want wireless, and more storage space, but then again don't let that be your only decision, you can get a wireless card and the extra storage for less than the $180 difference.

So definently reply with your thoughs on my thoughs, and definently consider making your own, because from the looks of these you might have to add in some stuff yourself anyway.

Also don't forget to check out sites that let you customize computers and build them for you if you don't want to build it yourself, I belive Dell will do this for you, but there are other alternatives like http://www.ibuypower.com.

Then again, this wouldn't exactly be taking advantage of Black Friday sales, but then again, in general I've found that you can find better deals online on site like newegg or tigerdirect than you can in big chain stores, and said chain stores can only match their online comptitors during their sales, so you know don't feel like you HAVE to get something this friday.

factorialite
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby factorialite » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:56 am UTC

Thanks for an amazing response. Building a computer seems so difficult, but if it's cheaper, it might be something I could consider. I've heard installing graphics cards isn't terribly difficult but that it is expensive. I'll go look at those websites you suggested, and do some thinking on the subject (instead of the Probability studying I SHOULD be doing).

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Morphing Ball
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby Morphing Ball » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:57 am UTC

I agree with what eviljebus said. No gaming computer should be without a graphics card. Also, keep in mind that you'll want to be well over the minimum specs to run Source games very well. One thing you should consider is the sort of resolution you'll be running games at. As for the two systems eviljebus proposed; I'm not aware of all the differences between X2 and Core Duo, but I've heard a lot of good things about Intel and not much about AMD. A couple of years back, AMD Athlon 64 seemed to be better than Intel Pentium 4, but I don't really know much about the current situation.

eviljebus
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby eviljebus » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:19 am UTC

Oh, and another thing, I haven't been on these forums in a while my friend ubergeek just directed me back, but anyway back on topic, I just saw this thread:
http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=13296

Great thread, I give it 5 starts, 2 thumbs up, (add in other top rating), you should definitly skim through it, he lists several more 3rd party sites that will customise a computer for you, as well as places to buy parts yourself, and places to check out reviews. I gotta say I totaly 100% agree with it all. Again, great guide and a must read... Oh me yarm!

Enough loving of that post, seriously though, I find that even though Source games aren't very hardware intensive compared to the newest games out there, they will still need decent power behind them. I haven't played Episode 2 personally (CS:S for me) but I am quite sure that it will put a require a decent system. Maybe somebody can quote a good graphics card and we can work from there? I'd have to guess 7950 or better now a days, espcially if you want it to last you a while.

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EdgarJPublius
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:29 am UTC

Build. Your. Own.

Fry's usually has pretty good Black Friday deals on components.

Assuming you have a Monitor you should be able to get an orange box capable machine for ~700-800 before black Friday deals.

As it is, none of those machines are going to play the Orange Box without at least a ~$100-200 video card, and I'd say none of those machines would actually be worth the effort, I wouldn't trust any of those manufacturers to build computers for their own grandmothers (except maybe compaq or Circuit city, which is probably actually a Dell).

If you don't feel comfortable building your own, Dell or Compaq might offer some good Black Friday deals direct from their website.

Definitely check out the beginners guide to buying a computer.
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b.i.o
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby b.i.o » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:43 am UTC

Building a computer really isn't hard (if something doesn't fit somewhere, don't stick it in--it's really mostly all that simple). Since you're college I'm sure you could find people to help, too.

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Morphing Ball
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby Morphing Ball » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:45 am UTC

When I was building my first computer (with a bit of help from my dad) the only problem I had was with plugging my case's front panel into the motherboard.

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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby Amnesiasoft » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:25 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:(except maybe compaq or Circuit city, which is probably actually a Dell)

Compaq is HP. So no, Compaq is a bad idea. Of the prebuilt computers I've had, my Dell was probably the best of any of them (against eMachines, HP, and Sony). And yes, all those computer deals, well, are not going to be what you want for a gaming computer. Now then, don't let people like Alienware/Dell trick you into thinking you need to spend $4000 to get a high performance computer. You can build a computer more or less equal to the Alienware and XPS machines for about $1000, and you can build a computer that's still better than the average persons computer (aka capable of playing a game) for even less than that. If you decide you do want to build a computer, I'm sure the other xkcd readers would be more than happy to help you out. There are also some companies that you can get to build a computer for you, which may be the best choice if you don't feel comfortable building your own.

But building your own computer isn't all that difficult. In fact, most things aren't that difficult to use if you actually read the manual (*gasp* a male who reads manuals, I must not exist!). The only problem I ever had was on the third computer I built, wasn't paying attention and plugged the front USB ports in backwards, but no damage was done, computers have plenty of things to keep them from destroying themselves. Not letting you boot up if the CPU fan isn't running, most CPUs will throttle themselves back if they get overheated (most likely because you don't have the HSF properly mounted, or way too overclocked). Most power cables are shaped in such a way you can't plug them in wrong. The only exception I've found is the little individual pins that you have to connect to the motherboard for those important functions, like turning on the computer :P.

factorialite
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby factorialite » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:41 pm UTC

Well, since it seems unanimous that I should just build my own computer, maybe that's what I'll do. I'll have to talk with my more computer-literate friends and see if any of them have done it before.

Thanks a lot for the help! Black Friday is a chore anyways.

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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby sethicus » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:10 pm UTC

I love building computers. In fact, I've built almost 10 of them. However, the one thing that's important to note is that there is a chance it can be more expensive in the long run. You get no warranty other than what the parts manufacturers put on the individual pieces. So if something goes wrong, you're on your own. If you're good with computers, and always have a little extra cash, then build your own. however, if this will break the bank, then get one with a warranty so you don't get burned.
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Larson
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby Larson » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:54 pm UTC

factorialite wrote:Well, since it seems unanimous that I should just build my own computer, maybe that's what I'll do. I'll have to talk with my more computer-literate friends and see if any of them have done it before.

Thanks a lot for the help! Black Friday is a chore anyways.

If you're going to go with the build option, then feel free to post any questions/comments in a new build thread (for organization's sake). Take a look at some of the other build threads to get an idea of what to shop for. We will be happy to help you along the way, so don't hold back if you come across something you're not familiar with. :)

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EdgarJPublius
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:56 pm UTC

Amnesiasoft wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:(except maybe compaq or Circuit city, which is probably actually a Dell)

Compaq is HP. So no, Compaq is a bad idea.



Hmm, for some reason I thought they were IBM, in that case, yea, the CC computer is the only one even worth spending money on.

I'd be happy to help with any computer building questions, and the 'Beginners Guide to Buying your Own computer' has plenty of stuff on building computers too.
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eviljebus
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby eviljebus » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:35 am UTC

Yeah, if you're going to build your own I just have a few tips to get you started.

1) Start with the CPU find a compatable Motherboard: Determin what CPU you want, I'd recommend a Core 2 Duo just because I've heard nothing but good things about them, but I don't belive the X2 are too bad either. Then find a Motherboard that supports the CPU you selected.

2)Get yourself 2GB of RAM: You might be able to slide by with just 1GB, but I'd go for 2. Also, try ot buy in in a par of 2x1GB so you can take advantage of the DDR. As for brands, not too sure, I use Kingston with no problems, it's nice and cheep. Corsair is the major brand out there tough, its fair price and quite reliable from what I hear. Also, make sure the RAM is compatable with the Motherboard you picked out. Another thing I should mention is you RAM is super cheep now days, so don't be afraid to spring for 2x2GB if you find a great deal, and if you find a great deal but its the wrong kind for your Mobo don't be afraid to go find one with the same socket that will support it.

3)Power Supply and Case: Don't cheep out on a PSU, modern graphics cards and processors eat a lot of power, make sure you get something good and preferable name brand. At least 400watts with a good 12v rail, at least 18amps. Make sure the variance is low you don't want 'dirty' power or whatever the call it with power spikes, usualy name brands are better about consistand voltage than cheeper generic ones.

As for the case, not too important, just make sure it has fans, and it is the same form factor as your mother board, probably ATX. Other than that it is realy just for looks.

4)Graphics Card: A lot can be said here so I'll keep it short, you should at least get a 7600 or its ATI equivilant. Go higher if you want the card to last you longer, and you can afford it.

5)HDD: SATA with enough room to store what you need, don't be afraid to buy more tan you need, hard drives are also becoming cheep.

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EdgarJPublius
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:10 am UTC

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=15190

the thread moved on without you.
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Yes.

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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby Torvaun » Fri Nov 23, 2007 4:58 am UTC

As a technician, I have to say that Compaq has been treated unfairly here.

Unfairly in that the previous posters have been recommending that you shouldn't get one, rather than recommending that you shouldn't get one AND cursing the name of Compaq AND comparing them unfavorably to the dross you would scrape off the top of the pool of molten metal you would get from melting down a real computer.

Seriously. Buying Compaq is a bad idea on par with crossing the streams.
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Re: Gaming Question (Black Friday)

Postby davean » Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:36 pm UTC

Torvaun wrote:As a technician, I have to say that Compaq has been treated unfairly here.

Unfairly in that the previous posters have been recommending that you shouldn't get one, rather than recommending that you shouldn't get one AND cursing the name of Compaq AND comparing them unfavorably to the dross you would scrape off the top of the pool of molten metal you would get from melting down a real computer.

Seriously. Buying Compaq is a bad idea on par with crossing the streams.


Though, HP has a have decent server lineup.


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