New PC, Standard or configured?

  Akula1958 21:02 13 Jan 2005

Dear PC Advisor
I have been laying aside some spare change for a while now to buy a new PC and have finally decided to enter the marketplace and purchase a brand new, fast as ‘a wotsit’ games machine. To help me choose a new PC I have been buying your magazine regularly to see what the market has to offer. I was fairly pleased in the last two months to notice that an Evesham machine, the Axis XCIT Pro, headed your Power PC top 10. (My current 3 or 4-year-old machine came from Evesham and I was looking in their direction to pass on my readies to anyway). So when I saw this PC I thought, “Magic. Lets get this one.” Or words to that effect. So I looked up the Evesham website to check out the machine and I find they have a ‘Configurator’ where you can upgrade various bits and pieces. So after upping the specs of just about everything (see below the spec. I chose) I arrive at a new price of £2562.31 (inc. VAT J) compared to the basic price of £1,599 inc. VAT. What I would like to ask is: - After improving the price by around 66% what sort of improvement have I made to the performance? It is not the fact that the cost is now around £1k more, like I say I have been saving, it’s just can this price hike be justified by getting a machine that is 66% better, or faster or has a longer life etc. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated.
Best regards
Dave Wilson.

The choices I made on the ‘configurator’ are: - AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 chip, the 250GB SATA HD, upping the memory to 2GB, sticking with the Viewsonic 17” (for a while anyway), having either the Radeon X800XT or the nVidia 6800 Ultragraphics graphics card and chucking in the MS Office Pro, even if it is 2003!

  freaky 21:13 13 Jan 2005

You would have a 'Rolls Royce' Pc !

You could cut back to 1GB on memory, this should be satisfactory for any game.

Why do you need MS Office PRO and what is the cost?

  Akula1958 21:23 13 Jan 2005

Yeah i figured it would be pretty nifty. But is the extra £1k justified and does it improve teh machine by a proportional amount?
My lady wants Office Pro and it adds £199 to the total. A small price to pay for piece and quiet from her :-)

  Kodan 06:55 14 Jan 2005

If your wife only needs MS Word, get MS works suite, it is cheaper and includes Word, though the database, spreadsheet etc are not the same.

I can't help thinking you can get a better setup for that much money, but I am 100% a gamer, so my priorities are different to yours maybe.

Less memory, and a bigger screen, is my recommendation - I have a 22 inch CRT, and it is a dream to play on, and to type the occasional letter.

  freaky 10:50 14 Jan 2005

Re: Kodan response.

Regarding CRT V Flat Panel.

My older machine has a 19" Iiyama Vision Master Pro 451 CRT. cannot fault it especially for games.

For my new machine which I got last month, I bought an Iiyama 17" Prolite E435S Flat Panel. Must admit that this is as good as the CRT above, and in many respects better. No problem with ghosting when playing games, and the screen size is comparable.

Personally, I would not buy a CRT again. However of you want a Flat Panle size above 17" and would play games and video, then a CRT would be better.

This is because the larger size Flat Panels at present have a poor response time compared to 17".

Another big advantage with Flat Panels is that they are much better for your eyes. A CRT is constantly refreshing the screen, on a good quality model this may not be noticeable. But nevertheless the screen is flickering, whereas a Flat Panel does not refresh hence no flicker.

I would guess that in about 2years, CRT Monitors will not exist.

  Danoh 11:18 14 Jan 2005

My perspective is that the less you change the standard package, the closer you remain to the best value deal.

I've found by trying out different options on vendors configurator software, that price wise its better to go for a standard machine to which you need to make fewer changes.

I also check out if I can get the same upgraded or extra components at cheaper prices elsewhere on the internet then I'd be charged ~ which I've found to be the case around 50% of the time.

As you have changed so much from the original spec, I seriously doubt if you would get a "66% better" machine.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 chip > I doubt if you will get any significant benefit from this upgrade for normal office application usage or even games which are harder on the Graphics and internet bandwidth if you're gaming online.

250GB SATA HD > Unless you are into video making, tons of music and other multimedia, this capacity is mega more than normally required. Better to consider using the funds for a 2nd physical HDD later on.

Upping the memory to 2GB > 1 Gb for gaming and pic editing as has already been mentioned.

Radeon X800XT or the nVidia 6800 Ultragraphics graphics card > This will future proof your gaming, DVD & multimedia viewing. But again, you will probably find it cheaper to select a basic package which has a nearly comparable card instead.

MS Office Pro 2003 > If your lady uses MS Access, a full blown database application but which is not very scalable to multi-site/user needs, then you are stuck with having to cough out a lot more.

The Office 2003 suite is the latest, following Office XP or 2002. If she does not use Access, then the standard Office 2003 will be fine. Again, check that you aren't able to get it cheaper elsewhere (including the extra p&p of course).

Office XP/2002 will be cheaper than 2003 if you can find it, and most people only every get to use 20% of its functionality at best.

The HDD space and power needs for Office apps are miniscule when considering the specs of the PC you are considering. Its only gaming and other multi media (video) tasks that stretches things, IMHO.

  Danoh 11:23 14 Jan 2005

I don't think you can open/edit files created with MS Office if you only have MS Work Suite. I'm led to believe the converse is also true. I've had different versions of Work Suite bundled with previous PC purchases but have never installed nor used them. I just remember complaints from a very few recipients of my MS office files of different versions that they can not open them as they only had Work Suites of different versions (I can't remember which).

  Jdoki 14:11 14 Jan 2005

Depends if you want the 'best of the best' or you want a system that is not noticably slower but saves you a stack of money.

You can save yourself a big chunk of change, and no noticable performance decrease in games by going with an AMD64 3800 (or even 3500) instead of an FX-55.

I overclocked my AMD64 3500 by almost 300MHz to get is slightly faster than a 3800 - and the difference in games was not noticable.

You will not notice any difference in gaming by having 2GB RAM instead of 1GB.

I also recently upgraded the RAM to 2GB, and again no improvement in games or general operation.

You'll barely get any more 'frames per second' in games by going with an Ultra instead of a good 6800GT; also my buddy has a an ATI X800XT PE and the difference between his card and my factory overclocked 6800GT is nothing.

A 250GB hard drive is OK, but are you really likely to fill it anytime soon? Most games take up between 1 and 5GB now - so that's a lot of games! Plus it's easy to add another SATA hard drive down the road if space becomes a problem.

I believe the only difference between Pro and standard Office is the inclusion of Access database - are you likely to use it?

Do you get (or need) a good set of 5.1 or 7.1 speakers? I'd be inclined to invest in this if they are not included or are of low spec.

Viewsonic screens are good, but others are better for gaming... Sharp are doing some excellent 17" flat panel screens, that are awesome for gaming.

Hope that helps!

  TomJerry 16:23 14 Jan 2005

if you have a student in your family (any age), you do not need Access, you can get students edition for less than £100 (Pcworld and a lot of other places have them),

Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003 includes:

• Excel 2003

• Outlook 2003

• PowerPoint 2003

• Word 2003

  jack 16:50 14 Jan 2005

It seems to me that this 'configured' lark
is simply a wheeze to take more of your dosh.

If you are not a gamer/video maker then go for a basic 'box' and enhance at your leisure with components obtained at better prices on such sites as Ebuyer/Ebay etc.
As stated much of the MS office software is 'uprated' years on year to make it desirable.
where as in fact Office 97 will do pretty well you the avarage user will need. Also there are the 'Open Source' work out there to - see PCA CoverDisks

  961 16:57 14 Jan 2005

It's the chip wot does it

Move down a notch on your processor and you'll save a bundle and notice very little difference in performance.

Folk like Evesham and Mesh do very fast machines but if you seek to go cutting edge you'll ramp up the price no end and will have trouble noticing the difference in performance

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