Need to buy a new PC Base unit...

  carpetcone 18:05 01 Feb 2004

Hello, I am new to this forum so please accept my apologies if I post to wrong place or whatever!
I am in need of a replacement base unit for a Tiny Pentium 2 which is dying, running slow, locking up and so on. I am not needing high spec but thought Pentium 4 2.6 with CDRW DVDRW and 256 memory would be about right. Reading other postings I wondered if anyone has purchased a similar machine recently? I saw a Compaq at PC World for £471, seems I cant build one for this price? Anyone got any ideas or help? I have built my own before so I know the basics!
Steve, Bristol

  961 18:43 01 Feb 2004

If you have built one before why not do so again? Apart from the fact that you will enjoy it you can enjoy deciding just what spec you want, you won't have a problem with the supplier going bust or whatever, and if it goes wrong, you'll have 24/7 help on hand to put it right.

Having said all that, you probably won't save much, if anything. PC World sell a variety of systems at competitive prices, and you can take it home with you. Some of their makers produce computers that may not be too easy to upgrade later, with motherboards and other components that are specially made for them

If you are new here you may not have seen discussions about computers that come without a full copy of the Windows operating system, but have it instead on a hidden partition on the hard drive or as a "recovery" disk, which while restoring the operating system if it all goes pear shaped requires you then to go on and reinstall all your own files (if you have been clever enough to back them up) and software that you have installed yourself. There is an argument for buying from a manufacturer that will supply you with the proper disk (there are a few) or finding out how to extract and copy the system files from your hard drive. If you build your own, you will, of course, not have this problem

  carpetcone 18:53 01 Feb 2004

Thanks for your input. Basically, I think i was looking for any views regarding Compaq computers. Reliability, ease of upgrade etc etc
I can upgrade myself but do Compaq come in the group of manufacturers who make things difficult for me to do this?
Adding up component prices soon goes over the price quoted by PCWorld.
Operating systems are no trouble for me, I am happy with Windows 98, it works for me and I have the original CDs!

  961 19:07 01 Feb 2004

If you get the model no from PCWorld (it may be built specially for them) then go to the Compaq web site (type compaq computers into google) you can find details of their product range and a link to ask them direct. I would guess that you will be able to add bits but you need to ensure you can disable any inbuilt graphics and there is a slot for a modern graphics card if you want to upgrade that. Ask about anything else you may want to install and how many memory and pci slots are vacant
I should think you would find it difficult or impossible to upgrade the motherboard
I imagine it will have windows xp installed with a recovery disk so 98 has said bye byes I'm afraid

  961 19:14 01 Feb 2004

Compaq are part of Hewlett Packard of course and as far as I know make good computers

Don't be persuaded to buy extended warranty. If it's going wrong it will happen in the first 3 months as I'm sure you know

PCWorld, although much maligned, sell good value stuff. I've bought more than one computer from them (that means 2) and both lived up to expectation

The secret is to know what you want and be aware that some staff are excellent, others are not in giving advice

Just like anywhere else really

  R4 19:17 01 Feb 2004

Compaq (now HP) systems tend to be dificult to upgrade/alter as there is quite a bit of 'Custom Components'

If you just want a good base unit that is easily upgraded later try Novatech systems from £259 (£305 incl VAT) see here :-
click here

  961 19:21 01 Feb 2004

Yep...Novatech is good

  canard 19:26 01 Feb 2004

click here Reliable, reasonable, free advice at all stages and will build you anything you ask for.

  rickf 22:48 01 Feb 2004

Novatech is good. Upgrade within limitations of the m/b pretty straight forward. I seem to remember the first compags used to solder all components to the m/b redering upgrade an impossibility. Perhaps things ahve moved on.

  carpetcone 23:51 01 Feb 2004

Thanks the postings so far....
Maybe I will do an upgrade myself..! I will consider all options that have been suggested.
Am I correct in thinking that "new" pc's cannot run Windows 98 that I like and get on with ok?
I.e. if I buy a preloaded new PC I cannot reformat and load Win98? Maybe a basic question I know, but, I am not an expert.

I have added up all the components and it still seems that a basic Intel P4 2.8 will cost me about £500.


  961 08:49 02 Feb 2004

Very few manufacturers will sell you a system with no operating system loaded

Not a good idea to put 98 on a new system. Too many things not supported

You can't reformat and go back to 98. Not sensibly, at any rate

I would consider the AMD route..much cheaper and just as good

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