New Desktop PC all rounder to replace dinosaur!

  Sparkly71 23:03 18 Nov 2008

Looking for an all round desktop. I'm interested in photo and movie editing for capturing my toddler and new one on the way as well as a bit of gaming when (if!) I ever get time. I also need Excel and Word as I do a bit of work from home. I basically need everything except a printer and am not adverse to trying Vista. Max budget £1100 inc VAT. Bought the latest January 09 edition of PC Adviser and like the look and spec of the top machine in the £701 - £1000 category. However this doesn't seem to be available and if I try and build my own on various sites to try and get something equivalent then the price goes up to around £1200! I've had a go at customising - could you tell me if I'm missing something vital? I'm not at all sure I know what I'm doing re the case, power supply or motherboard - so am I better not to try and customise and go for a lower spec, standard configuration? Here is what I have so far;-
Power Mean Machine Quad Core Q6600 Tower System,
Premium ATX Midi Tower Case,
650 Watt Power Supply Unit,
Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3,
Intel® Core™2 Quad Q6600 Quad Core 4x2.4GHz 8MB cache,
Samsung 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz,
Samsung SH-S223 22x DVD RW Black SATA,
Samsung SH-S223 22x DVD RW Black SATA,
nVidia GeForce 9800GTX+ 512MB,
Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium (32-bit),
Internal Card Reader 26 in 1,
22" Widescreen TFT 1680x1050 5m/s Monitor,
Logitech Cordless Desktop EX 110,
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Value 7.1,
Logitech S220 2.1 Speakers with Subwoofer,
802.11g WiFi PCI adapter,
1394 PCI Adapter Card - Firewire,
TV Tuner DVB-T Dual Digital Freeview,
2 Years Return to Base inc. 2 Years Free Collect & Return Parts & Labour,
Bundle Word,
PowerPoint & McAfee Internet Security 2008 £922.17 £922.17
Sub-total £922.17
VAT £161.38
Total £1,083.55

  rustyboy 14:46 19 Nov 2008

Spec seems fine and should run everything you need.

One thing though. Rather than a single 1 TB HDD go for two smaller drives.
i.e. a 160 gb 'c' drive which you can just use as the boot drive with windows etc on it and a 640 gb 'f' drive for all your music / video stuff. This will keep your boot drive clean and tidy.

If you are intending to put all your family vid's and photos on it do you have an external back up drive or some other method of backup in mind? It would be a good idea to consider one if you don't have one already.

  rustyboy 14:48 19 Nov 2008

Oh and one other thing. With a 32 bit system you wont be able to use all 4 gig of ram. Have you considered moveing to 64bit vista. That way you'll be able to use all 4 gig of ram and should your video editing become rather involved you can consider upping your ram to 8gig later on.

  Joe R 17:38 19 Nov 2008


have a look at this, click here

  GANDALF <|:-)> 18:12 19 Nov 2008

Why not have a butcher's here click here but also give the guys a call. They are very, very knowledgeable and are highly regarded on this forum-do a search (I have bought a computer from them and recommend them to everyone who needs a computer for editing etc. (Word and Excel do not need a lot of power as does photo-editing).


  GaT7 19:00 19 Nov 2008

You may do the best building it yourself, but understand fully if you won't have the time.

Wherever you buy from, consider the following:

* Buy the monitor separately, so you'll get the full 3-year manufacturer's warranty
* Buy at least 2 hard drives, which includes one external one (also mentioned by rustyboy)
* Make sure you find out exactly what you'll getting before buying, especially with respect to the key components. E.g. in the spec you listed, the PSU & monitor brands are not mentioned. One can get all sorts of 650W PSUs & 22" monitors ranging from ~£25-100 & ~110-200+ respectively. You can't expect the best of everything, but you can ensure you're not getting the lowest quality/generic components either.

As you're not a power-user/enthusiast or professional graphics/video editor, I think 4Gb RAM & a 32-bit OS should serve you well for the life of the PC. Think about a 64-bit OS (& more RAM) only if/when you can't do without it & it becomes more mainstream - better utilised & universally supported. G

  Sparkly71 20:55 19 Nov 2008

Big thanks to everyone who has responded. You have given me some very useful advice and things to think about.
I do have an external drive that I could use to back up Photos etc. Presumable it's still worth having two separate drives as suggested - to keep everything tidy?
The quote I got was from a site that seems to be one of the "good ones" mentioned in this forum so am I safe to assume that the PSU and power supply would not be the cheapest around? I will double check with them though before ordering so thanks for the tip.
Only other thing is - do I have to woory about the driver for my Epson Stylus R300 printer not working if I choose the 64bit version of Vista?

  GaT7 22:09 19 Nov 2008

I'd say having 2 hard disks are better than 1 mainly for backup purposes [I prefer to have at least 2 partitions on my drive, the 1st much smaller one (20-30Gb) containing only the OS to keep things 'tidy' & aid in OS-only reinstalls].

"The quote I got was from a site that seems to be one of the "good ones" mentioned in this forum so am I safe to assume that the PSU and power supply would not be the cheapest around?" - not necessarily. A few months ago, someone purchased a PCA reviewed award-winning PC from a big, reputed firm. They'd changed the quality branded 700W PSU (that was supplied in the review) for a lower quality, lower-powered PSU. In addition, the good quality BFG-branded graphics card in the original spec was substituted for a 'generic' one. If this person didn't check, they would've gone unnoticed & unreported. Many of these companies swap other components too - mostly without informing the buyer & without "substituting components of equal or greater value" as one may find 'promised' in their T&Cs. So always wise to check before & after you order your PC.

About the Epson R300 drivers, apparently the 64-bit XP ones will work in 64-bit Vista click here (download from click here).

64-bit Vista works well when it does, but it looks like one is stuffed if it isn't compatible with the sw, hw or peripherals you are, or will be, using. Go for it if this isn't likely to be a problem - & you're able to help yourself if something doesn't work or goes wrong. G

  Sparkly71 22:47 21 Nov 2008

Thanks again for all your helpful advice which I have taken on board. I've tried to do some reading up on Hard drives and the advantages of having two etc. I suppose this last question is about ease of use. I've read that Vista can manage multiple hard drives and will act as a kind of bridge linking the two thereby treating it as one. So does this mean that it is very easy to install programs/games onto the second drive whilst working from Vista on the first drive? Also if I was to leave an external drive plugged in could I set Vista to automatically back up data files to it from the second drive? Or so that any time I saved a file/document it also always saves it to the external drive? The reason behind this last question is that I'm scared I will forget to backup regularly enough not to lose something important should the second hard disk fail.
I've also read up a bit on RAID systems where you can have the second drive as a mirror image of the first drive which would be a good solution in the event that one of the drives fails but this seems to me to be a waste of storage and I know that none of you here have suggested that. Alternatively is it easier to have one hard drive and use software to partition it? The more I read the more confused I'm getting! Sorry if this question has been asked many times before - feel free to just point me in the right direction!

  rustyboy 08:50 22 Nov 2008

Okay lets try to answer your questions.

Raid - Don't bother with it. For what you will be using it for itll just be a waste.
you can add a number of drives to windows (xp or vista) Each new drive it detects it will allocated a new letter to. So for instance if you have 1 hard drive and two dvd drives itll make the hd 'C' then the two dvd drives will be 'D' and 'E'. The if you add another hard drive yourself later it will automatically add it under the letter 'F'
You can access all your drives very easily. With vista just click the windows button on the bottom left of your screen then select 'computer' from the right hand list and it will bring up the whole list of drives you have installed so you can select which one you want to access. When installing programs they will normally ask you what drive you want to save it on. Just change the 'C' which it will select as default for 'F' or whatever yoyur second hard drive is and it will install and run it from there instead.
Back up - I have two drives in my PC and an external for backup. I use a small drive to run windows from and a larger driver to run all my programs from. It just keeps thing tidy and enables me to do a full re-install of windows without possibly creating issues with my other stuff. I also have an external hard drive that i plug in and back up to every few days. The extern drives are easy to use. Most just plug into a usb port and will then show up on your drives list just like your other drives for as long as its plugged in. Copy what u want to back up across to it then unplug it. Windows vista has a backup and restore centre which you can find in the control panel. you can easily configure your backups from that.
Hopefully i answered your questions.

  rustyboy 08:53 22 Nov 2008

Oh and with partitioning drives.
If you partition a drive to create mor ethan one you could still lose the whole lot if something goes badly wrong. Not always but there is a chance. If you have two physical drives then you are less likely to lose both.

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