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I'm hoping to buy a new base unit before Christmas, and would like some advice on where to go. My budget is about £300, and can't really be stretched, so one of my criteria is that the company not be one that isn't really interested unless you have £1000 to play with. I'm frankly a bit fed up with being recommended in other places to get a system with an expensive 8800 graphics card if I want to play "any modern games properly"!
I've seen some good things here about Cougar Extreme, but only from people buying much more expensive systems: what sort of service could I expect if buying a budget machine? PC Option seem to get reasonable reviews here for quality, but slightly too many people for my liking have said they're very slow to deliver. Another company that doesn't seem to have been noticed either way by PCA forum members is PC Assist ( click here ) whose prices look quite keen but who don't offer that many options.
You did mention being recommended to get a 8800 graphics card and I thought I should perhaps mention that a £300 PC will not be all singing and dancing and for that price it will probably have onboard graphics. If games are your interest then I would wait till you can afford more.
For £300 you can get a PC that will do almost anything else though. But not games.
Some of my friends asked me before purchasing PCs and in some cases I recommended very cheap PCs but I knew them and I knew where their interests lie. In other words I knew that they had no desire to play computer games.
Not meaning to nag or anything just wanted to point this out to you.
Also the cheapest PC with 1 gig of memory is not good enough if you choose Vista as your OS, it would be fine if you pick XP but if its Vista then choose the slightly more expensive one with 2 gig of memory. Vista is very memory hungry and to get a reasonable performance out of it you need at least 1 gig of memory free and clear. The cheaper one has 1 gig but thats minus the amount used for onboard graphics and therefore you would be left with 768mb and that will slow it up dreadfully.
Totally-braindead is right about Novatech. I self build and have tried many suppliers but Novatech, not always the cheapest but very good on service back up, are my first choice unless you want to spend many hours on researching everyone else. For an everyday machine you can come in well under £300 especially if you choose the slightly less expensive but no less effective Athlon options
I can only add my voice to the recommendations for Novatech. No problems at all with my Icon Pro system after 1 year, and prompt support when I needed it.
Thanks for the replies, everyone. I've had a quick look at the Novatech site tonight and they definitely seem worth a closer examination. The Icon Elite ( click here ) seems to be about the level I'd want. Not many customisation options, which is slightly irritating - for example, I wouldn't mind trading off some HD size for more RAM, and Novatech won't allow that sort of thing - but that's not a deal-killer.
I did see a couple of complaints on other forums about poor-quality PSUs in Novatech machines, though. There weren't many such complaints, but there were enough to be noticeable, and a number of them were quite recent. Admittedly they were mostly from people who'd bought much higher-end systems than mine would be.
Totally-braindead: sorry, I didn't explain properly. What I meant was that I was frustrated by being recommended 8800 cards even after I'd explained that I wasn't a hardcore gamer and had no expectation of being able to play Crysis, or using 1600x1200 with everything at maximum settings. My current PC has an AGP GeForce2MX(!) so just about anything would be a step up from that! And I'll be sticking with XP this time, I think.
Oops, forgot to say: the Icon Elite also has a graphics card, which attracted me. It's only an 8400GS, which I'm well aware is lowly in the extreme by current standards, but better than onboard graphics nevertheless.
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