Help me buy a PC - I'm lost!

  funkey_monkey 21:14 10 Nov 05


I need to buy a new PC for home use.

I am starting to learn C++ and probably some UML and need a new computer.

I don't play computer games, nor are graphics/images widely used (I have no digital camera).
What I would like is to get a PC with the minimum I need now and then as and when I need accessories and peripherals add them on.

My demands are becoming less and less the more I look:
- TFT monitor would be 'nice'
- Hard drive >= 80Gb
- Must be future proof.

I would like the base unit to have a small footprint but, I will trade this for cost and technical spec. An ability to run Linux would be an advantage (2nd hard drive or partition?)

I don't want to end up in the situation that upgrading or installing new hardware becomes labourous or indeed not possible due to the setup of the system.

I'd go mad if I went to upgrade the RAM and found out that it only had 2 slots and each stick must be the same.

I'm a bit lost also when it comes to the processors. Is there seriously a 'noticable' differeence between Ahtlon, Pentium, Celeron, and Semperon, etc?

And then there is the integrated graphics issue...
Now I have to say that my current PC (200MHz processor and 64Mb RAM (integrated grpahics ;-) ) is slightly noticeable, but surely 512Mb RAM (integrated or not) would suffice. I've been told to go for 1024Mb, but is there really a point to all this?

I'm looking a basic PC that I can upgrade as I need to and be able to upgrade easily.

Looking forward to replies and comments.

Thanks for reading.


  Jamesy 21:19 10 Nov 05

You really need to specify a budget to us, how much you wish to spend, as your demands are very little but you say the computer must be "future-proof" for which you need to spend some money

  funkey_monkey 21:24 10 Nov 05

Hi Jamesy,

I'm looking to spend max £400-£450. definitely no more than that.


  Jamesy 22:53 10 Nov 05

That is quite a tight budget, but I managed to spec this on the Dell site for just over that, a more than capable PC:

£487.28 inc VAT and delivery:

Dimension 5150
2.8Ghz Pentium 4
15" TFT Monitor
Win XP Home
Radeon X300 Gfx
80GB Hard Disk
CD and DVD drives
1 year collect & return warranty

The base of this should be highly upgradable.

If you spec another on their site you have to choose a different system with a Celeron processor which is much worse, and it won't be as future proof because it will have an older motherboard.

  Jamesy 22:58 10 Nov 05

Also I hasten to add you can probably knock that price down to about £450 if you call Dell and haggle a little with one of their sales reps.

Also I often see good nows now at PC World on lower end systems. If you look in the tabloids daily there are often some spreads for their computer systems at about £399. I think they do a Compaq one for that (or is it Packard Bell?) Can't remember lol... it isnt listed on their site however, pop down to your local PcWorld store :)

  wee eddie 23:29 10 Nov 05

I would use a manufacturer that buys their kit on the open market.

3 hard Drives would be a good investment.

C for Windows and your Home.

D for Linux.

E for all those experiments that may go wrong when your learning.

D & E Hdd's can be pretty small, as they are unlikely to have to store much info.

Future proofing - Most PC's are proof for at least a week or the next time you read the Review section of PCA.

  Pooke 01:21 11 Nov 05

Future proof? No such thing. It's out of date before you buy it. The most important thing is does it meet your needs?

That dell will be extremely reliable and a good work horse. Upgrading graphics, adding extra RAM and addding more HDD space will not be difficult. I can assure you.

My brother owns a dell that's about 2+ years old now he has upgraded bits several times. Compaq presario 1639 is another system I just bought, it has standard branded parts from some big names, AMD socket 939 MSI mobo with PCI-E, Samsung hdds, lite on dvd rewriter etc.


  pj123 16:00 12 Nov 05
  funkey_monkey 09:03 14 Nov 05

what is the sotry with Dell's and XP Media Centre Edition.

I'm looking at a Dell 5100 which has 1024Mb RAM, 3 GHz P4 Processor - its listed on their website.

However, its defined as a multimedia PC. What is the Media Centre Edition, do I really need it, and could they ship the PC with XP home for me instead?

Cheers for all your replies


  jbp1982 09:06 14 Nov 05
  Kate B 00:16 15 Nov 05

hello FM, blossie here! Glad you've come over here, there's always excellent advice.

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