What key components should I investigate?

  spot the braincell 12:36 12 Mar 08
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I asked earlier how to judge processors, but ought really to ask what components I should assess overall.

The PC we're looking for won't be doing anything special, the most it will probably be tested on is playing DVDs for the kids when I hog the tele for the footie and the odd online game (only pacman sort of stuff)

So what components do I need to get the best of on a PC for doing the above?

cheers folks

  techie4me 14:30 12 Mar 08

I suggest a barebones system from click here
And then add what you need.

  spot the braincell 14:41 12 Mar 08

Thanks techie4me, but I'm not sure what it is on a system I need to look for.

For instance what key component(s) determines how well it would cope with playing DVDs without freezing etc?

  Totally-braindead 15:24 12 Mar 08

A half decent graphics card is about all, with a reasonable amount of memory to play DVDs, even a cheap £30 graphics card will play DVDs.

It really depends on what you will use it for and budget.

What I would suggest is a dual core processor, a reasonable graphics card something like the Nvidia 8600GT or if you play a lot of games a 8800GT which is more expensive. In an XP system 1 gig of memory, with a Vista system 2 gig of memory, a 250 gig hard drive or perhaps bigger. The rest of the bits are completely up to you.

  spot the braincell 15:47 12 Mar 08

Totally-braindead, some I'm lookig at seem to have integrated graphics cards are these any good?

  Totally-braindead 16:30 12 Mar 08

Not really. It depends what you want to use it for. Certainly it will play DVDs but for games its a no no.

How about this click here add a £100 monitor and you have something pretty good for most things.

My brothers PC has onboard graphics and its fine for him but he plays no games and doesn't even bother with DVDs.

Mind you if you get a PC with onboard graphics and it has a PCI Express slot you can add a card if you wish.

Do not get a Vista PC with onboard graphics and 1 gig of RAM you need 2 gig with onboard and Vista otherwise even with a good processor its very dissapointing.

  Totally-braindead 16:39 12 Mar 08

Personally I would not buy a PC with onboard graphics if it did not have a PCI Express x16 slot even if I thought the onboard would do me.

The reason is that even if now at this minute I decided that I didn't want a seperate graphics card and I bought one and later on I changed my mind I would be stuck.

If you buy a PC with onboard graphics but it has a PCI Express x16 slot then later you could upgrade it. No slot and you're stuck with what you have. Its cutting your nose to spite your face in my opinion.

ALDI are doing a rather good spec PC for £499 without monitor on the 13th (tomorrow) and its very cheap for what it is, quad core, 3 gig memory, 8600GT graphics etc. Now I haven't had a Medion PC myself but assumming its ok its a bargain at that price.

I'm not saying that you should buy it but its worth considering click here of course something like that might be overkill for you and you could get something a lot cheaper that would do you.

  spot the braincell 18:29 12 Mar 08

Thanks for that, unfortunately Mrs braincell informs me we now have to consider price and it turns out we have a budget which runs to £400 max to include the OS as well. So will continue to trawl with the spec you pointed out for something in that range.

  Totally-braindead 18:52 12 Mar 08

Is that including a monitor or do you have a monitor already?

Novatech offering click here leaving you enough to get a monitor but with it only have 1 gig and it being onboard graphics I would not have Vista. XP yes but with this spec Vista would be rather slow. It does have a PCI Express x16 slot so you could if you wished add a graphics card on later.

Or consider a Dell. click here but I would check that whatever you buy has a PCI Express x16 slot, if it hasn't I personally wouldn't buy it. But I do play games. If you don't and you definatly won't in future then it could be a good deal for you.

  Totally-braindead 19:07 12 Mar 08

I did buy a Dell PC last year for someone and it didn't have a PCI Express slot but I knew this person rather well and was absolutly certain that she would not want to play games. She got a basic PC and it does all she asks of it, internet, word processing and that sort of thing and runs fast enough for her to do all she wants.
If your description of the uses you propose is accurate then a cheap PC would do you fine. If however the kids get involved and they want to play a game you might get stuck.

  spot the braincell 12:31 14 Mar 08

Thanks Totally, yes we need to squeeze a monitor out the available funds as well, and yes the description of its purpose is correct, though not future proofed. Our eldest is 11 and hasn't yet discovered gaming!
I'll check out the links you gave and query the PCI Express bit, cheers

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