Online configuration of PCs

  Spock58 08:58 31 Aug 03

Now that there are a number of sites including Mesh, Carrera SSC and NetHighStreet among others, where a PC can be configured online to exactly the specification the customer wants, surely PC Advisor reviewing a specific machine with fixed components is not as relevant as it used to be.

Despite the huge number of systems on offer, I have never found exactly what I want in the past, but now I can. Should there now be a need for a different approach to reviewing PCs?

  -pops- 09:26 31 Aug 03

By far the vast majority of machines are "off the shelf" models sold to joe public or in large numbers to commercial or public concerns who don't know the difference between a HDD and a LED.

The configure it yourself system is for enthusiasts only who know (or think they know) what they want. These people are very few on the suppliers customer base.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 09:54 31 Aug 03

Pops is correct. The vast numbers of computer users just need a basic system. they do not need huge processors, video cards that scream or sound cards that would make B&O seem lame. I would suspect that most people never use anywhere near the full potential of their computers, bit like owning a Ferrari and living on Sark.

My main computer is a 350Mhz Pentium II, 512Mb RAM,8GB HD with a 40GB USB HD. I have nearly 70 programmes on it (29 running processes) and use it mainly for photo manipulation, using Photoshop7, word processing and testing different programmes/processes. I also use a 2.4 Ghz, Pentium4 computer for editing and there is not a lot of difference in speed of the actions between the two.

I read a lot of 'fanboy' posts on the net, where computer specs are compared with almost religious fervour, Invariably, the specs are way over the top for the use of the computer....rather like the much-maligned camera clubs, where amateurs witter on about the cost and spec of their equipment or resolution detail that only a bat on speed could see.............. and occassionally talk about taking photos.

If a 350Mhz is more than enough for my work then I suspect that, unless you are gaming, it will do for everyone else.


  Spock58 11:48 31 Aug 03

I get your point, but there is much more to it than that.

I personally like a decent sized drive, a good monitor and a wireless mouse/keyboard, but if I want these, I would be expected to go for a 'power' pc (I'm being general here, not waiting to hear the exception to the rule)which means overpriced processor/graphics as you quite rightly point out. If I want a modest 2400 processor, modest graphics but a 180GB drive and 18" TFT I'm not going to get it off the shelf. I would have Hobsons choice of 17" SVGA (i.e. could be any old c**p) and onboard sound etc.

I realise that most packages (now)are off the shelf, but surely that does not mean it has to stay like that.

  Barrie_G 12:03 31 Aug 03

I would tend to agree with both sides of the argument (sittng on the fence or what!) pops and gandalf are correct in saying that MOST systems sold are off the shelf boxes that people have seen in PCWORLD or the like and taken home.

However as you point out more and more people are now becoming much more aware about what they want from a computer, this is where the likes of Mesh, Carrera SSC and NetHighStreet will make the sale from the people who want to configure their system but for whatever reason dont want to go the self build route.

In the ever more cut throat business that is computer retail every sale counts and this is just another way to that these companies try to ensure that it is their company that gets the sale and I am sure that in the months to come that there will be other companys that offer this service.

  Spock58 12:07 31 Aug 03

.....which is why I would like to see reviews on this type of service. Any comments from the PC Advisor reviewers on this?

  GANDALF <|:-)> 12:13 31 Aug 03

Agreed but I still feel that you are in a minority. The number of 'off the shelf' specs is truly amazing and you could have had a standard Mesh PC with excellent sound and graphics and an 18" TFT for £820 recently.

180GB HD will only be needed by a handful of people. I deal with many large companies that have server or stand alone computers and they use 60GB storage.....maximum. Most people store extra stuff on CDs (700ish MB) or DVDs(4-5GBs). I have a lot of photo files and general drivel on my main computer and find it hard to use a sixth of the available storage (48GB in total). There really is no reason why the vast majority of purchasers would require anything more than an off the shelf computer.

A 3.06GHZ Pentium 4, with top of the range sound and graphics, will be no faster for word-processing, graphic design and internet use...which is all most people use a computer for.


  Barrie_G 12:26 31 Aug 03

I dont see how they could review this type of service to any great degree, apart from configuring the pc and then seeing if it turns up as ordered. Beyond this would be pointless as most people wont be buying the configuration that they order ( it would defeat the object).

Or is it this service only that you are curious about?

  -pops- 12:33 31 Aug 03

I'm sure that when bespoke PCs become anything other than exlusively for the enthusiast, PCA will be amongst the first to set up part of their editorial system to accommodate this.

There is a fundamental problem though - how do you get a made to measure system that will suit each and every person who is going to review it? When it is reviewed, what use will that be to anyone else who will want a different specified system?

Despite what you may think, you and I are in a very small minority of people are concerned enough to specifiy what goes into their computer. You choose to let someone else put the machine together for you, I put them together myself, knowing exactly what I want to go in there. Most people if they find out that I assemble my own computers react with incredulity and think I must be extraordinarily clever or (or usually) think that the machines I build are on a par with junior Lego. Neither is the case, as you will know.

The vast majority of people, including a number of forum members here, don't have a clue what's inside their machine and they don't care either. That's no bad thing, so long as the machine does as it's supposed to do, why be concerned how it does it?

Far more useful to my mind are reviews of computer components - both hardware and software to keep me au fait with developments ready for me to build my next machine.

So, I go back to what I said at the start of this, I'm sure if or when it is worthwile doing, PCA will do it.


  -pops- 12:36 31 Aug 03


Have you thought about self build? It's interesting almost to the point of addiction - once you've built one machine, you can't wait to build another.


  Spock58 12:51 31 Aug 03

I have considered and built a couple of PCs when I wanted something cheap and cheerful, but at the £1,000 mark it seems to be cheaper to configure the package and get it built rather than buy the equivalent parts, and you get warrantly chucked in for the price.


On an earlier mesage. Yes, it is the service I would like to see reviewd rather than the product, as this would be impossible.

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