PDA

View Full Version : Recommend a computer please


Oakleigh Photography
5th November 2009, 12:09 PM
My computer has come to its end and have to get a new one fairly quickly. Would someone recommend a good computer for photo editing please. It is used by my children for school work also

thanks

John

shenstone
5th November 2009, 01:06 PM
The trouble is that there are so many many answers to this question and you need to think a little more about all the software you are using in order to decide

Here are a few pointers


Do you want to do heavweight photo editing using Photoshop - if not 2Gb will be fine - if so lots of memory will be needed so get 4Gb or if REALLY heavyweight consider a 64 bit version of Windows
How many pictures do you take and want to store - this will determine hard drive size. External disks are cheap now and are the best way of backing up, but internall are still generally faster - consider what you would fill up in 3-5 years
You can't have too many USB ports
If you want to calibrate your monitor you will need to be thinking of a decent graphics card
DON'T get VISTA now Windows 7 is out. Windows 7 seems so much better already
When it comes to make and mode DONT think any big name (Dell, HP, Toshiba etc) makes ANY difference - all of these big names biy components on the open market and often fit differnt quality to the machines they sell to the home market than they use in Business computers

mike_j
5th November 2009, 01:52 PM
You could go for one of these

http://www.gigafiles.co.uk/files/3754/pics4ap/boozcomp.jpg

EH1
5th November 2009, 01:56 PM
You could go for one of these

http://www.gigafiles.co.uk/files/3754/pics4ap/boozcomp.jpg

Wow! A computer that actually does something usefull! :D

StephenL
5th November 2009, 01:59 PM
Great! I want one!

Wow! A computer that actually does something usefull! :D

jamie allan
5th November 2009, 02:26 PM
John,
If your keyboard, mouse and display are all acceptable to you as is I'd recommend you look on the PCWorld online site in the clearance page. You can normally pick up a high spec known brand base unit only with Vista Premium for about £250. Just check to see if it's refurbished or end of line. Though either way you still get a years guarantee.

DerekW
5th November 2009, 04:37 PM
Be brave and courageous and shun Windows and go for a Mac and see a lot of your problems get left behind.

Take a look at the iMac range (all of which can run windows) as well as the OSx

With OSx
There are many Office type products ranging from Microsoft Office, the Apple iWork product to the free Open Office products.

As for photo editting and storage iPhoto comes included in the computer along with the rest if the iLife products eg GarageBand for music creation, iMoview for movie editing and iDVD for creating DVDs.

The Macs tend to last longer and have a better resale value - ie they have one unlike PCs.

If you look around you can get ex Dem models for several £100 off list price and also get full warranties as well.

I made the move 5 years ago and have not regretted the move and that is after working in the computer industry since the 60s and also publishing pc application software.

StephenL
5th November 2009, 05:04 PM
I am interested in this also. (I started work in IT in the late 70s)
I have always wondered what spec Mac compares with a PC of, say, quad core processor with 8Gb ram and 512 Mb video card. I understand that the figures will be different - but how?

Be brave and courageous and shun Windows and go for a Mac and see a lot of your problems get left behind.

Ian
5th November 2009, 05:07 PM
I feel the need to balance the argument here... I have been using Windows 7 for almost two weeks and it's a significant improvement over Vista, although Vista had already matured into a stable and effective OS in its own right.

Windows 7 also seems more stable than the latest Mac OS, Snow Leopard. There is much wider software and hardware support for Windows. If you need the caché trademark Apple stle, then so be it, but you will almost certainly pay more to go down the Mac route.

I don't believe there are any user interface advantages one way or the other, though a few users I know who use both complain that the Mac Finder is not as good as Windows Explorer.

Ian

theMusicMan
5th November 2009, 05:18 PM
I feel the need to balance the argument here... I have been using Windows Vista for almost two weeks and it's a significant improvement over Vista, although Vista had already matured into a stable and effective OS in its own right.

Windows 7 also seems more stable than the latest Mac OS, Snow Leopard. There is much wider software and hardware support for Windows. If you need the caché trademark Apple stle, then so be it, but you will almost certainly pay more to go down the Mac route.

I don't believe there are any user interface advantages one way or the other, though a few users I know who use both complain that the Mac Finder is not as good as Windows Explorer.

Ian
OT - Ian, please check your PM's :) ta.

donmcmahan
5th November 2009, 05:49 PM
If you love sorting out problems, enjoy talking about the latest trojan to threaten life as you know it. if registry cleaning sounds like a perfect rainy afternoon activity by all means get a windows machine.:rolleyes:

Adagio
5th November 2009, 06:55 PM
If you are content to pay a 15% price premium and throw out all your software investment then buy a Mac. Otherwise do as the other 93% of the world population does and buy a Windows PC.:D

Adagio
5th November 2009, 07:01 PM
On a less facetious note.

1. Buy a brand that is going to be in business next year.
2. 4GB of RAM
3. Decent graphics card, does not have to be a screaming games playing card but don't rely on built-in graphics. Pay at least £50 for a proper card with at least 256MB of its own dedicated memory.
4. Buy the best monitor you can afford.
5. Buy monitor calibration kit.

StephenL
5th November 2009, 08:04 PM
Have a look at the clearance section of Dell.

DerekW
5th November 2009, 08:18 PM
I do not agree with some of Ian's comments

Stability of Snow Leopard - I have been running it continuously on my Macbook Pro (a laptop) since it came out in late August, it was very significantly used while I was travelling in the South West.
The machine was running Aperture - Apple's rather nice rival to Lightroom, PS CS3, Firefox, Thunderbird. Plus the odd dip into MS Office 2004.

So as far as stability is concerned it has been a no problem experience.

Because of my computer backgroound I normally do not move onto a new version of an OS until the third fix pack is issued - however I broke my rule for the laptop and Snow Leopard to see how it worked. However for the Mac Pro (my big main machine) it is waiting for fix pack 2 of Snow Leopard to arrive.


Hardware cost - I have seen price comparisons of a tier 1 PC compared with a Mac and the Mac proved to be better value.

Used Macs do command a better price, I sold a 4 year old Mac G5 PowerPc for £600 early this year. 3 to 4 year old Mac laptops sell for £200 to £400.

Applications - range of - take a look at

http://www.versiontracker.com/macosx/

to see the range of apps available.

Finder - A very useful feature in icon view is the ability to see a miniaturised version of the document when trying to find a document that you can remember the shape of but not the title or keywords.

Preview – perhaps one of the most under utilised applications that come with OSX – it can view most word processor formats, image files , run slide shows, allow very basic image editing.

Cache trademark Apple style – I am far from being a follower of style I go for function and useability – that is why I run an Olympus camera and not a stylish camera.


I could run on about the hardware physical design – but I will not at the moment. <g>

Nick Temple-Fry
5th November 2009, 09:02 PM
Well there is one fact that makes a Windows based machine essential - and that's the fact the PC is to be used by children and school work will assume windows and its common applications.

But it's also worth looking at costs, the cheapest Apple John Lewis stock is this at 499

http://www.johnlewis.com/230729676/Product.aspx

and for that money you get 2gb memory, 160 gb of disc and NO display/keyboard/mouse.

For .95p more you could buy this

http://www.johnlewis.com/230573771/Product.aspx

which gives you 4Gb, 320Gb and of course a display/keyboard/mouse. Add on £20 for wireless network card for the USB and you are about ready to go.

John Lewis (well if it's good enough for MPs on expenses).

Nick

Ellie
5th November 2009, 10:33 PM
I think it's hard to tell you what computer to buy, because it isn't the computer it's the components that matter - graphics card and so on.

We can recommend this place >> http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/

It's a small company that does a lot of business. There are four stores >> http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/hdoutlets.html We use the one in Portsmouth, but you don't have to go in person because you can phone them up and explain what you want to use your computer for and they'll tell you the best 'off the shelf' model, or they'll put one together for you. The people on the end of the phone really do know what they're talking about.

If you're brave enough you can buy the components and do it yourself, and it will probably work out cheaper too.

Adagio
5th November 2009, 10:46 PM
If you're brave enough you can buy the components and do it yourself, and it will probably work out cheaper too.

Ellie

I fully endorse your Novatech recommendation. If you can get to a store they will give you very well informed advice and they offer their own brand.

I built the computer on which I am typing this. If you do this don't expect to save money. The HPs and Dells of this world can buy components much cheaper than you can but you will get the features that you want and not pay for those that you don't. You will also experience growing nervousness as the moment of switch-on gets closer and an enormous thrill when it works*yes

P.S. You can't do that with a Mac;)

Melaka
6th November 2009, 07:06 AM
Haynes do a book on building your own computer (I bought my copy from PC World) which is worth reading even if you don't intend to build one yourself. It has a lot to say about the various options you should consider.

Oakleigh Photography
6th November 2009, 09:20 AM
Thanks Guys its useful advice. Cant believe how much you use the PC until it has gone.

I have access only here at work, so sorry for not replying sooner

John

CakeBoy
6th November 2009, 09:34 AM
You may not save money by building your own computer, though you should certainly end up with higher end components than would typically be used in a big brand machine. That is not to suggest the components in such machines are poor quality, just that your money will go further in terms of components if you build it yourself. The factor that often prevents a saving on a self-build is the operating system. This can add significantly to the price versus it being part of the pre-built package.

If you know what you are buying and don't need too much technical help to choose components, ebuyer.com is often one of the least expensive suppliers of parts. Their returns service is fine if you ever need it, however, they are huge and a bit impersonal.

Ian
6th November 2009, 09:45 AM
I do not agree with some of Ian's comments

Stability of Snow Leopard - I have been running it continuously on my Macbook Pro (a laptop) since it came out in late August, it was very significantly used while I was travelling in the South West.
The machine was running Aperture - Apple's rather nice rival to Lightroom, PS CS3, Firefox, Thunderbird. Plus the odd dip into MS Office 2004.

I know several people who have Snow Leopard issues, DxO Optics Pro 5 has Snow Leopard problems, the feedback I'm getting is that Snow Leopard was released too early.

So as far as stability is concerned it has been a no problem experience.

Because of my computer backgroound I normally do not move onto a new version of an OS until the third fix pack is issued - however I broke my rule for the laptop and Snow Leopard to see how it worked. However for the Mac Pro (my big main machine) it is waiting for fix pack 2 of Snow Leopard to arrive.


Hardware cost - I have seen price comparisons of a tier 1 PC compared with a Mac and the Mac proved to be better value.

Used Macs do command a better price, I sold a 4 year old Mac G5 PowerPc for £600 early this year. 3 to 4 year old Mac laptops sell for £200 to £400.

Applications - range of - take a look at

http://www.versiontracker.com/macosx/

to see the range of apps available.

There are still far more Windows apps out there.

Finder - A very useful feature in icon view is the ability to see a miniaturised version of the document when trying to find a document that you can remember the shape of but not the title or keywords.

I based my comment on Finder vs. Windows Explorer in a Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7 comparative review by a team of CNet journalists.

Preview – perhaps one of the most under utilised applications that come with OSX – it can view most word processor formats, image files , run slide shows, allow very basic image editing.

Cache trademark Apple style – I am far from being a follower of style I go for function and useability – that is why I run an Olympus camera and not a stylish camera.

Olympus cameras aren't stylish? :eek::D

I could run on about the hardware physical design – but I will not at the moment. <g>

Sure there are plenty if rubbish PCs out there, but there are some superb hardware implementations too - and you can build your own if you want (which I do).

My main point here is, by all means recommend what you like, but PLEASE don't try to convert people by rubbishing the opposition with opinion rather than hard facts.

This is one reason why Olympus users get a lot of flack from users of other brands.

My view is that if you want to use a Nikon or a Canon instead of a an Olympus, that's fine. And so is the inverse. If you want to use a Mac instead of a PC, of course that's fine too. What really irritates me is when one has to justify one's choice and feel the need to evangelise it to everyone else.

My life long belief is that something good will sell itself. It's a personal thing. What will appeal and serve you best may not be appropriate for someone else. Provide facts and let others use that knowledge to make their own decision, without any hard sell.

It's a fact that my brother in law enthusiastically bought a Mac two years ago and he replaced it with a PC after just six months after failing to get on with it. That doesn't mean he's wrong. It doesn't mean Macs are rubbish. It doesn't mean you're wrong in loving your Mac. The OP might be best off with a Mac, he might not. I'm not wrong for preferring PCs. Of course Macs can do some things better than PCs and other things less well.

I'm always interested to hear about a cool feature that a Mac or Linux user is enthusiastic about. But it is so boring when a Mac or Linux user starts to imply that their system is superior so we all ought to abandon Windows and invest in their preferred system. Please, let's not do that here.

Ian

Rod Souter
6th November 2009, 09:52 AM
My main point here is, by all means recommend what you like, but PLEASE don't try to convert people by rubbishing the opposition with opinion rather than hard facts.


Ian


+1

I agree

Rod

StephenL
6th November 2009, 09:52 AM
Thank you, Ian, for putting into words my own feelings on this matter. *chr


....My main point here is, by all means recommend what you like, but PLEASE don't try to convert people by rubbishing the opposition with opinion rather than hard facts.

.....
I'm always interested to hear about a cool feature that a Mac or Linux user is enthusiastic about. But it is so boring when a Mac or Linux user starts to imply that their system is superior so we all ought to abandon Windows and invest in their preferred system. Please, let's not do that here.

Ian

Ian
6th November 2009, 09:57 AM
I always end up regretting slightly after making points like this, and the last thing I want to do is annoy Derek, so I hope sense prevails and I really do believe and respect Derek's enthusiasm for Macs and I hope he sees why I felt the need to balance the debate in the thread.

Ian

DerekW
6th November 2009, 10:01 AM
I have re read my comments and did not mention let alone rubbish Windows PC - I wrote only of what I see and experience with the Mac.

My only experience with Windows is when I am asked to help out windows users with their machines.

Ian
6th November 2009, 10:27 AM
I have re read my comments and did not mention let alone rubbish Windows PC - I wrote only of what I see and experience with the Mac.

My only experience with Windows is when I am asked to help out windows users with their machines.

Derek, it was this: "Be brave and courageous and shun Windows and go for a Mac and see a lot of your problems get left behind." which got me going. Everything you said after that was rather tainted, even though you did make some good points.

Anyway, I've made my points. I can't see any more need to dwell on it.

Ian

snaarman
6th November 2009, 11:24 AM
My only experience with Windows is when I am asked to help out windows users with their machines.

Problem is, we only hear about computers (Mac or PC) when they go wrong. No one would ask you to help with their Windows machines when they are running just fine :)

Some in my family bought expensive Mac laptops and had them fail after a year :mad: equally some have used Macs for years with no complaints. The same is true of the PCs in the family as well.

I haven't used a Mac so I can't comment on reliability first hand, however I perceive Macs as expensive but fast and stylish with a very commited set of users, and I see PCs as cheap, quite fast and not so stylish.

My complaint is with software writers that make bloatware that slows your computer (either sort) down for no great benefit.

Ah well. Back to work..

Pete

PetePassword
6th November 2009, 02:07 PM
Ignoring the Mac/PC debate, why do you want to buy a brandname? You pay for the name remember. I get mine from a local shop [support local business] who builds a system to your exact spec awhich doesn't break the bank. My local shop also gets quantities of ex-business machines, which are pretty high spec, as some firms replace every year. I recently got a Fujitsu-Siemens laptop for £120, and my desktop, a Packard-Bell refurbished, cost me a couple of hundred.

Everyone is using the same parts anyway, so what's the cost of a badge?

davidsa
6th November 2009, 05:33 PM
I would endorse what Adagio and Shenstone say.

Windows 7 currently comes with 2 disks for 32 and 64 bit. Since most/all processors sold except at the very bottom of the market, then certainly go for 64 bit.

You can't really have too much RAM and a halfway decent graphics card would help - but not need to go to extremes.

For desktops (at any rate) brand means very little - they are all tin boxes containing broadly the same circuit cards which you could quite easily buy individually and put together yourself -if you like that sort of thing

I suggest the best compromise between home built and branded is an established "high street" computer shop that will build to specification. That way you know exactly what you are getting, and you aren't paying for international advertising.

As importantly, if there is a problem you can put the computer in the back of your car and take it back - no hanging onto a helpline to India. One such business which I use "soak" tests new machines for 48 hours before releasing them out so you are unlikely to get a computer which is dead on arrival.

I hope that helps

Good luck

David

Who's_E
6th November 2009, 06:28 PM
Everyone is using the same parts anyway, so what's the cost of a badge?

As the Russian Cosmonaut says in Armageddon "American components, Russian components: They are all made in Taiwan." :)

Headline numbers (processor, RAM and hard disk) are important but so is the bus speed of your motherboard, which also affects the price. The bus connects all the main parts of the computer together (processor, RAM, hard disk and peripherals).

My computing teacher used to liken the bus to a water main: There's no point trying to put an entire village's water down a 1" pipe and expecting them all to get a good flow of water.

I'm not sure how Macs compare but we're not exactly talking about weather forecasting so I would get whichever you want within your budget.

Nick

jamie allan
6th November 2009, 11:03 PM
I've worked in the IT business for almost 30 years - the last 20 providing a desktop and server hardware and software support service within a large organisation. I'd previously used Macs and can attest to their user friendliness particularly with regard desktop publishing and 'arts' functions. If that's your aim and it's within your budget then I'd say go ahead. However if you are looking at a finite restrained budget then a standard PC is cheaper. Very few people I've ever come across buy a PC with a view to a sell on price - they buy it because it performs the functions that they want it to. When it outlives it's usefullness it's binned or upgraded. Try selling a 286/386/486/PentiumII/III - you won't get many takers. However it would have been a significantly cheaper initial cost than a Mac.
Jamie

gregles
7th November 2009, 01:44 AM
I am looking for a new pc at the moment and have come across this on ebay.

Ebay link - click here (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/XBLADE-AMD-AM3-245-DESKTOP-PC-COMPUTER-500GB-4GB-DUAL_W0QQitemZ300348959819QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Co mputing_DesktopPCs?hash=item45ee316c4b)

Any comments would be welcome:)

sapper
7th November 2009, 07:47 AM
Intersting stuff here.
I used a PC and paint shop pro for my photo editing. Saw an iMac and fell for it, paid more than a comparable PC and found I needed new software.
In my limited experience Windows machines are good because if something goes wrong, there is usually a way to fix it without calling in experts. Macs don't seem to be so easy to fix.
Having said that, I have had virus problems with a PC but not with my mac and my local apple shop is a delight to shop in, the staff are really knowledgable, and there are enough, not like a big PC store nearby.
As someone said, if the children are to use it, a PC seems the route to go as I don't know of any school that uses anything but, but then I only know a couple of primary schools.

Ian
7th November 2009, 09:20 AM
I am looking for a new pc at the moment and have come across this on ebay.

Ebay link - click here (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/XBLADE-AMD-AM3-245-DESKTOP-PC-COMPUTER-500GB-4GB-DUAL_W0QQitemZ300348959819QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Co mputing_DesktopPCs?hash=item45ee316c4b)

Any comments would be welcome:)

I can't say I'm overly impressed with the spec. The CPU is average spec. - I'd be aiming for a three or four core CPU, I'd also prefer a better known brand of motherboard (Asus, for example) and I wouldn't go for integrated graphics. A 500GB hard drive is also not very generous for a desktop - I'd want 1GB at least. The 450W PSU is also not generous.

I think you could build your own for less and have a better spec.

Ian

Ian
7th November 2009, 09:26 AM
I would endorse what Adagio and Shenstone say.

Windows 7 currently comes with 2 disks for 32 and 64 bit. Since most/all processors sold except at the very bottom of the market, then certainly go for 64 bit.

You can't really have too much RAM and a halfway decent graphics card would help - but not need to go to extremes.

For desktops (at any rate) brand means very little - they are all tin boxes containing broadly the same circuit cards which you could quite easily buy individually and put together yourself -if you like that sort of thing

I suggest the best compromise between home built and branded is an established "high street" computer shop that will build to specification. That way you know exactly what you are getting, and you aren't paying for international advertising.

As importantly, if there is a problem you can put the computer in the back of your car and take it back - no hanging onto a helpline to India. One such business which I use "soak" tests new machines for 48 hours before releasing them out so you are unlikely to get a computer which is dead on arrival.

I hope that helps

Good luck

David

I'm not sure 64-bit is the best choice unless you are fairly 'expert' as there are still many hardware products without 64-bit drivers and some software, too. 32-bit Windows 7 with 3GB memory is very capable. On my 32-bit Windows 7 laptop I can have Lightroom, Word, Outlook, DreamWeaver, Excel, PS CS4 and VideoWave all loaded and running without memory issues (this might be more challenging for a Windows XP PC).

PetePassword
7th November 2009, 09:29 AM
Having used Macs as well as PCs, I'm certainly aware the Mac is no more stable a system than the PC. A graphic design studio a friend ran had half a dozen Macs, and a constant refrain was cursing as a machine crashed and had to be rebooted. It's a myth Macs are better in this regard. I've owned Macs too, and never found the 'folders' any better than the PC directory structure and subdirectories. I did find it irritating to have to store fonts one was using for a job in a 'suitcase' just for that job, when PCs have fonts installed in Windows which are available for any program you run.
Re binning an old PC, there are alternatives; refurbishing is easy - new HDD, more RAM, fatser processor etc. as the box still works as do the other drives. Easy to get an upgrade at any time. No idea how you'd do that with a Mac. Then towards the end of their life, charities are often grateful to receive gifts of PCs, students who need one to write homework on and surf don't have to be top of the range gaming monsters.
The only reason few Macs get viruses is that it's not worth the virusmongers time to do it, since their aim is to spread widely, and Macs are so few and far between. Add to that the sheer amount of freeware, shareware and open source software for the PC - there's even a full commerce site [OsCommerce] that's open source - and the PC beats a Mac hands down.

Owners of Macs seem to be traditionally graphic designers as they were what the Mac was aimed at, and academics, no idea why the latter. But there are still issues between the two with file transer and conversion, and using the extended character set and foreign language or linguistics fonts is fraught, the codes are all wrong and never translate properly. I can happily replace parts, upgrade RAM and install new drives on a PC but wouldn't know where to start with a Mac.

So if you want seamless communication with 95% of other computer users, the PC has to be it. Paying through the nose for a brand name is a waste though.

PetePassword
7th November 2009, 09:35 AM
... On my 32-bit Windows 7 laptop I can have Lightroom, Word, Outlook, DreamWeaver, Excel, PS CS4 and VideoWave all loaded and running without memory issues (this might be more challenging for a Windows XP PC).

I run at least that many progs at once [Quark, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Word, Firefox, CorelDraw] and have no issues using a Core2 duo, with 2 gig of RAM running XP. I don't remember the last time my system crashed from overwork. With Windows needing so much resources, I wouldn't want to load 7 though.

sapper
7th November 2009, 10:35 AM
The only reason few Macs get viruses is that it's not worth the virusmongers time to do it, since their aim is to spread widely, and Macs are so few and far between.

Agreed, that's one reason I stick with Mac.

Add to that the sheer amount of freeware, shareware and open source software for the PC - there's even a full commerce site [OsCommerce] that's open source - and the PC beats a Mac hands down.

Not as much freeware for Mac, but there is lots out there, I use open office, does the job for me.

Owners of Macs seem to be traditionally graphic designers as they were what the Mac was aimed at, and academics, no idea why the latter. But there are still issues between the two with file transer and conversion, and using the extended character set and foreign language or linguistics fonts is fraught, the codes are all wrong and never translate properly. I can happily replace parts, upgrade RAM and install new drives on a PC but wouldn't know where to start with a Mac.

Not so difficult, I have done it on my Macbook and iMac. Just read the book that came with it and did it..

But I have to say that explorer beats finder hands down in my book.

CakeBoy
7th November 2009, 10:42 AM
I agree with Ian in respect of the hardware. The cpu spec is rather underwhelming. Although the seller has gone some way to reassure that 'big brand' components will be used, he is not specific. The graphics is 'onboard' the motherboard and will use system memory resources, i.e. share the system memory, thus leaving less for open applications to utilise. The motherboard is Asrock. Others may disagree with me but imo Asrock is a bit like a Skoda (perfectly respectable) against something like Asus (think BMW). For example, there are some excellent mid-range Asus and Gigabute boards around at bargain prices.

I would also not be looking for Vista at this point. You are in a slightly difficult spot because W7 is very new but you don't really want to be buying a computer without a W7 licence. I would still run XP ahead of Vista.

Apart from the case looking rather bling to put it mildly, the power supply unit is almost certainly one that is supplied with it as a package. Unbranded power supplies are notoriously unstable on the supply rails. On test a decent 500W, for instance, will perform far better than a cheap 800W. Just feel the weight difference. A decent power supply is one of the most critial components in ensuring stable running. The other frequent cause of errors is the memory. I would never buy memory from ebay as it can sometimes be downrated failures of a higher spec. There is no way of knowing where this seller sources his memory.

Finally, ebay is full of put it together in the shed computer sellers. Some are great but few can offer a rock solid warranty. I would buy components or a complete rig from an established online retailer to ensure there is somewhere to go if things fail. The price will not differ as much as you may think.

Adagio
7th November 2009, 12:09 PM
This is one of those threads that resemble a lounge bar debate and could go on forever :D

I have never owned a Mac and never seriously considered doing so. That being the case I had never really looked at their specs. One issue that does not seem to have been addressed is the one of expandability. To get the best performance from e.g. Photoshop one needs 2 drives to share the scratch space. Lots of RAM will admittedly reduce this need. I have just looked at the Apple Store and, unless I have completely misunderstood, to get the equivalent expandability of a Dell Inspiron at £525 you have to buy a Mac Pro starting price £1899 :eek: Someone please tell me I am wrong.

My last word on the Mac/Windows debate. Although I am a very old dog I still like to try and learn a few new tricks from time to time so unless Apple provide the equivalent of Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions FREE then it is game set and match to Microsoft *chr

While there is certainly an argument for supporting one's local shop, take care. The business should have a well established reputation. If you have not used them before find someone who has. Try to determine their financial position especially in these trying times. Your contract and consumer rights are with the seller, if your shiny new PC fails in 3 months and the seller is no longer trading you are st****d. :mad:

Ian
7th November 2009, 12:21 PM
I run at least that many progs at once [Quark, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Word, Firefox, CorelDraw] and have no issues using a Core2 duo, with 2 gig of RAM running XP. I don't remember the last time my system crashed from overwork. With Windows needing so much resources, I wouldn't want to load 7 though.

With Windows 7 or Vista you can leave these apps running on the laptop, let it sleep, hibernate, power up, sleep again, etc., endlessly and there is stability. With XP I find that it all gets unstable even inside of one day - and that's on a desktop with 4GB RAM. The memory management on Vista and 7 is far more reliable.

Ian

gregles
7th November 2009, 01:56 PM
Thanks for the replies. We have a "PC for Staff" scheme at work which means my employer will buy the system and I get to pay it up over 9 months.

I must have looked at hundreds of systems so far. I don't think I would have the confidence to build a system from scratch though so I am looking at an off the shelf model within my budget of max £300.

jamie allan
7th November 2009, 05:02 PM
Greg,
As I said before PCWorld do base units only in their clearance page. You could try these as they are within your budget - although they are 'refurbished' this can possibly mean that they were simply returned DOA due to card/connector displacement in shipping. You still get 12 months warranty. If you purchase one with Vista on it in the UK and it's come from one of the listed companies you get an upgrade to Windows 7.
Acer/Gateway/PackardBell/Asus/Dell/HP/Lenovo/Samsung/Sony/MSI/Toshiba/DSGI/Fujitsu/Medion.
Here's some within your price range.
http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/store/pcw_page.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@1559435886.125761213 0@@@@&BV_EngineID=ccckadeikijfldkcflgceggdhhmdgmh.0&page=ProductList&category_oid=-28485&show_all=true#%28any%29:150:900:PageNo_1:SortOrder _DOWN
Jamie

gregles
19th November 2009, 01:38 AM
Sorry for taking so long to reply Jamie but I have been taking advice and considering the options. I have decided to go down the pc construction route and I am considering the following components.

All are on ebuyer and the six figure quick finder codes are included.

Compucase 6T10 Piano Black MATX Case With 400W PSU 20+4pin 1x SATA - 144483 £34.99

ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO 785G Socket AM3 DVI VGA HDMI Out 8 Channel Audio MATX Motherboard - 170277 £68.20

Kingston 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1800MHz HyperX Memory Kit CL8(8-8-8-24) - 169277 £89.99

AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz AM3 Retail Boxed Processor - AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz AM3 Retail Boxed Processor £77.12

Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 16MB Cache - OEM Caviar Blue - 144339 £45.18

Digimate L-2362WD 23" TFT Monitor Full HD 1920x1080 300cd/m2 1000:1 5ms 16:9 VGA/DVI Multimedia Black - 169049 £108.99

The motherboard has integrated graphics - Integrated ATI Radeon™ HD 4200 GPU.

Any comments or suggestion most welcome.

I will have help in putting this together as otherwise I would just never have gone down this route. The operating system will most likely be windows 7 and I will stick my PS CS2 on - looking forward to getting away from picasa.

Best of all will be getting away from the kids laptop - 40 gig most of which is filled by me:o. I have been unable to download anything really for a while after my old trusty dell had a nasty hard drive collapse. Hoping that all my data can be recovered though. It is really frustrating especially since I got the E510 from Paul_S.

Cheers

Greg

Zuiko
19th November 2009, 02:49 AM
I think one very important aspect of computer reliability is the user. Some are naturally cursed in this respect; it must be something they do or don't do. Almost certainly a big factor in this is a basic lack of knowledge of computers.

I am one of the afflicted. All of my PCs quickly turn into a bag of cr*p. It would make no difference if I bought Macs. The simple truth is computers are semi-intelligent and they are lazy. They sense when they have an incompetent user and play up accordingly. :mad:

So, all you experts who swear that the system you use is the best and most reliable, it's only because the damn machine realizes there's no point giving you grief. Give it to me to run for a couple of weeks and it would quickly become the most unreliable machine on the planet with all kinds of niggling issues - regardless of whether it's a Mac or PC!

So don't start a "which is better - Mac or PC?" feud. Just be grateful that what you've got works for you and you're not a complete numpty like me. :o

As for building my own machine, I'd stand more chance of building a spaceship to take me to Mars - which is where I wish I could send my computer sometimes! :rolleyes:

jonesy
19th November 2009, 07:39 AM
I know your pain John. I've been a computer user for 20 years (even an IT "manager" at one point... guess I drew the short straw) but I cannot get a computer to work properly for long for me... even had a mate vnc-ing into my laptop because I couldnt get apache to install properly... then elements recently was another issue in a long chain...
Its a good job one of my sons is into computers in a big way as he's helped me with so many niggles on this computer... he's repaired a macbook the apple store said wasnt repairable, and another where they told him it was one thing, and the store said it was something else (he was right, and saved a friend of his more the £200 in repairs) I just wish I had a fraction of his knowledge. He's doing his GCSEs at the moment, so I dont like to disturb his revision with my IT issues :(

DerekW
19th November 2009, 09:49 AM
Greg

Some thoughts on your shopping list - more based on basic principles than specific product knowledge.

Hard drives - get the biggest you can and also get two so that providing a daily back up is going to be easy.

Choose a main board that does not include the graphics support then buy a good standalong graphics card - this way you can upgrade the graphics support independently from the main board.

Ensure that the main board has good USB support, an e-SATA socket would give your greater flexibility for external drives.

I cannot see a DVD/CD reader/writer in the list you will need one to install software etc

AS I said this is my "prejudiced" view on what a photo machine should have.

gregles
24th November 2009, 12:02 AM
Hopefully all will be in place and ordered this week:)

I added an additional 500GB hard drive, an integral card reader and on checking the motherboard has an eSATA port built in. I will be using the optical drive from my old machine so its all good - I hope:cool:

Thanks for the input it is very much appreciated.