Tips for saving money when buying a new computer

Maelstrom

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Feb 25, 2012
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698
So, after a lot of research and looking up mistakes people made when buying any computer (not just AWs) I found out some key things that can help you save money when buying a new computer. I'll just make a list of the different components of a computer and what you should/shouldn't do.

(Note: some of these mistakes I made myself which is how I became aware of them.)
(Note #2: This is mostly for when you are customizing your computer off a site like Dell. If your building your own then some of this information may be useful and some may not.)

CPU/Processor: So, the first choice should be between i5 and i7 processors. If you aren't going to be doing intensive gaming, 3D rendering, or other processes that need a lot of power then just get an i5. Even though the i7 is better the speeds are going to be unnoticeable when doing normal tasks. The i5 can still perform for a lot of games on reasonable settings so it isn't a choice of gaming or no gaming. If you do need/want an i7 then you have the question of which one to get. I would recommend a lesser processor because the better, more expensive, ones typically barely increase speeds and are hardly noticeable. Yes, they are better for multitasking but idealy you shouldn't be trying to play BF3 and editing a 3D video at the same time.

OS: For all of use gamers here, unless you need to host a buisness server, access another computer remotely, have WinXP backwards compatibilty, have andvanced network data backup and other features, then just get Win7 Home (this applies to all generations of Windows). If you do need any of the features in this link then you should get the one you need otherwise it's just a waste of money (even if it is cool to say I have Win7 ULTIMATE).
http://www.intowindows.com/difference-between-windows-7-home-premium-professional-ultimate-editions/

RAM/Memory: First of all, most of the time buying your memory from a different site, like newegg.com, is cheaper than having it pre-installed. Now, how much RAM do you need? Well, most of us normal PC users (gamers) will only ever need up to 8GB and most of the time 6GB is more than enough. Even more RAM means more multitasking you can't multitask (this has been scientifically proven :) so having a dozen applications running at once is ridiculous. I would recommend getting 8GB if you need to do some 3D rendering or heavy video editing and 6GB if not. Now, how fast should the RAM be? Well, faster RAM will mean that your computer will run faster but it is noted that it generally doesn't effect FPS in games. This is probably because most games use the video card which has its own memory. In cases where it did improve FPS (going from 1600MHz to 1866MHz RAM) it was an increase of about ~5% which isn't enough of a difference in my book to consider worth it. Also, most mobile processors don't even support RAM above 1600MHz so you need to check before you buy.

Storage Drive: HDD, SSD, or HSS? I wouldn't recomend HSS because they don't actually increase read write times for the most part and are more expensive then normal HDDs. SSDs are always the way to go if you can afford it because it is a significant boost in speed and performance. They do tend to be quite expensive so you should try to get lower capacity drives. If you need more space then get both an SSD and a HDD for storage. If your computer can't have both internally (laptops) then you can still get an external HDD for storage (with USB 3.0 the read/write times for the HDD will still be pretty good too).

Video Card/GPU: This is directly related to video editing and gaming. If you aren't doing either of these things then don't get a high end video card. If you are then basically you need to look at the specs and decide how powerful a card you need. AN IMPORTANT NOTE, HOWEVER, is that you will almost NEVER need more than 2GB of memory with the card and that is for higher end cards. For cards like the GT 555M the 1.5GB option is even too much (I made this mistake :X). Cards like don't even have the specs to use more than 1.1/1.2GB (this is for laptops) of the memory and this is basically a way for computer makers to suck more money out of you. Even for extremely high end desktops you generally won't need more than 2GB. The exception is for 3D gaming but even then you may not need it.

Screen/Monitor: The only thing I can say here is the higher definition screens are better and the size totally depends on what you want. I will note that if you don't need all the fancy settings available with more expensive screens then get a lower end model that still has the size and definition you want. And for laptops always try to get the best screen possible because for the most part you will never be able to upgrade the screen. And you can always lower the screen resolution if you don't like it.

Sound Options: This is for your sound chip not speakers. If your options for audio options are actual different chips then you need to consider how good you want your sound to be and if you are going to be using surround sound and what not. Other wise software options aren't really worth it because software is something you can always upgrade (and a lot of times for free). All your doing is changing how you control your sound output (your not actually changing the quality much).

Wireless Cards: This is totally up to you but even when getting higher end wifi cards I still like to use the good old ethernet cable or other wired connection because its always more reliable. Some higher end wifi cards do have options like wirelss video streaming to your TV and dual band connections so you need to choose. If your like me then you just want a wifi card for normal internet browsing (I made another mistake here with my M14x) and a fiber optic/ethernet cable for gaming. If your going to get a desktop then just get a cable (with the exception of small, mobile desktops like the X51. Even then I'm not sure I would)...

DVD Drive: With these becoming less and less used thanks to HD TV, DVRs, HD Streaming, etc., one might wonder why you would want a blu-ray player. Console companies are even beginning to move in the direction of downloading your games to your console rather than buying a disc. This is already the case for PC games. I'm just saying that these are eventually going to become obsolete so you may not even want to consider it. If you still have Blu-Ray movies then you'll probably want to upgrade of course. But if you don't have Blu-Ray movies then why would you even...? Also, disc burning software is becoming useless too. I don't know of anyone who listens to a CD player anymore and USB drives are better for storing information.

If you have any questions or see any mistakes (or if you want to add your own helpful tips!) then just ask and I'll be happy to help.
 

dnvr.dsz

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Mar 5, 2012
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278
do we have to read all that
if was buying a comp i would have read it :p any way great job :)
 

Ni9MM

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Jul 13, 2012
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Wow looks I made some lucky decisions. I just ordered a AW Aurora ALX and I think the only thing I did wrong was not get a ssd. I wonder if I could add one later for OS and games ?
 

cloakofwinter

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Jul 19, 2012
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Thanks for the thoughts. I have been wondering about RAM for some time since it seems that in recent years, the big push is to add more and more RAM to your rig. If it's true that the higher end games tend to use more of the GPU card power for the graphics than running operations through your RAM, it makes sense to curtail the RAM input at 8-12. I'm glad you mentioned the SSD - there's a lot of folks telling me the increase in performance is negligible.
 

Yeti

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Mar 10, 2012
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The increase in SSD speed is phenomenal - I just added an SSD and my computer finally feels like an alien beast.
 

wilbymilstone

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Feb 9, 2012
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These are some great tips. Thanks for putting in the time to write all that down and post it.
 

PoOkiExL3oi

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Aug 21, 2012
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Great job Maelstrom. It is a very helpful tip for the uninformed. I was like that when I first bought my Aurora, but thanks to Forums like this I learned and learn and learn every single day about computers. Thank You
 

JennyM

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Jul 13, 2012
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Very helpful article, I've finally talked my son into getting a desktop (he's autistic & mega resistant to change - always had laptop).
His current dell studio 1558 laptop tends to be on for 6 - 8 hours at a time, getting warmer & warmer, Hard disc becomes faulty x 3. Last hard drive lasted one month, due to be replaced this week. So I want a stable system with lots of cooling. I know the aurora has good cooling as I have one, but what about the X51, with the smaller case does it compromise on cooling? The aurora wouldn't fit so easily on the desk without dismantling the monitor shelf, so the x51 is appealing but its apparently not a lot bigger than a PS3 box; I'm a little concerned that I'd be back to square one in terms of overheating.

It would be used for playing games mostly and some simple video editing of recorded game footage - Team fortress 2, serious sam 2, youtube, Portal 2.

Some advice &/or reassurance please before I order would be great! xD - should i get the hacksaw out & make room on the desk for the aurora?

thanks,

Jenny
 

Maelstrom

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Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
698
Very helpful article, I've finally talked my son into getting a desktop (he's autistic & mega resistant to change - always had laptop).
His current dell studio 1558 laptop tends to be on for 6 - 8 hours at a time, getting warmer & warmer, Hard disc becomes faulty x 3. Last hard drive lasted one month, due to be replaced this week. So I want a stable system with lots of cooling. I know the aurora has good cooling as I have one, but what about the X51, with the smaller case does it compromise on cooling? The aurora wouldn't fit so easily on the desk without dismantling the monitor shelf, so the x51 is appealing but its apparently not a lot bigger than a PS3 box; I'm a little concerned that I'd be back to square one in terms of overheating.

It would be used for playing games mostly and some simple video editing of recorded game footage - Team fortress 2, serious sam 2, youtube, Portal 2.

Some advice &/or reassurance please before I order would be great! xD - should i get the hacksaw out & make room on the desk for the aurora?

thanks,

Jenny
Both desktops are going to have better heat management than your laptop. And it doesn't sound like you'll be doing any hardcore gaming so one of the i7 X51s should be fine for light gaming and video editing. As for the Aurora I need to see the desk before I recommend buying new furniture, lol.

These are the dimensions of the Aurora.

Height: 16.77" - (426mm)
Depth: 25.39" - (645mm)
Width: 9.847" - (250mm)
Average Weight: 45lbs - (20.41 Kg.)
 

JennyM

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Jul 13, 2012
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Thanks for the measurements & the speedy reply, the X51 should suit fine then; I'll trawl the internet for any offers - for now the desk is safe :p
 

AeonSoul

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Feb 21, 2012
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Who cares about dimensions! Let's just saw off that desk for the fun of it!
 

JennyM

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Jul 13, 2012
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lol Aeon, you just wanna hear my disaster report of the D.I.Y. attempt!! xD
 

JennyM

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Jul 13, 2012
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Oh yes! the mischief vibes practically hummed through the keyboard when u typed it! heh heh! :)
 

Simmo

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Mar 10, 2013
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Looks like I made some bad choices, I went for the most expensive X51 with the Blu ray drive (which now thinking about it I will never use) and the 2TB HDD. (which I will never fill)

My order status is still pre-production, do you think I will be able to call Dell and change the order for the next step down? Ie same RAM and Processor just normal disc drive and 1TB HDD
 
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