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What components do you recommend for a new PC and peripherals?

Posted on 2004-08-14
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
OK, this question is asked regularly but all the same, components do change, so I now need an up-to-date list of components for a new PC. It will be used for graphics work using Adobe software at university - on a graphics art degree course. The components must include:

1. A screen - minimum of 17" - all types considered
2. An A3 colour printer
3. An A4 scanner
4. Speakers
5. All PC components - m/b, CPU, RAM, graphics board, hdd, CDROM drive, 350 or 400w PSU, Sound card, cooling fans, case etc, etc.

If you believe that a ready-built machine will be better value for money, do please let me know whose product you consider would meet our needs.
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Question by:patrickab
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by:Callandor
ID: 11801696
You should specify a budget, preferably for each component, to identify the importance you attach to each item, but an overall budget will do if you don't know.  Also, are you in need of compact form factors?  LCD flat panels are nice, but CRTs cost less than half of LCDs.
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by:Callandor
ID: 11801699
Some components may not be readily available in the UK, so that may be a constraint, also.
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by:patrickab
ID: 11802091
OK.

Budget GBP 1500 (USD2700) for the lot inc OS and MS Office. Adobe stuff - extra. All items need to be available in the UK - I guess most will be.

I do not need compact form factors and may well have to settle on a CRT rather than LCD if only because of price. All the same I'd be interested to read the recommendations.
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Callandor earned 50 total points
ID: 11802599
Your next question will be P4 or AMD cpu?  The P4 hyperthreading cpus do better in video encoding and rendering, whereas the AMDs do better in office apps and games.  The 32-bit AMDs are cheaper as well.  For your price range, you can get a pretty good system, close to the top, because inkjet printers, scanners, and speakers aren't as expensive as they used to be.  My recommendation is go to a site like Dell, which allows you to configure the main system and get a feel for what a certain configuration will cost.  Adjust up or down, depending on whether you want to spend that much money on specific components.  Get the display, printer, scanner, and speakers elsewhere, because they will inevitably be better that way.  If you want to put one together yourself from scratch, you will have a benchmark to beat.

Some basic components you may want to include if building your own:
Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000SWA
Athlon XP 3200+ cpu (the 64-bit cpus are more expensive, and 64-bit software isn't available yet) or P4 3.2HT
Zalman or Thermaltake heat sinks
Abit IC7-Max3 or Asus P4P800 motherboard (if you were putting your own motherboard in)
1 GB DDR400 memory (Mushkin, OCZ, Corsair, Kingston Hyper-X, Crucial)
Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB video card
Seagate 160GB hard drive (2 in a RAID-1 mirror would work well, and provide backup)
NEC 2510a dual-layer DVD writer (or Sony DRU700)
Enermax 460W power supply (or Antec TruePower, or Zalman, or PC Power & Cooling)
Audigy2 sound card
Monsoon or Klipsch ProMedia speakers
Panasonic Panaflo 80mm case fans

Sites for components:
www.xoxide.com
www.thermaltake.com
www.newegg.com

PC Magazine is a good source of reviews of monitors, printers, scanners, and speakers.  Here's one on LCD monitors:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,976777,00.asp
Use them to get an idea of what would best fit your needs, then you can post what you think is a good selection.
I prefer Epson or HP inkjet printers; I have the Epson 1280 for photo-quality prints.
I also have the Epson 2450 scanner, which does very good scans.
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by:MarkDozier
MarkDozier earned 20 total points
ID: 11803475
PC Mag reviews are lame and I was a subscriber for years then there reviews starting getting soft. Anymore I use PC World they are much better.
I would also suggest, since this a graphic arts course you get and external USB drive if you are gong to be working at school and home.
For the software take a look at JourneyEd.com The sell software to students and facultiy. You may a few pounds there.
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by:patrickab
ID: 11803490
Callandor - Thank you for your thoughtful contribution. I have assembled my own pc before (the one I am using now) and it has been OK for the last 18 months - since I assembled it. Even though is was an easy task I'm not sure I want to do that again, if only because the new one is for our daughter who needs the after sales service on the kit. All the same I'll price up your list and see where it takes me. I was looking at the latest offerings from Dell and they did look like pretty good value; so I'll factor them into the overall equation.
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by:patrickab
ID: 11803505
MarkDozier - Thank you for your valuable comments about student discounts on software. That might provide a very useful saving - I'll look into it. Hadn't considered an external USB hdd but that may well be necessary - I don't know, so again we'll have to investigate. Perhaps with a decent DVD/CDROM burner it won't be necessary. I'm not too sure it's a good an idea for our somewhat typically careless 19 yearold daughter to be carrying around anything that would be crucial if lost! So perhaps I won't give her that opportunity. The mere idea of having to replace it, even if insured, just because she left it in a pub would annoy me greatly!
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by:patrickab
ID: 11803536
MarkDozier - "PC Mag reviews are lame ..." I tend to agree with you. The trouble is that the mags depend upon advertisers for their livelihoods and yet the magazines are judging the products sold by those advertisers. I think the mags do their best, so I think one does have to read carefully and take notice of the mild criticisms which in all probability are more than likely fairly important comments.

Last time I looked at PCWorld they were expensive and no better than Dixons whose attitude is 'make the sale and to hell with any problems',  as they have little or no intention of providing any after-sales care. Perhaps they have changed?
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by:MarkDozier
ID: 11803542
patrick
 I was refering to review in PC World mag.
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by:patrickab
ID: 11803633
Mark - Thanks for the correction - Patrick
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by:patrickab
ID: 11805900
Many thanks to you both for your thoughts on my question.
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by:Callandor
ID: 11805927
Glad I could help!
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by:patrickab
ID: 11808903
Callandor - that Xoxide website is great fun - some wild and wacky items there - tks, Patrick
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by:Callandor
ID: 11816306
Truly an exotic marketplace!
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