Getting away from this cursed laptop.

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Post by inthecorridors on Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:28 pm

Long story short, I'm thinking to sell off my laptop to whomever will give me some cash for it, and get a desktop computer. For school (and eventually work) I have to work on large Photoshop files (300 dpi 24x18" PSDs with lotsa layers) and complicated Illustrator projects and sometimes stuff that involves both. My computer can't properly handle the big PSDs, it takes me several minutes to apply any change or save a file at that size. I might need it to handle light CAD down the road (2D, not 3D), too.

Assume a budget of $500 including monitor, and that assembling my own from parts is entirely acceptable. What would you prioritize stuffing in there? I'm doing my own research, and have some baselines I want to stick to, but I just bet there're people around here who can tell me all about what they think I should get ;P

Also, it'd be pretty sweet not to have my computer itself lagging all the time when I play Neverwinter. Ask Ra Cha Chongo, you players and the NPCs see me arriving in an area 5, 10, sometimes 30 full seconds before I do. It sure can suck to finally get an area loaded and I'm surrounded and down a lot of HP Razz Not having to deal with that might induce me to play more and possibly even develop characters that aren't such eyesores Getting away from this cursed laptop. Icon_razz
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Post by Alundaio on Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:35 pm

Maybe a cheap AMD dual core and a reliable ATI card. Nothing too fancy if you are just using Photoshop and Playing NWN. Probably need a fair amount of RAM for Photoshop. 2GB or more if you have Vista. If you can get your hands on Win 7 cheap or free go for it. It will run Nwn better than Vista. A HDD could be key if you want faster load times in games. Maybe a 16mb cache. But really it doesn't matter because I have the feeling your laptop is ancient. Try newegg for some of the best prices on computer hardware. Sometimes Amazon will have better deals on Hard drives but it's rare. It really depends on how much you want to spend. I haven't been in the custom building business for a couple years so I really can't tell you what you can get for 500$ but nowadays you should be able to get atleast a dual core setup with  monitor for that price.
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Post by inthecor on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:07 pm

The sad thing is, my laptop isn't that ancient. It's just about to turn two, running Vista, though, with 1 gig of RAM, and I forget what for the processor but about 2 ghz and dual core. My old PC ran NWN a lot better with a bit less, but it had WinXP, not the horror that is Vista.
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Post by Alundaio on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:59 pm

The thing about laptops is that they their components have to be smaller and kept alot cooler. So the Graphics card is probably not suitable for gaming. So if you get a PC with close to the same specs as that but with a good GPU you shouldn't have any problems with Nwn. You could probably buy a barebones kit from newegg that has the mobo and cpu already installed into the case which will save alot of frustration for someone who hasn't built their own PC before. Then all you would need is to install the HDD, Push some mem sticks and the video card, and toss in a CD drive. Assuming you have done your research as to what is compatiable. Your bad load times and save times with PSD files and Nwn could be due to a fragmented hard drive. Download Auslogics Disk Defrag, maybe that'll speed somthing up. The Windows one is crap and it barely works. I'm also surprised that Vista even works with 1 gig of ram...Vista is a resource hog.
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Post by daveyeisley on Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:14 am

I actually dont recommend dual core processors as far as NWN goes, but considering single cores are harder to find and tend to be expensive... and the fact that you are planning on doing CAD... you may be best served by a dual core. AMD does make good ones, and the socket AM2 boards arent too bad on price, either. Be sure that the board you select is socket AM2 or AM3, and supports DDR2 RAM.

As for memory, it all depends on if you are going with a 64 bit or 32 bit OS. If you go 32 bit, dont bother with more than 3GB of RAM, as the OS wont be able to physically address more than 3.25 GB. If you get a 64 bit OS (vista or win 7 should come with both versions if you buy a retail copy) then you can handle more ram, but that will jack the price up.... not to mention retail version of an OS are expensive in themselves. Best bet, get a 32 bit version of XP or Win7... and 3 GB of RAM... seeing as you will probably be going with a dual core CPU, win7 will handle process threading for a dual core much better than XP will... so probably go with win7 32-bit.

If you already have a copy of XP or vista with a good prodcuct key, then you can save a bit by getting the win7 upgrade version. Only issue is, you will probably need to install the the old OS on the new hard drive first, before you can upgrade to win7... but for saving $80 bucks, i would do this. Im not sure if the win7 upgrade installer will just allow you to pop in the old product key without having the old OS installed... so thats something to check on.

For hard drive, just stay away from 5400 RPM drives.... most socket AM2 or AM3 boards nowadays come with integrated SATA controllers, which allow you to use a 7200RPM SATA hard drive which will offer better read speeds than an IDE drive.

Video is tricky. For what you want to do, you will want a video card with at least 256MB video ram... go PCI express cuz that is what most boards support now... just make sure you check what the board will support before you buy it. Expect to spend 100 or so on video... and hope to maybe find a really good deal. 512MB of video ram would be beterr, but may not be doable inside the budget.

Price Breakdown(estimated):

AM2 Mobo: $80
Dual core AMD CPU: $90
3GB DDR2 Ram: $65
PCI-E 256MB video card: $100
160GB 7200RPM SATA HDD: $70
Case and Power supply: $60
IDE DVD-ROM: $45
win7 home premium 32-bit upgrade: $119
total estimated price: $629

If you can find a good package deal on newegg for case,power supply, mobo, and CPU, you may be able to save a good chunk off these numbers. That savings can go towards the monitor. A decent flat panel 15" lcd should be less than $100. I like LG brand Smile
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Post by inthecorridors on Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:01 am

+ NWN improvements would just be a side benefit Razz I just don't want to have to live at the school's computer labs to do my homework anymore, esp when it comes to next year (senior year).
- Ow, pain at that estimate, there isn't even a monitor in there Sad
. But I posted on a forum specific to my school, and they seem to be just disregarding the whole budget thing and suggesting multiple k of stuff. ARGH.
+ My pricing out on some of that stuff is coming out cheaper than your estimate ($60-75 for the AMD CPUs of mention), or close for something much better ($65 for 500g/7200rpm/32mb cache).
. Although I don't know if that's because I barely know what I'm after.
- My budget of $500 is pretty optimistic already, unless my Etsy shop opens ahead of schedule and goes phenomenally well, too.
+ Though, the general budget needs to be revisited anyway and I MIGHT be less broke than I think. Hey, broke's better than poor. Broke merely means you can't get stuff you want, not that you can't pay for things you need.
- I was looking at barebones kits (tho I forget if it was newegg or tigerdirect) and most of the kits don't really save you much off the retail. $10-25.
+ I've never assembled before, but would be supervised by someone who has. And would be doing it over the six week break between quarters, so much less imperative to have it All Done Right Now!
+ I can probably obtain the OS for free or cheap due to a relative's profession, probably the 64 bit version even.
? Some of the CPUs I was looking at have integrated graphics card stuff. I have no idea how to tell if they're sufficient for what I want to do.
? I've seen some prefab computers that seem to be pretty good values, but they're generally Acer or eMachines. My personal xp with the eMachines is sort of meh, but I dunno if that's cos my mom seems to have a magical ability to cause computers to go apeshit and contract impressive virii even with protection yearly. I vaguely recall Acer being bad but have no backup there.
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Post by daveyeisley on Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:24 am

Acer and emachines are meh... I agree there.

The OS is a killer on price.... Microsoft gouges their customers.... sadly.

If you go win 7, the issue you may have is with finding drivers for your hardware. They *should* be included when you buy stuff, but double check to make sure they are win7 compatible if you go with win7.

XP is easier to support at current, but it wont take advantage of a dual core processor properly. That would be why i recommend win7.
To avoid more of the software compatibility issues, you may even consider going with Win7 Professional, for its XP-compatibility mode... but thats more money than home premium.

If you plan to get more than 3gb RAM, you will need to go 64-bit OS... but more ram means paying more money for more RAM. If you need more than 3GB, then that cost is unavoidable... at least the 64-bit OS wont cost extra..... but 64-bit OS often involve compatibility issues with software.... its gotten a lot better, but be aware.

The estimates I have were off the top of my head ballparks, but you *should* be able to do better if you shop around.

As for graphics... *most* onboard video chipsets are very basic and not robust at all.... they will handle general stuff, but arent made for gaming or graphics design. You will almost assuredly need to get an add-on video card... at least with 256MB of video ram.
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Post by inthecorridors on Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:36 am

Y'know, now I think I remember why I dislike Acer. I think that's the company whose CD-RW drives failed us twice in a year. We thought the slot was cursed, but then another brand ran just fine. Think an Acer HD might have fried itself on us too...
Anyway. No eMachines, no Acer.

*takes notes on OS to forward to said relative who probably can negate the OS cost for me*

I was looking at getting 4gig for $88 or so (might be able to get cheaper, not sure yet). Adding graphics card to list. Damn, I need a higher operating budget to make this *really* work.

Hey, I know, anybody want some nice hand dyed silk velvet scarves for their wife-monsters for Christmas? Custom sized skirtery? Maybe it'll placate them into more gaming time... Wink

XD

I'm also surprised that Vista even works with 1 gig of ram...Vista is a resource hog.
Yeah, I know. I hate this OS with a passion, but it sure is rude to tell someone not to buy you a gift laptop, get me this one instead that's way more... sigh. (The givers know of my plan to sell and use that towards a desktop and are ok with it.) The fracking hard drive on this thing came more full than not, right out of the box!! Oy. Might as well at least try that defrag thing today while I'm doing non computery homework...


Last edited by inthecorridors on Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:41 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot to respond to the guy that isn't Dave whoops)
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Post by daveyeisley on Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:01 am

something to consider:

ebay and used parts.... you may shave some off cost there, but research the seller dilligently, and check for want kind of return/warranty service is offered in the sale terms.

Also *save any and ALL documentation* regarding anything you buy.
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Post by inthecorridors on Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:18 am

The uncle of the computery multihatted job has gotten back to me: can no longer get me the OS, however has a spare 19" LCD he'll send down to me! Fair trade, now I can prolly budget in buying the OS.

Also, about to defrag an impressively frag'd drive with the suggested software.
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Post by Alundaio on Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:30 pm

I was able to get XP Pro for 20$ OEM through my College when I was going. Does your Campus offer that? I know most do. I'm sure they would be giving out Win 7 pro for cheap. As for Onboard Video...stay away! Look for Onboard Sound though, since you do not want to waste money on a separate PCI card. Glad your finally defragging. The problem may also be that you have too many resources trying to use that peddley 1GB RAM. But either way it will help nonetheless. When you do get your Desktop I can suggest some software that will keep it running safe and smoothly; along with prolonging the stability of the OS. It's all freeware that can be downloaded from Filehippo.com! You can get also get some programs simliar to Windows Office to do your Homework with, from there. Building your own PC isn't that hard. It's a fun experience...though I found that doing it quite often is a pain in the ass. Boy does getting cut and bleeding all over your mobo suck! Razz But Dave is right, save all documentation! Somthing may come DOA and put a big hamper on building a PC. Or somthing may die before it lives up to warrenty. You'll have to RMA the product. Not to mention the frustration of figuring out which part is at fault. (Sorry for no paragraph, BBcode doesn't work properly in Opera)
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Post by inthecorridors on Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:52 pm

It appears that my college does not offer OEM versions at all, or at least not at this time. Suckitude. I'm paying HOW much a year to go to an art and design college of all things and it's cheaper to get it thru Newegg? RARGH. But at least not needing to buy a monitor will allow me to pay for the OEM 64bit version just fine.

I've already got and enjoy Open Office, which suffices for the purposes of papers and the occasional presentation. I'll have to poke at what filehippo has some time!
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Post by inthecorridors on Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:01 am

So, I was talking to said uncle of the monitor and OS, and he eventually looked at what I was looking at buying based on advice, and went, "Oh, no, no non no, I can't let you do this!" So he told me to send him $450 and he'd put me something better together from random parts he had lying around and from his usual wholesalers! WOO! I didn't want to ask him on such short notice, but since he volunteered...



Here are the spec for your computer. It is assembled and running (I get the 4GB of memory today, there is 2GB in it now). The 64Bit Windows is faster than I remembered but
maybe it's just a faster hardware configuration.
Here is a summary of what is in it...

Intel Core2 Duo CPU 2.93GHZ, it is clocked up to 3.4GHZ using a larger copper bottomed cooler.
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3R Motherboard supports up to 6 SATA devices, 2 IEEE1394a (Firewire) connection in rear, 8, yes 8, USB2.0 in rear, Gigabit Ethernet.
Antec Nine Hundred Gaming Mid-Tower Case Has 4 120mm (near silent) cooling fans plus a monster 200mm fan. It will not overheat! 2 Front panel USB2.0, 1 Firewire, Audio Jacks
Enermax Tomahwak 500W Power Supply (This is a very good Power Supply)
320MB Nvidia GeForce 8800GTS 16x PCIE Graphics Card (This used to be a rather expensive card)
(2) Western Digital 500GB SATAii Hard Drives Running a FAST RAID0 (1 Terabyte disk space)
HP DVD -/+ RW Multiburner w/Lightscribe Technology (I threw in Nero Burning ROM Ultimate)
There is no floppy drive (They are almost useless anyway).
I included a Keytronic Keyboard/Optical Mouse with it. They are not fancy but otherwise reliable devices.
I was able to obtain a 19inch Widescreen LCD for it as well.
The only thing missing is a set of speakers for it. I have a used cheap set you can have, but it is CHEAP. You may
want
to listen to some in the store anyway. Let me know. I can probably squeeze in something new if neccessary.
I did find CS4 but have not loaded it yet.
You are going to like this PC.


Uncle Rich

I barely know what half this stuff means but the stuff that I do understand makes me go Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Excitement! No more trying to nav with the %*(#ing touchpad, or having such horrific contrast I can't see in misty or foggy areas, or appearing to the server and everyone else a good 10-30 seconds before I appear to myself!





I don't know why anyone at this time would desperately need to get a hold of me, but over the next couple of days, my parents are going to be in town *and* I'm going to be switching over to the new computer *and* this computer is being given to my dad and therefore needs to get mostly wiped.
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Post by The Amethyst Dragon on Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:46 am

Um....damn. Nice "thrown together" machine.

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Post by Svair on Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:32 pm

Would Uncle Rich be interested in adopting a young 37 year old nephew? Comes with papers and an almost clean bill of health.
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Post by Alundaio on Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:45 pm

Nice Uncle. That video card is a killer, I have it. Not currently installed though. I spent like over 300$ on it new. That and Media Player Classic Home Cinema can make DVDs look superb. Looked better then with my ATI Radeon.  Is that 64-bit Vista that he put on there? Don't let anyone tell you Vista sucks. I've never had one problem with the 64-bit version. Raid0! Man I'm not even currently running a Raid Configuration. Boy are you going to be loading Programs and Games like a crack addict bingeing out of his mind. Great rig, I'm jealous.
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Post by Ra Cha Chongo on Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:05 pm

Svair wrote:Would Uncle Rich be interested in adopting a young 37 year old nephew? Comes with papers and an almost clean bill of health.
Forget your bill of health; if you want to get in good with Uncle Rich, get yourself a killer recipe for chicken wings Getting away from this cursed laptop. Icon_cool
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Post by MannyJabrielle on Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:13 pm

Wings I can do Very Happy
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Post by inthecorridors on Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:02 pm

@The Amethyst Dragon: Most of it is apparently just random "spare parts" he has lying around. He's one of those got to have the latest and greatest types, and a pack rat, and now I get to win!

@Svair: Sorry, I think he's full up at 3ea children and pets and something like 12 nieces and nephews. *pats shoulder consolingly*

@Alundaio: 64-bit XP, since some of the stuff I've got/will be getting just seems to play nicer with XP than Vista.

@Manny: But can you do them even better than Mr. Chongo, whose famous chicken wings he's had? Wink
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Post by Svair on Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:05 pm

inthecorridors wrote:@Svair: Sorry, I think he's full up at 3ea children and pets and something like 12 nieces and nephews. *pats shoulder consolingly*

<cries softly so one one will hear>
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Post by MannyJabrielle on Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:43 pm

Sounds like a cookoff challenge!
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Post by Alundaio on Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:36 am

It's WAY more stable and faster then Vista but as I recall I had alot of problems finding Drivers for alot of my hardware using Windows XP 64-bit. Hopefully you won't have any problems. You'll really be zooming on that thing...geez.
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Post by Ra Cha Chongo on Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:09 am

MannyJabrielle wrote:Sounds like a cookoff challenge!

You're on! I'm gonna need a day or two to marinate beforehand, though
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Getting away from this cursed laptop. Empty Re: Getting away from this cursed laptop.

Post by inthecorridors on Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:10 am

@Alundaio: Good. I'm on break between quarters right now (yeah, a college on the quarter system) and I really need to be building a portfolio and resume, and I'm a little tired of Photoshop or Illustrator taking 5 minutes to apply a change or save a large file! Zooming=yes. Just need to order the Wacom tablet now...
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Post by inthecorridors on Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:02 pm

*sigh*

Just shipped the new machine back to the Uncle-Creator, because it just would not stop suddenly rebooting itself (abruptly losing power and regaining it and attempting to restart a few seconds later). It wasn't overheating by along shot, it wasn't the power supply, power button, or power cord, it didn't seem to be a RAM/motherboard voltage issue, didn't seem to be the overclocking or other BIOS settings... he's stumped, me too. Weirdly, it doesn't lose power until shortly after Windows boots... it can go seemingly forever as long as you have it in the BIOS/setup stuff that's pre-Windows.

Given my family's history of having this uncle build us computers and of issues like this cropping up, I don't know who's the cursed one, me or him. Probably me, or else how is he keeping his job designing and building systems for businesses?
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Post by RayvenNightkind on Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:43 pm

That sucks, hope ya get it back and running soon.
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Post by daveyeisley on Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:09 pm

What it *sounds* like to me is the system is actually getting a "blue screen" error, and is automatially restarting rather than displaying the error screen.

The good news is, you can hit F8 during startup and it will bring up the boot options menu where you can select "Disable Automatic restart on system failure". Once you do that, if it *is* a blue screen error issue... when the system halts, the blue screen error will pop up and stay on the screen so you can write down the error code.

The bad news is, depending on the error code it could be any number of possible problems.

One thing I did not in your quoted email from your uncle was that he was setting up the hard drives as RAID-0... sometimes windows will installl onto a raid-0 or raid-1 config fine, but when you do updates and such.... it will reboot and start bluescreening. Thats a total guess though...

I am sure he can get to the bottom of it. Good luck...
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Post by inthecorridors on Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:54 am

Hopefully he figures it out soon... I'm supposed to be using the machine to get a resume and portfolio together over my winter break so I can start applying for internships! Plus, you know, having time to play around in Aenea. Razz

I do wonder if it's the RAID thing. It was fine ALL DAY when it was first booted and I started reinstalling all my programs (incl NWN. I logged in for 5 minutes just to go WOW I LOAD SO MUCH FASTER FROM TRANSITIONS NOW! LOOK! I'M ALREADY IN THE SDI!). Shut it down so we could bring my parents back to the hotel with my dad taking my old laptop (he wanted something to keep him entertained when he's feeling too crappy to get out of bed), came back 1/2hr later and it started doing it. Hmm.

Ah well. Can't really complain much considering how quickly he put that together for how much money. I assume he'll figure it out, too. In the mean time I'm making RCC amuse me with something nice and low tech, requiring merely pencil, paper, and dice...
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Post by RayvenNightkind on Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:13 am

Can never go wrong with a good ol' fashioned PnP game. Woot! Getting away from this cursed laptop. Icon_biggrin
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Post by inthecorridors on Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:03 am

Turns out it was the mobo. Go figure! But hey, I didn't have to pay for a replacement, or wait for Gigabyte to send him a new one, so yay! I can get the last few Aenean updates reinstalled and play again!
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Post by daveyeisley on Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:59 am

Nice Smile
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Post by The Amethyst Dragon on Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:30 am

Congrats!

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------------------------------------- The Amethyst Dragon -------------------------------------
Creator of Aenea | Custom Content Maker | Dungeon Master | Builder | Scripter | Writer | Player | Sleepless
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Post by Svair on Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:15 pm

Neat.
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