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spunko

Buying a PC

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There seem to be quite a few IT bods on here, I'm more of a web based person so don't know too much about building/buying PCs. I'm looking to buy a new one for around £500-£600 (not including the dual monitors which I already own). It will be used for light graphic/design things.

In the past I have preferred to spec my own at somewhere like PC Specialist rather than buy a pre-packaged one. At work I have an ASUS ROG (pre packaged) but never really got on with it. :Old:

I don't really want to build my own PC myself as there's quite a bit of a learning curve and I hate fiddling about with tiny components (large hands). Anyone got any suggestions of where to start please?

Basic requirements:
Windows 8/10
8GB DDR RAM+
Not bothered over AMD / Intel but looking for i5 equivalent processor
Graphics card - no idea ?

 

 

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9 minutes ago, spunko said:

There seem to be quite a few IT bods on here, I'm more of a web based person so don't know too much about building/buying PCs. I'm looking to buy a new one for around £500-£600 (not including the dual monitors which I already own). It will be used for light graphic/design things.

In the past I have preferred to spec my own at somewhere like PC Specialist rather than buy a pre-packaged one. At work I have an ASUS ROG (pre packaged) but never really got on with it. :Old:

I don't really want to build my own PC myself as there's quite a bit of a learning curve and I hate fiddling about with tiny components (large hands). Anyone got any suggestions of where to start please?

Basic requirements:
Windows 8/10
8GB DDR RAM+
Not bothered over AMD / Intel but looking for i5 equivalent processor
Graphics card - no idea ?

 

 

I just buy NUC or gigabrixs.

Dont take up much space. Stackable.

 

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For most people I always recommend a laptop for portability and something like a 23/24 inch monitor for when sat at the desk. Nice Dell 23 inch monitor in Currys today for £96 - newer model of the one I have. You can just connect them with a HDMI cable and use an external keyboard/mouse.

But if you start talking about design work then you open up performance stuff which, for a laptop, quickly pumps the price up. If you do not need major performance then a desktop is a bit of a static thing.

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Scan computers might be worth a look, i think they allow you to select pc's suitable for the job you want them to do.

Their delivery was very good, well it was the two times i have used them.

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19 minutes ago, spunko said:

There seem to be quite a few IT bods on here, I'm more of a web based person so don't know too much about building/buying PCs. I'm looking to buy a new one for around £500-£600 (not including the dual monitors which I already own). It will be used for light graphic/design things.

In the past I have preferred to spec my own at somewhere like PC Specialist rather than buy a pre-packaged one. At work I have an ASUS ROG (pre packaged) but never really got on with it. :Old:

I don't really want to build my own PC myself as there's quite a bit of a learning curve and I hate fiddling about with tiny components (large hands). Anyone got any suggestions of where to start please?

Basic requirements:
Windows 8/10
8GB DDR RAM+
Not bothered over AMD / Intel but looking for i5 equivalent processor
Graphics card - no idea ?

 

 

Surely "just about anything?"

That's like saying what car shall I buy, it has to go above 30mph, has to have windscreen wipers and keep the rain out, must have a heater and a radio.

Just go for cheapest if you have no difficult requirements to fulfil. It's not like you are a gamer or anything. I personally have a downer on HP consumer laptops after we had a dud about six years ago but things change so quickly maybe now they're the best for all I know. They always did languish at the bottom of the reliability index.

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For ages my desktop machines strategy is to buy tower servers on a cashback deal -- this sounds a bit mad, but if the offer is right they come out as very cheap -- the manufacturers seem extraordinarily keen to get sales.  The last one I took advantage of was a few Lenovo thinkservers (with a half-decent Xeon processor) that worked out as about £150 each, and before that a few Dell tower servers (with a less good processor) at about £100 each.  The 'difficulty' is waiting for a decent offer...

Note that I'm not using them as servers -- they're used as desktop computers.  They're fine.  They're not even loud or anything (very much unlike my old Sun servers that needed a separate room).  They do have the advantage of being easy to open and having really good internals and loads of space for extra drives, fancy graphics cards, etc.

[I should add that they don't come with an OS, so you'll have to work that in.  I just use Linux so free, but a proper Windows license would be a bit expensive -- but you can get 'usable' Windows licences for very cheap these days -- I've no idea how 'legal' this is, but I use these at home (I don't trust the legal side enough to use for the company computers)]

There aren't any cashback deals at the moment.  There'll probably be something in Feb or so (ie, after the Christmas thing).

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38 minutes ago, spunko said:

There seem to be quite a few IT bods on here, I'm more of a web based person so don't know too much about building/buying PCs. I'm looking to buy a new one for around £500-£600 (not including the dual monitors which I already own). It will be used for light graphic/design things.

In the past I have preferred to spec my own at somewhere like PC Specialist rather than buy a pre-packaged one. At work I have an ASUS ROG (pre packaged) but never really got on with it. :Old:

I don't really want to build my own PC myself as there's quite a bit of a learning curve and I hate fiddling about with tiny components (large hands). Anyone got any suggestions of where to start please?

Basic requirements:
Windows 8/10
8GB DDR RAM+
Not bothered over AMD / Intel but looking for i5 equivalent processor
Graphics card - no idea ?

 

 

What are you going to use it for ?.

If its for games then you need spend half the money on a good gfx card and half on everything else.

Conversely if you dont play games then the you probably dont need a graphics card at all, the board or the CPU graphics will be fine, also you might go for a small footprint mini ATX thing.

If your going to run in your living room you want one that doesnt make too much noise.

So many variables to consider, so you need to tell use what your doing to use it for, where its going live, is it going to be running occasionally or 24/7 etc.

 

Edited by goldbug9999

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1 minute ago, dgul said:

For ages my desktop machines strategy is to buy tower servers on a cashback deal -- this sounds a bit mad, but if the offer is right they come out as very cheap -- the manufacturers seem extraordinarily keen to get sales.  The last one I took advantage of was a few Lenovo thinkservers (with a half-decent Xeon processor) that worked out as about £150 each, and before that a few Dell tower servers (with a less good processor) at about £100 each.  The 'difficulty' is waiting for a decent offer...

Note that I'm not using them as servers -- they're used as desktop computers.  They're fine.  They're not even loud or anything (very much unlike my old Sun servers that needed a separate room).  They do have the advantage of being easy to open and having really good internals and loads of space for extra drives, fancy graphics cards, etc.

[I should add that they don't come with an OS, so you'll have to work that in.  I just use Linux so free, but a proper Windows license would be a bit expensive -- but you can get 'usable' Windows licences for very cheap these days -- I've no idea how 'legal' this is, but I use these at home (I don't trust the legal side enough to use for the company computers)]

There aren't any cashback deals at the moment.  There'll probably be something in Feb or so (ie, after the Christmas thing).

 

Yes, very good point. The Lenovo and Dell towers are superb value to turn into desktops. The Lenovos less so in the past year as they put so many bespoke connectors into them now. But the cheapo Dell tower in the £150 ball park can make a superb desktop. Very quiet.

 

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2 minutes ago, goldbug9999 said:

If your going to run in your living room you want one that doesnt make too much noise

Any tips on how to buy a quiet one?  At present I've an HP pavilion laptop.   It think it stands for Hoover Power.  I don't need it to be mobile.

* As I type, I see the dell tower is suggested as quiet. - will look into that *

 

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2 minutes ago, Bricks & Mortar said:

Any tips on how to buy a quiet one?  At present I've an HP pavilion laptop.   It think it stands for Hoover Power.  I don't need it to be mobile.

* As I type, I see the dell tower is suggested as quiet. - will look into that *

 

Funnily enough, desktops can be quieter than laptops -- they run big old fans that can whizz around a bit slower (quieter), suck less air per cm^2, so lower air noise, and generally have a lower pitch which is less annoying than the high pitched whine that you get with a laptop fan.  But note it's only can be quieter -- there are plenty of hoover desktops as well...

 

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I gave up on desktop machines years ago. My strategy now is to find a (usually refurb from eBay) business Dell (eg. Latitude) laptop, just behind the leading edge in tech but well-specced enough to serve my needs for 5+ years and buy 2x of them plus duplicate drives mounted in external enclosures to mirror my data. That way I have instantly-recoverable hardware and disk backups in case of shit happening.

I also buy a dock from which I can run an additional 2x external monitors.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Port-ADVANCED-Replicator-Adapter-Dell/dp/B00QAA5OFK

So at the moment I'm rocking e7470 Latitudes (i7, 16GB, 250GB SSD) -  main (work) machine is a touchscreen (2560 x 1440) Win 7 @£800 and the backup is a non-touch HD Win10 @£480. The backup also doubles for surfing from bed or taking out of the house.

The e7470 is reasonably light and compact, come with a lot of ports, performs well and runs cool (important) and quiet.

The battery life is decent on these models but Dell also sell a dedicated external powerpack (The Power Companion) to boost that even further:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dell-Power-Companion-PW7015L-18000/dp/B00XPUEE4K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543358597&sr=8-1&keywords=dell+power+companion

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

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50 minutes ago, Bricks & Mortar said:

Any tips on how to buy a quiet one?  At present I've an HP pavilion laptop.  

Tricky, pre built ones are often noisy because it way down in the design priorities. A good aftermarket CPU cooler will often do the job though. PSU fans are another common source of noise on cheap pre built PCs but you upgrade to a better once quite cheaply (ebay search for "silent PSU")

Edited by goldbug9999

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2 hours ago, spunko said:

There seem to be quite a few IT bods on here, I'm more of a web based person so don't know too much about building/buying PCs. I'm looking to buy a new one for around £500-£600 (not including the dual monitors which I already own). It will be used for light graphic/design things.

In the past I have preferred to spec my own at somewhere like PC Specialist rather than buy a pre-packaged one. At work I have an ASUS ROG (pre packaged) but never really got on with it. :Old:

I don't really want to build my own PC myself as there's quite a bit of a learning curve and I hate fiddling about with tiny components (large hands). Anyone got any suggestions of where to start please?

Basic requirements:
Windows 8/10
8GB DDR RAM+
Not bothered over AMD / Intel but looking for i5 equivalent processor
Graphics card - no idea ?

 

 

I'd always encourage somebody to build their own PC. It's not that hard. Just make sure you know what bits will go with other bits. 

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2 hours ago, eight said:

That's bigger than our main household telly.

Bet you didn’t even wrestle it off an obese woman, still wearing her dressing gown, in Asda on Black Friday. 

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2 hours ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

I gave up on desktop machines years ago. My strategy now is to find a (usually refurb from eBay) business Dell (eg. Latitude) laptop, just behind the leading edge in tech but well-specced enough to serve my needs for 5+ years and buy 2x of them plus duplicate drives mounted in external enclosures to mirror my data. That way I have instantly-recoverable hardware and disk backups in case of shit happening.

I also buy a dock from which I can run an additional 2x external monitors.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Port-ADVANCED-Replicator-Adapter-Dell/dp/B00QAA5OFK

So at the moment I'm rocking e7470 Latitudes (i7, 16GB, 250GB SSD) -  main (work) machine is a touchscreen (2560 x 1440) Win 7 @£800 and the backup is a non-touch HD Win10 @£480. The backup also doubles for surfing from bed or taking out of the house.

The e7470 is reasonably light and compact, come with a lot of ports, performs well and runs cool (important) and quiet.

The battery life is decent on these models but Dell also sell a dedicated external powerpack (The Power Companion) to boost that even further:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dell-Power-Companion-PW7015L-18000/dp/B00XPUEE4K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543358597&sr=8-1&keywords=dell+power+companion

I basically have something similar with a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Bought it from the US before it launched here and three years later there’s nothing much better worth upgrading to. Probably wouldn’t ever get another desktop.

Spent several times as much again on docking stations and dual monitors to have them at home/work/boat/truck cab/workshop. In hindsight probably didn’t really need it anywhere but work and home as just tend to use it in laptop form everywhere else. Do wish I’d bought monitors as good resolution as the laptop screen for home and work though.

Paying the extra for the detachable touchscreen probably isn’t worth it as it’s just not an iPad substitute and I hardly ever detach it or really use the touchscreen.

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I would also suggest a Dell or similar. Your dual monitor requirement will probably mean you need to budget an extra 30 quid for a graphics card with dual outputs.

If the primary use is graphic design then a few quid more on a graphics card with decent memory and performance may be an idea.

I primarily work in Visual Studio - coding - the desktop is fine for that but if I run a performance test the main bottleneck is the graphics performance and were I to do more in Photoshop that would be the upgrade that would make a difference.

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You should buy a "fuck off" spec games machine! I have spoken.:Old: Not sure what the end use is though. With a "games" machine you will get a good graphic and sound system. Recently I bought a "fuck off" spec games laptop, for business purposes.

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Sounds like pretty much anything would do.  Need a graphics card with two outputs though which can be pricey and non standard, especially if you want say two HDMI.  May therefore need to add a graphics card so need to ensure an available free pci slot on motherboard.  You often get a cheap one (especially motherboard integrated) with one HDMI and one other which is not great. 

Other requirements?  USB slot requirements?  Location, number and USB3? DVD drive?  Writeable?  SSD hard drive for speed?  Sufficient hard drive capacity?  Ideally two hard drives - one system one data (makes imaging (backup) them easier).

I build my own to focus on low power consumption (always on), upgradability (desktop with spare pci slots), small size (ITX), and low noise (fanless apart from quiet large case fan - large being quieter).  ITX based motherboards are good but need to ensure sufficient cpu power and pci slots for any specialist graphic cards, etc.  Can buy them ready made.

Edited by Harley

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I run a similar set up to @SNACR and @Turned Out Nice Again, although my particular choice is Thinkpad. I've got a collection of them, but the main one is a T440p which I picked up for £140, installed an i7, new SSD and HD screen in it, all in just over £300. I've got a docking station so it just goes in that if I want it in desktop mode but rarely use it in that fashion to be honest, although that's a space issue in my tiny flat. The dock can run two displays, plus the laptop display itself.

The benefit of the Thinkpads, or certainly the slightly older generations is they can by upgraded in all departments (processor on some models only) by the user themselves. All of them have service manuals and I've never had a problem opening them up and doing the work. The very latest x80 generation isn't quite so good for that as they are going down the ultra thin route, a mistake in my view as they already off that in the X1 form factor.

The thing with the Thinkpads and Dells is they are business grade machines, considerably better build quality (with the odd exception) compared with consumer level machines. Due to this there are often loads of second hand ex-corporate machines available. I picked up a X270 recently which still has 2 years warranty on it for £400, it's indistinguishable from the new one we have at work which was more than 3 times the price new.

I've not run a proper desktop machine for years, I think the last one I got was back in 2000 or so. Of course that's not for everybody.

 

 

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Yes those "business" laptops are well built, and a good used buy. So yes, Lenovo or Dell. Some may come with a docking station, with all the extra I/O ports.

Edited by MrPin

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