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Are any of you up-to-date on computers enough to provide some guidance in selecting a new home PC?

We typically buy a Dell desktop at the upper end of the mid range and use it for about 6 years. This has always worked well for us and we don't see any real need to change. Our current Dell is fine and is about 3 years old with Windows 7.

We want to get a second desktop that my wife can use when I am hogging the other one.

It will be used to browse the internet and run Word and Outlook. It might occasionally be used to watch Netflix. It won't be used for gaming or any other higher end processing needs.

Any suggestions on processor, memory or operating system (Windows 7 or 8). Is Dell still an adequate place to buy, or should we look elsewhere.

Thanks!
 

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Well, I'm not a computer geek in the least, which is why I switched to Apple a few years back. My bottom-of-the-line Macbook works the same today as it did 5 years ago, and I've done nothing to it except for the free software updates. My wife has gone through 4 PC laptops (company owned) in the same time. Her personal Macbook Pro is 7 years old and other than the battery showing it's age, it has been flawless as well.

My computer geek friend of almost 20 years, a guy who was running a web design company out of his parents' basement as a highschooler while the rest of us were hoarding AOL free hours CDs, a professional electrical engineer and computer programmer, a guy who eats microchips for breakfast and personally built my first three desktop PCs, switched to a Macbook Pro for his personal laptop this year.

There's a little bit of a learning curve, but now that I'm used to the Mac interface I would be hard pressed to go back to PC for my home computer. I spend around 9 hours a day on a PC at my job, and IT services has to get involved a few times a week. I appreciate having a computer at home that just works.
 
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Yeah, I switched from PC to Mac recently and while it is a learning curve I still need to master I shall probably never go back to Windows. But for Old White Trucks family needs they probably should remain with a known operating system, warts and all. If the Dell has worked adequately get another. Moore's Law implies that any newer PC should be much faster and better for less money. No need for high end workstation for the stated needs, and they can recycle most learned skills if not actual software for use with Microsoft's new operating system.
 
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The learning curve of switching to a Mac scares me to death! Heck, I have had windows based PCs for 15 years and can't handle half the curves that windows has tossed our way. Seems to me we are damned if we do and damned if we don't where windows is the operating system. My current PC works fine right up until I do the windows updates and then I am back in the dark. I have programs that are not supported by new operating systems so I should go out now and buy a new Win 8 machine and then go purchase all new programs such as word, office and such that probably won't work when Win 9 comes out. I am so totally disgusted with computers that I don't even want to think about buying another new machine. This POS I Pad I am using now is so lame because so much that I can do on my PC can't be done by me on it. I take pictures with my camera and can easily transfer them to my PC but not to the IPad. Pics taken with the IPad are hard to transfer to the PC or to my photobucket albums and are not that good anyway.

Add to this all, I have to be on a Satellite internet connection here because there is no other. Doing everything over the cloud blows my usage limits off the charts and slows my monthly speed allotment to a crawl similar to the useless dial up I used to have. The more technology they develop the less of it I can even use because it does not come here. No cell signal, no cable, no TV or Internet except from Satellites.

Good luck finding a new computer, I have thrown a few of mine right out the window.

GaryL
 

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AGman is spot on. I do this for a living, and Dell is still one of the best companies out there, with good support. You don't need anything above the least expensive system based upon what you describe as your usage. Any processor, 4gb of ram and you are good to go. i5 is better, 8gb is better but not necessary. As for the hard drive, again, AGMan is correct, if you can spring for the SSD drive, then go for it. They offer less space for the money, but in my experience nothing "speeds" up a computer more than an SSD drive. I put speed in quotes because it's more complicated than that, and somewhat subjective, but the end user notices it more.

Reading between the lines, i would recommend Windows 7, but I like Windows 8, as long as it's 8.1 and fully patched. If you are up for something new, or like the phone/tablet type interface, then go for it, but if you like things the same, then definitely do not.
 

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My only advice is to stay away from Windows 8. In my opinion it is the least user friendly user interface Microsoft has ever made. I would suggest getting Windows 7 if you can, or wait to see what Windows 9 is like.
 

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Most computer geeks like myself build there own part by part. My only store bought computer was the Apple IIe my Dad bought for us kids when I was in 7th grade, and that was the last apple product I've ever owned. For laptops I recommend Toshiba, but sorry to say I wouldn't know where to begin on store bought PC's.
 

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Having one brother in law, and the older son being computer "savvy"...I don't have a clue...but just got a new one as powerful as I need with Windows7...just make sure your provider is putting you out as fast as you need speed.....I know enough to get myself in trouble....but the wife usually knows how to bail me out.:p
 

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Here is a humorous (but accurate) review of Windows 8.1:

Windows 8.1 review - Still stupendously stupid
Humorous, yes, but not completely accurate. For one, you can create a local account on a new install. I don't know why this guy couldn't figure it out. But he is right on some other things. Like i said, i like it, i'm no fanboy though and recognize it for what it is... Microsoft realizing they lost the tablet/phone revolution and trying to force a comeback by shoehorning all their existing users into "liking" a windows tablet/phone interface.
 

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I've been running Linux on my computers for more than a decade.
I buy the parts, build, pop the install disk in, and done.
Last laptop I bought was from System76. They also sell desktops.
Their machines come with the latest Ubuntu Linux pre-installed and ready to run.

I bought Windows 8.1 so I can run it in virtual mode.
My SCUBA wrist computer and my Garmin both require Windows to run their proprietary software.
 

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I went from DOS 3.2 to Windows 7 over a period of several decades.

And then one day I got old and I bought a new Mac.

It just works!

And the learning curve is therapeutic for us old folks.
 

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Not wanting to hijack this thread but I have some related questions for the geeks.

I get internet through satellite, Wildblue Excede. The plan allows me 10 GB per month. I don't know what that means so help me to understand.
Some months I don't use 1-2 GBs of allowed usage while other months I blow past the 10 GBs which immediately puts me in a much slower mode almost like back to dial up speeds. I don't know what I do on the computer to blow all my allotted usage. As some here might already know, I spend a good deal of time here. I don't honestly do anything on my computer but emails and forum reading and posting. What functions am I doing that eat up my GBs? Is it watching videos here and from you tube? Is is uploading pictures to photobucket and then posting them here? Is it all the BS emails I get from places like Cabelas, Sportsmans guide and other vendors that I usually just delete? Is it the wife checking out grocery store sales fliers every week and sometimes 10-12 pages?

I tend to think emails with just typed text don't eat up much but ones with pictures do and videos attached are probably worse.

Second half of the question. We get zero cell phone signal here but we both have iPhones. We can send and receive texts through wifi but only between other iPhones. My brother and a couple friends have them and we text back and forth. On the cell plan texting is free and unlimited but does texting through my wifi/satellite eat up big gobs of my GBs? I think the 10 GB I get means 10 GB of Data, WTF is Data and what is not Data? On these iPhones I keep getting notified there is an update for IOS7 for the phone itself. If I go to town where I have cell signal and try to do the update it tells me I have to be connected to wifi. When I do it at home it can take an hour. Is this what eats my GBs?

Thanks guys and sorry to take this thread on a curve.

GaryL
 

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I'm pretty much with GMan. I'm a Sr. Engineer for Dell and work from home or my RV (we like to travel). I've been working with computers and providing services since 1989. I saw the first Internet browser ( HTML base web page based) displayed. I ran a good sized BBS online and was a FidoNET hub. I have built literally thousands of PC's. (seriously, I was a systems assembler for Vektron and used to average about 20 to 25 systems a day). We used to own a computer store. I've got more certifications than I know what to do with.

So... am I an authority? Nope. But I have a lot of experience "making it work" for me and customers. It goes something like this...

It really comes down to what you want to do with a computer. WHAT you use it for, WHERE you want to use it, HOW much of whatever (pictures, movies, games) you want to store on it.

Each operating system has advantages and disadvantages. It's kind of like the old Ford vs Chevy discussions. But what ever you like, are familiar with or choose, the following holds true:

  • There is no substitute for CPU speed / core count.
  • There is no substitute for lots of (fast) memory.
  • There is no substitute for lots of (fast) storage (disk).
That said, I always recommend the fastest 64bit CPU (quad core or better), at least 4GB of the fastest memory, at least 500GB of the fastest disk and the best video / display (preferably dual monitor) configuration that you can comfortably afford. Windows, MAC or Linux really won't matter, but 64bit should be preferred.

What do I use? Well, if you just have to know... I currently use this pretty much every day...

  • A fast AMD based MiniTower tha I built, running Windows 7 Ultimate (64bit), with dual ASUS (1ms) 24" wide screen HDMI 1080p monitors.
  • A fast Intel based (gaming) ASUS laptop,running Windows Vista Ultimate, with dedicated NVIDIA graphics and a fast 17" display.
  • A fast Intel based (work) Dell laptop, running Windows 7 Professional, with dual, dedicated video cards on a dock (can run 4 monitors) sharing the same with dual ASUS (1ms) 24" wide screen HDMI 1080p monitors as my minitower.
  • A Samsung Galaxy Tab3 (7") wifi / 4G LTE tablet, running Androind 4.2.2
  • A Samsung Galaxy S (Vibrant) phone with a custom ROM, running Android 4.2.1
  • A Samsung Galaxy S3 (work) phone, running Androind 4.4.2
Now it might look like I'm a Windows guy. Well, not totally. I am also a fan of (And have been using for years) Linux (Redhat, Suse and Ubuntu) and use Linux in one form or another, daily at work. I had an iPhone 4s (for work) for a couple of years. Personally, I didn't care for it. Android based personal devices / phones fit my needs MUCH better. I've owned various Apple computers, Lisa, IIe, Macintosh and a Mac Air, but since my job is supporting the corporate work environment and manufacturing / medical industry, Windows i the dominate operating system and my choice as well.

Now... my personal opinion about Windows 8. I don't like it. I think it works pretty well on a phone / tablet, but is not nearly as effective or easy to use on a PC / Laptop. For those, I will always go to Windows Vista or Windows 7. For servers? (remember, I an a systems engineer), I'm hardware agnostic, but I prefer virtual. Vmware is what I really like and I feel works best. Cisco UCS is really hard to be in the enterprise.

Sorry... I'm babbling now.... I'll go back and sit quietly in the corner.
 
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GaryL, I just wanted to second rbm... It is the video.
Ok, so I guess this means I should not watch videos posted here weather they are from members cameras or from you tube. Video is video and video eats up Data. Is this right?

GaryL
 
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