Welcome To Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals

Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals is the LARGEST online community & discussion forum for professional sign-makers and graphic designers.

 


  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Is this computer a good buy?

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by signmeup, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

    7,468
    13
    38
    May 5, 2005
    Canada
    Acer Desktop, 3.1GHz AMD Athlon II X4 645, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Windows 7 home premium for $460?

    I want it to run corel, photoshop, Illustrator and my plotter. The plotter may be a problem as it only has drivers for XP.

    Forgot the spec list:

    3.1GHz AMD Athlon II X4 645 processor; 2MB total Cache
    4GB system memory
    1TB hard drive
    16x DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive
    Windows 7 Home Premium
    Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9200 Graphics
    High-definition audio with 5.1-channel audio support
    Gigabit Ethernet LAN
    Multi-in-one card reader
    Ports include 9 x USB 2.0 and HDMI
     
    Tags:
  2. AUTO-FX

    AUTO-FX Very Active Member

    2,185
    0
    0
    Feb 14, 2010
    Heck for 460 bucks what more could you ask for? What kind of graphics card does it have?
     
  3. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

    7,468
    13
    38
    May 5, 2005
    Canada
    Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9200 Graphics
     
  4. AUTO-FX

    AUTO-FX Very Active Member

    2,185
    0
    0
    Feb 14, 2010
    You'll probably want to upgrade that to something like a 9800 1GB
     
  5. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    809
    0
    0
    Feb 25, 2008
    It's not bad for the money, but there are some concerns that I have about any of these pre-built computer systems.

    1) Power Supply: Often times these computers from the big brands (HP, Dell, Acer, etc.) will include a very poor quality power supply with just enough power to run the hardware at "ideal" levels meaning about 75% load. Keep in mind that a power supply will slowly lose some of its capability of outputting power as it ages, and this rate of decreased output is more noticeable on these cheaper power supplies. That means 2 to 3 years down the line the power supply might only output enough power to support the whole system at 50% load. If you've got a ton of things running on the computer at once, the power supply might not have enough juice to handle it and can cause stability issues or simply fail. It also makes upgrading or adding to the system very difficult. For instance, in an Acer desktop with this kind of specs you're generally going to be getting around a 300 Watt power supply. Say that you need to add in a dedicated graphics card to give you a little more performance for rendering, or better resolution options and performance. With only a 300 Watt power supply, there's hardly any graphics cards out there that you can add that would be more powerful than the integrated graphics already included.

    2) Hard drive: While this system lists an impressive "1 TB hard drive" these companies never list out the real details that make a difference. The most likely piece of hardware to fail in your computer is your hard drive, which is even more critical because that's where you store irreplaceable data. So it is critical that not only do you have a solid backup routine in place, but that you have a very good quality hard drive and one that meets your specific needs. Nearly all of these cheaper desktops including large capacity drives of 1 TB or more are actually utilizing "green" or "low power" hard drives to get high capacity at low costs. What does this mean? A green or low power hard drive is one that operates at much slower speeds than standard hard drives. Instead of operating at the standard 7,200rpm speed of a normal platter SATA hard drive today, these drives operate at 5,400rpm or even as low as 4,200rpm which makes a HUGE difference in the overall performance of your computer. The slowest part of the computer is your storage subsystem, so if you're making this part even slower, the entire computer will operate much slower. Where you are planning to use some intensive design programs and plotting with this computer, you need to have a lot of scratch disk space, but more importantly it needs to be FAST scratch disk. A low power hard drive is far from the best option for a scratch disk, even if it does have a lot of space. Additionally, what kind of cache does this hard drive have? It seems like a small thing, but the amount of cache that a hard drive has can make a huge difference on its overall performance (and as stated previously, thus makes a huge difference on the entire system speed.) A 1 TB drive should have at least 32 MB of cache or it will be incredibly slow, and often times the cheaper low power hard drives only come with 16 MB of cache. Just for comparison, two identical hard drives from Western Digital (640 GB 7,200rpm Black Edition) where one includes 32 MB of cache and the other has twice that at 64 MB of cache, the hard drive with the higher cache has performed up to 25% faster in our testing.

    3) Windows 7: This is more of a question or something to keep an eye out for than anything. In the description or details, does it mention if this is the 32-bit (x86) version of Windows 7 Home Premium included, or the 64-bit (x64) version? If you wish to upgrade more RAM in the future (and 4 GB today is becoming almost a minimum necessity while using some of the design programs you mention) then you will have to have the 64-bit version of Windows to recognize anything more than about 3 GB of RAM. Additionally, just be aware that any pre-installed Windows 7 system from Dell, HP, Acer, etc. is going to have a LOT of stuff installed that is going to really slow the system down. It's pointless advertising, trials, or utilities that they include because companies pay them to install it and thus they can lower the cost of their computers to be more competitive. For the most ideal performance, a lot of this pre-installed software should be removed.

    Now, that being said, it still is a very good system for the money. I've used the AMD Athlon II X4 processors in a ton of computers as they offer great performance for the cost, they are real workhorses and I've yet to have a problem with a single one. The things mentioned above are things that I mention to anyone looking to get a new computer from a store, from my own experience operating a computer business and handling repairs, troubleshooting, and replacing these pre-built computers for frustrated and jaded customers. So long as you are aware of these details, and the affects that they can mean to you and your business, and are fine with it then there's no reason why you shouldn't go for the deal! But it's just something to consider, and I'd recommend if you do wish to purchase the computer that you also make plans to try and upgrade or replace these troublesome components with others that are higher quality and specifically meant for handling higher-performance tasks such as design work and not just the every-other-day email and word document like these big brand computers are designed for.
     
  6. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

    1,817
    2
    38
    Apr 3, 2009
    Montrose BC
    Is it 32 or 64 bit?....Some plotters will have problem with 64 bit....

    Do you have a retail version of XP versus OEM from your old computer?....If so you can install XP on the new computer...
     
  7. jiarby

    jiarby Major Contributor

    4,513
    0
    0
    Feb 11, 2007
    Looks like a fair price for what you have listed there.

    Although...
    You could build a better system (upgraded p/s, mobo, & dedicated graphics card) and also use a better cpu heat sink & case fans to improve reliability & performance. In the $500-600 price point there are lots of options.

    I would not buy any brand name box store computer... just because they use the cheapest P/S, proprietary mobo, integrated video, cheapo ram. The CPU fan/heatsink is usually the OEM (or worse) and the case fans (if you even get any) are as cheap as can be bought.

    If you build a system... you get to cherry pick the components. They will have MFG warranty (ex.. if your HDD fails in the Acer you have a 90day to 1 yr wattanty, but if you bought a retail HDD you get a 3-5 yr warranty).

    Even so... I am a DIYer computer guy so building a machine for me is easy peasy and fun to do.

    If you just want to buy a box and get on down the road then for $450-500 this system sounds fine.

    ***edit***
    I swear we were writing our replies at the same time! As soon as mine posted then I saw choucoves! Great minds think alike I guess!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
  8. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

    1,817
    2
    38
    Apr 3, 2009
    Montrose BC
    I have learned so much from Signs 101 (and Youtube) over the years that my next computer will be built from scratch....Thanks folks!

    PS...I know you do not have London Drugs out your way, but I think this system is a good value at 599.00
    • AMD Athlon II X4 640 processor
    • 8GB DDR3 memory; maximum support up to 16GB
    • Western Digital 1TB Blue hard drive
    • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64–bit
    Product Type Desktop
    Dimensions (WxDxH) 19.5 x 38.1 x 37.6cm
    Weight 21Ibs
    Localization Canada
    Processor AMD Athlon II X4 640
    RAM 8GB DDR3 memory; maximum support up to 16GB
    Hard Drive Western Digital 1TB Blue hard drive
    Optical Storage 24X DVD±RW drive dual layer
    Graphics Controller ATI HD 5450 512MB
    Audio Output 6-Channel HD Audio
    Networking Gigabit LAN
    Power • 115-10A
    • 230V-5A
    OS Provided Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Manufacturer Warranty One year parts and labour warranty
    London Drugs Item Number 4597670
    Card Reader Flash memory card reader
    Brand Certified Data
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
  9. RebeckaR

    RebeckaR Active Member

    756
    3
    18
    Mar 7, 2008
    utah
    If the drivers for your plotter are only available for XP, you're gonna want to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional and install the Virtual machine with XP simulator.
    Windows Home Premium doesn't offer that option.
     
  10. jiarby

    jiarby Major Contributor

    4,513
    0
    0
    Feb 11, 2007
    I have one other thing to add...
    You can buy a complete XP box (like a Dell GX280) for between $75 and $150.

    It does not make sense to compromise a new build just to have XP compatability. Win7 XP mode has been a pig for me... I hate it. For $100 I have a dedicated XP box and also a backup spare one on the shelf. I bought two 3.2ghz P4 GX-280's with 2gb RAM and 80gb sata HDD.. $100 for BOTH! Watch craigslist... they come up that cheap every couple days.
     
  11. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    809
    0
    0
    Feb 25, 2008
    Jiarby makes a pretty good point here. Windows XP has been a great operating system, but any more it just doesn't make sense to put it on a new computer really. If you have to have Windows XP, the new hardware out is more than what you need (or can even use in some cases) under Windows XP. One option is to get a basic computer for cheap that already has Windows XP installed. You will not be able to find a new computer today with Windows XP pre-installed unless you go custom.

    XP drivers in Windows 7 can be a little bit odd. I've yet to have any real issues with drivers in Windows 7, but I know that many companies out there (i.e. Graphtec) are incredibly behind the times in creating and updating drivers for anything newer than Windows XP 32-bit. The two ways around that are to either stick with Windows XP and be handicapped in the hardware department and lacking future support and compatibility, or try to use Windows XP Mode while under Windows 7 Professional, but this does require purchasing the PRO version of Windows 7 and not just the Home version.
     
  12. tintguy31794

    tintguy31794 Member

    158
    0
    0
    Apr 20, 2007
    www.newegg.com.. I just got a laptop that blows that computer away for $799.00

    My theory is when buying computers get way more than you think you will need especially if it is a design computer or if you plan on doing anything important on it. My budget seems to have always been around 1,000 and I always get more than what I need.

    OP:... that computer would make for a great pos system computer or something.. I would say it would be weak and require upgrades to really be good for design.
     
  13. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

    7,468
    13
    38
    May 5, 2005
    Canada
    Some very informative responces there. I've learned quite a bit. Thank you all very much.
    I always wanted to build a PC to suit me but I really don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I'll try a barebones someday....
     
  14. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    6,570
    324
    83
    Sep 27, 2010
    5

    Be warned, once you do, I doubt you'll ever be able to go back to off the shelf ever again.
     
  15. Si Allen

    Si Allen Very Active Member

    2,146
    1
    0
    Jul 17, 2004
    My last off the shelf computer was a 386 ... since then ... all have been custom built!

    Why buy junk ... unless it is only for surfing the web and email?:help

    Disregard all the above if you are using a Chinese cutter in your spare bedroom!:ROFLMAO:
     
  16. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

    1,817
    2
    38
    Apr 3, 2009
    Montrose BC
    I am much better off...2 Chinese cutters in the dining room....lol...
     
  17. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    809
    0
    0
    Feb 25, 2008
    Newegg does offer some great deals on combo deals which basically include all the parts you need to build a computer. Some of them are good combos, some of them not. I've not really found one that includes all of the right things for my taste, but that's just me.

    Generally speaking, to build a computer you just need to have the items on this checklist:

    1) Processor (I would suggest either AMD socket AM3 or Intel socket 1155)

    2) Motherboard (it takes a little know-how to match up compatible motherboards and features with the right components. Of course, you have to have a motherboard that is the same socket type as the processor you get, ie. socket AM3.)

    3) Memory (again, you have to be sure the RAM you select is compatible with the motherboard you get.)

    4) CPU fan & heatsink (most of the processors you order come with a stock fan, but they are not the greatest. I highly recommend purchasing an aftermarket cooler to increase performance, decrease noise and heat, and ultimately lengthen the lifetime of your computer. However, it seems that finding just the right compatible CPU fan is sometimes the hardest part to pick. To save the trouble, I'd highly recommend either the Cooler Master Hyper N or the Cooler Master 212 Plus fans. These fans are compatible with pretty much any modern motherboard socket for either Intel or AMD, are relatively cheap, but perform better than some of the very expensive coolers out there. I've used them both in numerous computers.)

    5) Thermal compound (This sometimes comes included on the stock CPU fan or bundled with an aftermarket cooler. I always recommend buying Arctic Silver 5. It's $10, but that little extra quality I've seen make a processor run more than 12 degrees celsius cooler which can mean your fan doesn't have to work as hard and your system isn't putting off as much heat.

    6) Hard drive

    7) DVD drive

    8) Video card (just like memory, you have to make sure the graphics card you select is compatible with the motherboard you choose. Some motherboards or chipsets have integrated graphics, such as the H67 chipset found on some socket 1155 Intel motherboards.)

    9) Computer case (don't skimp just because it's "only the case"! Your computer case not only has to hold up to office wear and tear for the next several years, but needs to be highly efficient at dealing with airflow and heat. Cheap cases don't do this right, and cause the system to run hot which can decrease the lifespan of parts. Plus, if you're going to be building this computer and working on it for the next several years you want something that is easy to work with!)

    10) Power supply (Another component you don't want to skimp on! Get plenty of power for any future upgrades and get a good name brand. I prefer Thermaltake or Corsair brands, and in particular really like the Corsair Enthusiast series of power supplies between 550 Watt and 750 Watt depending upon your needs.)

    11) Operating system
     
  18. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

    7,468
    13
    38
    May 5, 2005
    Canada
    Very helpful post Choucove. Thanks!
     
  19. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

    1,817
    2
    38
    Apr 3, 2009
    Montrose BC
    I notice some of the cheaper motherboards only have two slots for memory....I guess to get them cheap they cut wherever they can....

    And some boards do not have any on board video....I am guessing that is okay if you plan on a better video card anyway?

    And it looks like if you spend 10.00 or 15.00 extra on each piece you really move up in quality and/or features.....
     
  20. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    809
    0
    0
    Feb 25, 2008
    Some motherboards do not have integrated graphics, that's correct. Generally this is because of a specific chipset, as some chipsets incorporate a graphics engine (such as the AMD Radeon HD 4250 found in the 880G chipset.) On the newer Intel processors, it gets very sketchy and confusing. Some of the newer processors have a graphics engine directly on the CPU, so if you get a motherboard with integrated graphics output (such as the H55 or H67) you have to make sure you have a compatible processor AND that the processor has the integrated graphics engine.

    When it comes to brands and quality, it doesn't cost much more sometimes to go bigger and better, and I highly recommend it. The brand names have a reputation for a reason, and generally that's the reason why they also cost more is because they are higher quality.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

 


Loading...