Friday, July 15, 2011

I need a new PC*, what should I get?

I am the not so terribly proud owner of a PC, purchased for me some years ago by my ever generous father. It is, as often happens, beginning to slow as it nears senescence. And so, obviously, I need to replace it. And that's where the trouble starts.

I don't know very much about this. In fact, if you asked me to explain how it all works, I'd have to call in an eight year old (I deeply suspect that Imogen, my seemingly angelic niece, knows more about this than I do). However,  Ros pointed out that I know lots of geeky techie people (that would be you, gentle readers). "Why not ask them?", she suggested.

So, can you help? I need enough computing power to surf the internet, do a little gentle word-processing, use Serif PagePlusX4, play some strategic war games, plan the invasion of Lithuania, you know, the usual stuff. It can't be too complicated, because Ros doesn't read instruction manuals (and I don't understand them).

How much memory do I need? Which brand is best, most reliable, least likely to explode? Do any of them look 'cooler' than the others? Can I get them in purple, or lime green (alright, that might not be as important as the other issues).

Answers in the comments section, please... in English, preferably...

* Yes, I know that the iMac is superior (apparently), but I don't need anything that complex or expensive. They are awfully pretty though...


MatGB said...

I would recommend, for you, an end of line laptop from somewhere like Laptops Direct. You can normally get a "released a year ago so its obsolete" machine at below half price or better.

Essentially, any machine you buy today will be able to do everything you want it to be able to. Faster, better and while sat on the sofa.

Seriously, being able to do stuff whereever I'm in the mood has been very useful--artworking leaflets on the train to the office to print them isn't the best of plans, but, well, it works.

You can get a machine in any colour you like, and really there's no such thing as a best brand at the moment. HP are good for product build quality and after sales support, Lenovo were my best client when I worked in IT marketing and their laptops then were brilliant (I really want a ThinkPad, but we can't afford the £350 it'd take to replace this netbook currently with a sale model).

I tend to like doing some work still at my desk, with a big monitor and proper keyboard. You can plug a laptop in and treat it like a desktop very easily.

I'd advise making sure it's got Windows 7 instead of Vista or XP, and ideally not Win7Starter but I'm still handling it fine.

Basically, you want something that Just Works. From what I understand, that doesn't apply to PagePlus and Macs, although I'm not an expert there, I tend to be scared off by the price tag.

Niles said...

Yup, Mat's right, specially with the "any machine you buy today will be able to do what you want."

Nothing you need a computer to do will tax more than 5% of pretty much anything in the shop.

(But will those laptops have CD players? How will he get the PP X4 onto the machine in the first place?)

Jennie Rigg said...

Several rules of thumb:

1, Anything that says "apple" or "sony" on it will be approximately 50% more in price than equivalent functionality from other manufacturers. If being cool is your cachet then it might be worth that mark-up; it's not something I believe in.

2, AMD processors are better than Intel (I could give you reasons, but you'd glaze over).

3, Not enough RAM is usually the cause of an old machine slowing down. You could probably get a RAM upgrade for £20 that would eke another couple of years out of the machine you have.

All that said?

You could probably get a machine that would exceed your wildest dreams for £250 - £300. For example:

If I lived anywhere near I'd offer to build you one, but the commute's a bit much.

Andrew Hickey said...

Again, Mat's right - a PC is a PC is a PC. I'd disagree with his assessment of Lenovo though - I have to use a ThinkPad for work, and I've twice had the screen break on me, a problem I've never had with any other laptop. Also their mousepads are very unresponsive.

And I'd agree that you should avoid Vista like the plague. I've no idea if Windows 7 is any good or not - I refuse to use Windows - but Vista is unusable.

Mark Valladares said...

Dear All,

Thank you so very much for your advice, simple, in language that I understand. And now, all I have to do is go out and get one.

I'll let you know what I end up with...