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Oh No! It's happened!

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by tripwire45, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    My wife has given me the go ahead to start shopping for two new computers...one for the family that she would also use for her work as a board member of a small private, non-profit org, and one for my lab. I want a machine with enough hard drive capacity and RAM to run VMWare so I could create a virtual network and not be limited by the number of physical machines I can accomodate in our small study room.

    I've had my eye on a Dell Dimension 8300 with a 200 GB HDD and 2 GB of RAM running XP Pro but then someone suggested that I build my own system. I dismissed the idea at first, saying that I don't have the time or energy to approach such a task. Sure, it's one of the things I want to do...but I've got some many other immediate goals right now...studying for the 70-210, looking for an IT job, writing technical articles for a small Linux site as a volunteer effort...but the more I thought about it...the more it captured me. I've recently become interested in Serial ATA drives (my first article for the above mentioned Linux site) and I could actually get my grubby little hands on one (or more) and put it in a computer.

    Geez. I'm gonna absolutely sleep on this one. I don't even know how to pick out a motherboard. I'm both blowing off steam and asking for advice. Part of me wants to scream: "Stop me before I buy again" but another part wants partners in an exploratory venture into custom building the dream lab machine.

    What do you think?
     
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  2. Nelix
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    Nelix Gigabyte Poster

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    If you've got the money and you can get your hands on the hard drives, why not build it, as for picking a motherboard, if you want to run VMware if i remember rightly you have to have a true pentium processor.

    Choose a processor type/speed and then find a motherboard that will take it.
     
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  3. Sandy

    Sandy Ex-Member

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    trip

    IMHO build your own the experiance will repay itself time and time again.

    If you have a good computer shop near you go and talk your plans over with them "pick their brains" but don't buy things for a visit or two read up in the PC mags I like PC Pro but don't think you can cat it over there www.pcpro.co.uk

    Go for a P4 chip and as much memory as you can park in the board 512 Mb should see you well - Do you want to run Exchange on it?
     
  4. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I already subscribe to http://www.pcworld.com which seems to put out a product similar to PC Pro.
    I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing at this point. Here's the plan...I want to save some space and run my test lab "in a box", so to speak. The idea of using VMWare on a sufficiently powerful machine to create a virtual network...servers and workstations...has been suggested to me by a number of different folks both in forums and backchannel. I've resisted the idea for awhile. I guess being a newbie, I'm used to the idea of a physical network with real machines all feeding through switches and routers. As time has passed though, the idea has taken on a greater appeal...that, and having recently downsized our living space, I no longer have a large room to put in half a dozen machines including a server.

    My initial goal has been to go the MCSA route...first taking Pro, then Server, and so on. I could configure and reconfigure the virtual network to fit the labs for each exam. Eventually, I'd like to take on something in a Linux cert and setting up a virtual Linux network would still be an option.

    I haven't really decided I'm going to do this right now. At times, it seems exciting and at other times, a rather daunting task and I have plenty of tasks staring me in the face right now. It means a ton of research and pricing out the whole thing which means time lost when I can just order a machine from Dell and be done with it.

    Right now, I'm gathering ideas, opinions, and so on. I don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt if, after all this, I don't take everyone's opinions and run with them. I've never built a PC before, let alone one on the scale I'm imagining. I may still hold off until life seems more stable (whenever that will be).
    Let's see...that means CompUSA is out. I've never been impressed by their staff. Heck, I know more about their hardware than they do. There's a couple of really small shops in town...more or like three or four...and one that seems fairly well sized and knowledgable...trouble is, they're pretty far away from where I live and I only have Sundays to do everything I need to do. Actually, I'm using you all and "picking your brains" for ideas. That's one of the reasons I got up at 4:30 a.m. and hopped on the internet (of course, the main reason is that my wife and kids took a road trip to scout out universities in the Northwest and I can never sleep when they're away).

    Given the above description...what would you suggest?
     
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  5. flex22

    flex22 Gigabyte Poster

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    Quote "Thats one of the reasons I got up at 4.30am."

    I noticed earlier on what time your post was posted.I figured you must have an early start.Hey don't be hopping over to Pacific time, it'll be 3.30 am then.

    I think what your weighing up essentially is will the time put in building your own machine, at this present time, yield sufficient benefits as to be worth it in the long run.

    I'm not a hardware guru so my advice is limited for you.All I can say is I reckon you'll nedd 1GB of RAM and yes a pentium processor would be the best option.

    I can empathize with you Tripwire.Before I bought my last computer I took months deciding on the right machine and whether I should build one.

    I went for the easy option so I could concentrate on my studies but then again I may have benefited from the hardware knowledge gained from building my own machine.

    It's a tricky decision.
     
  6. Jakamoko
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    Jakamoko On the move again ...

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    BUILD IT !!!!

    Save $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Learn ++++++++++++++++++
     
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  7. SimonV

    SimonV Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    Hey, trip. If you can make the time to build your PC then I'd say build your own. I built my own and saved a lot more money and learned a lot on the technical specs of hardware. This was before any of my studies and boy did I learn a lot. I think the hands on of building your own PC for me was an experience that has taken me further into computers. I've since built over 20 more for friends and family and saved them money too. If you've got the time and common sense with ESD then go for it. If your gona use VMware then RAM RAM RAM. I have it running on a AMD Athlon XP2000 with 256MB of DDR PC2700 memory and its a struggle so go for a high spec.

    HTH
     
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  8. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Now I'm officially confused. Some of the people who've been encouraging me to build my own machine say it's more expensive. I'd always thought it would be less expensive because you're not paying for support and "the name" (like "Dell", for example). I figured that the people saying it would cost more money to build my own were figuring on my buying high grade components. Also, items tend to be cheaper when coming off the assembly line like a whole PC versus buying each and every single part that goes into it. Could somebody please set me straight on this particular issue?
    I was thinking of at least a Gig of RAM...maybe eventually two.

    I agree that I'd learn a whole heckovalot about hardware if I built my own. The issue is time, cost, and the "hassle factor". Of course, if I built my own, I might tend to get features I wouldn't order in an already built machine, such as a Serial ATA drive and dual processors (just a thought). Maybe that's what makes building your own more expensive. BTW, thanks for all the responses. Keep 'em coming, folks.
     
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  9. AJ

    AJ Administrator Administrator

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    Hey

    Spend a couple of hours working out a spec, then price the componants up (use sites that are recommended by friends) and go for it.

    Even if you do spend a little bit more the experiance is worth it's weight and think of the fun when it doesn't work first time (only joking).

    Listen to advise and GO FOR IT

    Andrew
     
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  10. Jakamoko
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    Jakamoko On the move again ...

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    Trip, do it, Man !

    It cannot be more expensive to build to your own spec than it is to find someone who will ! You've got your ideas sharpened pretty finely there, so go price it !

    As for hardware guidance (looks around...), mmm think you might be OK on that score too :)

    I know I sound cocky , but thats because I did the same thing 6 months ago - knew nothing, bit the bullet, and now I've got a great machine for next to zip that never lets me dow ....


    :P
     
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  11. SimonV

    SimonV Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    I'm not sure if this is still the case but when I last bought a named brand "Compaq" PC, then if anything when down then they HAD to be replaced with Compaq parts. I once got power surged on a Compaq PC and around 5 moths later the thing just died. Had to have new motherboard and hard drive and they had to be Compaq parts as the BIOS rejected any other manufacturer. If this is the case then you better have a fat wallet as named spares cost a bomb. :D
     
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  12. Jakamoko
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    Jakamoko On the move again ...

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    Damn, you've got to watch those moths, tho' :P
     
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  13. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    New horror film: "Attack of the Killer Moths!" Remake of an old B grade Japanese monster film starring Mothra (giant mutant moth monster...contemporary of Godzilla and the bunch). :D

    About building the machine...I'm thinking, I'm thinking... :unsure
     
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  14. Nelix
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    Nelix Gigabyte Poster

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    I agree with Si, branded spares cost alot, Having worked for compaq I can confirm that compaq machines will only accept compaq parts, the worst thing is, take for example the Hard drive in a compaq machine, they are not compaq, they are Maxtor drives, now i've owned a maxtor drive in the past and had no problems but when you have to replace it and it costs about double the price just because it's a compaq machine you would expect that the drive would be of better quality, IMHO Maxtor are a cheap brand compared to the likes of seagate or western digital.

    You really are just paying for the name on branded machines.
     
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  15. Luton Bee

    Luton Bee Kilobyte Poster

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    I have never built one myself so can't offer any direct help but I would say that it could save you a packet if you shop around and buy the parts from the right sources. I would cost a fortune at say PC World but less at a fair or via mail-order direct from the manufacturers
     
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  16. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Software. The thing isn't going to run without an operating system. So I plunk down a bunch of greenbacks to M$ for XP Pro plus all the bells and whistles plus VMWare Workstation 4. I'm gonna have to price out each item and try to get some sort of handle on this.

    I'm kind of surprised at the disparaging comments about Maxtor drives. In my limited experience, I thought that Maxtor and Seagate were the hard drive manufacturers in the world. Of the SATA drives I've seen thus far, the top two were put out by them.
     
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  17. Nelix
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    Nelix Gigabyte Poster

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    That may well be the case Trip, The views i expressed were the my personel opinion and the opinions of just about everyone i have spoke to regard hard drive choice, maxtor seems to be, In this country anyway, a cheap drive manufacturer. I may be wrong and i stand corrected if i am.

    How much are you looking at spending?????
     
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  18. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I posted my query on a Linux forum since I want to run a mixed network environment and Linux can be a bit pickier on what it will run on than Windows. I received a prompt response that each distro has it's own HCL posted on the internet. It adds a little complexity to the matter in that, I'd have to check the HCL for each version of each distro I might want to run. Of course, I doubt there'd be too much variance, but I've had problems before...especially with Linux and video.

    I'm still turning things over in my mind. My wife (bless her heart) thinks I should just "buy off the shelf" and be done with it. A while ago, I caught her on our Win98 SE machine looking at different files on the C drive and deleting some old text files. She was viewing some application files and I reminded her that it might be "bad" if she deleted any of them. I don't think she appreciated the advice but I also don't think she always understands certain technical aspects of issues. On the other hand, she's brilliant in matters of finance while I would spend us into bankruptcy given half a chance.
     
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  19. Computermonkey

    Computermonkey Bit Poster

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    Have you decided what you wanted to do yet?

    There are good and bad things about building your own computer, and there are good and bad things about buying off of the shelf.

    I built a computer for myself a few years ago thinking I would be saving money, well in the end I didn't save a heck of a lot. The box with everything I wanted in it came to almost $1,000. Luckily, I had my own monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The good thing about building your own is that you don't have all those stupid CD's that the company gives you and you can change to whatever OS you want without screwing up the warranty. You can basically do whatever you want to the machine.

    Now the good thing about buying off of the shelf is you don't have to do a heck of a lot of searching online for your hardware and software. When it's delivered you just hook up all the wires and plug it in and then you are good to go. My husband and I bought my son a 8100 Dell Dimension over 2 years ago and we have had no problems with it, and it's been on non-stop since.

    In the machine that I built for myself it has for a hard drive an IBM GXP? Deskstar, now I heard so many people say that this HD had defects....I didn't know about the defects until after it was in my new machine and I was using it for a while....so far, and it's been over two years, I haven't had any problems with it, BUT yesterday I heard some grinding on and off (which isn't a good sign at all), but I am not positive as to where that noise was coming from. If it does it again I will investigate a little more, but who knows, it could have been just vibration from something.

    Just my 2 cents :?
     
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  20. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Well, computermonkey, I have made a decision. I'm swamped and can't take on another project, so I decided to "buy off the shelf". In fact, I bought two machines, one for the fam and one for my lab. They've both arrived but I've been too involved in a writing project to set them up yet.

    As far as your grinding noise, I'd backup my HDD really, really quick...then start investigating. Take the cover off the box and lean in to see if you can hear where it's coming from. If you have any suspicion that it's your hard drive, you might just want to use Norton's Ghost to copy the whole thing to a good drive and replace it. If your hard drive does suffer a catastophic failure, you can pretty much kiss all your data goodbye barring some extraordinary recovery efforts.

    As soon as I get the time, I'll be backing up the data from our family machine and "donating" it to my two sons. I'll eventually network the house so they can do homework in their rooms and print to the print device in the office. Of course, they have a few favorite games they'll want to play. One of my kids asked if they'd have an internet hook up through the LAN here at home...Not unless I make it happen. I'd prefer to have a bit of control on that one.

    Next stop, setting up the new machines, ramping up the RAM on my lab machine, buying VMWare Workstation 4.0, loading it then (finally) configuring my home lab. I figured out that, assuming I get other paid writing jobs in the future, it will help with those projects as well. Some assignments require trying out labs for text books and seeing how the really do.

    Thanks for asking...and welcome to certforums. :)
     
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