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Asit

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Hi everybody,

I need your advice on an all purpose desktop PC for home (our old PC is nearly 4 and 1/2 year old and we need to upgrade it for obvious reasons). I was thinking about posting it in the "general chit chat" section but since this PC is supposed to have some relation (at least) with audio and video, I have decided to post it in this section. Moderator, please move it if you feel that it is inappropriate in this section.

Although I do a lot of really heavy duty computing for my profession, I am a novice when it comes to home computing. I have gone through many threads in this section, and I am finding it quite difficult to cope with all the knowledge. Boy, the new generation likes their PC's. You know so much that I do not and I need you at this hour.

My requirements would be a little different from most in this section. As I said it would be an all purpose PC. That means it has to do the usual jobs of browsing, word processing, storing general purpose data etc. In addition, it will have the job of storing and post-processing of digital photographs (I am in the process of selecting software for this purpose). It will also be used for some gaming (not too heavy duty, like FIFA 2010). Then the AV part. My son would store all his digital music in it and would also play from it (initially through 2.0 or 2.1 PC speakers). Movies would also be played at times, however, not through an AVR (we do not have an AVR and do not see ourselves getting one in the foreseeable future). So the picture would be seen on the monitor and sound down-mixed to 2.0 or 2.1 through the speakers mentioned above. At a later stage, we may consider getting the down-mixed 2 channel audio through digital cables into a DAC. We want to keep this option open for future.

BTW, we have no intentions of getting rid of this PC before the next 4 years or so. Sure, a few things can be upgraded if needed in this time.

What I have gathered from reading the threads in this section, one needs to have a good cabinet (not completely sure about the reasons, probably to dissipate the heat, and lessen vibration etc) and a good power supply (absolutely sure about this). So I have decided on an Antec ATX box for about 4.5 K (Can we do with a cheaper one?) and a Corsair power supply VX450 for about 4K (Is 450W enough?).

HDD would be at least 500GB, if not 1TB. The memory would be 3-4 GB. Which brand? Can Windows see more than 3 GB? DDR2 or DDR3? This has to be in conformity with the Mobo and the processor.

Now, that is the biggest question. Which Mobo and CPU? I am totally confused here. I have a slight preference for AMD (better VFM?). Was thinking in favor of a Phenom or Phenom II? Which one? About the Mobo, which chipset? AMD? 780, 785, or 790 and their different versions or something else. Problem here is that I am at a loss which Mobo would be good for my needs. I have gone through a lot of Asus and Gigabyte Mobos.

Of course it would have a DVD RW for the moment. Later would consider a BD-ROM if the need arises.

We would prefer a 20" or so LCD monitor. Are there any good 2.0 or 2.1 speakers around 5K?

For the present hardware, the budget is at the moment 40K max (of course I would be happy if we can manage it within 30K, but does not seem like it with those expensive cabinets and power supplies). Do we need separate graphics card? I do not think (but I may be wrong) we need separate sound card if the speakers are as described above. But in the long run, we may consider something like the Xonar STX if the PC is used with my main stereo system.

Looking for a lot of help from you.

Regards.
 
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AMITNOIDA

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I am not at all an expert in PC and its components, in fact I am an illeterate in this field. But what I had learned during my study about 8-9 months ago at the time of building my new desktop PC config can be shared with you. If it be of an iota of help to you, I would consider it great.
First, I will suggest you to be the member of any computer oriented site like Techenclave, Chip or Digit etc. I was immensely benefitted through these forums, especially from a guy called 'Sorcerer'.

For your info I am listing the components of my PC. These are no way any reference, but these were found to be most promising and satisfactory to me at that point of time. The computer industry are progressing so fast! Please do research of your own (I am sure you have a very good flare for research) and take time in selecting the components.

Cabinet Cooler Master-590 (I love this cabinet - good built with nice blue LEDs)
Corsair HX-620 Power supply unit (although overkill, but I always prefer to go overkill on this item - it is the lifeline of any system)
Biostar I45 motherboard - that time I found this as VFM
Intel E-8400 processor
SunbeamTech CPU cooler (selected considering future overclocking possibility)
2 x 2 GB OCZ PC2-6400 Gold Ram (You can go for G Skill and other good brand also)
Palit 4870 HD 1 GB sonic Graphics card (Although costly at Rs. 17k but worth every penny, it supports full HD with HDMI). The picture while playing FIFA-09 is awsomely real.
Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card (one of the benchmark at that time)
MoserBaer 20x DVD writer (I had heard that Liteon started marketting in India with tie-up with MoserBaer)
Western Digital 640 GB AACS HDD (That time Seagate was discouraged due to some problem in some of their batches, you can go for 1 TB also)
BenQ E2200HD Monitor (a LOVELY 22" vfm monitor - I strongly suggest to go for at least 22" monitor)
Microsoft Habu gaming Mouse
Razer Lycosa gaming keyboard (with LED backlit and programmable keys)
Steelseries Wrath of the Lich King Mousepad (awsome quality and look)
Loaded with 64 bit Vista Ultimate OS (You can now go for new Window-7).

If you have any problem in sourcing any component at Kolkata, you can telephone me. I may try to source from Nehru Place Delhi. Most of the components of my PC were sourced from NP Delhi. Few were purchased from Primeabgb Mumbai also over net. The prices of some components at Mumbai were found to be cheaper than Delhi.

Cheers
 

AMITNOIDA

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Sorry Asit, I have missed your indicated budget. No problem, you can plan in steps. Like graphics card and sound card you can add later. The onboard graphics may be sufficient for lower demanding games. Your existing keyboard, mouse etc. can be used. But select the cabinet, PSU, processor (AMD is cheaper and VFM), RAM and monitor of good config. Cranky has suggested a probable config at your budget. He is very knowledgable.

Cheers
 

spirovious

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Few configs-

AMD Phenom II 550BE - 5200
Biostar TA785GE 128M - 3550
Transcend/kingston 2 X 4GB DDR2 800mhz - 3800 to 4200
CM elite 334/335 - 2200
Corsair CX400 - 3200
1TB seagate 7200.12 ST31000528AS - 3950 (500 WD for 2400)
lg/samsung DVDRW - 1100
logitech/microsoft wired combo - 700
Creative SBS A 300 - 1250
Samsung 2233 - 9200
Palit/Zotac 9600GT 512MB DDR3 - 4700

Total - 39,250

Intel-

Proccy :Intel E5200/E5300/E7300/E7500 - -- 3400/3500/4700/5200
MB :Gigabyte G31-s2l (Please suggest ASUS alternative board) ------- 2500/-
RAM :4 GB (Single slot) Kingston/Transcend - 3000/4000-
HDD : 500 GB (WD) (Please suggest black or green) --- 2.4K
Cabinet : Zebronics bijli- - -- 1200
SMPS : Powersafe 500W ---- 2K
 

Asit

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Thanks Cranky, Amit and Spiro for your very thoughtful inputs so far.

I need to understand something more about the power requirements and hence the rating of the power supply. Now can you guys tell me what are the typical power consumptions of the CPU, HDD, DVDRW, a graphics card and a sound card?

We also have a Pinnacle AV/DV studio card (version 9) in the old PC that we use for editing and storing home and vacation videos. We want to migrate that to the new PC. Is that doable on the new boards? What is the power consumption of this card?

We also have a NVidia GeForce 5200 128MB graphics card installed in the old MSI motherboard? Now, do the on-board graphics cards already far outperform that kind of a graphics card? I guess they do. If they do not, can it also be migrated to the new motherboards?

Now, Cranky, you have suggested a mobo with the AMD 780 chipset. As the numbers go up (like 785, 790 in case of AMD, and similarly for example for other chipsets) what exactly do I gain in terms of features and performance? I understand the prices go up from around 4-5K to above 10K, but that is the easy part.

Another question I have is regarding down-mixing to 2 channels from multichannel audio from DVDs and BDs. Since we do not have an AVR, this is an important feature for us. In our current PC, we do not see any problem playing a DVD. Is this down-mixing a standard or default feature for all these more modern motherboards?

Amit, I am already a member of the techenclave forum, but my problem is the time and effort I have to invest in digging into those very technical discussions. WoW, what a PC you have there, simply marvelous. We are not going to invest so much at the moment, but may do so incrementally over a time period.

Thanks for the effort all of you have taken to help me so far. Please keep it coming whenever you have the time.

Regards.
 

thevortex

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Asit,

Good luck with your PC setup. When you mentioned setting up a PC in one of the other threads a few days back, I thought the reference was with respect to setting up a Music PC which you possibly were thinking of as a source for your Leben amplifier based system. That apparently is not the case. Any particular reason why though?

I think you can setup a very good all round system for around the Rs. 35000 mark today.

Case/Power supply - There have been two suggestions on this front. Coolermaster CM Elite and the Antec NSK. I use the Antec NSK 4480 and am extremely happy with its fit, finish, provisions for extra fans and the organized way it is put together.

Recently I have also helped one of my relatives set a PC up with the CM Elite case and found that it was a tad more spacier (inside) as compared to the Antec. This makes for slightly easier assembling of components if you yourself are doing this. The Coolermaster is a slightly funkier case with glowing LEDs and what not. The Antec is all understated class with a brushed steel look. I very much prefer the latter.

The Antec NSK 4480 comes with a 380W 80% rated power supply. It is very important to look at the efficiency rating of the power supply than just the gross power output per se.

Whichever option you choose among these two, the total cost of the case + power supply is going to set you back by about Rs. 4500.

Motherboard/Processor - For bang of buck as far as a HTPC is concerned I dont think any other combination beats the Athlon X2 550 Black Edition paired with a Gigabyte 785G motherboard. This motherboard comes with an integrated graphics capability equivalent to the ATI 4200 and I have tested this out with quite a few games with reasonably good results. I realize you are probably not going to be using this for games. But in summary if you are not a hardcore gamer and are looking to get Full HD output from your PC, then this motherboard is your best bet.

There are slightly cheaper alternatives to the Gigabyte like Biostar or slightly costlier ones like the ASUS. But there is a reason why I recommend the Gigabyte. The X2 550 Black edition processor is basically a quad core processor with a couple of its cores disabled (soft lock, basically). There are ways (amply described in the internet) to unlock the remaining two cores and thereby get yourself a lovely, screaming fast quad core processor. It is with the Gigabyte that maximum reports of success have come out. Hence the recommendation.

The motherboard and the processor combined should set you back by about Rs. 9000. Both are around the Rs. 4500 mark.

Monitor, UPS etc, Input devices etc. - The BenQ 22" suggested by Amit is indeed a very good option. I have one at my office and have no complaints whatsoever. Especially considering the mouth watering price!

But for home use, for people jumping from, say, a CRT monitor or even a 15" LCD, a 19" BenQ is good enough in most cases - available at Rs. 7000. I would suggest the 22" BenQ only if you need Full HD output. This should be available at around the Rs. 10000 mark.

I think you have ample and very good recommendations for RAM and Hard disks. If you are planning on using good old Windows XP and are OK to stay with the 32 bit edition, then there is no need to get more than 3 GB of RAM. A 64 bit edition of Windows XP can see 4 GB. If you want to install any other OS (read Vista/Windows 7) then you can go for as much RAM as you like. 16 GB is the max that the board supports, I believe. In reality 2 GB is a good place to start in my opinion - with matched 1 GB sticks in two slots.

Two 500 GB hard disks are good in my opinion than just a single 1 TB drive. This may or may not apply to you. But I like to experience with Operating Systems and from time to time install Linux distributions. In such cases, I would use the other hard disk (the one where Windows is not installed). I would also use the other hard disk to store all my important data. In the event that Windows crashes, I have all data available in the other hard drive, even if I have to wipe out and reinstall Windows. Even if dabbling in Linux systems is not applicable in your case, I would still recommend two different hard drives - just in case. Media today is not what it used to be. Can be said of hard disks as well as CDs and DVDs. The hard disk(s) and RAM should approximately set you back by about Rs. 4500

A good set of Logitech keyboard and mouse combo should be available from Rs. 1500 onwards. There was one model for Rs. 2200 which was very good (forgot the model name).

A 500 or 600va UPS would complete the scene. The 600 va is recommended because I have found that it is very useful where there are low voltage scenarios in big cities. Often I have found that these UPS' are capable of supplying 230V to the computer power supply even if the current values to the home are around the 190V mark. Crucial in terms of extending the life of not just your power supply but all your components. You can get these at Rs. 2000

Speakers/Sound card - Whether you need a sound card or not, depends on whether you are going to be listening to music quite a lot on this setup. It also depends on the kind of speakers you are going to be getting. If you are looking at, say, the Audioengine 2 speakers at Rs. 10,000, then a sound card may be a good idea. On the other hand, if you are looking at an entry level Creative speaker, say, then I would not think there is a need for a sound card.

If you are not looking at getting this PC to act as some kind of source for your stereo setup, I dont see the need to install an ASUS Xonar kind of card. And since the slots are there you can go for it at your leisure.

As you have mentioned that you might be watching movies on this setup, you probably are better off with a 2.1 type of speaker than just a 2.0. The Altec Lansing MX5021 speakers would have been my recommendation in this case. But lately I have been hearing quite a lot of quality complaints. So, I am not quite sure about this. But at Rs. 6000, it is a lot of speaker for the money. If you have a return arrangement with the vendor, this is a must-try speaker.

So, totally at around Rs. 36000, you would have a very good setup for an all purpose PC. This setup will not need a dedicated video card to view Full HD movies - unless you are also wanting to play quite a lot of games on it.
 

thevortex

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Cranky has hit the nail right on the head. For home use purposes, without a dedicated display card, it is the AMD combo system that provides the most bang for the buck.

One other note. While the numbers go up on the chipset - 780 to 785 to 790, it is to be noted that the 790 is not really an improvement over the 785. The 785G is the chipset to go for right now. The advantages as you go up are mainly in the quality of the integrated display card that comes with the motherboard.
 

spirovious

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Well regular uses need proper 400w SMPS.
If you add newer GC,550w is must,but SMPS shld be from good company.

Powersafe/coirsar has better SMPS,few with 5 to 7 yrs warrenty,but very costly.I m using VIP gold 400w & never felt less power with 7300GC.
 

thevortex

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Well regular uses need proper 400w SMPS.
If you add newer GC,550w is must,but SMPS shld be from good company.

Powersafe/coirsar has better SMPS,few with 5 to 7 yrs warrenty,but very costly.I m using VIP gold 400w & never felt less power with 7300GC.

I dont agree. And I am a pretty regular user of a computer:)

What is actually important is the efficiency rating of the SMPS rather than the actual power output quoted.

Plus as you know, I dont see the point in recommending graphics cards where there is really not a need.
 

Asit

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Hi Cranky,
Thanks for explaining the power situation and also the status of our previous add-on graphics card. Excuse my ignorance and perhaps also a bit of lack of imagination, but what is TCO?

Hi Spiro,
Your calculation of power rquirement does not match that from Cranky's. Can one or both of you explain? I am a bit confused.


Hi Vortex,
Thanks for joining in. Extremely well thought out response. I am really amazed at the effort some of you have put in, in your replies. Once again, like in my amp thread, the quality of responses I have received from Cranky, Amit, Spiro and you are top class. I am sure it would help a lot of people in a similar situation as mine.

To help clarify a few things, this home PC would be mostly (80%) used by our son. We were waiting till things settle after his 12 boards and he joins his undergraduates. If he went outside Kolkata, we decided we would get him a decent laptop. He had almost all options open, but has decided to stay in Kolkata for his undergraduate studies. Then initially we were thinking of the new iMac, the new ones (just launched) are stunning and offers a solid integrated solution for most home usage (even with a 17 wpc rms amp on board and 22" display). He also can get a 10 or 12% discount with his ID on apples (obviously not the fruit :D). Still that sets us back by at least 60K. Also lack of opportunity to upgrade the iMac (except for things like getting bigger HDD) after spending so much made us a bit uncomfortable. Then we thought of an assembled PC like we have had so far.

My wife and I have our individual laptops. But still for some other home usage (like photographs etc) we shall be using it. But at the same time we would like to have the options open for both audio and video.

I am not a gamer at all. To be absolutely frank, I am not good at it the few times I have tried my hands at such things. My son would be involved in such things (with games like the FIFA 2010).

From the responses in this thread and also from reports on the net, I am slowly tending towards an Antec case, the CM is the next choice.

Vortex, where did you source your Antec NSK 4480 from? Does Prime abgb carry this cabinet? Did you say that this case comes with a power supply?

About the CPU and motherboards, I am settling in nicely for Athlons now after recommendations by Cranky and Vortex, and AMD 780/785 chipset based motherboard. I have to study a bit more, ask a few more questions and then decide.

I have taken the suggestions from Amit and Vortex on the BenQ 22" monitor and would see where this is available in Kolkata.

Vortex, where can I get the Altec Lansing MX5021 for 6K as you have mentioned. Prime is quoting this around 7K I think.

More later on specifics of different motherboards.

Regards.
 

asliarun

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Asit, I have a completely different recommendation. I strongly urge you to buy a laptop instead of a desktop.

First, a disclaimer: I'm only a hardware/software geek and long-time reader of this forum, not trying to push any product or agenda.

In my experience of computer hardware, the overall usefulness of a laptop always wins out over a desktop because of its compactness, portability, and ease of use and setup (lesser wires to plug-in/interconnect and no rat-nest of wires). This is also attested by the fact that laptops in the last couple of years have outsold desktops.

I also recommend this because:

1. Laptop performance and more importantly price-performance today is almost the same as a desktop today. Note that our mindset still hasn't caught up to this, and at least in India, we still perceive laptops to be more of a luxury thing based on the reality that existed about 5 years ago.

2. Your use-cases are all in the light-weight usage category. Thus, a Nehalem (i7) or Phenom based computer will be overkill and unnecessary, because you will NOT be running multiple virtual machines, doing heavy duty number crunching or image processing (read: CAD/3D/video work, not basic image manipulation), or heavy duty games like Crysis. Thus, you don't really need a workstation. The Core2 class of CPUs and mid-level graphics cards that power today's laptops are in fact not just sufficient but even overpowered, as software hasn't yet caught up to Moore's law of exponential performance increase of microprocessors. In fact, Windows 7 actually requires lower grade hardware than Vista!

3. In today's scenario, both laptops and desktops have become completely commoditized. Additionally, due to constantly evolving hardware and new standards/protocols, you will need to completely replace your computer after 4-5 years at best. Forget about reusing components, the few thousands you will save will not be worth the hassle, and in fact, the older components you will retain in your assembled desktop will in fact be a performance bottle-neck. I say this because I have made all these mistakes! My premium ASUS motherboard is useless today.

At best, you will be able to use your older computer as a secondary computer to surf the net etc. Again, in these use cases, a laptop will prove to be far more useful than a desktop due to its compactness and portability. Even as a resale, gift, or donation, a laptop will be better valued and appreciated!

4. In your stated budget, I think you can easily buy a laptop. I recommend 3GB or 4GB RAM, an entry-level CPU in the 1066MHz FSB class (for Intel CPUs), a 15" screen (I personally prefer matte, but glossy screens sell more; and preferably LED back-lit), a separate (but reasonably priced) graphics card (not built-in to the motherboard, especially in Intel motherboards as the built-in graphics are quite weak), a 7200rpm hard-drive (will bottleneck your computer, otherwise), and a combo CD/DVD reader/writer as you prefer. You can choose an upgraded 9-cell battery if you want 6 hrs battery life instead of 3 hrs as well, but this will cost more. Wifi will come in-built.

I also recommend buying a separate keyboard and mouse (Logitech) and connecting it to the laptop. Optionally, you can also buy a laptop "riser" (Logitech sells one) that will elevate the height of the screen so you don't have to hunch. This way, you can use your laptop as a workstation.

In terms of brands, I personally like Lenovo. No laptop comes close to a Stinkpad (Thinkpad), but the T-series and R-series are expensive! If you want Thinkpad's build quality but decent prices, check out the SL series. Its a good compromise. Plus, if you use an external keyboard and mouse, you don't have to be bothered too much about ruggedness. In that vein, I can also recommend Dell. The Studio 15 or Inspiron should give you excellent value for money, though it is not as robust as a Stinkpad (though you're not going to go around ill-treating your laptop like a business user would do with their company issued laptop). You can completely customize your laptop online in the Dell India website.

As far as sound is concerned, you can choose to buy external speakers as laptop speakers are quite tinny. This will be the same decision, whether laptop or desktop as they're both built into the motherboard nowadays (unless you go for a high-end sound card). Others in this forum are much more qualified to give suggestions in this department :)
 
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thevortex

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Asit - I sourced the NSK 4480 from a local Antec dealer here. If you are not able to strike gold locally there, I would suggest looking at Theitdepot - India's First IT Online Shopping Store to see if they can help you. They are Antec dealers and they ship throughout India.

And yes this comes with a power supply. Regarding the best deals, they can always be had if you go to the market yourself. A place like Ritchie Street for example in Chennai. As otherwise you can expect to pay a premium of around Rs. 500 to the dealer who procures it for you. You can expect to get the Altec Lansing for around Rs. 6500 if you are prepared to take some trouble. That way you can also talk about a return arrangement if you see fit.
 

thevortex

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Asilarun - I wonder about your points 1 and 3.

Do you really believe that the price-performance ratio of laptops and desktops are matched equally?

As for point 3, a lot of us believe in upgrading the desktop which may or may not involve reusing the same components. Sometimes it could be something as simple as adding a PCI card. Which in most laptops is a real chore and in some, not possible at all. At least not without voiding warranty in any case.

The laptop gives you mobility + computing. It is not the last word in computing power per se.

On an aside - why do you call the Thinkpad as Stinkpad?:) You know, I am partial to these workhorses! Although I just got myself an HP Elitebook and am pleased as punch. But I digress..
 

thevortex

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Fifa 2010 will not play properly on integrated graphics, of any sort. The 780/785 will play most games from two years back or older, for anything newer you'll have to look at an add-in card.

TCO is not a technical term = Total Cost of Ownership.

On a 785G board, I was recently able to play 'The Witcher' and 'Neverwinter Nights' pretty decently.

I guess the thing is you cannot expect to play such games at high resolutions. But I do not know about FIFA 2010.
 

AMITNOIDA

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To help clarify a few things, this home PC would be mostly (80%) used by our son.

As your son will be using the PC most, please get his opinion also. As he will play the Sports games (FIFA 2010) like my younger son, the HD display should be really a candy to his eyes.
From the responses in this thread and also from reports on the net, I am slowly tending towards an Antec case, the CM is the next choice.

The cabinet is absolutely personal. Both Antec and CM are good brands. The cabinet should have adequate cooling, good space inside and ofcourse the USBs and headphone sockets should be preferably at upper level for easy connection.

Then we thought of an assembled PC like we have had so far.
No doubt about it. Assembled PC is better and VFM always.

About the CPU and motherboards, I am settling in nicely for Athlons now after recommendations by Cranky and Vortex, and AMD 780/785 chipset based motherboard. I have to study a bit more, ask a few more questions and then decide.
As Vortex suggested Gigabyte Mobo is popular and have least Bios problem. Biostar is also a workable brand (I have gone for Biostar) and slightly cheaper. But Gigabyte is mostly recommended.
 

asliarun

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Asilarun - I wonder about your points 1 and 3.

Do you really believe that the price-performance ratio of laptops and desktops are matched equally?

As for point 3, a lot of us believe in upgrading the desktop which may or may not involve reusing the same components. Sometimes it could be something as simple as adding a PCI card. Which in most laptops is a real chore and in some, not possible at all. At least not without voiding warranty in any case.

The laptop gives you mobility + computing. It is not the last word in computing power per se.

On an aside - why do you call the Thinkpad as Stinkpad?:) You know, I am partial to these workhorses! Although I just got myself an HP Elitebook and am pleased as punch. But I digress..

Price-performance of laptops and desktops is not equal as of today, but is reasonably close. This is mainly because laptop performance has increased more rapidly, and more importantly, because performance is now a lesser concern than say, 5 years ago. Today's hardware is overpowered (Core2Duo is much more than sufficient for ordinary usage) compared to say, a 386DX or Celeron 266 that I had purchased that used to struggle at anything slightly more complicated than DOS, and still ended up costing more than a laptop purchased today.

Yes, a hardware geek or hardcore gamer will prefer an assembled computer. I'm a bit of one as well. But overall, is worth it for 99% of the stuff we do? A lot of PCI cards also come with laptop "external" equivalents that can be plugged in to to the USB port. Of course, if you want to tinker around with your system a fair bit, then an assembled desktop will be better. It will also give more pride of ownership :)

I agree that laptops are not the last word in computing. In fact, their premise is efficient performance vs no-holds-barred performance. But consider that both Intel and AMD today have the exact same architecture for both laptop and desktop CPUs (Intel Core2 series called Merom/Conroe/Woodcrest for laptops/desktops/servers are minor variants of the exact same base architecture). Yes, GPUs are significantly more powered in desktops than laptops, but their power draw (and your electricity bill) is dramatically more as well (~150-200W vs 10-20W).

I only call Thinkpads as Stinkpads out of a great deal of fondness :) They're really the best laptops around.
 

thevortex

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Point taken, Asilarun. If Asit wants to go the laptop route, he has an option now.

But somehow I dont think he will.

I actually think in India, a laptop has more pride of ownership as it is not yet too common:)
 

thevortex

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Sorry for digressing, but I did want to mention this one point. For the Thinkpad fanciers, the best is gone. The IBM Thinkpads are way ahead of the Lenovo ones.

Having been a Thinkpad user for some time, I feel somewhat comfortable with the HP Elitebook. No, I am not selling laptops:)

Asilarun - one other thing is that if you are considering laptops, then India most definitely is not the place to buy from. Getting it on a deal from the US is by far the better option. The prices charged here for even middle of the road configurations is downright horrifying.
 

asliarun

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The biggest problem with a laptop is absolutely zero upgrade capability, at least at reasonable prices, in the short term. In the long term (3 years +) upgrading any technology investment is useless because technology moves ahead.

The second issue is heat. Today's laptops are becoming thinner and lighter because of consumer demand, and as a result heat removal is becoming a sticky issue, with lots of failures in the high-end laptop space.

The third issue is cost. A laptop is always either two steps below a desktop at the same price, or costs twice the equivalent-performing desktop. Same with peripherals, laptop peripherals are either more expensive or inferior to those available for desktop. Witness the cost difference between a 500GB laptop and desktop hard drive, for example. Really, its only purpose is portability and space saving. If these are not critical requirements, a desktop is more value for money.

Sure you can't beat the convenience of a laptop, but if there are already two in the family, a desktop becomes a nice permanent store for everything as long as you have a good backup strategy.

Upgradability - Yes, but how many people actually upgrade? I had actually bought a CPU once in a daughter card because the motherboard was superior, and made 0% use of the motherboard. In fact, the daughter card caused loose connections, and I had to periodically wedge it back in into its slot. While this may be an anecdotal example, I strongly suspect that most people, even people familiar with computer hardware, rarely end up actually upgrading something. Adding cards to the motherboard is more common, yes. If that is a possibility, then you are absolutely correct. Otherwise, I would say that even in a assembled desktop, buying a cheaper motherboard for example with lesser expansion slots will be better for most users.

Heat - Yes, you are correct. However, desktop cooling is also an issue though a desktop tends to have lesser heat-related failures compared to laptops. Desktops emit a hugely larger amount of heat than laptops. I suspect that a laptop used as a desktop will probably have the same failure rates as a desktop (though I say this with no evidence) because in this usage, the laptop is not being moved around as much and its vents are not being accidentally blocked.

Ironically, the cheaper laptops have larger chassis and are hence less prone to heat related failures.

Cost - Absolutely. Laptops are double the cost here as compared to US. A decent laptop can be customized for about 700-800 USD. In terms of reduced performance, what difference does it make? When I claim that today's hardware is overkill, please consider the fact that "netbooks" like the Asus Eee series run the Atom processor which has the same performance as a Pentium-M 600Mhz sold 5-6 years ago. Yet, it is proving quite adequate for most users to browse the net via XP and for basic stuff, and hence, its enormous recent popularity. A really cheap laptop version of Core2Duo running at 2GHz/800FSB (or the AMD equivalent) will give about 3 times the performance of an Atom processor, which should give adequate performance headroom. Asus is also soon coming up with a desktop equivalent of the Eee, in which the CPU is integrated into the flat screen monitor.

The prices are attractive enough to consider this as a viable option. PCs are today more viewed as appliances than complicated general purpose computers, and in that sense, are becoming more similar to an integrated Philips Powerhouse audio system (with bass boost!) than an audio system assembled by hand with separate components :)
 

AMITNOIDA

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Personally, I've yet to keep anything above 18 months. I ensure my upgrades are planned to time with product obsolescence, and I try to retain the critical parts (chassis, monitors, power supplies) for much longer hence spend disproportionately on those. I also resell the bits I buy while they're within warranty, so the resale value doesn't bottom out totally.

Correct approach. It is always advisable to spend slightly more for Cabinet, Power supplies, Monitor, Mouse / Keyboard and go for slightly overkill to meet demand of future upgrade.

The Mobo / Processor / graphics and some times RAM is better to upgrade in every 2 years. One year down the line I may have to upgrade the above components in my PC. Again study and research - isn't it enjoying? At least it is to me.
 
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