Episode 69: Valve Owned
In the Last week, Valve have shown that not only they have the most tight and controlling grip of their online software purchases, they went a step further and enforced it. The craziness that happened from it will make many people think twice about purchasing from them again.
I also give a rundown on building a computer for people looking to get a new one done for the Christmas season! More than likely for yourself of course, but you need to know about what to get! - so here is some help.
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And now, for Brett's buying a PC Guide! Remember to email me using the address above if you would like any part expanded on, or any questions about it!
A lot of people have poor computers around here, so its about time we show them what they can have! And when you compare it up using this list, you'll see that its a fair bit cheaper than you expected too.
With a complete box, that excludes a screen and keyboard.
The screen and keyboard/mouse are the most important parts in my opinion, because its what your looking at most of the time (you don't look at your case that much do you?), and the keyboard mouse will always hold you up regardless of speed, if they arn't good.
Off my head, The G5 Mouse (second edition) is $72 at msy, an excellent price. The G15 keyboard, is ~100-150. I say that, because the old one is about to be refreshed with the new one, which will cost more.
Screenwise, for the low end consider a Chimei 221D 22inch for $329. LCD's are the way to go now due to portability and size/weight. I would recommend if you do photo editing or want quality, Samsungs 215TW or 244TW ($660 pccasegear.com / $1300) Would be what I would get (215tw i have now), followed by Dell's 24, 27, and 30 (!) inch screens are all good (~750, 1300, 1700 - dell.com.au)
To build a computer, or have one built for you, the box will need the following:
So, lets go through each of these items, and see what you need, and give you an option with it.
The case is important, as if there is not enough space, you won't be able to fit bigger cards (ie the 8800gtx when it came out). As well as this, ventilation, weight, bling (or non bling!) are important too. I try to budget $250-$300 for a case, and the PSU. Funnily enough, as you get more expensive cases, they rarely come with a Power supply, which you kind of have to get to turn it on.
An example of a good brand is Antec, and example of a average to poor one is Thermaltake. Top tier ones are Shuttle (mini), and Li-lian
The Best recommendation I can give? Always buy the one you like - shop at http://www.pccasegear.com.au because you can see what each one is like, and you can look at detailed specs and photos - they have a big range. Shipping is $10 there anywhere in australia, and if you get any other parts from there, then you get that included in the shipping. Bonus! I'd allow $120 if I was forced to go with a cheaper case and psu
Ram is a tough one for an uneducated or rushed buyer. You will usually end up buying the cheapest generic, have it put out errors and make your life hell. For what its worth, 2 gig kits are $100-$130 on msy, which are good. If you are intending to upgrade, you will usually need new ram, as current ram is DDR2 style. With Windows XP, your limit of ram is 2.5-3gig (its limited by a variety of things). If there is the budget, 4gig of ram is great both in value and power - but you will need to use Vista as well. This will be in 2 x 2gig sticks. The reason for two sticks is to go "dual channel", which is good. Why is it good? It uses two interfaces at once to communicate with your pc, doubling the bandwidth that your ram can communicate at - a nice bonus, although in games it isn't too much of a jump.
Currently the best choice by far is Intel's Core2Duo and santa rosa chips. Blah-di-blah blah? Ok, The Intel E4500 is Dual Core, 2.2ghz, and 2mb of Cache. Nothing to be sneezed at, and that 2.2ghz will beat the pants off anything last generation. The price for this one on msy is $179 atm. The reason I avoided the better bang for buck processors is due to the cpu being the best part to upgrade in the future. By buying a Intel Q6600 (quad core processors) straight away, you might not be able to jump too much without needing to upgrade other parts, such as DDR3 (in the future) and possibly a newer motherboard. Intel Q6600? $329. Great value.
FYI: Regional people like me, if you can't find a store thats cheap enough, consider getting it shipped, or doing a roadtrip if its worth it.
The bit that all your computer parts plug into, that goes in your case.
A volatile market. Weekly Prices drop, new models come out, so its hard to keep on top of this part. I allow $100 for budget computers, and try to keep it under $275 for performance computers. I choose based on features, cooling, and overclocking features.
The choice of motherboard will dictate what cpu's you are allowed, which you can tell by finding its socket type or pin numbers - Socket 775 is the Intel's, AMD AM2 940 is for the older AMD Chips (not recommended except for absolute bottom budget systems).
Budget, I would go with the ASUS P5KPL G31 ($103)
Performance, the Gigabyte P35-DQ6 ($269) is ok. Again, if you need to shop, you will choose one best for you.
HDD = Hard Disk Drive By the way! Its the thing that stores all your stuff, your O/S, games, etc. Don't be the tool at the lan with 4-5 80gig hdd's from all his older pcs - just buy a 500-750gig hdd for $175-$285 (again, msy). Seagates are well known, personal experience matters here of course, and again Seagates warranties are currently the best, followed by Western Digital.
If you need to save money, a 250gig HDD from whoever (maxtor - $58 will suffice, but don't say I didn't warn you.
Gp-what? Graphics Card, Sit down :P
If your reading this, It's very likely that you love gaming - this part will likely be looked at the most. Forget integrated, end of discussion (some motherboards come with a graphics card which are perfect for business machines).
I'm going to skip most of the budget cards and recommend either a high end Direct X 9.0 Card, or a Direct X 10 one.
So, The Nvidia 7900Gt 256meg (if you can find it, expect ~$200) is a fantastic card. However, most places are not selling it anymore. So, that Leaves you with the ATI Sapphire X1950Pro 256meg ($192, MSY) - a great performing card. No fluff, just good.
But what you really want is a Nvidia 8800 Series card. This means a Gigabyte Nvidia 8800GTS 320meg ($412, msy) is excellent value for its performance and a good allround card. If your running a larger screen, consider the version with 640meg ram for better high resolution gaming ($529 for the Gigabyte Version and $545 for the asus one).
The rumored 8800GT coming out on October 29th looks to change this, offering performance similar to the 8800GTX (a 768meg monster that is $735+) For a price point similar to the cards above. ATI's Card will follow shortly after, although not much is known about where it fits in your pc making piece of pie.
Budget - $679
Performance - $1719
Pick and choose between the choices above, and you'll end up at a price range between the two here. If you're not building it yourself, allow $100 to get someone to do it for you. Don't expect your highschool friend to do it for $10 - thats just cruel on them.
This doesn't include buying a Operating system. I like giving people the choice of buying their own - or using something like Ubuntu or other means. Having said that, Vista Ultimate oem was $300 and lowering, and if your doing a new system from scratch, you might as well go with it now.
After that, Enjoy your pc!
Other tips? Forget Brand loyalties, Forget about SLI/Crossfire (two cards) unless you are planning on a high budget system from the start.
Like this story on ausTech news? then leave feedback for me on it, and I'll get back to your comments. Hope you enjoyed it!