I'm planning on buying a computer before I go off to college this summer and I'm not sure what the best way to go about that is. I'm looking for a computer with at least 512 MB RAM and a 128 MB video card, so I can play middle of the line computer games like World of Warcraft and Everquest II. What I want to know is if I should buy the computer from a large company like Dell or HP, or should go by another route. The problem with companies like those is that they always add features into the computer that I don't really want or need. If you could give me any advice before I spend nearly a grand on a computer, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Friends dont let friends do Dell or HP...

Get yourself a good clone.

You will save money and have a better, easier to repair and upgrade unit.

Great! Thanks for the advice.

Anyone else have experience with clone computers?

Brand name PCs offer more substantial bundled software packages and also better support services as a rule. But they also offer less for more money in terms of hardware specifications.

'White box' or locally assembled PCs are the preference of quite a lot of people for this reason. Remember, though that you will need to factor in the cost of software if necessary.

There are two areas of concern to address with locally assembled PCs - generic power supply units and generic RAM modules. Many local assemblers will include cheap options for these, and because of that you may strike problems later. Cheap generic power supplies have higher failure rates, and are more prone to generating instability in performance systems because they deliver less stable voltage levels. generic RAM can cause conflict issues when you later add another module, because you'll be unlikely to match the make and model of the RAM. However, requesting that a specific power unit and brand of RAM be used is an option to take, and a particularly good idea if gaming is the focus.

At the very least I'd insist that the RAM fitted was a value line from Corsair, Kingston, Kingmax or OCZ. It'll cost a tiny tad extra, bit it'll be worth it. Many people get away with using generic power supplies, so it's a reasonable risk to take. Give the system a heavy workout when you initially get it, and if there are instability problems take it straight back to get them attended to!

Your thinking about graphics card is a bit astray. The amount of RAM on the card means stuff all - the type of graphics processor means just about everything. For a gaming card in today's world you should set a mid-range card as a minimum requirement, and the 6600GT or X700 Pro are currently the best of those. I'd settle for no less in any system intended for gaming.

You should build it yourself or find a place where they can build it with your specifications. No doubt about it.

Many big stores that sell branded computers will try to convince you to buy these computers by embellishing what they say, telling some tiny lies. Big enough to make you mad.

I once went to one of these stores, Future Shop (in Canada), to browse the alleys. I just decided to ask some questions about some computers already knowing the answers. It is then that I first realised how incompetent/unreliable some employees can be in these stores.

The computer I asked questions about was a HP Pavillon 1GHz I think. I asked a bunch of stupid questions like: Is this a good computer to play games? The guy said yes so I asked: So there is a good video card in it? He said yes and that I could play most games on it. Another question I asked was: So if I would want to upgrade it later it would it be possible? He said yes again.

All along I knew what he told me was BS. The computer had no video card whatsoever. It had 4mb of onboard video, and no AGP slot! The only slots left were 2 PCI and one RAM slot. The tower was so small, I dont think someone could add much in it. WOW thats one awesome gaming system!!!

I just had to tell this cuz it was funny... ;) Maybe I should have embarrassed him before departing.


I have had no problems with Dell computers, or with Apple (my main choice).

If you do go with a local rig, or with a custom made or home made unit, PLEASE record for safe keeping all the oddball parts and model types for the techie you are going to bring it to when it breaks.

I recently repaired a "homemade" computer for a client here, and I spent (and charged) a lot of time because she gave me a box and said "fix it" and I had to go to one place for the mother board, another place for the CD-ROM, another place for the card... and while I do not mind doing that, the mere fact it was not DOCUMENTED meant a lot of time figuring out what she had that XP had no clue about.

Whatever your choice, when it is all setup, document out on paper what the hell is in the box, and then tape it to the inside box cover, so when things go belly up, that you can get to it easily, and enjoy that beer while you are rebuilding things.

Also consider a backup solution.


Realizing that all people are not created equal, it's obvious that there are going to be individuals who have problems reading and asimilating technical information, but if you don't fall into this catagory, and can follow written instructions, perhaps building your own rig is a good choice. If you reaserch your compents for compatibility, and their specific applications, this will reduce the possibility of any potential problems. If you do build your own, the suggestion to stay away form generic hardware is sage advice.

I'm certainly able to read technical information. Unfornately, I have no idea where to start with building my own PC. I never tried to build one or even upgrade an existing computer. Can anyone suggest any good websites or online tutorials that can get me started? Thanks for all of your help guys.

you can talk to me if you like i enjoy designing computers and whatever your looking for i can help you do it for whatever your price range is
personally i find computer stores and those places that build it to your specifications WAY overpriced. if anyone wants a dream system or a mid range or low end system designed or help in designing just ask ill be happy to help.

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