Author Topic: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy  (Read 4979 times)

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« on: September 19, 2009, 05:17:17 PM »
Hi Everyone, I'm hoping a few of you can give me some advice. This morning my computer went down. The biggest drag is that I didn't back up what I think was the first song of my next album after trashing 15 or so other songs. UG. OK, so my real question is that I need a new cpu and there's so much stuff out there I have no idea where to start. So, anyone have any advice using this criteria?

1. pc os only vist 64 with free windows 7 upgrade would be the best
2. running ableton and a bunch of vsts
3. must have firewire for my tascam
4. must have a digital out on the video card for a 24" dell screen
5. under $700 if possible
6 must be able to handle one sati drive as I need to try and pull some stuff off the old drives

I'd prefer to not build one from scratch as that's what I did the first time and it's been a lemon. Anyone have any luck with the Dell XPS 630? This is the one I've been looking at online. Anyone just purchase something they can recommend?

I'm really confused by all the chips and dual this and quad that.


Thanks so much,
Saul



Altus

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
    • Altus - aural journeys for the mind's eye
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 06:58:42 AM »
Hi Saul,

Sorry to hear about your computer.  There's one thing worth looking into before you buy a new system.  What exactly is the problem?  Does it turn on at all when you hit power?  If not, it could just be the power supply.  I find that a computer power supply is almost always first to go.  Replacements go for around $75-200, depending on quality and wattage required.  If you're still happy with that system, it might be worth checking out.

Of course, this breakdown could be an easy excuse for an upgrade.  ;)

Regarding the two cheapest options dual and quad-core CPUs, here's a generalized speed test.
Dual E8400: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_lookup.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Duo+E8400+%40+3.00GHz
Quad Q8300: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_lookup.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Quad+Q8300+%40+2.50GHz

Is that speed bump worth $70?  I think so.

While the quality of Dell is fine, I'm always leery of purchasing computers from big names like Dell.  They'll ding you on the extras.  For example, another extra 1TB drive is an extra $400?!  I'd suggest purchasing a bare-bones system from Dell, and buying any extra components from either a local store or a site like newegg.com.

Personally, I prefer to support local "computer" stores, since the guys running those places KNOW computers and are fairly competitive when it comes to prices.  You can walk in and build a system to match exactly your needs... get the best bang for your buck.  The other reason is if something breaks down, I can deal with that local store for service and support.

One last suggestion:  Get at least 4 gigs of RAM.

Good luck!   :)
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

Seren

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1006
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2009, 08:33:27 AM »
recently bought a local build computer from my daughter  - after 4 weeks the power supply went. The shop that built it replaced the power supply as it was still under a year old, despite me adding extra drives and things to it and without taking my address or asking for hers....brilliant service.

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2009, 10:07:16 AM »
I appreciate the feedback. I was surprised at myself for considering Dell given that I built this computer from the ground up myself. I guess I was just looking for a quick solutions. I think your power supply idea is good. The fan starts and the motherboard lights up but that's it. I read that the power supply can be bad even if the fans area all working. I actually think it's a bad time to buy a new computer with the Vista/ Windows 7 change right around the corner. I'm going to take your advice and just take it in to a local repair shop just down the street from us. I might even see how cheap they can upgrade the motherboard and chipset to quad core. Still should come out cheaper than a new computer.

btw, i had the worst phone call with dell. They were really friendly and said we can customize a computer for you. I said, ok, I don't need a video card. They said, um, they come standard. I said, I don't need a sound card. They said, they come standard. Turned out their idea of customization was a norton yearly plan.

Thanks so much for the advice.
Saul



petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 654
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2009, 10:29:42 AM »
aul,

I wrote some stuff below which may not be relevant if you're trying to revive your machine.

You say the fans run and the mobo light comes on, is the hard drive spinning up and is the screen
dead ? If so, try taking out the battery on the mobo to reset the CMOS. I have to say I'm not very
familiar with this stuff, but it worked for me. My PC seemed dead and this brought it back to life.

///earlier stuff I was going to post///

I think there's a fair bit of 'smoke and mirrors' regarding CPU benchmarks and real world use. I had
a system recently built for me based around a E8400. It's a music only non-internet machine (no
anti-virus / firewall proghrams burbling around in the background). I primarily use FLstudio and
Audition. I've yet to hit anywhere the CPU limit running loads of vst instruments and plug-ins.

The CPU is considered to be 'slow' relative to i7 processors, but it's a lot cheaper and uses less
power.

I'm not suggesting you go down this route (regarding this particular CPU), as its probably a bit out
of date now, but it suits my needs fine. Just some food for thought.

cheers
Pete

APK

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2272
    • View Profile
    • DataObscura
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2009, 01:37:19 PM »
"Turned out their idea of customization was a norton yearly plan. "

 ;D
www.dataobscura.com
www.dataobscura.com/apk
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans

APK

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2272
    • View Profile
    • DataObscura
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2009, 01:47:29 PM »
Yep, I agree, a motherboard/cpu upgrade is a good move. And get a motherboard that takes a fair bit of ram. As Altus said, at least 4 megs. And a Core 2 CPU, faster dual or a quad. i7 is probably over-priced. See that the motherboard has firewire (though you can easily add a small card). And don't get a cheap motherboard.


www.dataobscura.com
www.dataobscura.com/apk
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2009, 04:31:30 PM »
Ya, I just finally put 4gigs in and now if I upgrade I'll have to do it again as my ram is the older type (can't remember the name). Pete. I did pull the battery and reset the bios. :(

I'll report back after I take it in tomorrow. Hopefully, in the end my song is still hanging around......

mgriffin

  • Hypnos Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7010
  • Life is a memory, and then it is nothing.
    • View Profile
    • www.hypnos.com
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2009, 06:55:08 PM »
Saul, I just saw this... sorry about your PC.  Most likely if the motherboard or RAM failed your hard drive can be salvaged and used in a new machine (with your data probably intact).

It's also possible your Windows installation is corrupted and could be repaired.  I'll have to read this topic more closely when I have a chance and see if I can get a better idea what's likely wrong with your machine. 

[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2009, 06:54:56 AM »
Hey guys, I'm writing this from Singapore! I finally got it into the repair place and they said it was the mother board. Altus, you were right. The local shop actually tested it in front of me. It was funny cause the geek squad were actually in there getting stuff fixed. Anyway, they're going to put a new system together for me and they have a 10 year parts and labor warranty which I think is just fabulous! I couldn't get that anywhere else...  Mike. Hopefully hard drives still work. Part of their service is that they transfer all of the files over so I'm hoping there's no problems doing that.

s

mgriffin

  • Hypnos Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7010
  • Life is a memory, and then it is nothing.
    • View Profile
    • www.hypnos.com
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2009, 08:15:05 AM »
Cool, happy ending, Saul.  Geek power!
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

1000snakes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 94
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2009, 09:23:13 AM »
"The Geek shall inherit the Earth".  ;D

darkenedsoul

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 388
    • View Profile
    • Official Darkened Soul Website
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2009, 02:07:00 PM »
Hi Saul,

Glad things are working out for you. I recommend a backup product to an external USB/Firewire drive to save your data to. I use Acronis True Image Echo Workstation (comes with Universal Restore) and like it. Have had to use it only once/twice for restores but helped me out. Only lost 2 wks worth of email which I had replied to already. If you get a big drive (like 1TB) is why I recommend workstation vs home due to it (the drive) being seen as a foreign drive, normal restore won't see it hence sticking with the workstation product (I had to update to it from 9.1 workstation since that version didn't handle foreign drives).

I think it's well worth the price. Not sure about freebie options and they won't do universal restore (restore to new(er) hardware which is a boon, just make sure to save off your drivers directory to cd-rw or ext. drive to reload drivers ;-) ).

Mike

Altus

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
    • Altus - aural journeys for the mind's eye
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2009, 05:05:17 PM »
Saul,
I'm glad to hear everything's working out.  But 10 year parts and labour?  Holy crap, I've never heard of that.  Awesome.  :)
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2009, 12:54:40 AM »
I heard their warranty wrong. 10 labor, 1 year on parts. Still, kinda nice when things go wrong. I was thinking of this system:

http://www.gcsystem.com/systems.html#3

There's 3 systems here. Anyone feel like taking a shot at what they feel would be a good set up from this page? I was thinking of trying to get option 1 with the
Q9550 Core 2 Quad 2.8GHz / 1333 / 12M   chips without the speakers and junk for $900 with tax. They kind of work with you on price. I don't need the fanciest video card so I can work with them on some of the stuff.

Any recommendations? Thanks for all the info!

Altus

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
    • Altus - aural journeys for the mind's eye
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2009, 08:19:42 AM »
I think $900 for that build (minus junk) is very reasonable.

Like I said before, I love these custom shops.  Having the support is absolutely worth the little extra cost incurred versus buying from a big manufacturer.  And I generally feel better about giving my money to a local shops... where it actually makes a difference in keeping them in business.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 08:22:25 AM by Altus »
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

saulstokes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 08:55:47 PM »
Today I went in and they're retrofitting my existing computer with a new MOBO and 2.66 quad core, new 350 (I prefer smaller drives as they're easier to manage ) gig Hard drive with fresh install of xp, 4 gigs of ram, installed into my existing sound isolation case with my existing older drives in it for back up for $700 bucks.  I think this turned out to be great as now I don't have any junk to try and sell or store or throw away.  I really appreciate all the advice especially Altus for convincing me to try a local place. They're super nice and really know what they're doing!  They actually also credited me on the older ram.  I should be back up and running  with a rock solid new system by Friday at the latest as well as a nice local shop that I can rely on in the future. Now I'm going to study Mike's back up advice.

Saul

Scott M2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 638
    • View Profile
    • dreamSTATE
Re: Computer went down - can't figure out what to buy
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2009, 07:12:37 AM »
Gosh darn... I sure love a happy ending.   :)