Computer suggestions...

Discussion in 'General Computing' started by ErikG, Oct 5, 2003.

  1. ErikG
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Stockholm, Sweden

    ErikG Senior Member

    As a long time Mac user I'm now going to ge my first proper PC.

    So what to think about?
    It's going to be used to run Rhino, Prosurf/MaxSurf.
    The faster the batter as always but...

    Do I have to use a P4 or could I get away with an AMD (cheaper)
    What's the best OS to run? 2000 or XP (home) or XP pro and why?
    CRT or TFT display? Better to get two CRT's rather than one TFT?
    Suitable videocard for two monitors.

    Anything else I need to think about?

    Please try to keep the suggestions to the low end side as I have a very limited budget...

    ErikG
     
  2. Jeff
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Jeff Moderator

    I can't really comment about AMD vs. Intel because I've simply taken the 'easy way out' and stuck with Intel over years after my initial experience with AMD was tainted by their horrible AMD K6 CPU's. If I had started with an Athlon my decisions since then might very well be different.

    I just finished building a dual Xeon 3.06 with 3 GB ECC DDR Ram on a Supermicro X5DA8 Motherboard on Sunday. As part of my switch I had to change from Windows 2000 Pro which I found to be very very stable and consistent to XP Pro (to take advantage of hyperthreading on the dual Xeons).

    I like the looks of XP and some of the features are nice and handy (little things like built in support for my usb card reader, better folder thumbnail display, little things like that.) At the same time XP has wasted a lot more of my time troubleshooting in the past few days than I spent troubleshooting Windows 2000 having used it for nearly three years. First there was a glitch with no spell checker in Outlook Express even though it was a clean install of Office and XP. After three hours of searching I found one file needed to be relocated. Then the next day installing a printer driver ended up disabling the video driver the next bootup which took 6 hours to track down. The restore point feature in XP is a life saver, but it also seems much easier to corrupt XP than Windows 2000 was, especially in terms of drivers (which is weird because I thought this was going to be one of the strengths of XP… certain not so in my experience.)

    Hopefully the road will be smoother from here forward with XP though. I’m committed to it, so I hope so.

    CRT vs. LCD – definitely a flat screen. I finally went with a DVI digital connection to my two-year old Viewsonic VG181 and the display is really sharp compared to the trinitron on the computer next to me…. It seems a little easier on my eyes too when I use it for 12 hours without a break ;)

    I just installed a 3D Labs wildcat 560 which I got for $134 and I'm pretty happy with it so far - I haven’t tried it’s dual display feature though because I’m one monitor short and I’ve spent my upgrade budget for a little while :) I have my eye on a second 18" flatscreen though and am watching pricewatch for a deal to come up. I guess a while back Dell had a special on an 18" flatscreen for $350 but I missed it.

    Errr... oops. I've never been good at staying on a budget when it comes to computers. I meant to go with 2.4's for example because that's where the price point is, but at the last moment somehow I ended up getting 3.06's.

    It will be interesting to see what Intels' upcoming 3.2 and 3.4 (?) Ghz 'extreme' P4's with their huge 2 MB cache are like in both performance and price and what happens to the pricing on the normal P4's - it seems like a bump in the pricepoint will finally be coming. Maybe I can take credit for it since it seems everytime I upgrade as soon as I get my software installed a price drop occurs.
     
  3. ErikG
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Stockholm, Sweden

    ErikG Senior Member

    Hmmm

    Well thanks Jeff, as an old mac user I'm sure I will get dumbstruck now and again, when migrating to the PC. I've never ever had any serious compability problems on any of my mac's, (Mac user since -86) so I'm sure I'll learn the hard way .-)

    And since I'm still very fond of computers with at least a bit of style and pefer them to not be the dominatin furniture in my drawingstudio I was thinking abou this:

    115644 - Shuttle SN41G2 Barebone PC Socket A - nForce2, LYD, AGP, EEE1394, USB2.0
    * 113082 - AMD Athlon XP2400+ 2.0 GHz 266 MHz bus - Socket A (Thoroughbred) processor
    * 111362 - Crucial PC2700 DDR-DIMM 256MB CL2.5 - Memory 184-P (för DDR-PC333MHz) (AMD OK)
    * 113647 - Maxtor IDE ATA-133 80GB 7200RPM - DiamondMax Plus 9
    * 119229 - LG CD-burner IDE 52x/24x/52x - Svart, Internal Retail
    * 100727 - Sony Diskettstation 3,5" 1,44MB MPF-920 - Floppydisk Internal

    I do realize that built in video witn nForce 2 might not be the best video solution out there, but the box looks kind of nice, has a low price (750$ US) and again it wont cost me an arm and a leg.
    It does NOT support two monitors which might be a bummer...

    Any comments?
     
  4. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Well, I'll have to let someone else reply because I can't comment too intelligently on that. I've always disliked 'tiny' cases because it's so much more difficult to upgrade them. Then again my computer room sounds like an airplane from all the fan noise.... I've been trying to talk myself into a laptop but with no success yet.

    The only thing that I object to on the list above is that you should get 512 MB or more of Ram. 256 is too little for Windows 2000 or XP and memory is pretty cheap now. 512 is the minimum I would consider for any kind of design/graphics box.
     
  5. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Hopefully just a few days of bad luck for me and XP. Over the last three years with 2000 I haven't had any problems at all, so I was surprised that my initial XP install was so rocky. Then again the major problem was with one specific driver, and that was probably just a fluke. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it.
     
  6. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: Jamestown, RI, USA

    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Quote:
    Hopefully just a few days of bad luck for me and XP. Over the last three years with 2000 I haven't had any problems at all, so I was surprised that my initial XP install was so rocky.

    I knew there was a reason I was still using Win98! ;-)
    Current box (home office) is an old Gateway with a Pentium 500, with a 64Meg GeForce, 512Meg of RAM, on a Dell P1110 monitor (21" 1600x1200).
    Ofiice office machine is a Dell P4 1MHz box wirth simliar spec and monitor.
    So far, I have little to complain about on the machinery end. They may be a little slow when rendering a 100Mb Rhino file, but they are happy to run all night if need be ;-))

    Steve "Luddite" Baker
     
  7. Andrew Mason
    Joined: Mar 2003
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    Andrew Mason Senior Member

    Erik

    I can recommend the Shuttle boxes, we have a Shuttle SS51 and it has run faultlessly for the past 12 months. We use it for trade shows and product demos because it is so portable. It has proven to be a robust piece of hardware considering the large amount of travel it has been subjected to.

    We run it with a high performance graphics card (a 3DLabs Wildcat 870) which has a dual monitor option, so you don't have to use the onboard graphics.
     
  8. ErikG
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Stockholm, Sweden

    ErikG Senior Member

    Andrew...

    thanks for the answer. Some more questions for you...

    What's the best OS to run? I've run the MaxSurf Demo (and will run the real deal when I can afford it, great sw) and ProSurf on win 98 together with Rhino. What modern OS do you recommend, does it matter?
    XP or 2000?

    Erik
     
  9. Andrew Mason
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    Location: Perth, Western Australia

    Andrew Mason Senior Member

    Erik

    Definitely don't mess with anything but 2000 or XP, the rest are unreliable junk. I have personally switched my machines to XP and have had no problems, but I used 2K for a long time before that and was equally happy, so it is pretty much personal preference.
     
  10. edneu
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: Florida

    edneu Junior Member

    I would definately stick with the Intel Pentium 4 chips if you are using Autocad. I would get XP professional or Win 2000 professional. Any of these will seem a bit Luddite after your Mac OS. Get as much Ram and Video RAM as you can, Try to get some kind of Open GL Video board. Then you will be happy.
     
  11. ErikG
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    ErikG Senior Member

    What does Luddite mean? I think I know what you men but I don't know the word...

    Why stick to P€'s for autocad? I have an old version lying somewhere...

    Erik
     
  12. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    A Luddite is someone who follows the thinking (well, what passed for thinking) of one Mr. Ludd, who made a practice of breaking up machinery in the Industrial Revolution on the basis that it was all the invention of the Devil.
    Hence, if you don't like "progress", and prefer to do things the old fashioned way, you are a Luddite.
    ;-)
     
  13. duluthboats
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    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    Steve,

    I wonder what Mr. Ludd would think if he saw you sitting in front of your PC, and communicating with people half way around the world. :eek:

    I have a Dell P4, XP home, 40G hard. 512 Ram, and no graphics card. I had no trouble until I installed R3. Now I have an occasional crash. I will assign the blame to myself for now. The lack of a card has really made my large models spotty when I revolve in rendered mode. Otherwise I’m not sure how much difference it makes.

    Gary :D
     
  14. ErikG
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Stockholm, Sweden

    ErikG Senior Member

    Well, since even Andrew thinks the Shuttle is ok for this I think that wil be my computer of choice. I'll ad a better graphics card when I can afford it.

    When will Jeff add an automatic spellchecker to the forum you think?

    I certainly need one :)

    ErikG
    :D
     

  15. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Gry,
    I hope Mr. Ludd is past caring about sh*t like that!
    The lack of a good video card is a pain. My Dell has only got a 16Mb card, and that is why I prefer the slower machine (well, that and the fact that I have time for a cup of coffee or a 4-course meal now and again ;-))
     
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