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Old Jan 24, 2006, 3:34 PM   #11
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Dual Core processors are not a must unless you are going to do some serious processing, and it would be more advantageous to get a high end single core processor so you can get other stuff like more hard drive space, more RAM, better video card, etc. I reccommend the AMD Athlon64 for single core, and the X2 for dual core. I build my own computers, but have owned many HPs over the years and never had a problem with them, except their support, though their service is good. Dell lacks in quality, service, and support compared to HP IMHO, but others will disagree. They also don't offer AMD.

I would get something like the d4100e customized as such:

Operating System Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Home Edition
Processor AMD Athlon(TM) 64 3400+ (2.2GHz / 512KB L2 cache)
Memory SAVE $60! 2GB DDR-400MHz SDRAM (2x1024)
Hard Drive 250GB 7200 rpm SATA Hard Drive
Primary CD/DVD Drive FREE UPGRADE from CD-RW to 16X DVD+/-R/RW
Front Productivity Ports 9-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB 2.0, 1 IEEE 1394
Removable Storage 3.5 in. 1.44MB Floppy Drive
Graphics Card 256MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce FX 6800, TV-Out and DVI ports
Keyboard and Mouse HP Multimedia Keyboard, HP Optical Mouse
Productivity Software Microsoft(R) Works 8.0/Money 2006/MSN Encarta Plus

If it is too pricey, you could switch to 1GB of RAM which will save $120, or get the cheapest 6200se video card now, then upgrade later, which will save $200, and even more in the long run. This does not include speakers, or monitor, so you'll have to add them if you want. Going to dual core was a $180 more. WindowsXP Pro is not really nessiasry unless you need remote desktop or other advanced networking features.

There is a cheaper HP model which you could customize with similar parts for a little less, but the quality of the motherboard, Power supply, and case are less, so I'd go with this one for the quality. Good luck with your search!
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Old Jan 24, 2006, 3:58 PM   #12
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Hmm, in the UK the Dell Business support is still done out of Ireland, but the Home computers support is out of India.

Perhaps that's why I still find it to be a good choice in the UK, we deal with Ireland all the time.

I must also say that even with Indian support I don't generally find it difficult to understand the accent (perhaps living in West London I just have much greater exposure than folks in the US) and I regard calling tech support as just a 30 minute set of hoops I have to jump through to convince them to send a technician out onsite.
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Old Jan 24, 2006, 6:19 PM   #13
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I think buying locally is the best way to go. You have more options and the service is likely to be better than any of the online dealers. At WORST, the local guy goes out of business and you have to take it in to a different local shop and pay for a repair. Avoiding bad customer service is worth paying a little for IMHO. Just stick with name brand components and the parts usually have some sort of warranty as well. Make sure you see the computer running and take it for a little test drive while it is still in the shop. This will virtually eliminate the possibility of the dreaded DOA computer!

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Old Jan 25, 2006, 3:51 AM   #14
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It all matters what you want. Any new PC will run CS2, Hell my dads 2.0Ghz celeron with 256megs or ram runs CS2 some filters take a few seconds to render but as long as the files stay under 25megs its all good.

Now on the other had if I was to use his PC for my photos I would have died with just 1 monitor. The basics things are any current P4 or Athlon will run CS2, ~1GB ram is plenty, and you can never have enough hard drive space. DVD+/-RW drives are at most a $50 upgrade if they are more than that buy it off newegg. Also look for a graphic card with 2 DVI/RGB outs so you can run dual monitors its nice to buy one cheap and one nice one that is color profiled.

The most important part is service with Dell/HP or any other big direct vendor you get a lot of options that home brew places cant offer, you can get all you updated drives, product documation, software updates, and any other info off 1 site, multi year on site coverage plans, other things that I cant remember, and most importantly peace of mind they will be there in 4 years.
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Old Jan 25, 2006, 5:54 AM   #15
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I think buying locally is the best way to go.
I think there is a great deal to be said for this.

If you do have a local store that seems trustworthy (and talking to them for just a few minutes should give you a pretty good idea) then even if they cost slightly more there is a lot of peace of mind to be had from the fact that you can just go down the road to get it fixed.

My most recent desktop system was bought this way.
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