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Old May 25, 2010, 11:37 AM   #41
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A older system is supported by a older power supply and an older hard disk drive, neither of which should be expected to last as long as yours already have. And if the power supply fails, obtaining a replacement that isn't also nearing the end of its expected useful life will be tough.

Holding onto a system longer that 3-4 years just because it's worked ok so far, is not wise. The cost of recovering from a catastrophic failure, plus the cost of the down time, is much higher than acknowledging the inevitable obsolescence and buying a new computer before the old one fails.
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Old May 25, 2010, 11:56 AM   #42
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Actually, most of the Dell's with a P4 can use a standard ATX power supply. You can often pick one up with better specs than the cheaper ones Dell used for around $20 to $30.

Just make sure the connections are right (20 versus 24 pin, available SATA power connections if needed, etc.) if you don't want to use adapters, and make sure the one you pick will actually fit into the case without too much effort.

The motherboards are what's different about them (standard MBs won't fit into most Dell cases). But, you can often find used "bare bones" Dell systems (case, PSU, MB) for very little on Ebay. Ditto for refurbished motherboards, etc. That way, you can find one with the same MB you had to begin with, so that you can swap your drives, CPU, etc. to the new one and not have to reinstall Windows and programs from scratch (since the chipset would be the same on the replacement MB if it's the same model).
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Old May 25, 2010, 1:56 PM   #43
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Tcav, Why would the power supplies be dying so soon? The big box makers use the cheapest fans they can find so fan attrition I can see but not the supply itself. I am not trying to be a smart ass, it is a real question. The last brand name pc I bought was an IBM PS1 so I have no idea what you have to deal with in retail land.

Here is a recent data point on box makers and fans. Two machines ordered from the custom shop. Identical in every way except the purchasing agent forgot to include the extended warranty on the second machine. The extended warranty machine had upgraded ball bearing fans. This would be the easiest way to put a short service life on something like a power supply. Start with a supply that is borderline to begin with so it runs hotter than it should and when the sleeve bearing fan fails right when it is supposed to there it goes. This is something that should never happen but it does, and all to often.

The company where I gained my introduction to PC's always said we built our own machines out of self defense and from what you are saying it is as true now as it was back in the mid 80's. Probably more so.

My file server is an old D865 in a PC Power and Cooling case with their 500 watt power supply. The case and supply had been in service prior to the D865 upgrade. (if I remember correctly that case came to us and was built up as a 133 mhz P-1 Pentium) When it left workstation service I cleaned it well and replaced all of the fans with top of the line ball bearing units and has now been in service for almost 15 years with no current plans of replacing it.

We design with the upgrades in mind so I will always go there first but with the kind of hardware you are dealing with I can see your point.

Steve
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Old May 25, 2010, 9:01 PM   #44
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Steve,

I have a Dimension 8300 Pentium 4, 3.0 ghz processor. It has a separate (not onboard) Nvidia graphics card. It came with 1 gig of memory and I added another gig about a year ago, which actually didn't really change too much in the way of speed. I've also added an additional 250GB hard drive (to the original 250GB) and have set up one primarily for the operating system (so there is plenty of empty space on it) and the other for data (but my data drive is almost full).

I appreciate your offer, but there really isn't much I would be interested in doing to it at this point. I've run registry cleaners and defragged, etc. and I clean it out periodically to make sure there isn't too much dust building up. Honestly, it runs amazingly well and quick given its age (knocking on wood). I don't really have many complaints except it takes a while to open programs and is slow for some of the somewhat more resource intensive programs. I probably don't even know what I've been missing, because things get slower so gradually. I think its just time for a replacement. My wife has a 3 year old Dell running XP (she uses it pretty much for e-mail and internet and an occasional letter, so I'm not really worried about her losing any data), and d I have a Dell laptop with Vista on it that was issued from work for work-related things. It really may be time to give a Mac a try and see for myself if I like it as much as some others do.

Tcav, I see your point about waiting too long to replace a system, and I think I've generally been fortunate with my systems. But, I don't take chances and I have an external hard drive that I back up to. I had one hard drive crash on this system a while back and was quite pleased to have everything I needed to get up and running again.
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Old May 26, 2010, 2:45 AM   #45
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Quote:
I have a Dimension 8300 Pentium 4, 3.0 ghz processor....
I've still got one of those (Dimension 8300, 3Ghz P4 "Prescott" CPU with 1MB L2 Cache, Nvidia FX5200). It doesn't get used much anymore, but it still works fine. I've got XP Pro + multiple Linux distros on it in a multi-boot config. I've got 3 hard drives in it now (2 SATA and 1 IDE)

I bought mine in 2004 from Dell Outlet in refurbished condition for a bargain price after using coupon codes for more off. I've added memory and upgraded drives (I've got 2 SATA and 1 IDE in it now). But, it's still the same basic box with the original MB and PSU in it. Here's an old post about it:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ge...tml#post190284
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Old May 26, 2010, 5:32 AM   #46
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Most people don't clean their PCs. Most people that do clean their PCs do it wrong. I commend all of you that have gotten a PC power supply to last 10 years or more. But let's face it: A conventional PC power supply costs $40 (if that!) What, exactly have you saved? How much did it cost you to clean your old one? And there are other things in a power supply that fail besides the fan, and the likelyhood that each of them will fail increases as time progresses, and even the best cleaning can't prevent or even delay the inevitable.

And PC power supplies are just one component of a PC that will fail over time, many of which even the best cleaning won't prevent.

Getting a PC to last longer than 3 or 4 years is not a significant achievement. Getting a PC to last longer that 6 or 8 years is. But the longer you wait to replace it, the more expensive and difficult it will be to repair or even replace it.

If you're a PC Hobbyist, have a ball. I'm a PC professional. Replacing a PC before it fails, means you can replace it at your leisure, on your schedule, and it will be less expensive than waiting for it to fail and having to recover from a catastrophy.

In fact, I recommend that my clients lease their computers instead of buying them. That way, when the lease expires, they must replace them. And they'll replace them with something that's bigger, better and faster, and all for the same low monthly lease payment.
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Old May 26, 2010, 1:59 PM   #47
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Jazzer251. I owe you an apology. I derailed your thread and did not intend to when I first offered parts if you had a need.

I bought a Macbook for my father a few years back thinking it would be easier for him and he loved the thing. My daughter in law has it now and it seems to be running fine with no issues.


Tcav I was not trying to ruffle your feathers either. You have been quite helpful to me with my Nooby DSLR questions. I too am a professional and while I agree with what you have written here it is not how we do things in the ship building business.

We plan the service life of our control systems to average 15-20 years.

I have been doing this kind of work for going on 18 years and we have had one hardware failure of a "not scheduled for service" part and that one was due to environmental damage. The new system layout is completed if the company decides to update (in maybe a quarter of the rack space as the old one) and we worked with our normal service life in mind.

We have scheduled service and do replace and or update items like hard drives but never things like power supplies. I know there are supplies out there in the $40.00 price range but they are wholly unacceptable in this line of work. 20 year parts are out there but they are expensive and they don't come from companies that let the book keepers drive engineering.

Again I am sorry for the derail

Steve
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Old May 26, 2010, 2:35 PM   #48
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I spent 9 years in the US Navy; I've seen what salt can do, especially to electronics. I understand and appreciate the extra precautions and additional requirements you use.
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Old May 26, 2010, 4:00 PM   #49
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Steve,

absolutely no apology necessary. These threads often take little side trips and I sometimes learn just as much if not more for the digressions as I do from the original question.

Thanks very much for you input and I do appreciate your offer to help out.

--Larry

On a note back on the original topic -- I'm still not sure what I am going to do, but should I decide to go the Apple route and am looking at an iMac, are there any suggestions as to what processor/level I should consider from a price/performance perspective?
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Old May 26, 2010, 5:30 PM   #50
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The cheapest way to increase performance is to invest in more RAM. It means there will be less swapping of applications and data to virtual memory. Spend your money there first.
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