Computer Purchasing Help

If you have technical questions regarding computers, consoles, or the games we play on them, post them in here.
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Moot
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Computer Purchasing Help

Postby Moot » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:22 pm

Hello forum. My current computer is old and outdated, and I'm looking into buying a new one. I don't need anything extremely expensive or fancy, but I also don't want anything that won't support what I want to do with the computer.
I use a computer for five things, in no particular order: iTunes, surfing the web, Morrowind, Oblivion, and World of Warcraft.

The only thing I would love for my computer to be able to do is run WoW and Morrowind, or failing that, WoW and Oblivion. Not at the same time; I just need a computer that will run both decently. My current computer supports WoW (and only barely), but not Morrowind (and it's nowhere near able to run Oblivion).

The computer brand does not matter, and whether it is a laptop/desktop does not matter. But I am only interested in using a Windows OS, preferably XP (if they even sell computers that still use XP). Failing XP, Windows 7, because I dislike Vista on the whole.

If anyone could point me in the right direction as to what computer to look into, that would be great.
Also, if possible, I would like to spend no more than $1000.
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Tricky
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Postby Tricky » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:54 am

Note for future posters that Morrowind doesn't support multi CPU core processing. Any old 2-3 Ghz system will do, it will treat it as a single core no matter what. 2 Gigabytes of memory should be the bare minimum if this Morrowind installation is intended to run lots of mods. As for the graphics card, since Morrowind doesn't really utilize one, I am guessing any one will do considering everything supports directx 10 these days. It's just way more advanced than it needs to be, and Morrowind will barely use it.

I can recommend specs but unfortunately don't know anything about the current-day hardware market. I *think* it should be relatively easy (and cheap) these days to end up with a computer that can at least run Oblivion.

Moot, the one thing I plain forgot about in our earlier conversation are some of the 'extra' tools that some Morrowind mods may require. I don't run any of them, but you might be interested in certain mods that require these programs to run in the background. The Morrowind Script Extender and Scripted Spells are two of the major ones. Likewise the Morrowind Graphics Extender results in quite beautiful, Oblivion-like scenery, but requires a much beefier system. I do not know what kind of minimum specs to recommend for those types of mods, but check them out all the same. Maybe someone here has some experience running them.

I hope my pointers will be of use to others.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

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Postby moltovir » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:36 pm

the main question here is whether you want a prebuild system or one that you buy the components for and assemble yourself. I think you prefer the first option but I might be wrong. If you do want to assemble it yourself I can give some good recommendations.

For now I'd just recommend you to browse around on sites of well known computer manufacturers like Dell or HP. Some general guidelines:

-processor: any Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II should do
-memory: at least 2 GB, 3 or 4 is ideal (keep in mind that XP 32 bit cannot handle more than 3 GB of memory)
-graphics card: an AMD 56xx or better should be more than plenty

a system like that should be able to comfortably handle Oblivion on medium-high settings and shouldn't set you back more than $1000


for example, I went to the HP site and made a customized version of the cheapest "Hi Performance" line computer, the Pavilion Elite HPE-300z. I left the basic configuration unchanged (AMD quad-core processor, 6 GB of memory, 750GB hard disk) and added in an AMD HD5770. Total price was $750, including Windows 7.
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Postby Moot » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:13 am

I appreciate the replies.
I was also checking out the HP site and came up with this laptop:
Operating system:
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Processor:
AMD Phenom(TM) II Quad-Core Mobile Processor P920 (1.6GHz, 2MB L2 Cache)

Graphics card:
512MB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5470 switchable graphics [HDMI, VGA]

Memory:
6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)

Hard drive:
500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection

Primary battery:
6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (standard)

Display:
15.6" diagonal High Definition LED HP Brightview Display (1366x768)

Primary optical drive:
SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support

Networking:
Wireless 802.11b/g/n Card


Would something like this be acceptable, or should I change/upgrade?
The final price was about 780$, which is what I was expecting to pay, but once again, I don't mind if I need to bump it up.
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Postby Darth Gavinius » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:15 am

Just one warning... before you buy a HP laptop (good advice for any laptop) scour the tech forums and see if there are a lot of recurring problems. HP tech support is wank! Their overall QA is also a pile of wank!

But seriously if you want to run a lot of older XP games, then buy a system and set it up to Dual Boot XP and Vista/Win 7. XP might not be able to make the most of your hardware (XP 64-bit should), but running these programs on the OS they were designed for is a lot easier in long run than mucking about with .ini files or compatibility modes, or unofficial patches.

Note: I can get Morrowind to work fine on a Dell M1530, Intel Dual Core running Vista Home Premium... so if Windows 7 is as good as all they say, your laptop shouldn't have too many issues.
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Postby Tricky » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:38 am

Looks okay, except for a few things.

For the processor I would choose something better than 2Ghz at the very least. I ran Morrowind, modded, on a system that had exactly 2Ghz, and I at times wished I had a slightly faster CPU. Morrowind sends vasts amounts of scripting as well as graphical data all past the CPU instead of BOTH the CPU and the graphics card. And as I made clear on previous accounts, it doesn't matter how many cores the CPU has. Not for Morrowind.

On a more personal note, I agree very much on the previous comment about HP. The first HP laptop I ever bought kept falling apart and I had to send it in for repairs three or four times, during which I lost the laptop for weeks at a time. I was not a happy customer and didn't experience a lot of nice feedback about what was actually going on. HP should have stuck to building printers, it's just not a major, trusted laptop brand.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

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Postby Moot » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:58 am

Glad I checked back, thanks for the comments about HP. And, Tricky, I wrote down both what you and moltovir recommended; On the way to work I usually pass a Best Buy and I'm going to look at computers they offer as well. If I find anything I'll post it here, or if I don't I'll also look at other websites like Dell tonight.
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Postby dragon wench » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:00 am

I had a system built a couple of years ago that will meet your requirements quite well.. It's still going strong and runs everything beautifully, I play Oblivion and Morrowind (fully modded) on maximum settings, as well as The Witcher and Dragon Age.
Recently I replaced my 500 GB hard drive with a Terabyte and what was a very smooth machine has become even smoother.

[url="http://www.gamebanshee.com/forums/tech-support-32/likely-getting-new-machine-next-couple-months-advice-90445.html"]This[/url] is the thread I created when I had it built, I received a lot of good advice.
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Postby Moot » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:11 pm

Thanks DW, I'll look at the thread. :)

Also, I visited the Best Buy nearby and what the workers there recommended to me was the following laptop:

CPU:
Intel® Core™ i5-520M Processor 2.40 GHz 3M Intel Smart Cache PGA988

HDD:
320GB 7200RPM SATA300 Hard Drive

MOTHERBOARD:
Intel® PM55 Chipset Mainboard

MEMORY:
4GB (2GBx2) DDR3-1333 SODIMM Memory

VIDEO:
NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 1GB GDDR3 VRAM PCIe Video (NB-349-VC)


It's about 880$ and runs Windows 7. Also, Tricky, as you suggested, it's 2+ ghz.
One thing I like about this laptop is it comes with a mouse...I can't play games on those touchpads whatsoever. >_>
Suggestions or comments would be much appreciated, as usual.
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Postby Tricky » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:27 am

Looks good. What company manufactured it?
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

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Postby Moot » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:11 am

Actually, I believe it was something they were going to have custom-built and shipped in. Not really sure. I'll check back today, however, and get back to you.
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Postby kagemusha » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:31 am

Be careful about cooling systems on notebooks, they usually get fried if they don't have proper airflow or are being used in long periods of time.
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Postby Moot » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:29 pm

I see. Anything you'd recommend, specifically?
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Postby Merlanni » Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:19 am

A bit late for the discussion. Most likely you have made the purchase.

Get a notebook cooler stand with fan for the laptop. Most draw power from the usb so when you game with the laptop plugged int you have no battery loss.

It also means that you need at least 3 usb ports. One for a keyboard, one for a mouse and one for the coolerstand.

The top 4 brand here in Europe are: Asus, MSI, Toshiba and Samsung.