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The difference between a good and low-end computers... (22/03/2009 09:20:40 PM)

In the last few months, it has become increasingly obvious that those buying low-end computers thinking they are high-end is becoming an epidemic. Some of you have asked for advice particularly in the last few weeks, and get quite upset when I bag out a sub-$1000 PC. This isn't because the PC is bad, but if the same thing was to apply to cars - a small Toyota Corolla no matter how suited to the task, is not as powerful as a Ford Falcon GT.

So, as a reference - here are my guidelines for what is a Budget (Low End / *crap*), Don't Bother (Mid-Range / *good*) and Awesome (High-End / *fantastic*).

Budget (Low End):

Anyone who has spent less than ~$1,000 (or ~$1,500 on a Laptop) is probably in this category. Typical traits here are:

  • 3GB of RAM or Less (i.e. 32-bit)
  • 512MB 8600GT / 9600GT / HD3650 / HD4650 or Less
  • Any AIO Motherboard where Onboard Sound / Video / LAN is used
  • Any Dual Core Processor (or Dual Core less than T7000 in Laptops)
  • Anything less than 22" Full HD LCD
  • Cheap case / PSU Combination

These computers are not bad - but it must be understood they are low-end hardware. That is; if you are the user of one of these systems, you can expect a useful life of approximately 1-2 years after which you will have upgraded at least one component for it to remain useful.

Particularly useful for those in an office situation, or someone who has low, but a regular source of income. They will (if brought today) run today's applications - but you must expect that some tweaking may be necessary.

Don't Bother (Mid-Range):

Mid-Range is probably where you will find families buying into, or those who get easily wow'd into cool technologies. These computers don't see a terribly large improvement over Budget PC's, but are obviously quicker and can last on average, an extra year longer without an upgrade.

The reason I say Don't Bother is because lets face it. You don't get that much more over a Budget PC (you may get a Quad Core, better RAM, extra FPS out of games because you have 2 Video Cards), but if you can still live with mediocre settings in games, or tweak - then you may as well tweak the entire application.

Computers in this category are:

  • 4GB of RAM
  • PC: 2 x 1024MB 8800GT / 9800GT / HD4850 / HD3850
  • Laptop: 1 x 512MB 8600GT / 9600GT / HD4650 / HD3650)
  • Dedicated Sound Card
  • Quad Core Processor (Triple Core AMD)
  • Anything between 22" - 24" LCD (Full HD)
  • Proper Case / PSU (spend at least $150 here!)

The cost is remarkably high compared to a Budget PC (i.e. ~$1,000 - ~$2,000 for a PC, ~$1,500 to ~$3,000 for a Laptop).

Awesome (High End):

Awesome computers are just that - very expensive, very powerful and will last a good 3-5 years before a real need arises to upgrade hardware (doing so is more-or-less a case of I want the newest technology). They have ridiculous specifications for you to really get the most out of a computer.

Computers in this category have:

  • +4GB of RAM
  • 2 x 1GB GTX260 / HD4870 / Other high end cards > $500 each
  • Expensive processor (such as the Core i7)
  • Dedicated Sound Card
  • Proper Case / PSU (A good $200+ here)
  • 2 x 24" LED LCD's

These are expensive. Real Expensive. Back in 2005, we had Pentium-D's and Extreme CPU's. The extreme's had 1066Mhz FSB's and the 7900GTX's were around ready for SLI. One that I know of with such a setup has no intentions of upgrading yet - and lets face it - it kick's my current PC's ass (even with it's 8GB RAM and HD4850!).

____________________

So yeah - don't go thinking your computer is awesome when it clearly isn't! My stuff certainly isn't awesome and never will be. But come on guys! There's absolutely nothing awesome about low end or mid range hardware. If it works, then good for you.

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