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Gateway desktops? Or other brands?


Amethyst
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My Dad is finally looking at turning in the 9 year old Dell (with a few parts newer than that! :( ) and buying a new desktop computer. I think he'll want something that's a good product and doesn't need a lot of fussing around. He likes to use a flight simulator software on it, but otherwise doesn't run much for games. He has a lot of pictures stored, and he likes to watch WMP videos. He does some stuff with MS Word documents, e-mailing, and online browsing. I got looking around and I see some stores are selling Gateway computers. I've had my HP for 4 years now, and it's not bad, but the CD writer went on the fritz about a year ago (and I've read that the particular writer in question is not of the greatest quality) and I've replaced the PSU twice. However, here in Canada it's pretty easy to get HP's serviced and tech support was pretty good. I've kind of shied away from Acer's, although one sales person said they were good. I was going to advise HP, but then I see the writeups on these Gateways, and they look pretty good, too. (My goodness, 8 GB of RAM???? My son only has 4 GB on his new Alienware laptop and I thought THAT was a power machine. And I don't even want to talk about my teeny little 1 GB :( And then there are the 1 T hard drives. My HP desktop might have to accidentally take a tumble off the desk...hehe!)

So does anyone know if a Gateway would be a decent purchase? Or if Acer's are better than I think they are?

P.S. He'll want one that's all put together, not a custom build, I suspect.

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I don't really have specific models just yet. He was asking what I would thought and I gave him a bit of general advice, which included advice to get more than he currently thinks he'll need. I would like to see him with a good processor, a good video card with dedicated memory, lots of RAM, and a nice big hard drive wouldn't hurt. He may not think he needs 1 T (and he probably won't), but it's nice to not have to worry about the amount of space left on your HD. Quality hardware, good support, warranty, and something that can be locally serviced. I'm not sure at this point how much money he wants to spend either.

When I first got into computers, I got the impression that HP wasn't viewed too favorably, but I can see how the company has expanded. Maybe the most common complaint now is re all the extra HP stuff that comes preinstalled. :( I hadn't seen anything by Gateway sold anywhere, but now those are popping up in the stores. The library I used to work in had a Gateway donated by Bill and Melinda Gates, and I think it's been there for at least 6 years that I know of--could even be more like 8 years now--and it's still ticking right along, although it's not on the internet anymore. I don't think it's ever needed any hardware work. But it's just used by the little kids for the preinstalled games now.

The town my Dad lives in just had someone set up shop who sells and services Dell machines, so maybe he'll look at that as well.

Was there anything specific you didn't like about Gateway and Acer? (I don't know why I have this idea that Acer might not be of the best quality, maybe I'm wrong about that.)

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OK, here are a couple of items:

http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetai...1761&catid=

http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetai...4698&catid=

That HP is probably more than he needs, but I would think he would want good graphics, processor, and RAM to run that flight simulator. I wish HP would kind of spiff up the appearance a bit. The Gateway looks sleek, the HP is just a box, but I realize that's just cosmetics and personal taste. :) I don't know if Dad was thinking of spending that much, but in '05 he put $500 into his old Dell to get the graphics fixed up, and he has replaced the hard drive twice. I mean, at that point, one may as well look at a new system. (These are Canadian prices--we pay more for this stuff than Americans do. But I suspect the purchase will be made in a Future Stop store, as next week my parents will be visiting a city that has a Future Shop. I just don't want someone trying to unload something on him that is on its way out already.)

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Just chiming in with my thoughts here - I've always liked Acer :) Our first desktop was an Acer, and my family's current computer is an Acer too.

Edit: I remember using Gateway in school I liked them pretty well, but I can't really remember any specifics about performance and such.

I can tell you I don't much like Dell though :)

Other than that I am afraid I can't be of much help, as I don't know too much about these things yet and I don't know too well what brands are better than others for specific programs/needs etc...

As for the RAM, wow! Our Dell has just 512 mb of ram :) lol. I wish it was bigger!

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I had thought the 1 GB of Ram was good on our desktop, and then my son started browsing a lot. He would leave about 8 or so Firefox pages open and with YouTube videos loaded on several of them. I happened to notice then that Firefox was using a LOT of memory and that the memory for System (in Task manager) was down from an average of 78,000- 80,000 kb to something like 6,000 or less. Firefox was consuming 300+ MB of memory at that point. And after compacting OE, one time our System had 6 kb of memory listed next to it. The computer is barely usable at that point. And it doesn't recover on its own either, a reboot is the only remedy. My son has 4 GB on his laptop (Dell, Alienware), and he told me today he could have chosen 8 GB but it would have added a lot to the price. (Ram must have gone up quite a bit since I last bought a stick of it! Although I think back then I maybe purchase in the MB size rather than GB size...)

I don't know much about processors either, as in what is a good processor.

I know my Dad, though, and when he buys something, he wants it to last a very long time. It's a big stretch for him to finally spring for something new, but I'm glad he's going this route. He's finding his system frustratingly slow, but I think he's only got 256 MB of Ram on it (I think that's what he said, it was a figure that I knew was just impossibly low, anyway) and he runs a lot of stuff, so it's no wonder he's finding it sluggish.

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My PC was originally a Gateway and lasted years before I finally did so many modifications that it can no longer be called a Gateway (upgrades to the majority of components :) ). None of the actual Gateway parts ever failed, I'm just heavy into modification and upgrading :) . I can't say that there's any real consistency with one brand being better than another, what you have to do is know your hardware and look at the internal components being used, which you can usually get from the manufacturer's documentation on the product as well as the listings for replacement parts on their support site (this will give you model numbers of individual components, such as the motherboard).

It's not the name on the outside that makes the difference, with computers, it really is what's inside that counts :) .

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What's become important to me over the years is warranty, tech support, and online support. When I was looking into HP, it looked like there was plenty of information available online about components and ways to update drivers and so on. I hadn't looked into Gateway at all because at that time, they simply weren't being sold around here. I wanted to have a system I could get warranty work on locally as well. It'll be interesting to see what he ends up with anyway. I was most impressed with my recent warranty experience with my Lenovo laptop (filled out a form online, had a tech phoning me 30 minutes later and the required part was shipped right away), but no one around here sells IBM products.

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My concern isn't warranty work so much, but I see where you're coming from. My concern is that if the particular model in question should use a board that's known to contain a faulty component, should said component fail, the warranty service would only replace the board with one that is identical for the sake of compatibility and consistency with what I originally purchased, meaning the replacement board also contains the faulty component and eventually the warranty will run out, and once it does there's nothing to be done once the new board containing the same faulty component fails again (I'm speaking from experience having been a PC tech for years who performed warranty repairs for some of the major PC manufacturers via a retail chain).

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