I wouldn't have much hesitation to buy a whiz-bang new desktop from Dell (budgeting about $1200-$1500), I simply would rather spend that (closer to $2K, actually) on a new laptop (which I intend to do before the end of the year).
Just remember that the price of a laptop is actually more expensive (as compared to a desktop) than you are probably figuring.
If you have a decent monitor etc, you can get a really good deal on a desktop, but deals are not as sweet for laptops (by this I do not mean the standard price difference, what I mean is that desktops can have certain bargains that laptops can't. for example buying without a monitor).
You imply there's a big difference between a P2 and a P3 (my interpretation is that there can't be that much difference between a 400 and a 500). I just wasn't aware of that (but of course, I'm not aware of a lot).
Oh, there's not a hige difference, p3 500 was a really good processor though. If it wern't I'd say a p3 800 would be my minimum.
But it's not just speed, it's everything else. You probably don't have a USB port and other small (but important) things.
I have only lately encountered slowness of foot in old Bess, so perhaps I should just euthanize her and get me a younger babe.
After hearing more about your use etc, I think this is a good idea.
She does most everything I want done at the moment, but if start taking digital pictures and burning them and storing them, I probably will discover new deficiencies.
DEFINITELY!! You really only need CPU power for graphics, if you start messing with digital photography you'll really appreciate the extra processing power.
Not to mention other things over the horizon.
Yeah, imagine if you got into gaming.. (the bigest resource hog).
why (do) you think a P3 at minimum would be better.
Mainly because I'd not replace the engine of a 30 year old car. That's an off teh cuff comparison, but that's the concept.
Secondly, you might have crucial limits past which you can't upgrade. For example, if you have an onboard graphics card you can't upgrade it without replacing the motherboard. and replacing the motherboard is pretty much buying a new puter.
Then you probably don;t have the right ports to use most accessories.
Lastly, even basic programs like IE are using more and more resources (software and hardware work together to up the ante, and even though there hasn't really been a killer app to drive us to really need the lastest processors just about all apps (applications, i.e. programs) will do far better on an 800, for example).
Since you can buy a used 800 (no monitor etc) for about what a decent memory upgrade etc would cost I think you are probably near the point at which it's simply not economical (dunno, it all depends on what kind of deals you are getting and i'm not the guy to ask about prices in the US).
Processor: 2.6 GHz or equivalent; Celeron, Pentium 4, Athlon
This is robust. You get more bang for your buck for the processors between 1 and 2.
Memory is the key for most things the average end user does. So this is the minimum amount of memory I recommend. Since memory is cheap it's always good to make sure you have plenty (I recommend at least 1 GB, but 512 is fine, you'll notice the difference but 512 is not slow).
Hard drives are expensive, but that's plenty. Thing is, harddrive is a very limiting limitation. ;-) Basically what I mean is that if you get into certain things (media related like movies and music) the space goes fast.
To compensate for a small hard drive you should have decent removable media options (e.g. CD-R).
I consider 20 GB the minimum I could function on. 40 is ok, and 80 is nice.
120 and such are really nice.
Removable storage: DVD-ROM, 48x8x48x CD-R/RW or DVD-RW
Going for the DVD-R can make a big difference. Each CD holds about 700 MB of data, DVDs hold more.
But CD-R is essential, DVD-R does both cds and DVDs but you can easily get by with having a CD-R instead of DVD-R.
Since the removable media price is also a factor CD-R can have advantages (cheaper disks).
Video: 64 MB Video RAM
Very good (assuming it's not shared and is not onboard, which it probably isn't).
You can play most
games out there on a setup like this.
Audio: 16-bit stereo speakers w/subwoofer
I never get the puter sound stuff, I usually just hook the puter up to a home theater system.
Monitor: 19-inch CRT, .25mm dot pitch or 17-inch LCD
Completely your call. I'd consider 17 the minimum I'd want but each inch makes a big big difference. Thing is, each inch is VERY expensive so this is entirely a money-related decision. You can save a lot by getting a smaller monitor so it depends on what you prefer.
Connectivity: 56K fax modem, 10/100 Ethernet port or 801.11b wireless
Wireless can be really fun. But more so for laptops than desktops.
Expandability: 2 PCI slots, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire
I'm not really in the know as to US prices but this looks like a really good deal to me.
The computer is a realatively high end one. If you want to save you get the most savings by getting a slighly slower processor, and then the rest of the savings is in the monitor (with the CD-r vs DVD-r being another).
Does it come with Windows? That's another big cost issue.