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Computer shopping.

 
 
roger
 
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2005 09:40 pm
I'm in the market for a new computer at work. I'm told it will be loaded with XP Professional. About all I run on computers is Peachtree Accounting, Excel, and Freecell, and of course, play internet when no one is looking.

Some of the quarterly and annual tax reports are excruciatingly slow. Would this indicate I need more processor speed, or a faster hard drive? My top priority is reliablity. I've had to manually recover lost data after program and computer failures. It just ruins my day(s). I'm interested in general brand recommendations, and am giving thought to having one put together locally. Simply from the standpoint of office compatibility, Mac is not an option. I am giving consideration to a locally assembled computer from the outfit that has provided some top notch support in the past. I at least assume their generic product is up to the same standards.

I'm more looking for a general sense of direction, so please don't anyone spend more time researching this than I plan to, which isn't much. To give you an idea of how excited I am about this, I haven't even checked to see what my current processor speed and hard disk capacity are on the present machine. I think my budget is going to be somewhere between $800.00 and $1,500.00.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 789 • Replies: 12
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2005 10:12 pm
Re: Computer shopping.
roger wrote:
About all I run on computers is Peachtree Accounting, Excel, and Freecell, and of course, play internet when no one is looking.

Some of the quarterly and annual tax reports are excruciatingly slow. Would this indicate I need more processor speed, or a faster hard drive?


Speed is usually first limited by RAM and CPU, a fast hard drive usually only makes a difference for a small subset of computer use.

CPU usually makes the biggest difference for intense computing, especially graphics and video games and video editing rely heavily on the CPU.

RAM makes more of a difference with office work and multitasking and due to the big difference in price between CPU and RAM is almost always the clear leader in bang for buck.

I don't know the accounting program you use, but the others could use RAM more so than CPU.

Let me expound just a little on that. A 3.0 to a 3.8 on 512 MB of RAM isn't going to make as much of a difference as 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM on a 3.0 box.

The CPU upgrade would also be much more expensive.


Quote:
My top priority is reliablity. I've had to manually recover lost data after program and computer failures. It just ruins my day(s).


Software issues aren't a hardware problem, but do note that frankenstein computers often have more hardware and software (e.g. driver) conflicts than do computers from companies like Dell et al.

Quote:
I think my budget is going to be somewhere between $800.00 and $1,500.00.


I'd go for 3.0+ in processor and at least 1 GB of RAM in this configuration. A decent video card will also help a lot.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2005 10:50 pm
Okay, I'll go for all the ram they'll let me have, and forget about the local guys.

Would a video card really be an important consideration in what is basically an accounting machine? I'm using Peachtree complete accounting, by the way - the 2005 release.

Thanks for the insights.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 10:01 am
Having a high end video card can be very helpful for high end graphics. You probably don't need this.

However, no graphics card means your RAM is used for the graphics, so a basic video card frees up your RAM for other things.

It's not nearly as important of a consideration as RAM, but is another component in overall performance.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 12:48 pm
Got it.
0 Replies
 
timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 01:52 pm
I agree w/ everything CdK said here - in your situation, Rog, I'd go for somethin' like a Dell with a 3GHz or better Pentium processor, at least a Gig of RAM (I'm pretty sure its all at least PC2700 DDR from Dell now - haven't checked, but I think it is, and that's very capable RAM). A moderately good video card - 64MB or better - will leave the Pentium free to concentrate on other things, while providin' more than adequate video performance for anything other than intensive gamin' or graphics manipulation. A 7200 RPM hard drive, if available, could be of speed benefit when manipulatin' large datebases - but mebbe not so much as a human might be real likely to notice. A 2-hard drive configuration is a splendid idea for any machine, particularly one used for business-critical stuff. Keep your Windows and applications on one drive, output your work to the other - and be diligent about backups of your stored data. A dual-Layer DVD burner is a real boon for backups.

"Course, that's just my take. Oh, and I just mentioned Dell as an example - there are plenty of good makes out there. Even some frankenboxes can be great, but there the proposition becomes notably more iffy. I've generally been pretty satisfied with Dell's buil;d quality, quality control, and tech support. One other thing, prolly unnecessary to mention, but pretty don't have a damned thing to do with either function or reliability.
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 02:44 pm
Quote:
pretty don't have a damned thing to do with either function or reliability.



But if it's "pretty" you at least have something to look at while you sit on hold waiting for tech support to tell you why your computer doesn't work.

Great advice here so far.

You didn't mention if you were getting a new monitor or not. If not then you should get a very nice machine for your $$. Consider SATA hard drives. (Serial ATA) They are a little faster and it should keep you up with technology when you want to upgrade drives in a couple of years. No need to spend the extra money for 10,000 rpm drives. I think 7200 drive is pretty standard now and no more expensive than the 5400.

Make sure there is room for RAM upgrade. I think most decent boards come with 3 gig max. Make sure your memory is matched properly so you use it at its fastest speed. I don't recall the details exactly but I think you need 2 identical chips for it to interleave properly. Some cheapo box makers will give you one chip or unmatched chips so you don't use it efficiently. Timber or Craven might know more about it than I do.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 02:52 pm
Ah, but your take was exactly what I was soliciting. Two hard drive configuration, hmmm? I'll look into that, and if it takes more of the boss's cash than my technical expertise, I'll see if it fits into the budget.

I do daily backups. I've had several experiences of having to re enter date by hand, which isn't bad of itself. The real problem is determining what needs to be put in since the last backup. Checks, invoices, and payroll are easily determined. General journal entries are not so obvious.

Thanks for the help.
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 03:12 pm
you might also want an external harddrive for your back-ups
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 03:24 pm
Not on my desk, I wouldn't. I'm backing up to CD, and the monday backup is stored offsite. I'm a lot more worried about a crash and data loss than a disk destroying fire, but that decision was made way above my pay grade.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2005 10:55 pm
Data loss can be the result of a variety of things.

If your data loss is due to software, there's not much that the hardware can do to prevent it other than basic stability and ample system resources.

In these scenarios a software malfunction can cause the data to be improperly saved or not saved at all due to a software error.

Not much can be done in the computer purchase to avoid this except to ensure ample system resources (i.e. RAM, CPU).

Another common way data is lost is due to hardware failure of the storage medium itself (e.g. a hard drive).

Routine failure can be dealt with with a RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) setup, in which data is written to two separate hard drives allowing for failure of one of them without data loss.

This is a good safeguard for a hard drive malfunction but not a good safeguard against a disaster, as that is likely to take out both drives.

The last and most common cause for data loss is human error. A RAID array won't protect much against this. If you, say, delete all your files it will be deleted on all the RAID disks.

To protect against this kind of error you need incremental backup (i.e. the CD backup) that allows you to rollback your dataset.

So the primary consideration you can make in this computer purchase to address data loss is aquiring a computer with RAID. But note that it will not protect against some of the common data loss types I mentioned.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Apr, 2005 07:33 am
Thanks, parados, I'll check out that SATA drive (which I never heard of till now), and no, the old, but very thin monitor stays until it fails. That thing gives me 9" of desk space right in front of the monitor, which is right where I need it most.
0 Replies
 
timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Apr, 2005 08:11 am
CdK made what I think to be a very good point anout RAID drives in mirror (RAID 1) configuration. I use RAID 0 myself, for performance, but in business applications, data redundancy is a bigger factor than absolute data transfer speed.

And even with the redundancy of RAID 1, two drives each havin' the same data, there is no substitute for regular incremental backups stored elsewhere than on the machine in question, with removeable media bein' far and away my choice of backup platform.

A number of very good programs are out there which essentially will automate the backup process for you, even run it as an ongoin' background service. You decide one time, at setup, what needs backed up when and to where, and the app takes it from there.
0 Replies
 
 

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