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Author Topic: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.  (Read 4115 times)
JennyJenny
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Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« on: 2009 June 25, 02:17:52 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

I have read through the "I want to buy a new computer, should I buy Brand X or Brand Y?" and have come to understand that buying a name brand computer isn't usually the best way to go.  This understanding hasn't done much to fix my computer issues, so I need more help.

Background first: I am pretty sure my motherboard is dying. About a month ago it started introducing me to the "Will it or won't it" game, where when you push the power button you have a fairly random chance of getting more than a low key beep beep beep and  louder than usual fan noise, but no video display (monitor is fine, DVI jack is fine, etc.). Usually it kicks in on the 3rd or 4th try.

Around this same time my TS2 stopped letting me run at my usual resolution (it went from highest possible 1680x1050 to highest possible 1440xsomething), and Oblivion started having problem w/ graphical lag. I did open the case and get the dust out, and that made the fan noise go away, but people have told me that the dust in the CPU fan may have caused it to overheat and damage the CPU and motherboard (I'm planning on having diagnostics done to make sure this is the issue, but I have a hunch this is right).

The way I see it I have a few options: I can:

A) buy a whole new similar spec HP (the brand I have now)/Dell (snerk)/other brand computer and be done with it;
 
B) Buy a whole new slightly lower spec HP computer, cannibalise the working components (hard drive, CD/DVD drive, 6GB RAM, maybe graphics card) and find someone to stick it all together for me (est. cost $400, + labor); 
 
C) Buy a new computer case and replacements for the non-working components and find someone to stick it all together for me; or
 
D) Get HP or Geek Squad to replace the motherboard and CPU (est. cost $600 or $700 respectively).
 
E) would be to buy a new motherboard & CPU and get someone to install them for me, but I haven't been able to find the same motherboard for sale online so for now that option is relegated to the realm of possibility

Do I have other options that I haven't realised? If I go with option B, does it have to be an HP or can I/should I try another brand? If option C is my best bet as far as money goes? Should I even consider option D (honestly I threw that one in there for the sake of thoroughness)?


From my perspective A) is easiest, but is wasteful and is fiscally irresponsible right now; B) is my most appealing option right now, as it seems to be pretty simple w/ the added bonus of being fairly cheap and I have have a working computer while I find someone to do the sticking it together part; C) is quite tempting, and leaves me with more research to do, but seems economical and would give me slightly more geek cred than the other options.

I know I have more research to do (and thankfully I have time to do it in), but I also know that there are people here who know this stuff.

Thanks in advance.


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dragoness
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #1 on: 2009 June 25, 02:54:24 »
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The option that will be both the cheapest overall and get you the most power for your money is to do some research, buy parts, and put it together yourself.

Alternately, do enough research to know what parts go with what, buy them yourself, and take them to a local comp shop (not best buy!) and pay them to put it together for you. Local places are both less expensive, and more likely to employ techs who actually have a clue what they're doing.

Newegg.com is your friend. Read reviews, paying attention to overall score of the product in question, and whether the negative reviews are from people who appear to have legitimate complaints or they're in a rage for no apparent reason. Newegg (and any other legitimate computer part supplier) will list everything you need to know.

I don't reccommend buying a premade under the assumption that anything in your existing computer will even work in the new one, let alone be helpful; there's no guarantee that the parts will fit, and even if they do they probably won't improve performance all that much, if at all. (Well, more hard drives are good, generally, as they just mean more disk space.)

Alternately, if you are happy with your computer's performance (when it isn't doing this "screw you, I won't turn on" dance), you can go with fixing it rather than replacing it. It could theoretically be as big as replacing your motherboard, CPU and/or power supply, or as small as replacing a CPU fan. Either learn how to diagnose these problems, or again, find a local shop to do it for you.
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Magicmoon
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #2 on: 2009 June 25, 04:58:52 »
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Background first: I am pretty sure my motherboard is dying. About a month ago it started introducing me to the "Will it or won't it" game, where when you push the power button you have a fairly random chance of getting more than a low key beep beep beep and  louder than usual fan noise, but no video display (monitor is fine, DVI jack is fine, etc.). Usually it kicks in on the 3rd or 4th try.

Those beeps that you hear are actually telling you what problem your computer is having. Get out your motherboard manual (or look it up online) and find the sequence of beeps that matches what you are hearing. It may be something as simple as your video card or memory is slightly loose and needs to be pushed into the slot better.

The first step in problem solving is identifying the problem. After you know what your problem is, you can make a better decision on how to go about solving it.
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Alex
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #3 on: 2009 June 25, 08:11:14 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

Yes, try to narrow it down to what it could be. The problem could be very simple, and you do not want to shell out a load of money for something that turns out to be a loose component or something.

If the problem does turn out to be too wide-spread to bother replacing parts, then go for a custom built machine (it's not very hard to do, but if you absolutely can't do it yourself then seek out a local system builder). Look for parts online, or if you know the right people then you can get it at wholesale price which is even cheaper. Brand names just aren't worth it. You're practically guaranteed to replace it within a few years, and of course there is the indisputable fact that they are hopeless! The price can initially be worrying compared to the other options, but choosing the right case and components means you can build a solid system that will last for a very long time, and will save you money in the long run.

Geeky? Who cares? Your friends will be envious of your cheaper yet more powerful computer that actually works. There's also the added benefit of knowing exactly what's going into it (not skimping with parts as OEMs often love doing) and not having to pay moar for their support, which really is worse than not having it at all in my experience.
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snapzit
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #4 on: 2009 June 25, 23:26:08 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

This discussion is very helpful for me as well. My computer has just blown itself up after a protracted illness with worrisome symptoms. Having educated myself a bit through lots of reading (here and elsewhere) I realize that even if you order a computer from a big company to your specifications, it is probably not going to be as good as if you do it yourself or have a knowledgeable shop put one together for you.  Although Gateway (ahem) will have to fix this one due to the warranty, the pain of waiting for them to fix it is a pain. I am writing from a six year old Gateway computer (a back-up) that actually works, and always has. It isn't fancy, hence my desire to get the newer one with some shiny, i.e., moar power, moar ramz, moar graphics, etc. HaH! The old nag is far better at reliability, though my game suffers its slower pace.

My next computer, some monies away, will likely be one I build. Between now and then, I intend to learn and grow. At the moment, i don't have the knowledge, confidence or money to start from scratch, but I sure wish I did. I thank the folks at MATY for their shared knowledge and opinions. I've learned heaps here.

I'll have my computer fixed by Gateway, use the crap out of it until the warranty is near expiration, learn, then dump the corporations. Get a geek or be one.
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jolrei
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #5 on: 2009 June 25, 23:47:42 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

Now that I have built a couple of rigs, I would never BUY one again.  Even if you save no money, the computer you get will have the parts that YOU select, not some cut price second rate stuff that someone else has marked up.  And it will WORK.

Don't worry about buying the same motherboard.  If you have had the rig a couple of years, you probably want to upgrade the board and processor anyway.  This will likely mean wiping and reloading everything, reformatting hard drives, etc. but the hardware can be cannibalized from the old system if it is still in good working order.  Get a new power supply too.

Depending on your video card, you can keep what you have.  This sort of rebuild will likely set you back about $300-400US, depending on parts.  And it's not that hard to do.  If you can do a jigsaw or install Ikea furniture correctly, you can do this.  Processors and boards come with install instructions.  Also there are good online tutorials on how to build your own PC.
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Leticron
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #6 on: 2009 June 26, 17:42:37 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

jolrei is right...the "throwing together" part isn't all that complicated. (It's not like cookie baking either, tho)
Much more important would be to pick the right components (to match the board, the purpose and even play nice with each other).
I usually start with the CPU and then the board (with the correct socket and all the extras/features I want/need)
A fan + heatsink which fits the CPU and the board. (don't forget the thermal compound and find out how to apply it correctly)
Next would be the RAM matching the board  for example look HERE
or HERE. Almost all RAM producers have those memory matchers..Google is your friend Wink
Believe it or not...most home build rigs I had to fix, failed to boot up because the owner installed mismatched RAMs or neglected to mind the notch and forced them in the wrong way.

The video card (depending on your needs....for any "office machine" the onboard GFX chip is sufficient).
to find the correct PSU I use This Link (the lite version) and add ~25% to the result for good measure (and future upgrades).

Finally all the rest like Harddrives, housing and whatever extras are still needed (i.e. a tv card or any USB hubs or whatever).

Putting it all together mainly requires the use of common sense, a phillips head and some cable ties. (almost everything is hardcoded, so that it only fits one way...and it doesn't require a hammer !! Wink
Most of all: read and understand the manuals and don't put yourself under time pressure

-le
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Starpoo
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #7 on: 2009 August 06, 15:39:57 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

To encourage you to build your own computer (and risk Necromancy Embarrassed ), HP got the lowest Tech Support rating by Consumer Reports (or was it PC World?). Besides, if you do buy a brand name PC and put your own hardware in there, it will void the warranty. And on newegg, you can make your own wishlist and make it public, so others can tell you what is good and what needs improvement, I'm sure the people here would gladly help you with that. Also on newegg, I made a computer that would run TS3 easily for less than $600.
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Leticron
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Re: Looking for advice on computer fixing/building.
« Reply #8 on: 2009 August 06, 21:35:54 »
THANKS THIS IS GREAT

What are you talking about ? HP virtually has no Tech Support whatsoever.At best you'll get some guy in India on the line that tries to sell you a 12 month contract. But that's beside the point. Those guys wouldn't help you assembling your own PC anyways.
Whenever I have to deal with a defective HP which was beyond repair, I gut that rig an keep housing, hdd and perhaps the CD/DVD writer. Board, RAM and PSU will be replaced with whatever fits the owner's budget. Parts I usually order at newegg or Tiger direct. I fixed 10-15 computers that way, so far rarely going above $300. Just match the equipment with your expectations/the purpose and you're all set.
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