Branded computer v clones

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Troglodyte, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Troglodyte

    Troglodyte Guest

    I'm looking at either buying a cheap computer, or building one to run a
    linux system. 1.8 gig speed, or there abouts. 256 ram. I'm not a gamer
    so Im not fussed on graphics. say apart from looking at me jpegs. but
    you get the jist. May end up buying one and tu tooing with the thing
    at home. Anyhow, when one looks around at whats availabie, naturally I
    want to avoid branded computers. So Im looking at a clone.. Ive come
    across computers for sale from all the sites that Ive been looking at
    like Turners, or Trademe or what ever.

    Im in no rush here and more kind of being aware right now. But I guess
    the question Im asking is this. How does one recognise non exapandable,
    non upgradable computers from those that you can truly play around with.
    Is it that if a machine stated as a pc-company machine, (didnt they
    go broke ?) or Dell, or Hewlitt Packard then therefor non upgradable.
    Perculier to that manufacture when it comes to parts. EVERYTIME,
    Sure. I know. use google. Im doing that a well. Thanks
    Troglodyte, Aug 21, 2004
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  2. Troglodyte

    thing Guest

    Why avoid branded? The warehouse is doing a Dell PC for $999, which for
    an office PC looks a very good price...From what I can see a "normal
    sized" case from a brand is often ATX compatible, so a motherboard swap
    out is not that difficult.

    While I would normaly say avoid a brand because they are bloody awful
    the Dell I would suggets bears a closer look. Also DSE branded computers
    look veyr ATX standard, and when DSE sell them off as end of line the
    deal looks pretty reasonable..

    Turners IMHO has got 2 expensive and 2 infrequent to bother with,
    trademe looks a better possibility. Some old Dell or Compaq server go
    pretty cheap, if your into Linux one of these is worth a shot IHMO, so
    far I have added good PCI graphic cards to them without problems.


    thing, Aug 21, 2004
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  3. Troglodyte

    Divine Guest

    Buy the bits and make it yourself - it's easy enough and that way you get
    the quality and upgradability that you want.

    I recomend going with the newer reasonably priced AMD Athlons. I
    especially recomend the AMD Athlon-64 - it is superb!

    Divine, Aug 21, 2004
  4. Troglodyte

    Tim Guest

    The trouble with branded computers is that you won't know what deficiencies
    there are in the bios until you hit one. You won't know what is missing
    unless you open the case and use a qualified eye to check out what is

    Typeical Bios issues: inability to disable devices, inability to alter
    settings from defaults (eg port addresses), configurable features that just
    do not work. Others: intollerant PCI slot usage (EG a card will work in one
    slot but not another - this can be a driver issue) is much more common in
    branded. Basically, when these machines are built, the bios and everything
    is signed off for the configurations that are being built and unless
    something major comes up you won't see a new bios. You can find they are
    extremely picky about memory types and will not tolerate newer model CPU's.
    They often also have low limits - EG the amount of memory you can install.
    (I have a Compaq here that repeatedly says in documentation and on the HP
    web site that it won't take more than 256MB Ram. It is happily running on
    512 - obviously this is good).

    That describes the really bad ones... those made using volume production
    motherboards under contract for least possible price.

    The nice thing about building your own PC is that you get to pick the
    motherboard, you can verify the manufacturer is reputable and that the board
    chosen has a good reputation before hand and so know that life will be
    smooth after that.

    If you look at the total cost of a home built PC vs. a competitively prices
    branded PC, there may not be any difference. If you compare the motherboard
    you choose with the one that may be in the branded PC then you can sit back
    and point at your own system knowing (usually) it was built out of much
    better quality components. If ever you want to upgrade, you know you will
    have no issues with the upgrade.

    Another common failing of branded PC's is in the corners cut during
    manufacture. Cheap capacitors 'cos they choose cheap motherbaords = early
    death (not entirely true, some of the better manufacturers got bitten by
    this, but they honoured warrantees). Missing expansion options: I have a
    computer here to fix for a neighbour that has 1 PCI slot when it is in a
    case that leads one to believe it has 5 PCI slots. My neighbour asked "is it
    a good motherboard - the supplier said it was one of the best" - I don't
    have the heart to tell him it is trash - it won't run anything faster than a
    celeron 400 when it should be fine with a pentium 800.

    I have seen motherboards in Tower cases that have had only 1 IDE interface!
    (the norm is of course 2).

    With motherboards, you get what you pay for. The lowest cost offerings for a
    given chipset / feature set will most likely be the one with the least
    "quality". There are a lot of good motherboard brands and a few scummy ones.
    I won't mention the scummy ones, but two good ones are Asus and Gigabyte.
    Buy from a recommended reseller, but from someone that will honour
    warrantees. Be careful about static when assembling and servicing.

    - Tim
    Tim, Aug 21, 2004
  5. Troglodyte

    Karen Parker Guest

    Well I could not agree more plus you can get a Full OS CD.

    But I must confess Gigabyte now has gone to the bottom of my list due to lack
    of Updates for the Imbedded Raid controller, impossible to talk to the Robot
    replies, and problems I am now getting with just 2 hard drives connected to
    the Raid/ATA controller, I had to back out to the first Bios, its ok if I
    use 4 Hard Drives..

    "Error Loading OS"

    Gigabyte are using very old Bios/Drive for the ITE controller, even the
    latest Bios of yesterday the ITE Bios and Driver supplied by Gigabyte is
    over a year old, ITE has updated there Bios/Driver 2-3 times this year the
    latest being in June 04, but Gigabyte could not be bothered to update there
    supplied Bios as of yesterday with the latest, only the one that came out
    around June 03.

    No one seems to get any feed back from Gigabyte with reported problems, go
    read the Gigabyte news group, plus I have had first hand knowledge on this.

    Asus has been far better with bios updates..

    If you need a IDE Controller, go for a external one as they can be updated..
    Karen Parker, Aug 21, 2004
  6. Troglodyte

    E. Scrooge Guest

    Damn right. With a limit of 1.8 Gig and 256MB RAM a 64bit Athlon is going
    to be real useful for those jpegs, surfing, and emails etc.
    Like modest needs will only ever work on the very latest gear. LOL

    By the looks of his needs poor service and poor warranty (from Trademe deals
    etc) are just fine - which he doesn't mention while suggesting that it must
    be cheap. Brand name or clone shouldn't matter for someone that only has
    modest needs in mind.

    E. Scrooge
    E. Scrooge, Aug 21, 2004
  7. Troglodyte

    Enkidu Guest

    You've never taken a Dell apart, have you? At least in the older ones,
    there is almost zero expandability. eg when you open the box up you
    find that although there is *space* for a second hard drive, there is
    no way you could *mount* the second drive. HP/Compaq are the same.

    Actually, I don't know if this is still true - I'm going by the Dell
    Optiplex GXs that I've opened up.


    Enkidu, Aug 21, 2004
  8. Troglodyte

    Divine Guest

    the Athlon 64 +3200 that I have works at around the 2.02 gig mark, uses
    DDR RAM (which has been around for a while now) and can easily and
    natively run all 32bit x86 software as well as x86_64 software.

    My one uses the older CPU socket. The current releases use the socket that
    will be around for many years to come, meaning that the MOBO will be good
    for several CPU upgrades - not that you'd need them.

    If you can build your own, then why not do so?

    Divine, Aug 21, 2004
  9. I tend to disagree with that, we use Dell Optiplex machine at work, and
    in the time I've been there I've seen 5 bios updates for the ones that
    came in when I started.(GX260).

    All added features/functionality to them, not that they were lacking in
    the first place. The seem to give a hell of a lot of info for a simple bios.
    This is tend to agree with, especially the memory, not necessarily the CPU.
    you mean like the ones I mentioned above? :)
    It depends on the model, our work ones have this, but it is not an
    issue, the CDrom drives get used ~ twice in their life.
    Dave -, Aug 21, 2004
  10. I could make my own shirt, but I'll be damned if I would.
    It isn't worth my time to do it.

    My charge out rate for work is $95 an hour, if it takes me more than an
    hour, it's not worth my time. Same with Oil changes and a few otehr things.

    I will however do somethings that I enjoy doing, like cooking, rather
    than paying for it.
    Dave -, Aug 21, 2004
  11. the SFF ones are still like that, but the "full tower"(actually a mid
    tower), ones even have spare mounting rails inside the case.
    Dave -, Aug 21, 2004
  12. Troglodyte

    Divine Guest


    Don't you enjoy tinkering with computers?

    Divine, Aug 21, 2004
  13. Troglodyte

    E. Scrooge Guest

    He described a basic computer setup for his needs. A thousand bucks will
    get him a complete system that matches that.

    And building is fine just as long as you accept any risks and hassles if
    there's a problem.

    E. Scrooge
    E. Scrooge, Aug 21, 2004
  14. Troglodyte

    Tim Guest

    Dave, I should have put the paragraph re: "That describes the really bad
    ones..." before that.

    It is the least cost (IE read cheap) machines that tend to fall into this
    category, certain makes are always in this category, some makes seldom if
    ever are. I have heard a lot of good things about Dell, but I will reserve
    my opinion until I see inside a few.

    I could name names for the brands concerned, most of the ones that come to
    mind are no longer on the market in NZ thankfully. Think cows.

    - Tim
    Tim, Aug 21, 2004
  15. not anymore.
    Once you've done it for a few years, you get over it. All you want is
    for it to work when you get home.
    My next desktop PC will be an Athlon 64 made by some big manufacturer,
    probably once Dell make them(I like Dell gear). I'm still looking for an
    Athlon 64 Laptop to buy. I like the E-machines ones, but they don't
    export to NZ, so I need to find some other company that uses the same
    OEM(correct term?) and re-badges them.
    Dave -, Aug 21, 2004
  16. Troglodyte

    Divine Guest

    Ditto for building an Athlon 64 box, if one has a couple of spare bits
    lying around.


    Humphrey in the BBC comedy Yes Prime Minister: "Although your comments are
    indeed clear, simple and straightforward there is some difficulty in justifiably
    assigning to them the epithets you apply in your comments, in as much as the
    precise correlation between the information you communicate, and the facts in
    so far as they can be determined and demonstrated is such as to cause
    epistemological problems, of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical
    and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can
    reasonably be expected to bear."
    Divine, Aug 21, 2004
  17. Troglodyte

    Divine Guest

    which is probably why I want to keep it as a hobby.

    I too am looking for an Athlon 64 laptop. I am happy to wait until they're
    more common tho'.

    Divine, Aug 21, 2004
  18. Generally only true for compact cases, which are often a proprietary
    design to begin with. A mid tower size is more standard.

    Unfair to label Dell HP etc when you can get generic cases that are that
    Patrick Dunford, Aug 21, 2004
  19. 18:03:15 +1200, Dave -
    Hear hear. If I can get a box for $1200 through work then I probably will
    instead of virtually replacing every component inside my current case.
    (Have to replace the MB with the CPU, the RAM because it needs to be
    faster, the PSU because it doesn';t have the right connectors, the HDD
    because it's not big enough, ...)
    Patrick Dunford, Aug 21, 2004
  20. Troglodyte

    Karen Parker Guest

    And it comes with a Car battery to feed it..

    You are joking ant you..?
    Karen Parker, Aug 21, 2004
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