Help With Definitions & Making Selection

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by John Gregory, Oct 31, 2003.

  1. John Gregory

    John Gregory Guest

    Here's how my machine is used today:

    At any given time I'm likely to have running WORD 2000, EXCEL 2000,
    windows. Norton Systems Works an Personal Firewall run all the time. Two
    other computers can be networked but there are always at least two.

    I'm thinking of upgrading to OFFICE XP.

    I use MS Project and have recently discovered PhotoDeluxe for scanning
    digital pictures of home repair projects and landscaping. I can see an
    increased use in this area if I learn to superimpose one picture on
    top of another without spending hours on end.

    I listen to the radio sometimes and watch streaming clips of business
    news occasionally.

    I'd like to rum the computer into a receiver then distribute the
    program throughout my house; I wired it for speakers in every room
    and have a decent (not super) sound system.

    I don't play games but I can see some of my business interests taking
    to two monitors (although I don't know how that's done).

    I'm considering buying a refurbished machine from Dell in the $800 to $1000
    range. The decision rests between their Dimension 8300 Desktop
    &s=dfb ) or WorkStation (
    series. At this point, it looks like a Workstation will cost about $200
    more, won't necessarily improve computing nor throughput, but may permit
    quicker viewing of more complex net sites (graphs) and may provide room to
    grow into more complex graphs from Excel and animated presentations using
    PowerPoint. I'd appreciate a general comment as to whether or not this is an
    accurate conclusion.

    I would also like to understand some definitions and differences of the

    1) Processor
    a. Type - Pentium 4
    b. Speed - measured in GHz (Is 2.6 fast?)
    c. FSB - 800 (Is this what I should settle for as minimum?)
    2) Memory
    a. Module size - 256MB (should this be the minimum I should accept per
    b. 400MHz - (IS this fast enough?)
    c. How does the 400MHz above relate to the processor speed in 1b and FSB
    in 1C?
    d. SDAM - What's this stand for?
    e. Is there something other than a SDAM that I should look for (a
    different type perhaps)?
    f. What's a "non-ECC" SDRAM?
    g. Is a Non-ECC better?
    3) Hard Drive
    a. EIDE - What's this stand for?
    b. Is 3a above "good" or is there something more desirable?
    c. RPM = 7200. Is this good? If not, what's the minimum I should try to
    4) Video
    a. What's a "TV-out" feature?
    b. Would TV out enable a better PowerPoint presentation for small
    c. GeForce4 and Radeon seem to be the most common listed. Which is
    d. MX420 was listed after or with the GeForce4. What is it and is there
    something better I should look for?
    5) Sound Card
    a. "Sound Blaster Live! Digital Sound Card" is listed. Is this good
    6) CD Read-Write Drive
    a. 48X CD-RW is listed. Is this fast enough?
    b. What the minimum I should accept?
    c. I assume the "W" means it "writes" to a CD?
    d. If this is different from "burning" a CD, what's the designation for
    a machine that can make it's own CD's?
    7) DVD Drive
    a. 16X DVD-ROM is listed
    b. What the minimum I should accept?
    c. The speed looks slower (16 vs 48). Are the speeds of these two

    I realize this is a lot to ask so whatever contribution anyone cares to make
    will be appreciated. I can use all the help I an get.
    John Gregory, Oct 31, 2003
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  2. John Gregory

    Roy Guest

    General Comment: This is a LOT of machine. Possibly more than you
    need. But, what they hey.
    Current norms for new home/office machines are in the 2.2-2.4 range.
    So 2.6 is faster. Whether the difference is observable is an open
    Not a lot of these out. I have one. Most people are getting 400 FSB. I
    don't even know what it means.
    Your box can take 4-512s. Dell tends to ship in pairs. So, if you
    order 512, you get 2-256s. You can see where this goes somewhere down
    the road when you upgrade. You end up throwing stuff away.

    I bought my box a couple of months ago. If I had it to do over again,
    I would have ordered the least memory (or none) possible. Then google
    Crucial for 1 or 2 512MB PC3200 184 pin 400mhz non-ECC. Costs about
    $100 each. You get most of that back by refusing Dell's memory - which
    is expensive.
    Plenty fast. More than the norm for current business machines.
    If you have 800 FSB, you want 400Mhz.
    ECC refers to parity checking. Someone else here can give you a better
    explanation. It costs more. It's used for servers and critical
    database work.

    You don't need it. It also has a cost in terms of performance.
    For you, yes. You save money and don't need that level of precision.
    Just fine.
    Speed of harddrive rotation. The faster the drive moves, the faster
    you get your data. 7200 is the current industry standard, and is very
    I don't think you can get faster. The little disks can't handle any
    CD-R = Recordable (just once). CD-RW = Re-Writeable.
    Depends on whether you just want to cut a CD, or whether you want to
    use a CD like a big floppy disk. If the latter, get CD-RW. Actually,
    files are now too big for floppies, and Zip drives are no longer
    fashionable or something. So CD-RW is effectively the new "floppy
    Others here are more expert than I. I'm just a long time user with
    reasonable understanding, but no great technical expertise.

    Roy - Carpe Noctem
    Roy, Oct 31, 2003
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  3. John Gregory

    DeMoN LaG Guest

    2.6 ghz would be fine for absolutely anything a home user would do.
    The 400 mhz FSB was introduced with the original Pentium 4 a few years
    back. It's quite old and outdated, most people should demand 800 mhz,
    but if you can get a deal on a 533 mhz FSB machine, it isn't that much
    Not really. You would want 400 mhz no matter what the FSB speed is, as a
    higher RAM bandwith is always desirable.

    This was probably "SDRAM" which is Synchronous Dynamic Random Access
    Memory, which is used in all recent machines.
    ECC can detect and fix single bit errors, and detect double bit errors
    (which parity checking can not). It is completely unnecessary for home
    machines, and even most servers unless data integrity is critical.
    Typically between 3 and 6% performance loss from using ECC
    It isn't about precision, it's about error control. It isn't as though
    nonECC memory will be wrong, just that the memory won't have an extra
    layer of checking to be sure it was read correctly happening.
    Not necessarily true. A 5400 RPM drive with a higher density of bits can
    actually be faster than a 7200 RPM drive, though not in most cases. 7200
    RPMs is fine for todays machines.

    Let's you hook a cable from your video card to a TV and show your video
    display on the TV

    If you find showing power point slides on a TV better than a monitor, yes
    it would.

    There are many, many models of GeForce4 cards and Radeons. A GeForce4
    Ti4600 is better than a Radeon 7500, while a Radeon 9800 Pro is faster
    than any GeForce card available.

    The MX420 is the very bottom of the GeForce4 line. Provided you don't
    play 3d games, this will be fine for you.

    Unless you are an audiophile, a 9 year old SoundBlaster 16 or
    SoundBlaster AWE32 will sound just as good to you as a high end $150
    sound card would.
    The discs can not be spun faster than they are now safely. They shatter.
    The only way to go faster would be to use multiple lasers, which has
    already been done for reading discs (look for a 72x drive on a site like, you'll find that they all use multiple lasers).
    Honestly, I don't know about this being the minimum. I own a 48x24x48
    burner, but the media that is cheap and not complete crap I can find is
    all 32x, which means it only burns at 32x. Faster media is much more
    (comparitively) expensive. The only thing that gives this merit is my
    burner costs like $44.95 retail, so it would be pointless to get anything

    A 16x drive is fine, I don't think they even make faster drives right
    now. 48x CD drives are not necessarily faster than a 16x DVD drive. A
    CD and DVD are different types of media. Most DVD drive will list
    (somewhere in their documentation) how fast they read CDs.

    AIM: FrznFoodClerk (actually me)
    email: [email protected] (_ = m)
    website: under construction
    Need a technician in the south Jersey area?
    email/IM for rates/services
    DeMoN LaG, Oct 31, 2003
  4. John Gregory

    DeMoN LaG Guest

    Not easily. It isn't as simple as just "Run the application from another
    machine", most often those are applications deployed via Windows Server
    and Group Policy Settings.
    You would notice a crawl in anything large, as a 100Mbit network only
    transfers data at a max of 12.5 megabytes per second, while the average
    har drive can burst data over 80 megabytes per second and sustain 40 to
    60 megabytes per second
    A server generally needs faster hardware, but nothing really different.
    The only real thing that seperates a server from a workstation is what
    software they run
    No, it is not an easy thing to install or administer, and what you get
    back wouldn't be very much.

    AIM: FrznFoodClerk (actually me)
    email: [email protected] (_ = m)
    website: under construction
    Need a technician in the south Jersey area?
    email/IM for rates/services
    DeMoN LaG, Nov 1, 2003
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