calliopes_pen: (fuesch Bill Potts in TARDIS wonder)
calliopes_pen ([personal profile] calliopes_pen) wrote2017-09-07 11:43 am

I Haven't Looked For New Computers In 13 Years--Please Help Me

The time is approaching when I will need to get a new computer. This one can’t handle streaming sites like Hulu and such because of a faulty nvidia driver that keeps briefly crashing when stressed by such sites. I tested it, and confirmed that the issue was there after I used GPU-Z. This computer is so old that they no longer make the sort it would need.

What year did I get my current one? 2004. Yes, this one is 13 years old, and has lived through Windows XP, and the upgrade to Windows 7 about 4 years ago. Based on the sticker, it had a brief period before it was sold to us when it was Windows Vista, too. There’s only a dual processor in this one, and Dad’s laptop has a quadruple one, and is able to handle streaming.

Mine will be a desktop, not a laptop, I should point out.

While I can easily recommend HP Compaq from 2004, I have absolutely no idea without further research what brands are good these days. Does HP still do well? Is Lenovo dependable? Does anyone have a particular brand they wish to declare their love for? It needs to work well with streaming. I don’t care about gaming, as I don’t play any games.

I'm doing all the searching I can long before blue screens of death. Just the black screen on occasion (although, that had been a couple times in a short span, hence the getting a move on searching) if the poor thing is stressed by nvidia.

Does anyone know of a program that would just switch over preferred settings? If not, I’ll be jotting it down by hand.

Whatever I get, it must be compatible with Windows 7, as I love that. It will not be refurbished, since I spotted a lot of issues with those as I searched a couple sites. Going that route seems like it might end badly. I still have an OEM build of Windows 7 Home Premium, so I should be able to deactivate this build and then activate it in the new one without a problem.

If it turns out I don’t need the OEM, and whatever I purchased is good enough with the 7, that’s fine and I’ll just have a back-up. I also still have the links from the last time (still valid, and still in stock) we purchased Windows 7 Home Premium OEM, should a purchase of any sort become necessary.

When the time comes, I’ve already put all of my installers for all the programs I use (but not PrintKey yet; I’ll hopefully find something just as good, but that’s not from 1998*) on a large external hard drive. Almost everything I need to keep has been put there, just in case. I’ll grab my licenses for Emsisoft and Malwarebytes shortly.

Before everything is actually done, whenever that is, I’ll do one last screenshot of the desktop, so I’ll know how I preferred it all.

*My version of Office was procured back in the year 2000, when I was in college. It’s the one I prefer, but I might migrate over to LibreOffice after any change since .doc is compatible with it, and the portable version of LibreOffice works nicely for me.
madripoor_rose: milkweed beetle on a leaf (Default)

[personal profile] madripoor_rose 2017-09-07 10:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I can tell you I bought this HP Pavilion 23 All In One Desktop on June 9th 2015, and the hard drive died and had to be replaced June 23rd 2017. It might have been luck of the draw/that one bad hard drive, but it is making me a little leery of sticking with HP for my next one.
camwyn: Me in a bomber jacket and jeans standing next to a green two-man North Andover Flight Academy helicopter. (Default)

[personal profile] camwyn 2017-09-08 12:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft and I don't think it's possible to convince HP or Dell to sell you a Windows 7 box by claiming to be a small business needing to maintain backward compatibility. There are still some sellers on Amazon that offer Windows 7 boxes but most of them are refurbished. Otherwise you're stuck with 10.

Lenovo just settled a court case over the fact that they were quietly selling new machines with adware on them on purpose and without telling users. I don't know how far I'd trust them after that.

I've done well with my HP laptop for several years now. Before that I've had good luck with ASUS machines. My office uses Dell across the board and the vast majority of them work well for quite some time; we use Optiplexes. I don't recommend-

Sorry, I was going to say I didn't recommend certain form factors when I saw that Dell still has a few Windows 7 Professional boxes and laptops available in the business section of the website. I strongly suggest machines with small form factor cases rather than anything labeled micro if you ever want to be able to change internal components without ruining the case.
graycardinal: Alexis Castle, thoughtful (Alexis (thoughtful))

[personal profile] graycardinal 2017-09-08 04:01 pm (UTC)(link)
From a retail standpoint, the major players left in the desktop market are HP and Dell. You will also find Lenovo out there, and perhaps Asus and/or Acer, but I don't recommend Lenovo for the reasons you've already been given, and I think support is better with the two major players. [My current desktop system is an HP which I acquired new *just* when Vista came out, and it's been steady and stable all this time.] There are some additional players when it comes to laptops and minis, but HP and Dell are the market leaders, and I'd buy either nowadsys.

I would recommend a traditional desktop/mini-tower over an all-in-one system, precisely because all-in-ones are going to be hard to customize or upgrade afterward. [I would not be too hard on HP for an isolated hard-drive failure; they're probably sourcing those drives from Seagate or Western Digital anyway.]

For streaming, you will want to max out on RAM -- no less than 8GB, more if the motherboard supports it -- and should probably invest in a dedicated video/graphics expansion card, both for the additional video memory and to support multiple displays. Almost all non-gaming systems I see at retail nowadays default to onboard graphics, which uses part of the main system RAM. It's been too long since I've shopped for me to make a specific rec on graphics cards, but for best performance, this is an important part of the package. [Also keep an eye on the system spec for the PC's power supply -- graphics cards demand non-trivial wattage, and you will want to be sure that the power supply you get has the capacity to support the add-on card you choose. Fortunately, power supplies are inexpensive as components go, and many sellers will be able to upgrade you to a more powerful one when you customize your box.]

As has been noted upstream, you may have difficulty buying a new system without Win10 being pre-installed. One idea in this line: instead of shopping online or in a big-box store such as Best Buy, see if you can find a trustworthy local computer retail/service shop that assembles its own machines. They can probably build and sell you a naked system onto which you can migrate your licensed Win7 OS. For myself, I've been using Win10 with no great difficulty (it really does look a lot more like "real" Windows than 8/8.1), and while I understand why many users are wary of it, my level of geek-savvy is not so high that I want to fly an OS that Microsoft has mostly stopped supporting. (My preferred source of Windows-related geekery is Woody Leonhard and its recently-launched forums; Woody does a good job of being careful without being paranoid.)
promethia_tenk: (Default)

[personal profile] promethia_tenk 2017-09-09 11:16 am (UTC)(link)
If you're planning to keep your next computer for more than a few years (which I would assume you are, given how long you ran your current one), I would seriously advise you against Windows 7. Microsoft is still providing it security updates for the time being, but that is not going to last. They stopped providing all security updates to XP a few years ago, and Windows 7 is next on the chopping block. You do not want to be running anything connected to the internet that is not getting security updates. If you're on Windows 7 you're also going to start running into basic compatibility issues sooner rather than later: modern browsers and websites are still going to work fine on it for now, but go a few years down the road and things are likely to start breaking on you because you can't get updates.

I'm a Mac user myself, but my understanding from the Windows world is that, while Windows 8 and 8.1 were weird departures from how people expect Windows to work, Windows 10 dispensed with most of the nonsense and can be set up to act very much like Windows 7.

Best of luck with your shopping!