April 22, 2024
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I was looking around for a new computer over the last few days, not a good computer but just one that would do the job as a second desktop in the house for my wife’s scrapbook room and for the kids to use to play little kids video games. In the end I bought a Dell 3100 and a added a couple of add ons, the price still cae in at just over $750 including the monitor.

So, here is how the decision got made.

I started as an self respecting tech looking for a crappy old Pentium 2 but my wife stopped me with the standard “Enough of the shitty computers lets just buy something new and cheap”. This got me excited but at the same time I knew that I could build something cheap. I looked around and speced out some hardware but realized that in this day and age I can not build the cheapest machine out there so I looked around at the components that I wanted in a prebuilt:

Here were my priorities:

Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon XP – sure this is for the wife and kids but I suspected that the family would be disappointed with the small cache sizes on the CPU of either a Celeron form Intel or a Sempron from AMD.

512 or 1 gig of Ram – Many of the cheap computers out there have only 256 megs of ram and lets face it with Windows XP you can not expect to run more than a couple of apps with 256 megs of ram. I was pushing for a gig but we will get there in a minute.

19 inch LCD monitor – at home we currently use a 19 inch CRT with a 1280 x 1024 resolution and I did not want to go down from there, also the scrapbook room is full of scrapbooking stuff so I wanted to make the most of the room and so I thought I could tuck the computer on the floor and the monitor on the back of the table and it should work great for my wife.

Those were the basics and beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to a second home PC and a limited budget. My next step was to search the obvious places. Here in Calgary that meant go to Future Shop and Best Buy with the kids and then looking online at all of Memory Express, Tiger Direct and NCIX where I bought my last PC.

After scouring around and of course checking out Dell I finally ended up finding the Dell the cheapest. In looking at reviews it seems that the Dell is not such a great deal but I have not been able to find a better price anywhere and the Dell itself also comes with a 1 year warranty instead of a 90 day warranty on parts like most people.

The upgrades I ended up ordering on the Dell 3100 were, a 19 inch monitor, upgraded the Ram to 1 Gig and got a USB wireless adapter so that I could put this cheap machine on my home network.

There are a couple things that suck about this computer, so far sight unseen, and first it would be two speaker sound. I have a spare good sound card and 4.1 speakers around the house that I could hook up to this for at least good sound. My bigger problem though is the video card. The Dell 3100 has an Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 video and from what I can see this card sucks for games. Intel says that the video is good for at least some 3-D games such as Zoo Tycoon but I will know in a couple of weeks. The alternative to the built in video is PCI Express but the motherboard only supports PCI-E 1X and not the 16X which is cheaper and more popular.

It is going to take ma a few weeks to find out if this cheap purchase was a good one or not but I am really looking forward to seeing what a home Dell computer is like as opposed to the GX270 and GX280 Dell computers that I support at work.