Time for a new computer

Off-topic discussions about everything else
Keith
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Time for a new computer

Postby Keith » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:04 pm

After 7+ years of nearly constant service, it's time to replace my system. Various parts of hardware have failed and had been replaced already, but now the system suffers from some fatal crashes.

The sytem gets stuck in a endless loop of checking the two DVD drives and floppy drive. Sometimes it will get to the B&W emergency startup menu but when Windows starts to load it reboots. When it does manage to load Windows the system is fine for a couple hours before it reboots.

Tried new memory, unplugging the DVD and floppy drives to no avail. Same problem. The problem appears to be in the system power supply or motherboard. It's too old to invest in big time.

I've made up my mind already, I'm going with another Dell XPS. I just have to define what hardware I want installed before I buy one.

PantherX
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Postby PantherX » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:54 pm

Good Luck Kieth!

The Dells's are usually excellent systems, I would suggest as much ram as you can afford and specify a Video card for gaming.

The reviews I have read always say that most gaming video cards will do well on the Aero desktop (Win7) but not all Aero cards will do as well while gaming.

ps. I would bet $100 it's a power supply issue with the old system but after 7 years I agree that it's time to upgrade (bus/memory speeds alone will make a huge difference)
:cool:

Keith
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Postby Keith » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:13 pm

I didn't think it was the memory but the techs said that what the diagnostic indicators said it was, so I went a long with it just avoid the argument. They sent the wrong RAM first. They sent the right memory size but they sent strips that were for a newer version of the XPS than mine and they wouldn't fit in the slots. So I returned those and finally got the right ones to no avail.

I've got two other old computers of mine sitting here under the desk. I'm going to pull the HDs out of all three and use them as backups and slaves once I get the new system.

I can still get my old XPS system fired up about once a day for an hour or so, so I can move somethings off to DVDs and memory sticks, which I have already started to do.

kach
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Postby kach » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:26 pm

Hi Keith. My new XPS 15 notebook was delivered last week. :D

The screen is great (1920x1080) and I love the backlit keyboard (how did I get by without it?), but the there was no option to upgrade the DVD drive (Tray load Blu-ray) and I find it a bit clunky. OS is Win 7 Professional and it seems to run the Citybuilder games without problems.

I have taken out the maximum warranty because I don't think Dell's QA is as good as it used to be.

Good luck with your choice!

Keith
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Postby Keith » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:06 am

Well, I can say that I got my money out of the in-home extended warranty. I even got my money out of the one year additional re-newal of that warranty.

Having the tech come to your home and seeing what your problem is and fixing it without having to ship or deliver the computer to a service depot is priceless.

I'll definitely sign up for one of those again.

I'll be going with a desktop XPS again. I don't like laptops, because of limited expandability and also because they have such awkward keyboards and they usually have the annoying mouse touchpad at the bottom of the keyboard. I know you can get plug-in keyboards, but that seems silly. It's like putting a extra bumper over the one already on the front of your car.

I'll probably replace my 8 year old Samsung CRT monitor. I got a year for the computer I had before I got my XPS. It's worked great. I had had two previous ViewSonic CRT monitors and both were pieces of junk. They both died on me after about a year each. I'll be looking at a Dell or Samsung LCD monitor this time. Maybe a bit bigger than my current 17" one.

The only thing I'm really going to hate is to reinstall and configure all my current software again. However, if I can get my current HD to function as a slave HD in the new unit that will avoid a lot of that.

Amrine
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Postby Amrine » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:30 am

Get one of those hard drive copiers. They work miracles, though I have to say, a fresh installed hard drive, without all the junk from years gone by, makes a difference :) I always worry that I am copying a virus over to the new drive or some sort of evil program that will slow things down. I had a newer drive (2 months old) die on me and replaced with warranty and used the copy program. Not bad if you feel as if your drive is bug free

Keith
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Postby Keith » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:14 am

I'm a fanatic about scanning my hard drive. I scan my drive regulary every day with two different virus scanners and I use 3 others on a manual basis just to back them up when I want to be sure.

I also defrag and optimize my drive regularly. So I feel pretty confident that my drive is clean.

I also run occasional checks using HiJackThis.

I don't notice any suspicicous activity or performance.

The problem with the copy software is that you are doing it between old and new machines, the old machine has to be able to run. If I can get the hard drive to work as a slave I may consider getting a program, if it will let me do a direct drive to drive copy.

It's also an additional expense to buy such software for what would amount to a one-time-use.

I like the idea of a RAID 1 backup system someone else in the IT industry recommended I look into. I could several drives that automatically mirror the main drive and if any one of them fails I can just pop out the bad drive and replace it with a new one without losing any software at all.

Another option I'm considering is getting a solid state drive, which are coming on the consumer market. These have no moving parts and are much faster than the mechanical hard drives we all use now.

It took me two months of decision making to determine what my XPS would have before I bought it. I'll be doing more research before I decide on my new XPS.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:25 am

"kach" wrote:Hi Keith. My new XPS 15 notebook was delivered last week. :D

The screen is great (1920x1080) and I love the backlit keyboard (how did I get by without it?), but the there was no option to upgrade the DVD drive (Tray load Blu-ray) and I find it a bit clunky. OS is Win 7 Professional and it seems to run the Citybuilder games without problems.

I have taken out the maximum warranty because I don't think Dell's QA is as good as it used to be.

Good luck with your choice!


XPS systems get their own tech support people. Unlike the general Dell customers that have to deal with seemingly less experienced people. The XPS support people seem to be more knowledgable, or at least they used be when I needed them.

Hopefully, you'll never have to find out.

When the warranty runs out on that new XPS you should check out the SSD drives at EdgeTechnology:

http://www.edgetechcorp.com/storage/solid-state-drive-upgrade.asp

Watch the two videos on the bootup comparison and the cloning, swap, and install of the SSD drive for the mechanical HD.

iceebear19727
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Postby iceebear19727 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:24 am

kach,

How were you able to get an xps 15 with the 1920x1080 resolution? On the dell website, there was not an option for that. Did you buy yours prebuilt?

Rnett
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Postby Rnett » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:39 am

"Keith" wrote:I'm a fanatic about scanning my hard drive. I scan my drive regulary every day with two different virus scanners and I use 3 others on a manual basis just to back them up when I want to be sure.

I also defrag and optimize my drive regularly. So I feel pretty confident that my drive is clean.

I also run occasional checks using HiJackThis.

I don't notice any suspicicous activity or performance.

The problem with the copy software is that you are doing it between old and new machines, the old machine has to be able to run. If I can get the hard drive to work as a slave I may consider getting a program, if it will let me do a direct drive to drive copy.

It's also an additional expense to buy such software for what would amount to a one-time-use.

I like the idea of a RAID 1 backup system someone else in the IT industry recommended I look into. I could several drives that automatically mirror the main drive and if any one of them fails I can just pop out the bad drive and replace it with a new one without losing any software at all.

Another option I'm considering is getting a solid state drive, which are coming on the consumer market. These have no moving parts and are much faster than the mechanical hard drives we all use now.

It took me two months of decision making to determine what my XPS would have before I bought it. I'll be doing more research before I decide on my new XPS.


As it is now, Raid backup would be the cheaper option. I was looking at some of those SSD drives a while back, but they still seem to be a bit overpriced.

Good Luck.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:52 am

The one nice thing about the new XPS is that they do offer a RAID-1 option with drives of varying sizes. So it's a thought.

I have been half considering spending about $80 to save my current computer. After having watched how it behaves when I turn it on and noticing that the fans don't seem to kick in loudly at first then settle down like they used to, and the cracking noise in my sound system, it's my own opinion that my system power supply is the culprit.

I checked Dell and I see as far back as 2004 XPS power supply units are as scarce from Dell Parts & Supply as the Holy Grail. Numerous posts all asking where they can get one and being told that Dell P&S doesn't have them or are not being helpful.

I did a quick Google on the Dell part number and found a site that seems to have some, both refurbished for $80 and I am asuming new or like new at $300. So I may just buy that $80 unit and if it works I'll get to use my computer for a while longer. If not then I'll will end up gettting a new system and I'll just write off the $80.

kach
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Postby kach » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:14 am

"Keith" wrote:Hopefully, you'll never have to find out.

When the warranty runs out on that new XPS you should check out the SSD drives at EdgeTechnology.


I had to use the Dell warranty on my last computer. That's the reason I like Dell; the technician comes to me - I don't have to do without the computer for weeks while it is being repaired.

I think I'll go for an SSD drive next time. :D

"iceebear19727" wrote:How were you able to get an xps 15 with the 1920x1080 resolution?


The 1920x1080 screen is an option on the XPS 15 in Australia. But we always have to pay a lot more than people in the US do for Dell computers. I don't know why.

martinez59
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Postby martinez59 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:58 pm

I do have a Dell too and to be honest, it has been excellent. I have it since 2007 and its still working very well. If I were you i would get another one.

Dnisis
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Postby Dnisis » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:31 pm

I have used dells for the last 17 years. I have always liked their quality. ones currently in use are inspiron laptop (2002), dimension 8400 (great reliable unit 2004) xps 600 (2006, the one with problems)

The service (I also have the onsite stuff) is okay. I hate the telephone reps who tell you do things from a script and won't accept that you have already done troubleshooting and can tell them what the results have been. No, they want you to hang up and run the same diagnostics again and call back. Once you get a part sent and the guy makes it out, it is pretty decent.

The last time I had a problem on mine, they knew what it was (bad Dell OEM driver, no other driver available) and still made me go through the routine. They then replaced my motherboard which fried in a week and took my hard drive and video card. It has been one problem after another ever since because they used remanufactured parts to fix it (5 motherboards). I ended up finding the real problem and removed my sound card and fixed my BSOD original problem.

Computer is, now, out of warranty (they wanted way too much for an extension) and I am also looking for an alternative. Go with Dell and do my own repairs, or build my own.
Last edited by Dnisis on Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:23 pm

In the recent desktop computer ratings in Consumer Reports magazine, the one that takes no advertising, ranks the Dell Studio XPS 9100 as their top choice in desktop systems, followed by a HP unit. They tested it with the Intel I5 processor, I'll be looking for one with a I7.

The Studio XPS 9100 is the general way I've been leaning. I believe in buying at the top of the line, so it doesn't become obsolete so fast.

I wouldn't even be looking at all right now had not my computer gone down so suddenly. It was the top of the line when I bought it 7 years ago. Before it crashed it was still running everything I could throw at it.

PantherX
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Dell Rules

Postby PantherX » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:59 pm

I have a Dell Laptop Inspiron 6000W
It's been a great machine, it started slowing down after 3 years so I blew away the operating system, re-installed XPpro from scratch and it's been running great ever since (3 more years)

My Dell Netbook I bought last year is still running like the day it was new, I put dual boot Ubuntu and XPPro, it's a great skype and media server machine.

I have 3 dell monitors and they are excellent also, My 24 died after 1.5 years but Dell replaced it for free under the 2 year warranty. The replacement is still going strong.

I have always handpicked and built my own gaming machines so I have no experience with the Dell desktops.

Don't use the Dell credit, the rates are kind of high and I heard from a friend he was late 1 time and his rate maxxed.

Pay cash, upgrade to 2 year warranty, do not buy the extended unless the money just does not matter.

:cool:
:cool:


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