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#1
sbabc1

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And I mean serious advice. My computer is processing too slow for the new virtual 3D games and down/uploading web pages. It is an IBM Thinkpad with two T2300 1.66Ghz processors. I have Windows XP Pro with automatic updates. I am also an online student, so speed, reliability, and budget are very important. I have thought about going to a desktop since I know I could get a better computer for the same price.

Can anybody please give me advice about what specifications and components to start looking for?
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#2
Digerati

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You need to (1) set your priorities - what is the primary purpose of the computer? By your post, it seems gaming is more important than having a good computer for school work. As a parent and grandparent, that raises red flags.

(2) Set a budget. You say budget is very important, and I agree. But not going over $3000 may be just as important to Joe as as not going over $600 is to Moe.

$600 can buy you a really decent computer for school and work projects, on-line banking, email, surfing the net, listening to music or watch movies. But it will not buy a really decent game machine.
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#3
sbabc1

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It's not just the games I need 3D and virtual capabilities with, I'm a Geosciences teaching major and my molecule structures, lectures, etc. are online and virtual. The molecules are 3D so I can twist and turn them around to see where the atoms are in its structure. My computer is slow loading my e-books and homework sites. If I am prepping a paper to turn in, I am running multiple sites and a Word or Powerpoint document all at the same time. Yes, I've had 2 IE pages open with 10-15 tabs on each as well as Word and Excel. That really slowed the computer down, but I had to get that paper finished on time. Plus, I am sure that by the time I finish school in 3+ years, I may have to be able to work with these programs in the classroom. I am looking for long term usage, quality, and adaptability.

I need to know if it is cheaper to replace the processors or just get another computer. After thinking about today, I would prefer to stick with my laptop instead buying a new computer if I can just replace the processors. I bought this one refurbished in 2009 and it came with all the hardware and software that I needed for school. Other than the processing speed, it is in good shape and I have bought a mouse and USB quad-port when I needed them. But I have no idea where to start looking or what to look for. Can I just get any processors to have put in or will only certain ones fit my laptop? If you could give me some ideas about what processors will work for my existing computer, I would greatly appreciate it.

As for budget, I am going to wait until after my next term starts before I do anything. I want to have time to research for quality and price. I also want to make sure that I am making the right choice because I would like this to be the last hardware upgrade I have to make for at least the next 3-4 years. I would like to have several choices priced out and can make the best decision accordingly after I pay for school books and expenses.

On a side note: The only computer games we play in our house are the educational games and sites for my daughter and she gets extremely limited "screen" time. As the parent of a gifted child and a future teacher, I monitor everything she watches and how much of it, whether its TV or computer, even if it is all educational.
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#4
Nahumi

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Hello sbabc1,

In most cases, replacing the processor in a laptop is not a viable option.

It's far more complicated to replace a processor in a laptop than it is in a desktop. You have to take the usual problems into account : CPU slot types, heat dissipation and power requirements.

What makes it worse is that a laptop is very compact and it's difficult to get to places. You'll also find that you'll be very limited in upgrade options. A processor with a higher clock rate or more cores will produce more heat, and it's not exactly simple to replace the heatsink.

The other thing that may hold you back is availability. It's unlikely that you'll find a suitable processor at most retailers, and even if you do, it'll probably cost the earth.

Saying that, it's not impossible. You can probably find a technician to do it for you, but it wont be cheap.


With all that in mind, it's probably just cheaper to buy a new laptop, especially if your a student. A lot of e-retailers do academic discounts and your University may be able to give you a grant to pay towards the costs.


I hope that helps,
Nahumi
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#5
sbabc1

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Thank you. I didn't know it could be that complicated or that all those other factors made a difference. Now I know I need to start researching computer replacement possibilities and desktop vs laptop as well as comparing the different brands according to quality, price, and reliability.

Can you give me some advice of what specs I should narrow my search by (RAM, clock speed, GHz, etc.)? Also, since I am looking long term purchase, should I be looking at Windows Vista or Windows 7 OS instead of XP?
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#6
Digerati

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Thank you. I didn't know it could be that complicated or that all those other factors made a difference.

You can thank the fact there is no ATX Form Factor standard for notebooks - that means in their desires to make their notebooks lighter, thinner, more powerful, longer battery life, and to stand out from the competition, they use proprietary parts and techniques which makes maintaining and upgrading difficult, if not impossible. Even IF there is a more powerful CPU that would work in that notebook, as Nahumi correctly noted, you likely would not be able to upgrade the cooling or power supply to support the increased demands - and heat is always - ALWAYS - a big concern with notebooks, not only due to their compact size restricting cooling options, but because most notebooks cannot be properly cleaned by "normal users" of heat trapping dust sucked in by the fans.

XP was NOT designed with security first. XP was designed over 10 years ago before ANYONE could imagine how big, and how dangerous the Internet could be. And it was designed to support legacy hardware and software from the DOS era - 20+ plus years ago.

XP is history. Windows 7 was designed with security first, legacy support on down the line. Windows 7 64-bit is the way to go.

3D support would require a good graphics solution and virtual capabilities require lots of RAM.

I understand the need for portability, but a PC is probably a much better choice for the tasks you want to perform.
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#7
sbabc1

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OK, thank you. So, we have a PC with Windows 7 64 bit. Lucky for me, someone gave me a very nice 23" wide HD flat screen monitor that I thought was a TV. I put it in the closet in case one of our TVs broke. I have a mouse and keyboards are cheap so my biggest expensive will be the CPU.

Now, graphics and RAM? What should I look for and what do you think should be the minimums? And I still don't know what processors and clock speeds (definition, please), so if you could give me help figuring that out I would appreciate it greatly.

Also, the disc player in my laptop will not replay the ones I put our pictures on (probably my vault since I didn't know to do it) so I need to know what kind of disc player to look for that will play CD-roms from school and I can save/replay family photos, etc. I don't understand the different DVD/CD RW etc. I need to able to load our pictures off the camera onto a disc and be able to replay it on my computer or a TV.

I realize I am asking a lot of questions, but I really don't know much about the hardware parts of a computer and have had "learn-as-I-go" with all the new software I have had to use. I like plug-&-play software and make sure I know where the help button is before I start using it. As I said, novice!
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#8
Digerati

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Most of these questions you can find by punching them into Google.

As far as my preferences, I certainly have some. The foundation for a good computer that will provide years of service plus be able to evolve to stay current longer starts with a good case and a quality PSU from a reputable maker. The case should be one of the first choices. I like mid towers because they are not too big, but still provide adequate cooling options and room to work in. I will not have a case again that does not have removable, washable air filter.

The PSU is perhaps one the most important purchase decisions, but is the last decision to make. This is because you cannot determine the correct size until after you have selected all the components it will support.

Most motherboards support either triple or dual channel memory architecture. My preferred amount of RAM is 6Gb and 8Gb respectively.

If you get a DVD RW, it will let you Read (play) virtually all DVD and all CD formats and write (save data) to most CD and DVD blank disks. So you don't really have to worry about supporting older formats. I would suggesting getting a BluRay player, simply because BluRay will likely take over from standard DVD.
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#9
sbabc1

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Thanks for the help. So, as I edit the parameters of the various search engines, I start with the DVD-RW and other components to narrow results?

My current laptop is a Lenovo T60 1953-DAU. Old and upgrades are not an option, even at the Lenovo site because I checked. But, I know they make durable, quality computers for very reasonable price. I am wondering what your opinion of their products are?
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#10
Digerati

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What I am say is, "ask" Google. For example (excuse the "too hard?" comment) - What does DVD/RW mean?

But by all means, if you still have questions, ask here too - I am not trying to blow you off, but when you post here, you have to wait for a response. If you ask Google or Bing, you get a immediate response.
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#11
sbabc1

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The search engines I am talking about are the ones on the various computer sites to narrow the results. I should not put the processor in first, right? I should put in the DVD-RW, RAM size, price range, and so on first?
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#12
Digerati

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I might have led you astray. If you want to learn more about the various CD and DVD formats for example, use Google. If you want to learn about a specific model DVD sold at a specific site, then you will have to navigate that site (and all are a bit different).

So, let's start over. When I am starting a new build, I first define purpose of the computer, then establish a budget. I then choose AMD or Intel. There is no right or wrong there. It is really a matter of personal choice. That said, as an entire line, Intels tend to be more powerful, consume less power, and generate less heat. However, AMDs, which are also excellent CPUs, tend to cost less.

Once you decide on CPU, you have to pick a motherboard that supports that CPU. Many sites have "wizards" to help with that, and most motherboard makers post the compatible CPUs on the board's website.

Then you buy RAM that works with that motherboard. This again will be posted on the board's site in a QVL - qualified vendor list. There are too many RAM makers and RAM products to test them all, so you don't have to buy the exact RAM off the list, but you do need to buy RAM with the exact specs as those on the list.

Most DVD players support all formats of DVD and CDs. You need a DVD writer if you want to "burn" your own disks.

Note the ATX Form Factor Standard dictates that ALL ATX cases, ATX power supplies, ATX motherboards will fit, work, and play well together - physically and electrically. This means you can install any brand ATX PSU into any brand ATX case and it will support any brand ATX motherboard. This is GREAT for consumers as we have many choices. It also means any DVD drive made for PCs will fit and connect perfectly in your case.

Hope that helps clear it up a bit. And remember, the stupid question is the one not asked.
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#13
sbabc1

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Thanks a bunch! I thought CPU meant the whole case where all the components where housed so I am glad you cleared that up for me. Now I know how to move forward a bit more and to make sure I am looking more closely at the specs, especially for ATX components, just in case I do have to make any changes in the future.
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#14
Digerati

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I thought CPU meant the whole case where all the components where housed

A common mistake from years ago when the personal computer was something new, and users did not have the terminologies down. CPU, or central processor unit is an integrated circuit, an IC, a computer "chip".

especially for ATX components

Generally, all PC devices are ATX compliant so looking for them is not a big deal. Note that microATX motherboards can fit in mid, or full sized ATX cases. But of course, a full sized ATX motherboard could not fit in a microATX case. I generally recommend mid sized tower cases as they will hold standard and smaller boards, and still provide plenty of cooling options, as well as room to work in.
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#15
sbabc1

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Thank you so much for all your help.
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