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Old June 24th, 2003, 05:58 PM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Heath McKnight : The only big thing I don't like about PCs is Windows. I haven't been trying Linux long enough to judge whether or not it's good, but so far, it's nice and stable. I'd like to try this free beta editing program called MainActor. -->>>

Heh. I used to refuse to use a Mac because I hated the MacOS. That all changed with OSX though. I come from a unix/SGI/Sun background and have also been using PCs as well since the days of the 8086 and MSDOS 2.2.

As for Linux, it is a fairly good operating system. Fairly stable and can serve its role for both small servers and workstations as well as embedded or specefic tasks. Advantages are it gives an alternative on the PC to Windows and it's unix without paying the rediculously high prices for SGI/Sun hardware. Disadvantages are that its support for new hardware is very poor due to the open source nature. If you want to use a new sound card that just hit the market, chances are you will have to write your own drivers (good luck getting proper information and time to do so) or patiently wait for the manufacturer to work it out with the slow-moving open source community. The other disadvantages are in software... Not much available really, with the exception of a bunch of freeware/shareware that is also available on every other platform. Commercial apps tend to cost more due to the smaller user base and are often not as powerful or polished as the Windows/Mac counterparts. Linux is excellent for a lot of tasks though... Unfortunately, video editing isn't one of them.

I do run a couple Linux systems, but all graphics/animation/video work I do is done on PC/Mac systems. I would probably use Linux more if the software I needed was available. But hardware support is also key and for my one Linux workstation I run, I now have full drivers for all hardware in the thing as of 2 months ago, even though I have owned it for over a year.

Regarding issues of compatibility (hence, stability), the Mac is easier to maintain and run. PCs can be perfectly stable and crash free even though a lot of people don't experience such things. It takes a lot more knowledge to maintain a PC and a lot of PC vendors don't even take the time to research and test compatibility of new hardware and software combinations before shipping new systems. Given the infinite number of PC hardwre configurations, it's amazing Windows as an all-supporting OS runs as good as it does on most systems. This is a huge reason why we will probably never see Mac clones (not counting the few oddball clone makers Apple issued experimental licenses to in the late 80's/early 90's). I build all my own PC systems and take the time to get them right and at times isn't always cost effective. They don't crash, period... I wish I could say the same for systems from Dell, HP and others (their high-end systems are usually fine).
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Old June 24th, 2003, 06:37 PM   #17
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<<<<<I build all my own PC systems and take the time to get them right and at times isn't always cost effective. They don't crash, period... I wish I could say the same for systems from Dell, HP and others (their high-end systems are usually fine>>>


Jeff. I have been using the mac since early 90's. Now I am going to get into the PC systems to have also. I notice you said you build your own. Where can i get a short list of the best pieces to buy? Here is what I have seen so far. If anyone has and tips, it's very welcome.

CPU
Mother Board
Chipset
Graphics Card
Box/Power supply
XPpro or Windows2000pro

What I have blindy found:
CPU- Intel P4 3.ghz
MotherBoard-Intel D875PBZ
Chipset - Intel chipsets/875P
Graphics?
Box/PowerSupply?
W2000pro or XPpro?

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Old June 24th, 2003, 06:54 PM   #18
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<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Pappas : <<<<<I build all my own PC systems and take the time to get them right and at times isn't always cost effective. They don't crash, period... I wish I could say the same for systems from Dell, HP and others (their high-end systems are usually fine>

I wouldn't build a PC, it's too expensive. Microtel, Dell, Gateway, et al are just too cheap to build.

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Old June 24th, 2003, 11:33 PM   #19
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<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Pappas : Jeff. I have been using the mac since early 90's. Now I am going to get into the PC systems to have also. I notice you said you build your own. Where can i get a short list of the best pieces to buy? Here is what I have seen so far. If anyone has and tips, it's very welcome.

What I have blindy found:
CPU- Intel P4 3.ghz

-- If you can, go with Xeon CPUs. Xeons are your only option for dual processor operation anyway. There are some cheap motherboards that use standard P4 CPUs in dual CPU fashion, but I would avoid these like the plague.

MotherBoard-Intel D875PBZ

-- Intel boards are good. Also take a look at SuperMicro and Tyan as they are very good too. Two other brands that are pretty good, but I would consider to be second choice after those other three, are MSI and Gigabyte.

Chipset - Intel chipsets/875P

-- This is the only way to go for Xeons and P4s right now. Don't use anything else.

Graphics?

-- This all depends on what you want to do with the system. I highly recommend a graphics card with an nVidia graphics chip. ATI are also good and may prove to be a little more cost effective for the same overall performance. nVidia is more powerful on the technical side of things and if you use any professional OpenGL applications like Maya, 3D Studio, Lightwave, etc.. then you'll definitely want the nVidia card over ATI. You'll want one of their GeForce4 line of cards or perhaps a GeForceFX. Although, the FX line is really only worth it if you will be playing lots of cutting edge 3D games or dealing with graphics programming.

Box/PowerSupply?

-- For the system case - get one that is either steel or aluminum. Avoid any that are predominantly plastic. Most PC case designs still have a plastic front on them, which is just fine. Just be sure the rest of the case is metal. It is also a myth that aluminum cases provide better cooling... I prefer the heavier steel cases as they are less vulnerable to passive vibrations and their heavier weight helps if they get bumped a bit. Good brands are Antec, Lian-Li, Chieftec, Enermax and Thermaltake.

For power supply, it's best to have too much than not enough. Too small of power supply will cause instabilities and all kines of headaches for you. For a single CPU, I recommend 400W or more, for dual CPU, I recommend 500W or a bit more. That way you will still have enough to fill those drive bays and slots. Or at least a good number of them. For brands, I only recommend Antec or Enermax.

W2000pro or XPpro?

-- XP Pro. And XP 2003 will be available shortly. Win2000 is the previous version and doesn't support the latest hardware as well as XP does.


All that said, I would probably advise you to buy your first PC. Building your own can be as simple as just throwing all the parts together in a metal box and plugging it in. But there's actually a lot more to it if you want to ensure a stable system. If you have time to test and build and tweak a system, then building one can be a good experience from a hobby point of view until you get a better grasp on how it all works and how the components relate to one another and the software. On average, it takes me about 4 hours to fully test and assemble a PC and get windows installed. From there on out, I continuously install software as needed and I'm always tweaking for a period of about 2 weeks of semi-regular use until I get all the kinks worked out. And every system can be a bit different, even when assembled out of the same components.

If you're still serious about building, then I recommend checking out:

http://www.monarchcomputer.com

They're a pretty good source for system components with good prices and they build decent systems too. They can answer a lot of questions, but they aren't all that knowledgeable when it comes to serious performance workstations though. They do real well with their new servers and they have Opteron motherboards/CPUs too. I don't know if they have any workstation class Opteron boards yet (with AGP and such). But 64bit Windows for Opteron won't ship until September anyway.

<<<-- Originally posted by Heath McKnight : I wouldn't build a PC, it's too expensive. Microtel, Dell, Gateway, et al are just too cheap to build. -->>>

This all depends on the system in question... For dual CPU workstations and "high performance" systems that would be the equivalent of Dell's Precision workstation line, it's pretty easy to assemble an equal or more powerful system for less money. However, it takes time to properly assemble a system and if you build your own, you're also stuck supporting it beyond the little bit of warranty you get on individual components. Comparing dollars spent for systems/parts, self-build can be cheaper much of the time, but buying is often more cost effective overall. I personally don't like Gateway and most other brands. But I do buy Dell (Laptops and servers) and HP (office systems). Workstations I build because the only company that offers workstations that match the performance I can build is HP and I can build them for half or less of what HP charges for their pro workstation systems. Dell's Precision workstation line are OK, but aren't as nice (or expensive) as the HP line.

One of the biggest advantages of buying from a major vendor is the support. Especially Dell - great support.
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Old June 25th, 2003, 02:57 AM   #20
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Thanks Jeff for all the helpful info!

Michael
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