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eHam Forums => Computers And Software => Topic started by: N3DT on July 17, 2019, 12:21:18 PM



Title: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on July 17, 2019, 12:21:18 PM
Still working with my W7 home version on an old computer that was rebuilt from an XP with a new AMD 3.2GHz AMD Athalon 64 bit maybe 5-8 years ago. It's starting to give me the BSOD now (I think it's the NVidea card giving me fits) and then so I figure it's time to get something new. But what? Just need something simple for ham radio, a bit of spreadsheet (have Office 2010). Looking at computer builders they always want to sell you a workstation or gaming computer. Don't need all that stuff, Just something fast, maybe a SSD for speed, I have a relatively new SATA 1TB extra HD I keep all my files on plus a backup drive. But what video card and audio card? Do some digital radio. Have an ASUS card but use mostly the Realtec audio that's on the MB and it's perfectly adequate. HD now is WD 185GB, 8GB memory. It seems plenty fast for me, but my ISP is slow (satellite). Where do I go to buy something reliable and with good parts, MB, Processer, SSD, I just don't want some Wallyworld junk. I looked at PCpicker and got confused right away. I can spend what I like but would most likely like to keep it around $1000 or even less is better. 1 Grand may be overkill, don't know. Not adverse to building my own, but would be easier if I just could plug it in and load the OS. Do need dual monitors and home network.

Also what about this guy telling to buy the W10 key from urcdkey.com for less than $20, easy enough to get the W10 installation disk, I may even have a DVD with it around here somewhere I could put on a thumb or just re-download it. Which version of W10, OEM, Retail, Pro, Home? There's too much selection? I did try W10 on this computer but it really didn't like it, actually I'm not sure it was compatible. Tried it on my wife's old HP laptop and it didn't work either, so it's still W7 also.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: K7MEM on July 17, 2019, 01:53:07 PM
I can only tell you what I am using, which seems to work just fine. Maybe it will give you and idea of what to look for.

I am using a HP Beats 15 Notebook PC that I purchased about 2 years ago.
  Processor - AMD A10-7300 Radeon R6, 10 Compute Cores, 4 Compute + 6 Graphic, 1.90 GHz
  Installed RAM - 8.0 GB (6.95 GB Usable)
  Disk Drive - 900 GB
  System type - 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor
  Edition - Windows 10 Home
  Version - 1903

A big issue with Windows 10 is memory. Get as much memory as you can. I have a HP G62 laptop that also runs Windows 10. It works fine, but has less memory. I can tell that it is a bit slower than my new laptop.

I bought this laptop for less than $500 at Sams Club and it came with Windows 10 Home installed. You can get the Pro version of W10, but I don't have any need for it. You don't have to worry about the version. Once you connect to the internet, all of the updates will be sent to you. Getting it to the latest version can take a bit of time. I only have a DSL connection and the updates download in the background and don't slow me down.

It runs everything that I need. I have MS Office 2007 (purchased many years ago) installed on several of my computers and it works just fine. I continue to get updates for it. I have a wide variety of ham software installed. Some are for running digital modes. All of which works fine. For things that require a Unix like environment, I use Cygwin64. I am currently running some digital simulations under Cygwin64. The waveform viewer runs under W10, but there are no conflicts.

Most users cringe at the menu. You can replace it with the old style menu, but the new one isn't that bad. The new menu is fully configurable. You can just throw away all of the junk that MS gives you and create your own categories. Like any other computer, it takes a bit of time to get everything set the way you want.

The only thing I needed to replace on the HP Beats 15 and the HP G62, is the keyboard. My fingers produce a lot of wear. After a while, I tend to wear off all of the lettering. While my fingers know where all the keys are, it just looks a little odd.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on July 17, 2019, 07:09:03 PM
Thanks for the reply. I really don't want a laptop though. I just would rather have a tower of some sort. I like the availability to add cards/memory/etc if I want. I'm sure just about anything new would be fine, and it's good to know that my old Office will most likely work. I've heard both ways there. I will probably have to do a bit of investigation when I get to W10 because I understand they really want to auto install their updates. I have data limits and even a few GB will really eat into my 20GB monthly limits so I'm going to have to dig into it right away. Hopefully I'll get this sorted before this W7 thing dies.

One thing I really hate is, and my wife's HP laptop for example had all this bloatware that took me hours to uninstall and I really would rather just start off with a clean install of the OS without the crap. I think I finally just did a format and complete clean install there was so much HP crap on it.

I got a Moto G5 Plus last year ($200) and also got one of those $50 AT&T comparable Wallyworld phones and the WW phone was so full of junk I took it back about 2 days later. But looking at both phones they appeared the same. The Moto was only populated with some of the Moto features, not the bloatware. Google is bad enough. Of course my wife had to have an I6 and she still can't figure it out. It's intuitive you know.

God, I hate this stuff, but whata you gonna do? I do find the calendar on the phone useful, but I turn off the cloud, no use to me, eats bandwith like crazy. We had a kid with his IPhone here for a few days and he used up or whole months worth of data in less than a week, it was eating the cloud like crazy every time he came in the house. Any more I've locked the homegroup wireless and don't allow people on, I just tell them our data limits are not enough for the new phones. Cell service here is non-existent.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: K7MEM on July 18, 2019, 06:54:23 AM
Thanks for the reply. I really don't want a laptop though. I just would rather have a tower of some sort. I like the availability to add cards/memory/etc if I want. I'm sure just about anything new would be fine, and it's good to know that my old Office will most likely work. I've heard both ways there. I will probably have to do a bit of investigation when I get to W10 because I understand they really want to auto install their updates. I have data limits and even a few GB will really eat into my 20GB monthly limits so I'm going to have to dig into it right away. Hopefully I'll get this sorted before this W7 thing dies.

You should be able to get what you need in a tower, as well as a laptop. But with a laptop, you do not lose the ability to add interfaces. Everything today runs from a USB port, so there is very little that you would need to add. My laptop comes with 3 USB ports, one HDMI port, a memory card reader, and a CD/DVD Reader/Burner. If you need more USB ports, you can add them.

The Windows 10 Update system is pretty simple. Once the update is downloaded, all you need to do is reboot the computer. The updates are then applied prior to the PC restarting. If you have problems with data limits, there are settings that can help you manage how and when the update is downloaded.

In the early days of Windows 10, it was common for you PC to reboot while you were using it. Even if you put it to sleep over night, the PC would wake up and install updates. As you might guess, that didn't sit well with users. Now, all that has changed. There is "Active Hours" that you can configure. You won't be bothered to reboot during those "Active Hours. And you can put it to sleep without worrying about it rebooting to install updates. Plus, you can now delay the downloading of updates. You can't stop them forever, but you can delay them until there is a better time.

I have a couple of updates that downloaded almost 2 weeks ago. But I haven't found a convenient time to reboot my laptop yet. But it's there waiting and I will have to install it eventually.

One thing I really hate is, and my wife's HP laptop for example had all this bloatware that took me hours to uninstall and I really would rather just start off with a clean install of the OS without the crap. I think I finally just did a format and complete clean install there was so much HP crap on it.

It doesn't matter what computer you get, you will get a lot of crap installed on it. But you don't have to use any of it, and you can delete most of it. If you have a big enough disk drive, the space used by the junk is insignificant.

I usually keep an eye on things with the "Task Manager". There is a lot of process that need to be running, but Windows will try to waste your memory by putting things, like "Skype" or "Netflix", in the background. I don't use either one of them, so why are the wasting my memory? It's easy to stop the task and if it continues to come back, it can be removed from the system.

I got a Moto G5 Plus last year ($200) and also got one of those $50 AT&T comparable Wallyworld phones and the WW phone was so full of junk I took it back about 2 days later. But looking at both phones they appeared the same. The Moto was only populated with some of the Moto features, not the bloatware. Google is bad enough. Of course my wife had to have an I6 and she still can't figure it out. It's intuitive you know.

God, I hate this stuff, but whata you gonna do? I do find the calendar on the phone useful, but I turn off the cloud, no use to me, eats bandwith like crazy. We had a kid with his IPhone here for a few days and he used up or whole months worth of data in less than a week, it was eating the cloud like crazy every time he came in the house. Any more I've locked the homegroup wireless and don't allow people on, I just tell them our data limits are not enough for the new phones. Cell service here is non-existent.

I can't say much about cell phones. I have a standard land line and a flip phone. There are no apps to figure out. You can surf the internet on it, but I don't know why someone would do that. It can take pictures. But I have a camera that does much better so the phone is seldom used for pictures. 90 percent of the time it is just used for phone calls. For me, the biggest annoyance with the phone is that it talks. They XYL like it, but I don't. Luckily, there is a quick way to turn off the talk, for when I'm using it.




Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: WB0FDJ on July 19, 2019, 11:01:14 AM
FWIW: I have a 5 or 6 year old W7 computer that runs on the same chip. I really only wanted it to use for ham stuff, i.e. WSJT-X and FLDIGI. So I downloaded Lubunutu (since it has a "lighter presence" old machines) and haven't booted W7 in probably only a year. If you haven't used any linux or Ubuntu OS's there is a learning curve but they do make it pretty painless. I'm running WSPR right now on 20 meters. I'm not one of those linux freaks that thinks its the end all by any means but for exactly $0.00 I have a very useful machine that does all my ham work. I even installed something called WINE which runs the N4PY software for rig control of my Ten Tec Jupiter and it works just fine.

Just a thought....

Doc WB0FDJ


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: AA6YQ on July 20, 2019, 01:03:43 AM
PowerSpec Computers, which are exclusively sold by MicroCenter, come with absolutely no bloatware. I've been running several of these for the past 5 years; they are very reliable.

Unfortunately, only few PowerSpec models are available online; most require purchase from a MicroCenter store.

PowerSpec Models (https://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?Ntk=all&sortby=match&N=4294967292+4294820733+4294819443&myStore=false)


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: G4AON on July 20, 2019, 03:32:23 AM
Myself and a few locals all use second hand Dell ex office PCs. Mine is an i7, 16GB RAM, dual digital monitor card, a clean fresh genuine Win 10 install (no junk) and SSD. It cost way less than half the cost of parts to assemble a far lower spec machine and came with a 90 day warranty. The only additional items I added are a USB DVD writer, cheap off eBay, and a USB to multi RS232 box. Many Dell office PCs tend to only have DVD readers, not writers.

For sound card data modes I connect the built in sound via 3.5mm plugs directly into my K3, which has isolated line in/out.

73 Dave


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: NA4IT on July 20, 2019, 03:59:51 AM
Myself and a few locals all use second hand Dell ex office PCs. Mine is an i7, 16GB RAM, dual digital monitor card, a clean fresh genuine Win 10 install (no junk) and SSD. It cost way less than half the cost of parts to assemble a far lower spec machine and came with a 90 day warranty. The only additional items I added are a USB DVD writer, cheap off eBay, and a USB to multi RS232 box. Many Dell office PCs tend to only have DVD readers, not writers.

For sound card data modes I connect the built in sound via 3.5mm plugs directly into my K3, which has isolated line in/out.

73 Dave

A good thing on the Dell's, you can get the drivers at their website for about anything you need.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on July 20, 2019, 07:22:09 AM
Thanks for all the hints. I did forget that most everything runs off usb these days and there are converters for anything else. But I'll have to buy a lot of new parts since most of my stuff is in the tower but it's getting old now. I'd heard about the used HP stuff and hear some guys get some good deals there, I'll look into the Dell. As far as bloatware, that's why I'd just as well like to buy a computer with nothing on it whether I buy a cheap 2nd hand one and wipe it or make/have one made with what I want and install my own W10. It's easy enough to get W10. I got tired of trying to clean up my wife's HP and just did a clean install since we had the discs.

Good to know W10 has decided to be more cooperative, I remember when it  came out people were really whining. If/when I make a decision, I'll offer it up. There is a Microcenter not far from here too. Best to do it now before the BSOD becomes permanent.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: AD5X on July 21, 2019, 12:41:27 PM
Through Amazon, I spent $205 for a refurbished HP Compaq Pro 6300 desktop with Intel Quad-Core I5-3470, 3.6GHz Processor, 8GB DDR3 Memory, 512GB SSD, DVD. Works great and great price.


Phil - AD5X


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N8AUC on July 21, 2019, 04:12:28 PM
I've had really good luck buying refurbished laptops from Tiger Direct. My last 3 computers have been purchased that way. I bought my current machine, a Dell Latitude nicely loaded, with Win 7 pro for $230, with a one year warranty. That was 6 years ago and it's still going strong, including the battery.

When it comes time to replace this one, that will be the first place I look.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: WA2ISE on September 13, 2019, 07:17:17 PM
Yes, I realize that this thread is old, but you might want to check that the capacitors on the motherboard and other boards.  Caps that are bulging are definitely bad, having lost most of their capacitance.  And that can cause BSOD and other unstable behavior.  I had a PC that would have VGA display errors that went away after I replaced a few bad caps. 


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 14, 2019, 06:40:42 AM
Thanks, be worth an inspection. I haven't done anything yet, I notice if I put it in 'hibernate' more than turn it off it seems to go longer between BSOD. It really doesn't happen that much that it's bothersome, yet.

I kinda wonder if I would just wipe the HD and start over if it would clean up a bit. I notice I get strange keyboard activity once in a while and the mouse cursor gets slow when I close programs or tabs.

Boy while I was typing this the thing just went blotto. No BSOD, just a blank screen and restart. Like I was saying sometimes even the keyboard gets slow and misses characters while I'm typing. I don't type 'that' fast.

I'll have to dig the MB out and give the computer a good cleaning too.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: G4LNA on September 14, 2019, 07:26:47 AM
A good clean might help a lot, things maybe getting hot inside and can cause problems. Whilst you've got the lid off make sure things are seated properly, like the memory sticks, they have been known to cause problems if they work lose and become intermittent.

It might be worth a re-install, a neighbour here was having problems similar to yours and when I checked his disks with Gparted the Windows disk was full, the problem with Windows it keeps just getting bigger and bigger unless you regularly clear out the rubbish, it accumulates over time.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: K7RJB on September 14, 2019, 09:26:25 AM
N3DT You should spend some time to fully diagnose the computer you have.

I would get one of the Linux Live CDs and boot the computer to that and see how it behaves.
If it is a hardware problem it will show up on Linux too.
I am betting it is a driver issue, some piece of hardware has a problem with Win7.

My conspiracy theory mind says it might be MS giving you a nudge towards Win10.
I am not willing to embrace Win10.
I would expect that your current version of Office will not install on a W10 system.
Is there other windows specific software that you rely on heavily?

Linux has spread sheet software available test that as well with that Live CD.
You may find Linux can provide you with a stable environment.

To further diagnose the W7 install remove the video card and see if the system becomes stable. Substitute another card or run in VGA mode.
Check that you have the latest video drivers installed for that card.

>>>>Does your current machine have it physical memory capacity to the max supported?<<<<
If not your machine may be swapping large amounts of memory and that is causing errors.
(you want to install the largest memory chips the board will support in all of the memory slots)
This will make your machine run much smoother and have less tendency to stall or drag when swapping memory space.

Replacing a computer is not always the best as new and improved, sounds good but isn't always the case.
If you do not have a SSD for your operating system HDisc that is a big step up speed wise and worth doing.



Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 14, 2019, 02:26:27 PM
Those are 2 really good suggestions. As far as W7 goes, I have maxed out the memory with 8GB of memory. Seems to me at some point I disabled virtual memory, but I can't find it right now. Something about page filing.

I do notice sometimes it appears that it's the NVidia card that's causing the problem. It's been a while since I've been in the computer and cleaned it.

My C drive is not full. I use it only for Windows system stuff. I keep all my documents stuff on my terabyte F drive. As we speak I'm using 87GB of my 139GB Western Digital drive. But it seems to me in the past it was a lot less, but I have no records.

There's something I've done and I can't remember now, but it prevents the C drive from breaking up files. The C drive is never fragmented.

I'm sorely tempted to do a re-install. There's nothing I can't either get off the internet as far as programs or that I don't have the discs for. And I may get rid of a whole bunch of programs that I hardly or never use. I just know it will probably take lots of hours that is like dead space.

I've heard both ways on W10 and Office 2010, so.....

The only program that may concern me is a very old version of Photoshop, V5.5. but I'm sure if that won't re-install, I can find another picture editor. I've just gotten very used to using it.

I could also just uninstall a lot of programs I really don't use and can get by without and see what happens after a good cleaning. One of these rainy days....

Thanks guys.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: OZ8AGB on September 17, 2019, 02:14:17 AM
Virtual Memory should not be disabled.

You can set/check it using this guide:
https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/simple-ways-to-increase-your-computers-performace-configuring-the-paging-file/ (https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/simple-ways-to-increase-your-computers-performace-configuring-the-paging-file/)


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 17, 2019, 07:33:40 AM
Yes, I remember now, that's what I did. I set a predetermined amount of page filing. I'll go through the new info and make sure I have it set up optimally. As I remember it did make a difference when I did it and the fragmentation of my boot drive (C) stopped happening.

I still think one of these days I'll just remove a bunch of programs and clean the innards. If that doesn't help, I'll just do a new clean install of my W7.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: OZ8AGB on September 17, 2019, 07:44:55 AM
Regarding an alternative to Photoshop. There is The GIMP which is free, but probably not as advanced as Photoshop.
https://www.gimp.org/ (https://www.gimp.org/)


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 17, 2019, 12:22:48 PM
Thanks, this version of PS I have is pretty old and basic. But once you get used to something it's hard to change. And it seems to work fine for what I need. I have the discs but I seem to have had trouble in the past getting it to install, but it worked on this W7 version.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 17, 2019, 03:07:26 PM
I changed the paging file size from 2048MB to 12286MB. It was even recommended on the paging file size. The guy said to use 1.5 times the amount of RAM and since I have 8GB, that makes 12GB paging file size. We'll see what happens. But I still want to clean up things.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 18, 2019, 07:11:29 AM
My initial observations after only changing the file page amount is encouraging. Computer seems to be running smoother and quicker. But it may be a panacea effect. Time will tell. The wife is leaving for 10 days so I'll have some days to play.

I don't know where I got the recommendation to set the file paging to 2056MB, but it must have been some old instructions I found somewhere quite a while ago when I first got this computer and was setting it up. I did increase the RAM at some point to max it out.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: N3DT on September 26, 2019, 06:28:56 AM
After changing the reserved page file to 12MB instead of 2, the computer now runs like it used to and I've only had 1 BSOD since then. I'll still take it apart and give it a good cleaning.


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: NA4M on September 26, 2019, 11:09:47 AM

The only program that may concern me is a very old version of Photoshop, V5.5. but I'm sure if that won't re-install, I can find another picture editor. I've just gotten very used to using it.


One alternative to Adobe Photoshop is the open source image RAW converter and editor "darktable".  Does most everything PS does except layers and panoramic stitching. Available for Windows, MacOS, and other OS's including several Linux distros.   Numerous YouTube tutorials available.

73 NA4M


Title: RE: Need new computer
Post by: W1RNY on October 14, 2019, 11:38:55 AM
I purchase my first IBM clone in 1992 when my best friend talked me into it. He was a chiropractor and suggested I could use it in medicine.  He was right but little did I know that getting into computers would result in a long journey into the world of IT...that it would be necessary to avoid depending upon others.
At this point, I only build my own PCs.  I would never buy one.  I was involved in the Windows 10 insider program but never liked it...so stubborn me, I keep Win 7 images that I have created with the programs that I use and all the tweaks that work for me.  I use both Acronis and Macrium...but at this point I like Macrium best...and the free version works very well.

I highly recommend building you own PC.  It really is not that hard.  You have relatively total control of your PC and can diagnose and replace parts rather than replacing the whole thing.  (However, I have never built a laptop so I cannot address that.)