Computer for Engineering
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chewmanji

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Hey all,

I'm entering my first year of engineering at the University of British Columbia, and I'm thinking I need a new computer. I'm currently running a PII 300 mHz w/ 64 megs of RAM with Windows 98 and it runs pretty sluggishly with apps auch as Office 97, Windows Media Player 7, Adobe Photoshop 5, etc.

I'm just looking for recommendations on the extent to which I should go in purchasing a new computer i.e. processor, RAM, video card, hard drive, etc. that would suit my needs in engineering for my university life.

I just need a bare bones sort of recommendation; anything else such as sound card, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, are all icing on the cake. I just want something that's reasonably affordable, that will provide the performance I need, and that offers upgradability so I won't have to end up buying a new comp once this one goes obsolete.

Tanks,

chewmanji
 
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lini

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Maybe you'd like to build a P4 system around the new Shuttle/Spacewalker SS51 bare-bone. That would make a nice and small solution. For a full sized engeneering pc I'd probably go for a dual processor solution...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
 
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aeberbach

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Depends a lot on what kind of engineering...

If you're going to be an EE (lots of PC-only EDA and SPICE stuff) you probably want to look for bang for buck and use pricewatch for a lot of parts. If on a budget try picking up second hand Athlon stuff - a 1.4GHz (pre-XP branding) will be cheap and plenty fast.

If that's not the case think about a Mac. MacOS X is based on BSD and you might find the native unix system really useful.
 
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ian

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You really dont need any expensive dual processor systems. For the software that REALLY needs power, you school should have them available in labs. Speaking for here at RPI, everyone is required to get a laptop that is used for _everything_. Even CAD, rendering, etc. I have a PIII 900 mhz and it works perfectly fine.

And be careful with Mac. It may sound good, and I know some people here do it. But for some projects they have to work in the labs since they require PC's.
 
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chewmanji

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Thanks for the replies.

Macs are out of the question (too expensive for new ones and compatibility issues with PCs), and I don't need a laptop.

I'm not really sure what kind of engineering I'm going into yet (first year at UBC is general), so I' d like to be prepared for the worst. Would you guys recommend building the system myself, at a local custom computer shop, or buying from Dell, or another big player?

Oh yeah, I'll probably be doing some gaming on it, so I'd like it to be able to handle something like Warcraft III (I realize that will probably boost up to price), or Diablo II at the worst.

I think I'm looking at Athlon now cuz of price, but just to be certain, what are your views on P4 vs Athon XP series?

Cheers

chewmanji
 
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hongda

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Two sites to check out

www.gotapex.com

look for the deals link somewhere

www.slickdeals.net

you'll find the deals on Dell computers there.

I'm an EE and all I've ever needed actually was telnet. I run most of my stuff off of a UNIX OS. I rarely use Windows except for word or powerpoint. Are you living in the dorms? Are you close to campus?

If your living in the dorms, consider a TV tuner card, a DVD drive and some relatively nice monitor. Your computer will become your entertainment center


Also get a BIG HD. if your living in the dorms, you'll be happy with the LAN provided.
 
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DanG

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I'm no engineer but I've taken a fair amount of math so far (finishing up 300-level courses this coming year). For programs like Mathematica, MathCad, and Matlab, you need a powerful system if you want to finish difficult processes quickly, but it's not necessary. In high school I was far away from the university's computer labs because I was living at home, but my P3-500 was enough.

If you want a computer powerful enough to play War3 which my brother has, you'll need more than a P3-500. He's using that computer without graphics acceleration and it works fine, except that it's choppy even on the lowest graphics setting possible. You'll probably want an Athlon 1.4 for decent playability.

And get an LCD. If you sit in front of the computer screen a lot it's worth it -- much easier on the eyes and picture is much clearer. Just make sure you don't skimp on the monitor, as lower-end LCDs hurt your eyes more than CRTs because of their susceptibility to ghosting.
 
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chewmanji

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Quote:

I'm an EE and all I've ever needed actually was telnet. I run most of my stuff off of a UNIX OS. I rarely use Windows except for word or powerpoint. Are you living in the dorms? Are you close to campus?


I'm actually living at home. About a 5-10 minute drive. As for the LAN, I'm already on cable and it suits me fine.

If I get an LCD, that means I'll probably have to cut back a little on the system due to cost. Agh, I hate money. I just spent $500 CDN on frickin textbooks and I still have to buy 6 more!!! Money I coulda spent on headphone related stuff
. Oh well. Thanx guys, I'll see what I'm able to put together.
 
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grinch

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i've used autocad pretty heavily in the past and i can't believe nobody in this thread has yet offered a dual-proc'd solution yet.

GET A DUAL ATHLON BOX!

dual mops the floor with any p4, p3, whatever machine you want. my dual 933 (p3) is nearly two years old and it still cranks out autocad like nobody's business. i would seriously go to the forum at 2cpu.com and look at what people are buying for cheap boxen these days. you can build a dual duron box for super cheap (~$100 for both processors!) and then upgrade to dual mp/xp later for insane speed. get dual procs, once you go dual you never go back..

if you want more exact details for the athlon box that i'd build
i can make a short list or something with prices from newegg.com. but really, if you want a real powerhouse solution, check 2cpu.com.

check this thread at hardocp's forums for a decent taste:
http://www.hardforums.com/showthread...hreadid=477156

-Tyan S2460
-(2) Morgan 1.1's @1.22ghz
-(2) thermaltake Volcano 6CU
-(2) WD 60gb ATA100
-(3) Crucial ECC Reg DDR x256mb
-Gigabyte GF3
-16x Pioneer DVD-ROM
-Windows2000 Professional SP3

running windows 2000 professional is the *only* solution you should be considering for this. xp sucks ass and is just all around horrendous.. plus you can only run Pro if you use dual procs (home is crippled to single-procs only).

p.s. laptops SUCK. they are slower in every way than a desktop that's less than half the price. spend the money and build a dual box, it's so worth it.
 
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Audio Redneck

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How much do you like working on computers? All of the choices listed by you and others have their advantages and disadvantages.

I am a full time computer geek for about 50 people and I am the help desk after a PC is in place so here is MHO for a system you aren't working ON instead of working WITH :

Intel Processor - They are all fast, so Ghz isn't the issue for you most likely. AMD processors always give me fits with stupid things (like CD ROM drives and USB devices) so I stay away from them. Most of my "friends" that ask me for help have AMD based systems.
RAM - You can't have too much. Think 512Mb these days.
OS - Win2000 with Service Pack 2 is my first choice (SP3 Sucks). Only down side is that some games don't run on it. If you have to have WinXP make SURE you get WinXP PRO and NOT HOME. If you want Win2000 and your existing Win98, you can easily do a dual boot system IF you use FAT32 on the drives and load Win98 first.
Video Card - Make sure it supports AutoCAD, otherwise, let you choice of games deside that one.
Norton AntiVirus - nuff said

Anything else is pretty much your call, but that is about as stable a base for a PC as you can get these days. Just make sure that the seller tells you the brand and model# of the parts. Check the manufactures web-site for info and the message boards for problems.

For name brand system, get a Dell.

For clones, either build it yourself or go local but DON'T try to be cheaper than a manufacturer (they've already cut every corner that can be). If you can find an online cloner that builds with the parts you want, they do that instead of building, either way, with a clone, you about have to be your own support and depend on the parts manufatures web-site and updates.

Good luck in school.
 
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Ctn

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I think one Q you really have to ask yourself is

"Do you really nead a dual processor comp?"

There's a big cost involved atleast in Oz.

I used to have one (cheap cheeeep bp6...ahh those were the days).

If you have the money, get it otherwise get the fastest cpu you can afford which has the fastest fp performance. i.e. fp price/performance ratio.

The P4's are gonna have BIG price drop very soon, So might be a good idea to pick one of those up.

If you are going dual amds, you can get cheaper dual duron/athlons going rather than the more expensive "official dual capable" athlon MP.

For what you are doing, I think single cpu is good enough. For simulations (*cough* what Im doing
) dual's arent good enough
.
 
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chewmanji

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I'm definitely going to go for single processor - dual just seems like too much hassle...probably going to go for P4. I was already thinking about 512 megs of RAM...

Seems like I'll just go for a Dell simply because it's easier and I don't want to go through the trouble of buying and finding my own parts, and I get warranty.

Quote:

The P4's are gonna have BIG price drop very soon, So might be a good idea to pick one of those up.


Are you saying that the price of P4's are going to drop, so I should hold out on getting one until it happens?

As for operating systems, if I just ran Win98, woulf I encounter problems because it's outdated? Or is it recommended to run Win2000 SP2 for stability, etc.? And if I got a Dell, it'd come shipped with XP, and I honestly wouldn't know how to 'downgrade' to 2000 or 98 (I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I come to it).

more deliberation...too much brain work.

cheers,

chewmanji
 
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Ctn

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Quote:

Seems like I'll just go for a Dell simply because it's easier and I don't want to go through the trouble of buying and finding my own parts, and I get warranty.


I recommend buying parts then self assemble the comp since companies like Dell tend to cut corners esp when it comes to motherboards and then there's the added cost.

Quote:

Are you saying that the price of P4's are going to drop, so I should hold out on getting one until it happens?


If you have decided on going with a P4 system, YEP ! wait a bit longer and you save a fair bit


Quote:

As for operating systems, if I just ran Win98, woulf I encounter problems because it's outdated? Or is it recommended to run Win2000 SP2 for stability, etc.? And if I got a Dell, it'd come shipped with XP, and I honestly wouldn't know how to 'downgrade' to 2000 or 98 (I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I come to it).


For what you are doing, you should really go with 2k without a doubt. You pretty much want a mission critical OS here.
 
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Audio Redneck

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Quote:

Originally posted by Ctn

For what you are doing, you should really go with 2k without a doubt. You pretty much want a mission critical OS here.


Plus, you can run both OS's if you like without much hassle other than running 2 installations. Once you pick out your PC from Dell, make sure they are sending you a Win2K setup disk and not just an OEM image disk so you can do a custom install. Then, search the support area with your current computer and down load the drivers for 98. When you get the new PC, format the drive to FAT32 and run the Win98 installation. Then, run the Win2K installation and tell it you are adding (not upgrading to) Win2K.

Now, whenever you start the computer, you will have 30sec to select the OS you want (2000 is the default).

Install the programs that you want to run in the respective OS and if you want to run them in both, load them in 98 first.

The only down side to me (besides the work of setting it up) is that you will have to run FAT32 instead of NTFS, which is the better (more stable) file system.
 
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grinch

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/me washes his hands of chewmanji's fate.
 
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