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Thread: Desktop Computers

  1. #1
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    Default Desktop Computers

    Any recommendations on desktop computers other than Dell? My current system, an E5100 with an on-board RAID controller, keeps eating hard drives. I'm thinking of switching to HP ;(Fry's has a couple of good deals on HP computers right now).

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    I know this isn't going to be of much help but I've always built my own desktops and have ordered laptops from Dell. Dell always has deals going on of some sort:

    http://www.dell.com/content/products...=04&l=en&s=bsd

    I've never been too pleased with on-board RAID controllers. If you're serious about RAID I would recommend a separate Adaptec or 3ware controller.

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    I am wondering why anyone apart from the hardcore gamers / graphic designers (who really need THE power) would need a desktop computer by now that notebooks are so cheap. I've bought an hp dv2000 from their online store 1.5 yrs ago and I am pretty much pleased with it. It was a real bargain, the offers from Dell just didn't compare (might not be the case now, but ATM it was that way). It's light (2.3 kgs), almost 100% Linux compatible and I haven't had any hardware problems yet.

    Other than that, I have heard very good things about cheap entry level 4-port Areca SATA RAID controllers (~$300) from a sysadmin at the local ISP. And some very bad things about cheap 3ware hardware (and I though you would second it, Andrew).

    I've also heard that md RAID might be much more stable in RAID1 than cheap onboard fakeraid controllers.

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    YMMV, but I've never had good luck with HPs. I ordered two desktops from them a few years back. At first the CD drive didn't work in one of them, I tried everything and finally opened it up to find out it wasn't even plugged in. I can just imagine how long tech support would have taken to figure that out if I would have been a little less computer-literate.

    The second desktop's hard drive died in less than 6 months. Maybe that's not exactly their fault but I was still wary of them after these two problems.

    Then, last summer we visited Circuit City and got a HP Pavilion dv6000t, plugged it in, then found it making a horrible buzzing/whining noise that wasn't necessarily very loud but didn't sound right at all. Searched the 'net and found that this was a huge problem with those laptops, took it back to CC and talked to the tech guy and he said he'd heard about the problem too and let us exchange. Same story with the replacement so I took it back and talked to the manager. I argued tooth-and-nail about not having to pay a restocking fee because they were selling a defective product and after I told him I could keep coming in and opening up more laptops to try and find one that doesn't buzz he caved and gave me a refund. We took our money to Dell and haven't looked back since.

    The CC fiasco isn't HP's fault but the simple fact is that if they would have owned up to the issue and recalled the product I wouldn't have had to deal with all of that in the first place.

    So, long story short - HP has left a very sour taste in my mouth and unless they change their game drastically I will never buy another one. I'm sure someone has a story like this about Dell, Apple, etc too but just wanted to share mine.

    On the flip side, I love HP printers

    Finally, I have to agree with ZYV and Andrew - I'd get a laptop, and I'd get it from Dell. Dell always has a good deal going on and if you wait long enough you can get crazy stuff like $500-$750 off $1500 and stuff like that. I usually hop over to Techbargains to find those sales.

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    It looks like its the on-board RAID controller that's the problem; its an Intel RAID controller, so I thought it was OK. I have the drives configured as RAID 1, but ended up reinstalling Windows XP on one of the drives after the RAID array was split apart (splitting a RAID 1 array gives you two identical bootable drives IF the raid controller is still intact).

    After I disabled the onboard RAID controller, the computer still works well, so I have some time to think about building a new system. Except for my first computer, an XT, I had built every one except the last two ... both from Dell (because you can buy them from Dell cheaper than you can build them).

    Now the other drive is sitting there will all my data on it, and I can't access it. I trusted the RAID configuration too much; my last backup was a month ago, and I have a ton of development work sitting there in that RAID volume that I can't get it. I can restore a lot from the month-old backup, but I'd really like to get to the more recent files. Anyone know of any data recovery software that will read a RAID 1 drive? The MBR is different on it, so XP wants you to format it to access.

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    a) build your own desktop & servers using parts from Tiger Direct... save 50%+ AND be able to upgrade shit later
    b) get a laptop for portability.. which means NOT the hugest screen you can find so that you can keep it in your trunk instead of using sandbags.. cuz that's where you will want to leave it instead of lugging it around.. get one of those little asus things if you just want net, if you need more power like i do grab a 10" sony vaio or something similar... i love mine. dells never seem as sexy to me.. i've always liked sony and toshiba for pc laptops that are small, fast, stable and take a beating.. my viao looks fragile but i've dropped it a bunch of times no problem.. make sure you go with the crapware free version if you can, unless you wanna spend a bunch of time fixing it the day you get it
    c) adaptec is the way to go for controllers
    d) try booting a parted magic linux live disk on that raid drive.. or one of the live forensic linux flavors.. just make sure you set it to read only if you are trying something new..

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    I found a pretty good open source utility that helped me fix the partition table that was mangled by the RAID controller run amok ... Test Disk, which runs from the command line under Windows (or any of the *nix flavors). It did a great job fixing the partition data so I was able to recover my data.

    I also found a 1TB drive for $109 that I'll set as a backup and go back to daily incremental and weekly full image backups using ShadowProtect Desktop (which I like more than Ghost). I'm convinced RAID is great if you are going to spend the bucks to get a good controller, but otherwise, the consumer grade flavors leave a lot to be desired.

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    My computers are all custom from Puget Systems. They strongly discourage failure-prone on-board RAID solutions and have a ton of experience with them...

    Their computers are perfect though. You get what you pay for

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    Out of curiousity, what entry level RAID cards do they use/recommend?

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    hey-
    I'm not sure, you'd have to check with them. Use their configurator and look for the Raid controllers...

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