The wife’s iBook is on its very last legs — she uses it for email and NYT crossword puzzles — since I always feel the need for speed, I decided to give her my 2 year old MacBook Pro and order a new one (w/8 gigs of RAM !) for my travels.

That got me thinking: My office Windows machine (ordered with XP instead of Vista) is also getting old and slow. I am thinking about ordering a new machine.

I use a lot of programs at once — Word, Acrobat, Outlook, Excel, Bloomberg and multiple Firefox windows running a dozen tabs a piece.

Whats the way to go — Dell or HP? What machine and configuration would you suggest?

Category: Technology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

107 Responses to “Good Windows Machine?”

  1. VennData says:

    Oxymoron. Wait for a Net-machine or go Unix/Lenovo. Google Docs, etc. No more backups.

  2. sethdavis says:

    Why not just use one of your Macs? They run Windows as well, if not better, than other WinTel machines.

  3. RW says:

    Why go with a major brand? You’ve got an IT operation there, vendor(s) who would like to make you happy and a major city/financial center with custom computer assemblers to match; get some names and let one of ‘em make you happy enough for repeat biz – no way Dell or HP is going to care much one way or the other if you buy from them or die.

    Completely OT: Just been listening to some cuts off the “Color of Memory” album by the Vandermark 5 and think I’ve fallen in love with jazz all over again; e.g., video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMw5zHKn86A

  4. abelenky says:

    I strongly recommend Windows 7 (Home Premium or higher), 64-bit, with at least 4GB of RAM, possibly more.

    The 64-bit version runs much faster than the 32-bit versions, and lots of RAM will make multi-tasking fast and smooth.

    Your post was a little unclear if you want a notebook or desktop. For notebooks, I’ve always preferred Sony. They come at a bit of a premium price, but have never disappointed me. For a desktop, Dell is a good choice, although I always go with “build-it-myself”.

  5. KidDynamite says:

    I assume you’re talking about a desktop, in which case I defer to others.. if you’re talking about a laptop, I’d just input that I’m happy with my Toshiba, and that I’ve found HP touchpads to be insanely frustrating in terms of sensitivity.

  6. Transor Z says:

    KD: wireless mouse. Touchpads suck. My wife and I both switched to laptop this year.

    Just curious: why are people sticking with desktops?

  7. Transor Z says:

    FWIW, I got a Dell XPS 15 a couple of months ago and I’m very happy with it so far.

  8. stevesliva says:

    Looks like Lenovo has some innovative desktop form factors. If I were going for a new desktop, though, I’d want wireless everything and a huge screen. Most multicore processors will be fine for your list of apps.

  9. ByteMe says:

    How fast do you want to go and how much money do you want to spend to get there?

    I usually aim for one to two CPU steps below the fastest available CPU (saves a lot of money and you won’t notice the difference), as much memory as possible (8 GB is the minimum you want anymore), Win7 x64, reasonably sized disc (crap expands to fill it, so , etc, etc, etc. And then expect to toss/donate it in 3 years for something newer.

    HP or Dell, makes no difference except in the additional software they load that you may not want. I have both and they’re both fine.

  10. lazyclimber says:

    Regardless of which machine you buy, you need an SSD (solid state drive.) Expensive, but worth every penny. Here’s why: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2738/3

  11. Desktop cause its going to sit there for 2 years

    I have 2 big screens — all I need

    8 Gigs seems to be the rage these days

    I’ve used Wireless keyboards and mice — I think they suck — the delays are to annoying to me

  12. Rouleur says:

    …iMac 27 inch, really sweeeeeeet…

  13. V says:

    Dell generally gives you lots of customizable options for business desktops and workstations. Performance only seems to be limited by the $ you have to spend these days.

  14. abelenky says:

    I use Wireless Logitech Keyboard and Mouse (K350 and Performance Mouse MX), and never notice any delay of any kind, even when playing fast-action video games.

  15. luckyvic says:

    I would second the 27″ iMac. You can run Windows on it much faster than most PCs.

    ~~~

    BR: For network configuration reasons, it must be a PC.

  16. Mike in Nola says:

    Agree with RW – you can get a much better machine putting it together yourself or having a custom machine made. The big vendors are looking for the cheapest commodity that fits because the pricing is so competitive, something Apple doesn’t have to deal with.

    I’d recommend an Intel Core i5 or i7 with 8 gigs of ram and a terrabyte drive. Of course you want a backup external drive with automatic backups. And a cloud backup on top of that.

    Unless you are going to play a lot of games, the video card doesn’t need to be fancy. My wife’s new i3 Toshiba laptop plays movies fine using the Intel HD graphics built into the processor.

    Another idea: MS has started selling machines itself. They are its partners machines, but unlike the ones you get at regular retail, they are set up correctly out of the box and have no crapware. They boot faster and run faster.
    Here’s an article about it:
    http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows-7/Microsoft-Signature.aspx
    Here’s a link to the store page.
    http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/list/parentCategoryID.44066900/categoryID.50787300

    I would tell you to stop in to your local MSFT store to see machines in person. But MSFT, being the marketing powerhouse it is, doesn’t have a store New York, or in any big cities where they might sell some.

  17. maximo says:

    Barry,

    Why Windows? Keep the machine and put Ubuntu on it. I have to old computers and I run the same stuff on them without a glitch. If you have to buy a new machine go with HP. And I still would put Ubuntu on it. Think Mac OS on a PC.

  18. maximo says:

    Go with HP and put Ubuntu on it. Think Mac OS for a PC. It’s that good.

  19. Bob A says:

    doesn’t matter what brand really
    i bought a Gateway(Asus) last summer and it works great
    quad-core minimum.. more if you can afford it.. the more the better
    intel or amd doesn’t matter
    8gb ram
    DONT get a slimline case
    It should preferably have a graphics card with two digital outputs
    one HDMI and DVI is ok.. you can get cable adapters if necessary depending on your monitor’s inputs
    (as opposed to one digital and one analog)
    so you can attach two monitors and they both look the same
    analog looks like hell next to digital if you have two identical monitors

  20. bman says:

    Buy a Dell, I bought an HP machine. I had issues regarding the hibernate and sleep modes.
    I contacted HP regarding the problem. They told me I couldn’t use hybernate or sleep. I was supposed to power it down when I wasn’t using it or just burn energy for no reason. Their logic was it wasn’t a laptop, it was not required to be able to sleep or hybernate. The fan alone was reason enough to make that a problem. I will never buy from HP again.

  21. Guillermo says:

    As a former IT guy, here’s my advice:

    got here: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/desktops-n-workstations

    Use the check boxes to build what you want. TBH, i love myself some juicy memory, but you don’t really need 8G for firefox bloomberg acrobat and office. I have 4Gs on mine and it works perfectly and sometimes I really really hammer excel with large data sets. Just make sure you definitely buy from the small business and not the home side. It’s the most important thing because they come with sooo much less junk. If you use a memory hog of an antivirus like Kaspersky, well, then no amount of memory or CPU will be enough. Those programs just make your computer crawl. Windows security essentials are free and once combined with reasonable firewall settings and a computer which you use for work stuff, you wont be facing any problems

  22. Transor Z says:

    You can have a multi-screen setup for trading with a laptop + docking station. Lenovo at high end. But if the computer is literally just going to stay put then of course desktop makes sense. Check out Origin Genesis if you want i7 Core 8 GB RAM you can play games on. They’re an offshoot of Alienware.

    I’ve never used the wireless keyboards but haven’t had a delay issue with wireless mouse. That was directed to KD’s comment re: touchpads on laptops, which REALLY suck.

  23. kurtwestphal says:

    Barry i bought a dell xps910 a year or so ago
    i think the build quality is acceptable, not as good as many years ago
    but it can be outfitted with 24 GB of RAM, great graphics cards, a beefy power supply
    it was no fuss, and with an i7 processor works very efficiently with Win7 x64, works effortlessly
    and is pretty quiet compared to past machines..

    i’ve had troubles with low end and mid range dells and hps the higher end seems more robust and reliable.
    service sucks from dell these days,
    and pretty much everyone..

    so pick a good reliable machine..

  24. louis says:

    Second Guillermo’s advice, Go Dell , order from the buisness side with 3 year Next day support. Optiplex is a very stable system you just need to decide on your footprint. The usff are nice for the space but harder to work in. If you go with the standard desktop they are very easy to crack open and replace anything when they send you the part. If you ever have an issue you can use Dell Chat and resolve within 10 minutes.

    On a side note Whalen has you as the lead in.

    http://us1.institutionalriskanalytics.com/pub/IRAMain.asp

  25. teraflop says:

    $0.02 worth: recently loaded Ubuntu on a workstation to try it out on legacy, but good, hardware. Good news is it is an eye-opener. Bad news is I need to invest some added time to tweak for speed (WiFi may be the issue). Unknown how it plays with BB. This is my 2nd Ubuntu install, after installing it on my home-brew server – very happy with the latter, it’s running my custom Java, Perl, and Python apps plus mediatomb & firefly (for media playing), and a webserver.

    Next PC is going to be a Windows 7 plus the near-best mobo I can get inside a Cooler Master. Yes, another home-brew. Its (single) purpose is for delivering high-quality graphics to a 55-inch LED HDTV.

    That being said, I’d go with a Dell. As for wireless, I have no problems with a Fellowes keyboard & Microsoft Mouse, it’s what I use on my main machine which currently Windows Vista 32-bit business. I would upgrade video/memory/keyboard/mouse after you get the base machine from Dell.

  26. uzer says:

    no offense but “Word, Acrobat, Outlook, Excel, Bloomberg and multiple Firefox windows running a dozen tabs a piece. ” shouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in memory or processor usage. of course your [bloated] MS OS of choice will affect the overall resource hog-i-ness. for what you describe, 2GB of ram on a single core windoze xp machine would be more than sufficient.

    –my [worthless] 2¢

  27. gato.chan says:

    I’m with the two directly above me regarding core i7 with 8gb ram. Make sure you get the 64-bit OS installed. Add a dual-headed video card. The rest is just details. If you have the time/energy to grow your own you can save 50% compared to buying one off the shelf. The money saved can go toward better hardware or some other toys.

  28. dcsos says:

    The best windows machine is a Macintosh Pro Desktop Tower
    Either under Parallels, Fusion or Boot Camp, Windows 7 64 bit or Windows XP 32 are the best choices.
    Beats a Dell, Alienware or HP by a factor of 5.

  29. JimRino says:

    Stick with Mac, an iMac:
    1) You can walk into an Apple Store and talk to a Qualified Experienced Person.
    2) That person will speak English.
    3) I’ve had Excellent support from Apple, you should too.
    4) Buy the Book: Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual
    Read Chapter 8: Windows on Macintosh.
    – You can set up Boot Camp, and run Windows full speed in the machine [ It's easy. ]
    – Or, you can run Windows programs in a virtual environment.
    This has the benefit of only making you a virus target, while you’re in your business environment.
    Your personal data, and correspondence can stay on the Mac where it will be a low target.

    Apple seems to be reading an IMac update in 4-6 weeks, and these machines already have large monitors, large disk, and Quad Processors, at an excellent price. This is a Best Buy.
    This machine should have far more horsepower then you’ll need.

    I also recommend Windows 7, but Boot Camp may only want the 32 bit version.
    - Windows 7 has Microsoft’s Latest Security model, which is better then Vista.
    - Microsoft also seems to have finally discovered the Profiler, with this OS seemingly being the first to actually get optimized, giving actual good performance.
    - As a business user, you might need Windows 7 Professional for Domain Join.

    http://www.macrumors.com/2011/03/22/potential-imac-update-to-sandy-bridge-and-thunderbolt-in-4-6-weeks/

  30. “Wireless keyboards” are a major Security hazard.

    http://hackaday.com/2007/12/02/wireless-keyboards-easily-cracked/ for one, of too many, ref.s..
    ~~

    “Why go with a major brand? You’ve got an IT operation there, vendor(s) who would like to make you happy and a major city/financial center with custom computer assemblers to match; get some names and let one of ‘em make you happy enough for repeat biz – no way Dell or HP is going to care much one way or the other if you buy from them or die…” from RW, above

    no kidding..
    ~~

    (8 GB is the minimum you want anymore) … ByteMe, & Mike in H-town, are on the right track..

    but, other than that get a separate Graphics Card, dual Optical Drives, and, yes, a 3 1/2 in. ‘floppy’ ..

    most importantly, pay attention to the Motherboard and, note, the Bus speed, as well..

    and, while you’re at it, might as well build the ‘Surge Protector/UPS’ into the Box ..

  31. uzer says:

    also remember, a 32 bit windoze OS has a max addressable limit of 4GB of ram.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension

  32. Michael says:

    I looked at both Dell and HP, and ended up sticking with Dell [business side]…. a very nice Dell Vostro 430 customized to my exact liking, e.g. Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit, Word/Excel/etc., video card and lots of memory. It is fast.

    I think, like me, you want a reliable machine that you can customize from an established manufacturer…. and that to me was Dell business side.

    Regards,
    Michael

  33. ZenRazor says:

    I read this post while I was on the phone with a friend that manages an IT team that supports several hundred reasonably high-end PCs. He probably buys 50 to 100 a year. When I posed the Dell versus HP question he said he just goes by which organization has pissed him off the least with their defects and customer support recently. That has made the current vendor of choice HP.

    As an aside, two week’s ago I took delivery of a new top-end MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM. I loaded VMWare’s Fusion and Windows 7 on it (there is still one Windows application I haven’t been able to ditch). Mostly out of curiosity I also loaded up the Windows version of Excel and then ran a recalculation of the spreadsheet from hell that one of my analysts created on both the Mac version of Excel and the Windows version. The Mac version dominated, but it didn’t seem like a fair fight given that the Windows version was running on a virtual machine. I then ran the same recalculation test on the three-year old (then top of the line) Lenovo notebook gathering dust on my shelf and the Windows version of Excel on the Mac easily won. It doesn’t prove much of anything, but it did reaffirm my love of Moore’s Law. If you’re buying high-end computers these days you’ve probably got wildly excessive processing power for the vast majority of applications.

  34. baldheadeddork says:

    IT guy here…

    I deal with Dell and HP equipment every day and even the high end stuff isn’t impressive. A white box (local build) system can be better, but you have to know enough to be able to check the equipment and spot if you’re being ripped off. (If you want to build your own, let me know. It’s ridiculously easy. I could talk you through building your first computer in about an hour, and with everything I’ve learned from you it’s the least I could do.)

    My first recommendation would be to put you in a Lenovo Think Pad laptop and run your monitors and mouse/keyboard/printer off it when you’re at your desk. When you’re at your desk it’s no different than working off your desktop computer, but when you travel you can unplug your stuff in less than a minute and go. I’ve set up over a dozen clients with this setup in the last year, most were skeptical but every single one became a quick convert.

    If you really want to stay with a desktop, look at the Lenovo Think Station E20. Configure it with any Intel i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, the Intel integrated graphics, and you’ll be good.

    I recommend Lenovo because they are deeply underrepresented in the machines I have to work on, and when they do have a problem during the warranty period their tech support is the best I’ve ever dealt with.

    8GB of RAM is unnecessary for desktop work. Anything more than 4GB is going to be wasted unless you’re running virtual operating systems or doing video editing or CAD work.

    Solid state hard drives are a little faster loading Windows, but you give up a lot of space and pay a much higher cost. I’d recommend a high volume platter drive and investing in a good backup solution.

  35. druce says:

    get windows 7 64-bit to use more than 4GB RAM, but 32-bit MS Office 2007 (or 2010 if you want to be leading edge). a lot of add-ins such as Bloomberg don’t work yet AFAIK on 64-bit Excel (I think add-ins work same in 2007 and 2010 but would check your key apps and add-ins work on the platform you choose).

    would consider a flash drive for boot and apps only to launch things quickly. I assume all user directories and data are on the network and backed up. should make drive images with Ghost or Acronis after setting up and major changes. would also put key users on personal UPS and consider RAID 1 hard drives for them.

    Dell or HP doesn’t really matter, the HP Z400s don’t suck. You probably only need one multi-core CPU, but can go higher if so inclined.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hp-z400-workstation,2718.html

  36. Takeyourfinger says:

    I’d say “no” the SSD suggestion. I’ve worn out 4 of them and am back using hard disks. They’re also notoriously difficult to secure erase because of the read-modify-write scheme. Seems like any machine will work… or you can probably just reload Windoze.

  37. worldcruzer says:

    Love my solid state drive. Not only fast, but quiet too

  38. Guys –

    My first computer was a Mac classic in 1989 — at home, its always been Apple — so you are preaching to the choir.

    The question, which some of you seem to have missed, was not what OS to use; it was:

    For the Office WINDOWS PC, what is the best high performance system to get?

  39. jaymaster says:

    This isn’t the ‘90’s. Just buy something in the 4th quintile cost, and don’t sweat it.

    Your time is worth more than worrying about such things. They’ll all work reasonably well.

    The PC decision is not much different than choosing between Kleenex or Puffs facial tissue anymore.

  40. JimRino says:

    The resource in greatest scarcity is TIME.
    - http://peakoil.com/generalideas/lester-brown-the-planets-scarcest-resource-is-time/

    To avoid the Catastophic Failure of the Planet SANE people would:
    1) Shut down TarSands
    2) Shut down Coal.
    3) Build and invest in Wind, Solar and THORIUM Nuclear reactors.

  41. mitchw says:

    I recently got the HP dv6 with W7, and it’s great. I’ve had no problems, the sound and screen are fine, and so is the touchpad. 4G ram with the cheap AMD processor. Paid a bit over 600, as I recall. Took several days to get built outside Beijing, then I tracked it cross the globe. It runs multiple video feeds, TD trading platform, all simultaneous. Hasn’t crashed ever.

    On the other hand, I got my sister the iMac which is just a wonder. Feels so good to look at and use. Handles her graphics intensive stuff. Great to watch movies on. Apple support is impressive, and going to the store to purchase is part of what you pay for.

    Tough choice.

  42. gloppie says:

    No such thing as a good windows machine….. Here’s what I suggest, give your older hardware a chance with a lean, mean, real operating system before spending your hard earned money. Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download and follow the instructions.
    Ubuntu is totally free to own and run. But it isn’t worthless. All the apps you name are native, except Bloomberg, (which apparently recommends Windows 7 64 bits)
    A quick search reveals that Bloomberg could run inside Citrix, provided that you install Java runtime (who wouldn’t anyway?) see http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1222821.html (and that’s free help too).
    If you insist on buying hardware, you can still make it go much faster (and safer) using Linux instead of the expensive proprietary alternative.

  43. JimRino says:

    To give a summary of my comment.
    You don’t need the low quality of Dell or HP hardware or support.
    You can Buy an IMac, and run Windows in Boot Camp mode, which can be 100% of the disk, without a Mac OS X install if you wish. A dedicated Windows machine on Mac hardware.

    There is no “best high performance system” for Windows, they all make their junk in China with No Quality Assurance.

  44. Dell Precision T5500 Workstation seems a bit pricey: $2,185.22

    Operating System:
    Genuine Windows® 7 Professional, No Media, 64-bit, English
    Quad Core Intel® Xeon® Processor E5607, 2.26GHz, 8M L3, 4.8GT/s
    Hardware Support Services: 3 Year ProSupport and 3 Year NBD On-Site Service
    Power Supplies: Precision T5500 Power Supply, C2 Motherboard
    Memory: 6GB, DDR3 RDIMM Memory, 1333MHz, ECC (6 DIMMS)
    1GB ATI FirePro V4800, Triple MON, 2 DP & 1 DVIHard Drive:
    500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ and 16MB DataBurst Cache™
    DVD and Read-Write Devices: 16X DVD+/-RW
    Monitor: Dell UltraSharp™ 2007FP 20in HAS Monitor,

  45. JimRino says:

    It’ll be dead in less then a year.

  46. jaymaster says:

    In my experience, if you are willing to pay for the extra support, Dell outshines HP there. And that is probably money well spent for as non-geek user.

    At the basic level, they both suck equally.

  47. Overseventy says:

    Barry, go to newegg, build your own, get an AMD 6 core CPU, An ASUS motherboard, 16 gigs Ram, one or two video cards, which ever CDRW unit, Blue ray, choice of hard drive + an external drive, Antec lanboy case, (this is the coolest best desk top case on the market, plus any other stuff you might come up with. More fun to build your own anyway.

  48. noahmckinnon says:

    I also say 27″ iMac running Windows 7 (bootcamp)

  49. 2LiveCrew says:

    Just bought my first HP, and will never buy Dell again.

    Pavilion Elite HPE-401t, as configured on the page:

    http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/series_can.do;HHOJSID=xHj2NK7JClpwHtY8JhjK9MkBLK7jjQlNWHW2PNwjkRRQ2f2lJ3pn!111040360?storeName=computer_store&landing=desktops&a1=Category&v1=High+performance&jumpid=in_R329_prodexp/hhoslp/psg/desktops/High_performance

    Runs everything at once, supports dual monitors. Add some more RAM if you must. Definitely go with Windows 7. Better price than Dell, feature for feature. Had to contact customer service due to an error of my own, and they were fantastic.

  50. eren says:

    Don’t buy a Desktop. Buy an expensive HP Workstation. Video Card is very important for speed.
    You need 15K hard drives, too. Bottleneck in your system is not CPU or RAM. It is more likely hard drive or video card. My last advise is “Go for 64-bit”

  51. t1dude says:

    Windows 7 64 bit with as much RAM as you can justify spending money on. Anything with a newer chip will be fine. The RAM will make it fast and allow multiple applications simultaneously. I personally prefer Lenovo, or HP if the price is significantly better. I stay away from Dell unless its their high-end stuff.

  52. perogy says:

    I have an HP Desktop that is really a Compaq Presario that I bought in 1994 with WinXP home edition and a Dell Inspiron 600m laptop with WinXP Professional that I bought in 2003. Both should be in a museum of antiquity but I don’t throw away computers until they stop working.

    When one of these two machines die, I will buy another Dell laptop. Dell makes very good hardware and doesn’t load as much crappy and useless software at the factory like HP does.

    I frequently work on a friend’s HP laptop. The unnecessary software and useless utilities on his machine drives me up the wall and I had to remove most of it to make the PC more user friendly for a person who is computer illiterate.

    Dell has never disappointed me. I have owned two of their machines.

  53. changja says:

    BR, I have personally built several computers for myself and coworkers/friends. Let me tell you without any doubt whatsoever that the PRIMARY thing you would want in your new computer is that it has a solid state drive (SSD).

    The new 3rd generation sandforce-2000 SSD drives absolutely blow the limits of fast computing/access/bootup out of the water. Here’s a review from Anandtech: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4186/ocz-vertex-3-preview-the-first-client-focused-sf2200

    If you want highest performance, latest OCZ vertex 3, if you want high performance and high reliability, latest gen intel SSD. You’ll also want to pair it up with a sata 6.0gbps interface.

    If you’re interested in knowing much more in depth on the best desktop hardware (and why), shoot me an email or (preferably) reply to this msg and I’ll send you a msg.

  54. huxrules says:

    Imac 27″ with an SSD. Blow your mind. Windows 7 64 running on bootcamp.

  55. Chief Tomahawk says:

    BR, here’s an HP desktop available at http://www.Costco.com for $749.00. Only has 6 GB of RAM, but unless you’re going to be playing graphic instensive video games, I think 6GBs will suffice. Comes with a nice 23″ LED monitor too.

    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11618938&whse=BC&Ne=5000001+4000000&eCat=BC|84|56671&N=4047237 4294967277&Mo=9&No=7&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&topnav=

  56. Thor says:

    Buy and iMac and put window on it. Don’t waste your time with a shitty PC. Windows runs better on a Mac – you can have it either boot up into windows via bootcamp, or buy VMware and install windows into that. You’d have to buy a windows license as well, but you won’t have to buy virus protection for the Mac so it’s a wash). If you can swing the 27″ one I’d highly recommend it. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the Apple store if you’ve been in one. You’ll be hooked, you’ll have more crystal clear vibrant desktop real estate you won’t know what to do with yourself. They are pricey, but trust me, I support 175 Macs at work and they are absolutely worth the price. We have far fewer support issues on the macs than with the PC’s, hands down, save yourself the headache and just go with a Mac – you already have one, you know how rock solid they are.

  57. Thor says:

    and whatever you do, get a lot of RAM, you sound like one of those people who likes to keep everything open, all at once, for days, and days and days ;-)

    Free IT Tip for you – restart your Mac every once in awhile, especially if you never close your applications.

  58. seth1066 says:

    Go with a custom builder. Minimum Intel Q9550 cpu or go all out with Intel Core i7 2600K CPU. Go with Win 7/64, 8-16GB ram, decent video board(s) w/512-1GB ram.

    If you you go with Dell/HP, buy a separate Microsoft Win7 DVD that has only Win7 on it and none of the manufacturers (Dell/HP) crap-ware. You may be able to buy the Dell/HP machine without an O/S, but even if you can’t, the reinstallation of Windows from a non Dell/HP Win 7 disk is worth the extra $$ and time.

    SSD drives are very fast, but with a machine with the above or similar specs, hardly a necessity. Besides, you’ll need a physical hard drive for redundancy anyway. Also, SSD drives wear out faster.

  59. market_disciple says:

    Barry,

    I’m seeing plenty of good advice from people in this thread. Regardless of which vendor you choose, being a fund manager who needs to be able to run trading apps (Charting & Market Data) and various apps for your vast research, if I were you, I’d focus on getting the following components:

    1. Windows 7 64-bit with the DVD media just in case you need to re-install the OS. (A 64-bit OS removes the 4 Gb memory size limitation. With bigger RAM, more apps can be loaded into memory.)
    2. 6 to 8 Gb of DDR3 RAM. Anything beyond 8 Gb seems overkill for your purpose.
    3. Intel iCore 7 CPU. Good for running multithreading applications (i.e. Bloomberg, CQG, etc.)
    4. A high end video card that supports dual monitors and high resolutions for big monitors. You’d appreciate this if you watch the screens all day long. I’ve been using high end ATI Radeon’s. NVIDIA should be good too.
    5. A couple of big monitors that don’t hurt your eyes. Dual monitors would give you more screen real estate if you have many windows open at once.
    6. A couple of good SATA hard drives (7200 RPM at least. Smaller number is faster.) One for primary data and another for back up.
    7. A responsive and reliable tech support if you don’t have dedicated IT resource.
    8. A good motherboard (May be difficult to get from a cookie cutter vendor).

    After switching between Dell, IBM, and HP for 12 years, what I found rewarding was when I customized my own PC, which to my surprise wasn’t as painful and costly as I thought. However, if you don’t have a dedicated IT resource and you’re not interested to get your hands dirty, you probably should get a pre-built PC from a vendor. Regardless of which vendor, I’d recommend you to get the “business line” for a better quality system (i.e. Dell Precision instead of Optiplex or Vostro.)

    P.S. If you ever consider running additional guest OS’s (LINUX, etc.) inside your Windows 7 without buying another PC, take a look at VMWare Workstation to run them virtually.

    Good luck!

  60. bobmitchell says:

    Can’t recommend either Dell or HP, they are essentially the same.

    STAY AWAY FROM XENON. Memory is very expensive, will leave you on the same track as the failed P4.

    2k seems like a lot of money for what you want.

    Look at AMD equivalents. Over the years of being a part time “tech support” I have seen better stability out of AMD platforms, and they cost a lot less to begin with. Talking people out of Intel is difficult, but there is a very real brand tax. Intel drivers for windows are much more complicated than is necessary.

    Agree that 4GB is all you need for memory now. Memory prices drop huge in the first year, wait to upgrade. Very easy to slide another module in and save a couple hundred bucks next year. Easiest upgrade ever, especially on a desktop. Just make sure you have room to upgrade.

    Make sure you get a good, separate video card. That is where you should be worried about memory.

    For what you are looking at, 1k should be the upper end.

  61. bobmitchell says:

    Log rule of computers-

    10% more computing power today is twice as much. 10% less is half as much.

  62. Alex says:

    RE: “Good Windows Machine?”

    Hey Barry,

    My suggestion concerning an HP or Dell is to buy a machine with a Core i7, 64 bit operating system [this allows more then 4 GB of RAM to be utilized], as much as RAM as possible [24 Gigabytes] and the largest Solid State Drive available plus a regular 1+ Terabyte hard disk for storing large files. The biggest factors that will speed up your computing is a solid state drive, as much RAM as you can afford, and a fast processor.

    The closest spec I could find on Dell’s website was the XPS 9100 Studio. Maxing out everyting brought the total around $4500 with tax and shipping. I also encourge using a large 37″ 1080P HDTV as a monitor as it makes reading much easier on the eyes. Although Apple’s Cinema display is nice, the high resolution makes the text kinda small.

    I built my machine from components I ordered off of Newegg.com. My machine runs Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit with 24 Gigabytes of RAM, 2 x Solid State Drives [128 GB each], 1.5 Terabytes of Hard Drive space, Intel Core i7 3.2 Ghz and 37″ 1080p HDTV as my monitor. This setup cost me close to $5000 and was purchased in 1/2009.

    I like it because I can run ThinkOrSwim, SQL Server, VIsual Studio, Photoshop, Firefox, Chrome, 2-3 Virtual Machines, and a bunch of other things in the background without any slowdowns. Altogether I average about 12-13 gigabytes of memory consume while I work. Boot time is close to 10 seconds.

    Hope this helps.

  63. bobmitchell says:

    Looking around HP does not leave me happy, same with dell.

    XENON is not a desktop processor. Number one reason why? Heat. They need massive power, huge power supplies, and even bigger fans (and noise) to keep them cool.

    If your office is too cold, consider it.

    Intel made a big mistake with them. Data warehouses are now very conscious of how much power they are using, XENON is very bad at this. Must be they had a lot of leftover XENONs and now they are re-branding them as desktops.

    Buying anything else will save you at least as much over one year in power costs alone.

  64. bobmitchell says:

    Lenovo seems to have the best answer-

    ThinkCentre M75e

    System components
    Athlon II X4 640(3.0GHz, 2MB Total Cache, AM3, 95W) C3 45nm
    Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
    Windows XP Mode – English
    4GB PC3-10600 1333MHz UDIMM (1 DIMM)
    NVIDIA FX380 512M (DVI + DP)ATX
    DisplayPort to DVI Dongle (for use with LCD monitors)
    Integrated High Definition Audio
    500 GB 7200rpm SATA
    DVD Recorder Rambo 8 – SATA 12XRAM WRITE – for Win7
    Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
    Lenovo Preferred Pro USB Full Size Keyboard – US English
    Lenovo Optical Wheel Mouse – USB Primax 400 DPI
    Internal Speaker

    Comes in at $903. Wouldn’t let me ditch the keyboard or speakers. Go to a store and “feel” them out.

  65. bobmitchell says:

    Just to put and Exclaimation point on the power usage, XENON vs. anything else.

    The dell you quoted has an 875 watt power supply.

    The lenovo has a 290 watt.

    At idle assume half power for each, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year $0.27 per kWh (for conEd, from http://w303.com/186/new-york-city-electricity-con-edison-kwh-charge-history/)

    Lenovo cost to run per year- $81.43 (145w)
    Dell Xenon- $245.42(437w)

    Buy ConEd if Intel is taking this road. This also does not include the increased cooling load for the HVAC for the office.

  66. younkint says:

    Why in the world would you even consider a machine that can only run MS Windows? Get a Mac and run Windows on that. I cannot believe how people limit themselves…

  67. Jim B says:

    Leaving aside the Apple hardware arguments, I’d get a system from Supermicro, if possible a server-class one in a desktop case (see below). Many, many places sell them, and they are readily available, so the pricing is competitive. They work flawlessly. The major vendors offer nothing but brand name, proprietary applications you don’t want, inscrutable phone trees, and horrible Indian call centers for support.

    SSD’s are in fact very fast, but they are new technology, and being based on FLASH memory, have a limited number of writes before they just die (this translates in theory to something like five years’ use, which is about what disk drives are rated for, but it hasn’t been five years, so who can say?).

    T’were me (well, it is me actually), I’d only use SSD for primarily read/only data that is easily replaceable (OS, apps), and keep your critical, changeable data on redundant disks (SAS are faster and more reliable than SATA).

    I’ve got (five or so) Supermicro SC743TQ-865-SQ cases, with Supermicro XEON X8DTH-6F Motherboards, 12GB each, and reasonable pairs of quad (or maybe eight) core CPU’s. Came in under $2K each. These were purchased about six months ago, so they are probably obsolete, but it’s a starting point for your search.

    Oh, and they are so quiet, you have to get down on your hands and knees and stick your head up against the case to hear the fans.

    Good luck…
    Jim B.

  68. Look, I have been a Mac guy for over 20 years — but due to the way our office network is configured, its gots to be Windoze.

    I have my iPod/iMac/iBook/iPad/iPhone — but the office requirements are Windows, capiche?

  69. hypnotosov says:

    I have a HP, nice machine good price/quality/specs. But I would not buy one again, it comes pre-loaded with too much stuff I don’t want or need. I had to remove the pre-installed windows version completely to get rid of the HP Advisor and other semi-helpful tools.

    Don’t buy a Mac Pro! There is a persistent myth among Apple users that a Mac Pro is a better Wintel machine than a Wintel machine, but for the same specs they would would perform equal (doh) and the Wintel machine would be substantially cheaper.

  70. tim says:

    The maker really doesn’t matter. (Dell vs HP)

    If the requirements are “Word, Acrobat, Outlook, Excel, Bloomberg and multiple Firefox windows” – individually – each of those programs (except excel depending on your formulas and spreadsheet size) will not tax any modern CPU.

    But since you are running MANY apps concurrently – look for a 4, 6, or 8 core machine. Also get a 64 bit OS (windows 7) and then load up 12 GB of RAM. That way – if there are few browser windows running flash at 100% – you won’t even notice. As for speed of the processors – it doesn’t matter since the quantity of cores in your case is probably more important than the speed.

    For DISK – get a small SSD and put the OS and all applications there. If you have the need for lots of local data storage – buy an extra “normal” hard drive for the rest. Then you’d have the balance of speed vs size.

  71. budhak0n says:

    Just ditch the Windoze box. Softee’s a dead company anyway. Probably hang on for another decade or too like Cisco but if you’re expecting a New “Coke” revival, don’t see it coming.

    Yeah who are we kidding? Just like the 99 cent store there will always be a place for bad products that don’t work that run millions and millions of people around in circles.

    If I were forced to buy a Windoze box, first I’d just skip the niceties and get a cat and nine tails then proceed to flail myself for an hour, then I’d wander down to the beach and stick my head in the sand hoping that nightmare just went away…

    But I’d guess I’d buy a bobo Dell. I’m not your average don’t know my way around tech user either.

    If I tell you that Windoze boxes suck it’s because I wasted decades exploring exactly how bad windoze machines suck.

    Apple is overpriced no doubt but the belief that you’re paying for brand status when you buy an apple is a complete myth.

    What you’re paying for when you spend the extra money up front is a whole lot less aggravation down the line.

    Buy another MacBook and just scrap the windoze apps unless you can’t. If you must use them go with Parallels or something along those lines.

    Just one A’s opinion. For a man who understands such concepts as “nothing is free, you pay for it one way or another with your scarce time and attention” ( sorry for the paraphrase) , I’m wondering why this is even a question.

    Apple is better ‘tech’ . It’s not just a fashion statement.

  72. dead hobo says:

    1) I haven’t read many of the 70 previous replies but have you considered a laptop with a docking port? I did that for a while until I built my desktop out of spare parts. It worked pretty well. I would make sure to get a good docking port, not a Toshiba mini port that looks like a cable hub. You would want a cleaner look than that for your office.

    2) If you get an extended warranty, make sure it doesn’t require you to spend untold hours on the PC trying to fix it before they will even talk to you about what they will do for you.

    3) Bypass the SSD. They help a lot at boot up but don’t make much difference otherwise. Seagate makes an inexpensive hybrid hat is supposed to help where it matters.

    4) Get USB3 and SATAIII ports. THe SATAIII is less meaningful but USB3 rules.

    5) Gigabit wired and Wireless-N. HDMI and 1080P video. In NY, include a TV tuner.

    6) Consider having your IT dept configure a virtual PC and/0r a virtual browser. I use Sandboxie to create a virtual browser and an email sandbox. It’s not intuitive but very effective in isolating risks from the rest of the machine.

    7) All brands are pretty much alike.

  73. Alex says:

    My vote is for an iMac with the applecare protection plan. It is a very important work tool, and you should get something that is clearly superior, with no-problem technical support.

    The support on practically every form of WinTel machine is poor, some impossibly so. On that note, I have found that Lenovo and HP are awful when it comes to support. Do you want to save a few hundred bucks, only to find that you are on your own when the inevitable WinTel problems arise?

  74. winstonw says:

    From an ex IT guy who is not an obsessive Mac fiend.

    OK, what are you buying?

    RELIABLE computing power.

    That means you want the computer to work with absolutely minimal hard or soft down time.

    So what becomes the most important feature? After sales service and the real world ability of the seller to execute that.

    Which computer you buy doesn’t begin and end with a spec sheet of the latest gee whiz components.
    It begins and ends with the quality of the warranty.

    Therefore, get in touch with a few local small and medium sized enterprises that use either Dell or HP, and ask their IT guys what the local version of the next business day on site warranty response is like. In my view, Dell have been superior at this for a decade, but over the last 2 years their response has diminished somewhat. However, I haven’t had dealing with HP in that time.

    I would recommend you don’t go with a small independent shop because many of them are one man operations that often are not around 2 years later, or the principal employs the ‘new guy’ to come around and fix your puter (if you can get him out of the shop in the first place), and it takes him 2 hours to realize it could be the power supply or motherboard or memory – and he didn’t bring spares to troubleshoot, so has to come back ‘when he can’ with compatible components to swap in/out. Dell has troubleshooting algorithms down to a fine art and supply chains for spare parts.

    Even if the use of your desktop doesn’t warrant a daily and weekly backup routine, I’d still go with the company that offers the better after sales service.

    Once you make that decision, then you can play My spec sheet is bigger than yours.

  75. dead hobo says:

    Re my above post … For grins look at a SATA III machine with a SATA III SSD. These drives are new and will provide cool bragging rights if they provide good throughput plus fast boot times. A SATA II SSD will mostly provide fast boot. Both are quiet though. This might alone be a good reason to spend the extra $. I dislike noisy drives and most std appear to be more noisy than not lately. If most your files are on a central server, a much smaller boot drive makes a lot of sense. Almost nobody needs a 1T drive in the first place.

  76. constantnormal says:

    The question, which some of you seem to have missed, was not what OS to use; it was:
    For the Office WINDOWS PC, what is the best high performance system to get?

    For a guy who claims to have used Macs since the 1980s, you seem to be missing the content of the responses.

    A MAC IS THE BEST HARDWARE TO RUN WINDOWS ON.

    I believe this answers your question. Check the local library’s PC Magazine for supporting benchmarks.

  77. jj2me says:

    If not too late, you might want to consider the Macbook Air over the Pro.

    Not an owner, but help Sis shop, and listening to podcasts, I found most of the tech podcast people loved the new Air, with it’s very fast bootup time due to the SSD. I’ve heard several recommend it over the Pro.

  78. constantnormal says:

    Oh, and any member of your IT staff who is telling you that Macs are somehow different in their networking hardware, needs to revisit the job market pronto.

  79. Mike in Nola says:

    BR: After sleeping on it and reading through things:

    1. Make sure it has USB3 built in. I haven’t used it yet, but all reviews say it makes a huge difference if you need to transfer to an external drive.

    2. Stay away from Xeon’s, as someone said. It’s older tech and mem is expensive. Go i7 2600: Quad core, 8 threads. Plenty of bang. It looks like Dell isn’t selling the newest i7′s yet.

    Just did a quick look around and didn’t see that processor on HP’s, Lenovo’s or Dell’s main site, but maybe was looking in the wrong place. I suspect they are getting good prices on older processors and aren’t pushing the newer models.
    Found this on Best Buy. It’s in the ball park. Of course, you’d have to deal with the Geek Squad.
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Dell+-+Studio+XPS+Desktop+/+Intel%26%23174%3B+Core%26%23153%3B+i7+Processor+/+8GB+Memory+/+1.5TB+Hard+Drive/2247075.p?id=1218315551929&skuId=2247075

    And if you want geek cred, there’s also Alienware which has some of the latest and very configurable. Owned by Dell, so I imagine you can get extended onsite support.
    http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-aurora-r3/fs

    3. Get a Sandybridge motherboard. Latest intel tech. Fast and power efficient. Intel on their own announced a minor bug in the first batch a couple of months ago and is replacing all the early ones for free. Make sure you get a new one.

    If you want some speed comparisons, here’s one from January
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-review-intel-core-i7-2600k-i5-2500k-core-i3-2100-tested/14
    Just use the drop down at the bottom of the text to choose various applications. The i7 is at or near the top of all. It’s also pretty power efficient.

    3. At least 8 gig of memory as fast as the motherboard supports.

    4. As someone mentioned, SSD is very fast compared to even the fastest hard drive. It’s still very expensive, so some people keep the Operating system on the SSD and data on regular hard drive(s). You might have to get a custom rig to get this. Also SSD sometimes has to be “cleaned” periodically because of the way it works.

    5. An external local AUTOMATIC backup. This can be a network box (NAS) which could also backup Macs. Synology and QNAP get good reviews, although, being a cheap do-it-yourselfer, I can’t claim experience with them. All drives have a chance of failure, whether in PC’s or Macs. If backup is not automatic, it won’t get done.

    6. Some sort of automatic cloud backup of data for worst case scenarios, burglary, fire, flood, another 9/11, katrina. I was lucky I had everything on my laptop and old winmobile phone back during Katrina. A lot of people had nice local backups sitting inaccessible back in NOLA, many consumeed by the flood.

    I’ve been using Jungle Disk backup for several years. Runs automatically in the background and sends backups to either Amazon storage or Rackspace. Extermely reliable and it does versions, of files, as many as you set and are willing to pay for, so you can go back and find a version of a file from several months ago if you set it that way.
    Small monthly charge for the backup program itself. Rackspace and Amazon charge $.17 per gig per month. Amazon also has transfer charges so I use Rackspace. They have both Mac and Linux versions also and you can have multiple computers on the same account. Also has ipad/iphone apps. And a USB version in case you have to evacuate.
    I’m sure there are others, but this was one of the first and I’ve got no complaints.
    https://www.jungledisk.com/

  80. dead hobo says:

    lunartop Says:
    March 24th, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Before you go down the SSD route something to consider

    reply:
    ———-
    Thanks, I’ve been wondering about this since I wipe files religiously. BR, scratch the SSD advice until the technology matures. Glad I haven’t bought one yet.

  81. Bruman says:

    Hi Barry,

    I can feel your frustration with all the Mac recommendations, but I wonder if you’re missing that most of them are suggesting running Windows off of Boot Camp, which makes the machine entirely Wintel, but with nice Mac hardware. If you like the iMac feel, that’s a nice system. I myself have been considering getting a (used) Mac Pro for the office, putting Windows on it. Mac Pro because you can get up to 8 cores and jack up the RAM enormously, which should be suitable for a while.

    I’m primarily a Mac guy, but when I have to do Windows, I’ve generally been happy with Dell. Laptops are nice and sturdy. Desktops do what desktops do. Windows machines are all just boxes to me. I don’t know what HPs are like, but I sense they try to put in more bells and whistles that require more support.

    Perhaps just go with whatever your IT support guys prefer to work with; that way if you ever have issues, they will be able to solve them faster. That would be a differentiating factor for me.

    Solid state drives are an interesting decision. They do make any disk-intensive activity substantially faster, including things like boot-up and searches. If you are pulling your hair out with these issues, it may be worth the extra bucks.

    But seriously, if you haven’t actually needed to tinker with the insides of your last desktop more than once since you bought it, consider getting Mac hardware that you like and running Windows off of it. I don’t know what the stats are today, but running Windows natively off of Mac hardware is sometimes rated as the fastest Windows system too.

  82. greg says:

    This whole thread got me thinking. What does Apple use at Cupertino? I mean they run a fairly sizeable company. I’d run whatever they are running, assuming you could find out.

  83. wally says:

    I roll my own and run Linux. If you find your way there, good for you… but most people seem to have ‘reasons’ why they can’t. Too bad; it does the whole job for me.

  84. ella says:

    Hands down this former Dell girl loves her first HP. All of my previous computers, with exception of my first local build, have been Dell’s. My HP desk top runs vista 64 bit with 5 g’s RAM. Great for all of my word processing / net surfing needs. I will likely never buy another Dell. HP has very fewer tweaks to the OS, which makes for a better set up and smother operation.

    Costco, provides on shore tech support for the life of your membership. Without exception, the tech support has always helped me out of my tech issues. They actually have answers or can get them without the annoying 20 questions from the usual script. Of course Costco sell both HP and Dell with the same support for each.

  85. JohnT says:

    Well, you say it must be Windows, and from other comments here it doesn’t much matter if it is Dell or HP, or ASUS, or what.

    But first, try to clean up your present Windows machine. AVG, the anti-virus program sells a PC Tuneup package with one free use. There is tons of garbage on any machine used for a while. If it works, you get more use out of your familiar machine.

  86. dimm says:

    Any machine will do for your needs if you put in an SSD or a 10K drive (WD Raptor).
    The hard drive is the slowest part of the computer.

  87. dead hobo says:

    wally Says:
    March 24th, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I roll my own and run Linux. If you find your way there, good for you… but most people seem to have ‘reasons’ why they can’t. Too bad; it does the whole job for me.

    reply:
    ———–
    I recently tried Ubuntu, spend a day upgrading everything, and then discovered a flaw in the wireless drivers in that version of Ubuntu. It was a known defect they planned to correct eventually. Wireless was useless without the fix. I removed Ubuntu the next day. To me it’s sophisticated junk.

  88. cfischer says:

    I love how even after Barry says (three times I might add) that it needs to be a Windows Box, the Apple Fanboys still keep pressing on – including suggesting running Windows on the Mac and that the Mac will be faster, which I especially find interesting because it’s the exact same hardware – CPU, Memory, Hard Drives, Video Card – that you will find in an equivilent PC, for 20-30% less cost.

  89. wally says:

    “I love how even after Barry says (three times I might add) that it needs to be a Windows Box”

    Barry also believes that Dell and HP are meaningful brand distinctions. Old thinking is hard to escape.

  90. lunartop says:

    “I recently tried Ubuntu, spend a day upgrading everything, and then discovered a flaw in the wireless drivers in that version of Ubuntu. It was a known defect they planned to correct eventually. Wireless was useless without the fix. I removed Ubuntu the next day. To me it’s sophisticated junk.”

    It’s not for everyone – but I wouldn’t call it junk – our business runs on it and while Windows based companies are fighting malware/virus networking fires or coughing up yearly subscriptions to security companies and forking out on per seat licenses for monopoly sustained bloatware we’re putting the money saved into the business and doing real work :)

  91. surferbuoy says:

    if you really don’t want to use a Mac, I recommend Puget Systems, a custom computer builder located in the Seattle area. They offer free consulting to get you the right machine. Disclosure: I have no connection with them other than as a customer.

    Check out their about us page: http://www.pugetsystems.com/aboutus.php

    They are a quality outfit. Here is one example from their FAQ:

    Q: What is a “burn in” process, and what exactly do you do?
    A: Anytime you use new computer components, you are subject to the effects of manufacturing defects, shipping damage, and many other possible sources of component failure. A “burn in” process stresses these components, so that if they are close to failure, we can make sure they break here so we can fix or replace them. It is much like the way Boeing puts huge stresses on aircraft wings before flying the aircraft — if the wings have a defect and are going to fail, they want that failure to happen before the aircraft leaves the plant. So, a burn in is a way of ensuring that only hardware without defect leaves our facility. What exactly do we do? The first tests we run are very targeted, and put a high amount of stress on individual components. Memory is tested with the utility from MemTest86.com, the CPU is tested at the same time (MemTest86 also stresses the CPU). The hard drive is tested with the manufacturer’s factory certification utility. This all takes about 6 hours. Windows is then installed, and all driver updates are installed. At that time, we use two utilities from FutureMark.com — PCMark 2005 and 3DMark 2005. PCMark stresses the system with everyday functions (JPEG compression, audio conversion, 2D display, etc), while 3DMark tests the 3D video acceleration on your video card and directX software. These utilities are also used to provide benchmark data. They take about 3 hours to run, and are often left looping when the system is in standby for shipping. These utilities stress all aspects of your system simultaneously, and causes the system to run as hot as it can possibly run. This is when we monitor the temperature of your system to ensure adequate cooling. Most problems uncovered in our burn in process are found very early. Memory problems are usually found within 5 minutes, and temperature problems within an hour of the last step. Due to this fact, we feel that the testing we do is more than enough to ensure a great experience for you and your new computer!

  92. winstonw says:

    Barry, if the desktop is purely for basic computing needs, have a look at Deep Freeze software.
    http://www.faronics.com
    Many schools and libraries use it.

    Writes to the OS are scrubbed on a reboot. Data writes to specific data folders or partitions can be made permanent.

    What’s the point of this? well the OS never gets corrupted or compromised by viruses trojans new software.
    Every time you reboot, your OS is restored to pristine pure state.
    However, this can be overridden regularly to install updates and new legal software.

    Brilliant concept and mature software.

  93. willid3 says:

    we have always gotten the fastest processor and the most memory we could get. and definitely get that 64 bit Windows. you are going to have the machine a while and things will change. it used to be that Dell had a good rep. but they sort of blew that a few years ago when they were selling some bad designs. and papering over that. and HP never had much of a rep. hasn’t seemed to change much. but i do see a lot of businesses that use Dell, so either its cheap or they get a good deal. and I would guess your IT staff already has a deal with one of them. as most companies have standard configurations that they use on a network. and there are lot of good suggestions on hardware pieces here.

  94. SkepticalOx says:

    This shouldn’t be too complicated of a choice really. Asides from heavy multitasking office/financial software, you’re not exactly doing anything that computing-power intensive (gaming, video-editing). The important things would be the CPU, RAM, and Hard-Drive.

    I configured a Dell Studio XPS 9100 comes in the mid-$1000′s with a 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core 7 CPU, 12 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of Hard-Drive space, Windows 7 Pro for $1389 before tax. This should be able to handle everything you’re going to throw at it. You can configure it with faster hard-drive options also for a bit more.

    Honestly, the calls to assemble it yourself are a tad excessive. Whatever price savings or performance increases you’ll get are minor compared to taking time to pick each part individually and assembling it. (I used to put together my own desktops for a hobby). Also, my company runs Dell almost exclusively and I can tell you that they are pretty much problem free. It’s also nice having one service-center to call if you have a problem instead of trying to diagnose a problem yourself.

  95. rip says:

    I have purchased my last HP product ever. Shit. I would not buy anything HP ever again. If you like being stuffed go for it. Otherwise stay away.

    Ubuntu might work.

    I am an XP guy and have no reason to move from that.

  96. Barry, you did not set a budget or describe any support needs. Without this, the answers are open-ended.
    Assuming you require hardware on-site support, get a Dell or HP. Otherwise, don’t buy brand name.

    Assuming you want to keep costs low, get AMD – the super-budget CPU is an AMD x3, AMD x4 840 ($70-100). Once you pair everything up, a desktop won’t cost more than $600 for 4GB memory, integrated graphics.

    On second thought, try to stick with intel. i3-2100 is very, very fast still. Still great for Excel.

    If you are not on a budget, get Intel i5/i7 sandy bridge. Make sure you get the board with the B3 revision. Excel will fly with more cores.

    Suggest getting a desktop, unless you need to port files from home/office. Even so, a USB memory stick is all that you need and is much less carrying. Desktops are far easier to support/upgrade. Also, put extra funds on the display, because people tend to under-estimate the value of buying a good monitor.

    Once you are on Windows, you just need to do a couple of minor tweaks (turning off that aero crap and fine-tuning the indexing) to keep things fast. Load MSE anti-virus as other paid apps slow down the system.

  97. cfischer says:

    @Wally: What is really inescapable is the religious zealotry about choosing a PC brand, when they all are build from the same hardware and run the same software. In practice, the differences are minimal.

  98. ukarlewitz says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing what you decide on as my Sony (which I love) is near retirement.

    My Mac Classic is from 1984. Penn had one the first programs for students to buy an Apple and I was lucky enough to get version 1.0, which I still have. It came with a carrying case so it was portable, so to speak.