How much for the death ray?
August 13, 2010 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Custom build PC in Twin Cities or Online

Checked the archives and nothing really fresh to have a PC built. I am helping someone get a machine. Two things: my expertise is limited and the software needed for the new machine has to be able to use accessibility software such as, Dragon Speaking Naturally (PC only). Budget is $1600 with some flex and no need for periphs.

Who in Minnesota, preferably Twin Cities, can provide a serious system, custom spec? Who online can do the same that is reliable and customer service oriented? Should I just get him a gaming rig?

Further details:
* reliable
* can handle the next 5 years of OS and software development in particular, Dragon's spec pushing limits and Adobe premium
* his present machine is a 6year old Dell (not working as expected) but his office machine is an AMD Duo core which, again, is not working well for him
posted by jadepearl to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Most the nerdy types around here frequent General Nanosystems on University near Prospect Park. Great service and they seriously know their stuff.
posted by advicepig at 7:31 AM on August 13, 2010

The next five years? That's kind of a long time. CPU speeds are about the same but the average ram was about 1/4 to 1/2 gigabyte of ram, with a 40gb hard drive according to this post. It's hard to imagine anything modern running on a machine like that today.

CPU speeds haven't gone up that much. But man. You could get this motherboard and two of these chips for $1927. That will give you 24 CPU cores, since CPUs tend to be 'building out' rather then increasing clock speed. Then gradually up the ram as the years went on.

Alternatively this board and a single processor will run you $1k, with 12 CPU cores, and $600 left over for the HD, case, ram etc. You could conceivably build a machine on that base and come in under $1.6k. (two years ago I built an 8 core machine for $1200, which I upgraded to 12 gigs of ram a year later).

But five years is a long time in PC terms. But it would be better to just build two $800 machines over a 2.5 year span.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 AM on August 13, 2010

General Nanosystems on University Ave is pretty good. I'd call in advance and make an appointment with a technician; the staff at their front counter is mostly teenagers who might not be very helpful.

I think you may be underestimating how much cheaper computers have gotten lately. My mom uses Dragon for everything, on a laptop that cost under $1000 -- and that was 2 years ago.
posted by miyabo at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2010

General Nanosystems is your best bet. If you feel like shopping around, Microcenter in St. Louis Park would be another option. Might be best to go there on a weekday as they seem to get pretty busy on weekends. Just please don't go to Best Buy.

Email me if you'd like some help. My husband builds and fixes PC's in his spare time, and would be happy to advise you on what to get, and/or build it for you.
posted by beandip at 8:00 AM on August 13, 2010

Hmmm...a fellow grad student once had some stuff done at Nano and came away with unhappy sensation but that may have been due to teenage support staff. That experience made me shy away from Nano but if folks here think that they know their stuff and will price well then it is a consideration.
posted by jadepearl at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2010

Does this person expect to keep upgrading the accessibility software?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:18 AM on August 13, 2010

Oh, if they're in grad school can the school help?
posted by miyabo at 9:33 AM on August 13, 2010

My brother (the local support guy) sent my mom (as a customer) to General Nano and they treated her right.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:42 AM on August 13, 2010

In answer to questions:

1) yes, he does plan to upgrade their accessibility software so that is why he wants to be sure that his PC can handle what comes forward;

2) well, he's a professor, and his IT group is not a very supportive bunch. They kept him waiting for monitor for a few months though his department was paying for it and it was per their vendor demands. So, no, his IT group will no be good at all for this.

3) The grad school reference was from a few years ago.
posted by jadepearl at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2010

I'd also recommend Microcenter in St. Louis Park - they have decent pricing and build their own brand (PowerSpec), so that's probably a fairly cheap option. If you get a Core i5/7 processor and 4-8GB of RAM and a solid video card ($150), you'll be set for a few years. $1600 is a LOT of money to spend on a new machine, and in my opinion you get significantly diminishing returns once you're $700 (or so) in.

I have put together a couple of machines from components and live in Minneapolis - memail me if you need anything
posted by antonymous at 12:28 PM on August 13, 2010

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