I am not the computer wizard you think I am.
December 28, 2011 10:46 PM   Subscribe

Buying a computer. Except I know far less about computers than my folks think I do...

Short and sweet.

I'm buying a functional computer for my parents, who are into basic computing, word processing, emailing, and screwing on the internet, no high end graphics or bells and whistles required.

I am looking at a barebones PC (this one), and going to pop Win7 ultimate on it.

First off: I want to upgrade the RAM. Does this RAM work on it? It's a DDR3-SO-DIMM memory, but that 1333 thing concerns me. (I suspect it might be just bus width or something, but again, I don't know as much as people think I do!)

Second. I'm aware it has no CD drive; I'll have to attach an external to install Windows. Can this work with old school PS/2 inputs for keyboard and mice, or am I stuck with USB keyboard/mice?

Any other concerns I need to know about?

posted by Hakaisha to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Response by poster: My second question might seem a little stupid seeing as everyone else would be looking at the same spec list as I am. That said, it doesn't make mention of the old style inputs and I don't think I see it in the pictures, but I'm used to everything without its own keyboard having it...so bear with me. (I'm also used to not using anything USB until Windows is loaded and booted, so this'll be new...)
posted by Hakaisha at 10:52 PM on December 28, 2011

Best answer: #1: That RAM will be fine. The memory module has a maximum speed of 1333 MHz, which is higher than your motherboard supports, so it'll automatically slow to the highest supported speed.

#2: The motherboard you're looking at doesn't have PS/2 ports (they've been basically obsolete for years) so you'll need a USB keyboard and mouse no matter what. Any modern PC will recognize USB devices during boot. It's possible you might need to fiddle with the BIOS settings a bit to get it to boot from a USB drive, but most likely it should just work.

At the risk of stating the obvious, that computer doesn't come with a hard disk, so don't forget to factor that into the total price. You'll need a 2.5-inch ("laptop") SATA drive, such as this one.
posted by teraflop at 11:12 PM on December 28, 2011

Any reason why it has to be a desktop and not a laptop? Rather then playing the game of will it work, laptops might take some of the guess work out for older people. Regardless I would take a look at http://slickdeals.net/ they post some awesome deals for laptops and desktops.
posted by Felex at 11:15 PM on December 28, 2011

Response by poster: Dad is adamant beyond all measure that the Windows that is on his new computer must be in Chinese, and generally all packaged laptops have Windows in the language of the current locale, English. I generally prefer to buy prepackaged computers for them because it's less work for me (when I build my own computer, I get a computer person to walk me through it and make sure I didn't forget anything important...but my computer person has since moved to the other side of the country), but the requirement of Windows in a different language necessitates me installing Windows separately.

Thanks Metafilter - you saved my butt once again (and got me a deal expiring in 30 minutes too!)
posted by Hakaisha at 11:26 PM on December 28, 2011

I am going to recommend only going with a 5400 RPM drive though. A case that small will exacerbate heat issues and a slower drive will help with that.
posted by Samizdata at 4:54 AM on December 29, 2011

That pc has no ps/2 ports, only USB. Looks like 4xUSB 2.0 and 2xUSB 3.0. You would typically end up using the rear usb 2 ports for mouse and keyboard. No worries about them not working in the bios or for a windows install, that will be fine.
posted by utsutsu at 6:35 AM on December 29, 2011

whenever you have RAM questions always hit up Crucial.com

I do kind of second the laptop idea. then nobody has to worry about extra features... yada yada...
posted by zombieApoc at 6:38 AM on December 29, 2011

I really recommend buying a stock off-the-shelf PC from Dell or HP, etc, rather than attempting to build your own. You're borrowing a lot of potential trouble doing this by hand rather than just getting a PC that actually has a pre-tested combination of components and comes with an actual warranty.

If your time and trouble is worth anything at all to you, it's worth any extra expense. And at $300-400 for a new desktop you may even save money compared to buying everything separately.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:54 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

That page is a little confusing as it says in the text "a 250GB hard drive and 2GB of DDR3-1066 are included" but then fails to mention the drive (but does the memory in the fact that one slot isn't free) in the tech specs.

Putting it together should be pretty easy but, as has been already mentioned, you may wish to buy something pre-built - especially if you plug everything in, boot it up and the POST fails. If you're not confident then it could get very painful and expensive from there on.

Finally, I have Window 7 Ultimate and, to be honest, I'd just go with Home Premium as its cheaper and the missing features have superior free alternatives.
posted by mr_silver at 8:22 AM on December 29, 2011

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