Desktop PC Recommendation
October 11, 2012 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Seeking Desktop PC Recommendation

I'm in the market for a new desktop PC, as my current Dell clunker is on its last legs (not interested in Macs, nor am I interested in laptops or tablets). It needn't be fancy; really, what I need is something that can competently surf the web, store a bunch of photos and music, possibly run Word, and maybe just maybe could run the new SimCity from time to time. The monitor/keyboard/etc. of my current computer are in perfect working order, so if I could get away with just ordering a tower or something, that'd be swell too.

I am completely overwhelmed by my options at this point, and, knowing next to nothing about computers, was wondering what you wise folks would recommend I get. Also, recommendations for where I should get said computer would be much appreciated; I've had good experiences with NewEgg in the past, but otherwise have very little firsthand knowledge about potential vendors.
posted by saladin to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whichever one is the cheapest will perfectly adequately fulfill your listed requirements.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:53 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought an Intel i3-based budget system recently and based on my experience it should work fine for your needs (it plays Diablo 3 without issues for example even though I'm not even using an independent graphics card). I built mine myself but for pre-built stuff I've had good experiences with Directron. They have a budget desktop section, including one with similar specs to the one I built.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2012

A very cheap computer should handle your needs perfectly. I would try and go for a large hard drive or maybe an external hard drive since you say you need it for storage of photos and music. A 500 GB hard drive should be adequate. Other than that, you should be fine with a very basic system.

However, you should take into account how long you want this current computer to last. If you'll be fine to get a new computer in two years, just get the bare necessities of what you need now. If however you want this computer to last you 5+ years, you should get something a bit better than what you need right now, so that it's still adequate towards the end.
posted by katyggls at 10:05 AM on October 11, 2012

katyggls, that's a good point, and one I should have addressed in the original post; I'd love for this computer to last at least a few years, both in terms of actual build quality (Dell has proven less than exemplary in that regard) and also in terms of ability to continue to handle whatever demands computers will be expected to handle 3-5 years from now.
posted by saladin at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2012

Any off the shelf computer should be fine. I would stick with Intel.

However to run the new Simcity you will probably want a decent graphics card. I would recommending getting whatever is in your price range that has a PCIe slot (which most mid/full towers will have) and just upgrading the graphics card yourself.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2012

What is your budget?

If you just want to surf and use Word, pretty much any desktop pc will do. But if you want to play modern 3D games like SimCity 5 you will have to invest in better RAM, CPU and a decent graphics card.

Regarding the upcoming SimCity 5, you will definitely want 4 GB RAM, Intel i5 or i7 and a decent graphics card. I've read the minimum system requirements for SimCity 5 and they are the usual half-truth, i.e. you might be able to install the game but having an enjoyable game experience? Very doubtful.

Also, wait a couple of weeks and select a computer with the soon to be released Windows 8 (available end of October, 2012). It has a new user interface that some people don't like but the important thing is the extended shelf life your computer will have (more security upgrades, better long-term software compatibility, etc).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:04 AM on October 11, 2012

I am going to go against Foci and have you make sure you get a computer without windows 8 following the Microsoft law of good/bad windows (3.1 good, 95 Bad, 98 Good, ME bad, XP Good, Vista Bad, 7 Good, so therefore 8 Bad)
posted by koolkat at 11:11 AM on October 11, 2012

As a long-time Windows user I would also caution against being an early adopter of a new version of Windows. My usual rule is to wait until Service Pack 1 is released, usually by that time the major bugs will be worked out and you'll be able to tell if it's worth upgrading. I managed to avoid ever having to deal with ME or Vista that way.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:41 AM on October 11, 2012

Honestly if your budget is under $1000, you could pick any of these PCs from this page at, and they will all handle everything you can throw at it for the next few years.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:42 PM on October 11, 2012

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