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What kind of computer should I buy?


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You can build a good PC for SL for $500 or so if you're lucky, but don't expect to buy one off the shelf.  Start thinking more in the range of $1,000.  The good news is that you can get a lot more quality for that price in a desktop than you can in a laptop, and you're likely to have fewer problems with heat and random things bumping into it.  Buy the best machine you can afford, realizing that technology always moves ahead fast so your brand new computer will be out of date a year from now.  Put a top priority on getting a good graphics card and monitor, and be sure that you have adequate storage space on a hard drive.  A good graphics card will use a lot of power, so you'll be spending cash for a power supply.  It will also generate a lot of heat, so you'll want to be sure that you have nice strong fans.  You can often get good prices on line from places like NewEgg or TigerDirect, but it's a good idea to walk around to places where you can test drive several machines first, to get a feel for what options ae important to you.

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You can build a good PC for SL for $500 or so if you're lucky, but don't expect to buy one off the shelf.  Start thinking more in the range of $1,000.  The good news is that you can get a lot more quality for that price in a desktop than you can in a laptop, and you're likely to have fewer problems with heat and random things bumping into it.  Buy the best machine you can afford, realizing that technology always moves ahead fast so your brand new computer will be out of date a year from now.  Put a top priority on getting a good graphics card and monitor, and be sure that you have adequate storage space on a hard drive.  A good graphics card will use a lot of power, so you'll be spending cash for a power supply.  It will also generate a lot of heat, so you'll want to be sure that you have nice strong fans.  You can often get good prices on line from places like NewEgg or TigerDirect, but it's a good idea to walk around to places where you can test drive several machines first, to get a feel for what options ae important to you.

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Whatever you decide to buy at the end, make sure to compare it with the required specifications for SL:
https://secondlife.com/my/support/system-requirements/index.php?

 Especially the latest functions and changes require faster mashines these days to have a good and stable experience.

Sims and Secondlife are Both pretty demanding, so make sure you got a good recent (not too old) graphic card. And a good amount of RAM.

The problem with your budget of around 500 dollar might be that you will have to look around a lot.
Generally that's a range for 'building' your own computer or just getting the tower and its components, but rather not for complete product.
(http://www.squidoo.com/best-cheap-gaming-computer-under-500-vs-custom-desktop)

A good solution is in some cases to either find models from the last year, or also look for returned leasing computers (but make sure in the latter case to look for gaming computers and not office computers)

Ready build gaming computers of that price range often suffer from cheap graphic cards (40-50 dollar items) and cheap motherboards etc.

Sidenote: if you have a licensed version of your windows 7 and on a CD or a microsoft account to download it. you can easily drop the price again by 70 Dollar when buying a machine without preinstalled OS:

Something like this should be the minimum: 
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7907038&CatId=31


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In general, you want a "gaming computer".  The important distinction is that a gaming computer will almost certainly have a "discrete" graphics card...a real circuit card that is plugged into the motheboard and handles the images you see.  A lot of bargain computers nowadays have "integrated graphics", that is to say, the images are handled by microcircuits built into the main processing chip of the computer.

Look for things like "Nvidia GEForce 5xx or 6xx" or "AMD/ATI Radeon 6xxx or 7xxx"  Be careful that the graphics card identifier does not have an M at the end...those are designed for laptops, and are about one level below what the numbers would indicate.

Stay away from anything that says something like "Intel HD3000" or "Intel HD4000" graphics.

You can get an entry level gaming desktop computer for around $600-700, although of course you will get more oomph if you spend more.  Here are a couple of representative systems:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883229439R

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883227425

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  Since you're starting from scratch to make a desktop system there's no getting around some things, but I think I can steer you in the right direction.

The best way to do this is from scratch, because you can start out with a minimal system and expand it as you go.  The basic components of a computer are this:

1) Case

You can pick up a case for 28 bucks.  There are more expensive cases with some nice bells & whistles, but at the end of the day, the case is just a box to hold the stuff, and since we're on the cheap, you can save a lot here buying a basic steel box.

2) Power Supply

I found a $25 power supply, 550 watts, will be plenty for now and in the future as you add (say, a discrete video card).

3) Motherboard

I just bought a Gigabyte Z77-DS3H Motherboard for $104, it's on Amazon today for $96 bucks

4) Processor

I went with an Intel I5 3470k Ivy bridge (22nm) 4 core processor running at 3.2 Ghz, the mobo turbo's it to 3.6

$184 bucks.

5) RAM Memory

You can grab 8GB of fast 1600 Mhz RAM for $58 bucks, you can add more later, but 8 is plenty to start with.

 

6) Hard Drive

Tough call here, I'm recommending solid state (SSD) hard drives to everyone now because there's such a boost in speed over regular drives, but they're comparatively expensive against mechanical drives.  Since we're going on the cheap, I'll recommend a standard mechanical drive, you can always add an SSD later, make that your boot drive, then use this one for extra storage... So, you can pick up a 1TB drive for about $66.  That'll be plenty to start with.

7) Optical Drive

You need something to boot your OS with unless you have USB Boot sticks ready, so $20 bucks for the cheapest 24x DVD burner.  I bought a Samsung drive that was so cheap samsung's name isn't even on it, $20 bucks, done, works fine.

8) Keyboard and...

9) Mouse

Both items together, around $20 bucks

10) Monitor

Found a 20 inch LCD flat panel HD monitor for right around $100 bucks, so....

That adds up to about $600.

 

WIth these items, you have a basic system that can be assembled into a working computer.  Notice I left out a discrete video card as most motherboards have integrated video that you can go with until such a time you can add a decent discrete video card.

If you can't afford all $600 at once, no problem, just arrange the items from most to least expensive, and buy them in that order.  The processor is the most expensive item representing nearly 1/3rd the system price.  With this system, you can, over time, plush it out with even more.  I recommend a discrete video card first.  Video cards range wildly in price, but, the best rule of thumb is the more expensive, the better it'll be.  I paid $330 bucks for my GTX 570, and in my system, I can run SL with the graphics full boat, and the computer doesn't even break into a sweat.  Bear in mind I have 16 Gigs of RAM and an SSD drive, but if you can swing something in the neighborhood of $115 bucks, the GTX 650 looks like a nice card, and would run SL just fine.  You can add more RAM later at $60 bucks per 8 Gig up to 32 Gig.  The one I recommended (1600Mhz) is fast, and you would add the same memory as you expand, all the way to 32 if you want.  (I just ordered my 2nd round of 16 Gig, so I'll be sporting 32 Gig in a few days along with a 3TB storage drive.

So, surprisingly, $600 bucks is the magic number for an entry level system that you can improve upon over time that would fulfill all your Second Life needs and more (I routinely run SL, Blender, Photoshop, and have a 1/2 dozen web pages open and the computer doesn't balk at all.

If you've never built a computer before, don't worry.  If you can handle a phillips head screw driver,  you have the skills.  Just head on over to youtube.com and search "build a computer from scratch" and watch a few (2 or 3) videos, or more if you like, to get a feel for how to do it.  It's pretty straight forward as you're simply mounting hardware to the case with screws, then plugging in power and data cables and running front panel usb cables to usb headers on the motherboard, and aside from that, connecting up the power, power led, hdd led, pc speaker wires to the motherboard.  When you're done, you'll have a kickin' system on the cheap and everyone will think you're a genius when they ask what brand your computer is and you're answer is "Oh, I built it".

 

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