Buying a computer system/Your Computer Suggestions

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Question
Hi again Bob, following is the correspondence we have had so far.
After you look at it, I would like you to see if you could find a new windows 7 desktop computer for me. I would like to have something in the $500 to $600.00 range if possible with at least an intel 5 processor since the reviews I've found states it is better than a comparable AMD processor. Something that could be upgraded later on. Something that has at least 8 gigs of RAM or 4 gigs that can be added to later up to 16 gigs. Following is the correspondence so far.
QUESTION: Hi, here are my computer properties:  120GB Hard drive; Microsoft  32 Bit Windows xp.
Home Edition
Version 2002
Service Pack 3
Expert:    Bobbert
Subject:    Updating XP to Windows 7

Registered to: 76477-OEM-0011903-00106

Compact Presario
AMD Sempron Processor 3000+
1.81 GHz   1.93 GB RAM

Under Presario (C:) local disk it says
File System NTFS
Free Space 78.6 GB
Total Size 106 GB

Do you think this computer can have Windows 7 installed economically? Do you think a refurbished would be worth while?  I am wanting to put off buying a new computer while I get my expenses paid down.

Thank you for any help you can advise on this issue,
Stephen

ANSWER: Depending on which generation of Sempron you have (there are multiple different parts all sold as Sempron 3000+ over the years, unfortunately), and what graphics hardware your system has, yes Windows 7 should work (you have enough memory and hard-disk space to support it). Given that you have fairly recent hardware, the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor would be the easiest way to determine the exact level of support from the machine (e.g. if Aero would work): http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20

Additionally if you know what specific model of Compaq Presario you have, we can look it up from the HP support documentation and determine what kind of upgrades and other parts are available for it.

-bob


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I found a sticker on the computer that says the following: Compact Presario SR1417CL; Prod#: PW534AA;  s/n: CNH5140VHS.  This is all the information I could find on the computer.  Maybe it will help some.  The compatibility scan has been running for about the last 15 minutes.

Thanks again for your help,
Stephen

ANSWER: Your system uses the Athlon64-based Sempron, which is the ideal situation. It should run Windows 7 without a problem, although the upgrade/install will require a fresh installation of the OS (you cannot do an upgrade install from WindowsXP). The biggest remaining question is what your system has for a graphics adapter - it should support DirectX 9 for full Windows 7 compatibility. Thankfully your motherboard features an AGP slot, which gives you a reasonable amount of upgrade options for a graphics card.

Here's the specifications from HP:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00257657&tmp_task=prodinfoC

To determine what graphics adapter your system has (the compatibility wizard should detect this, but it may not) right click on the desktop, select Properties, and then from there select the Settings tab, and click Advanced. From there you should have a tab labeled "Adapter" - what is reported there?

As far as why the compatibility scan takes a while to run - if you have a lot of applications installed it will take longer as it checks each application one by one.

-bob


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The Adapter Type says SiS 760.  Under Adapter Information it says ; Chip Type SiS 760; DAC Type Internal Memory 64 MB; Adapter String Mirage 2; Bios Information 0.99.00  Thanks again, Stephe
Answer:    So your system is relying on the IGP, which if I'm remembering correctly will not support DirectX 9. You could upgrade to a compliant card for around $50; look for something from the nVidia GeForce 6 (or higher) or ATi Radeon HD 2000 (or higher) families.

Like these:
http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-S-Video-Graphics-512-A8-N403-LR/dp/B001QMM6NU
http://www.amazon.com/VisionTek-Radeon-HD3450-Graphics-900374/dp/B005DD5BX0/
http://www.amazon.com/Sparkle-PC-8400GS-Graphics-700037/dp/B00CRY47KG/

I wouldn't expect outrageous gaming performance, but they will support DX9 to bring your system up to the system requirements for Windows 7. The total price for this solution is around $150 (Windows 7 costs around $90-$100). A new computer would likely yield better performance, but will cost more (at least a few hundred dollars). If you'd like information about that option, I'd be happy to look for something if you have a prescribed budget.

-bob

Answer
Firstly I'd like to talk about what applications you need to run - is it correct to assume the Compaq that you already have is sufficient? (for example you haven't used all 120GB of the hard-drive) Or are there applications that it cannot run due to not meeting their requirements?

As far as a new computer, I wouldn't worry so much about it explicitly having an Intel i5; any modern processor will be substantially more powerful than your Sempron. As far as upgradability - that's unfortunately less of a guarantee, as both AMD and Intel have moved to releasing new platforms for every new generation of CPU. AMD has been somewhat better in this respect, but in general you will not be buying a modern CPU for your computer 4-5-6 years down the line. Memory and hard-drive are much more easily upgraded. It should also be remembered that in general, a brand new computer will come with Windows 8.1, as it is newer.

Here's an example of something within your budget:
http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-3647-small-desktop/pd?oc=fdcwsn1389&model_id=i

It would provide more power and features than your current Compaq, and comes in under your budget.

-bob

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Bobbert

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

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I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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15+ years of experience

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