Need help on PC specifications

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I am looking for a new PC to replace my P4 desktop. I generally keep my PC for 7-10 years. So I am buying a PC that is more than what I need now to allow some roon for growth so that I am not too far behind in 5 years. The main use of the PC would be spreadsheets, work processing, accounting, watching TV with a TV tuner, and internet (Hulu, etc.). I also want to use Virtualization for trying new softwares.

With respect to the internet, I generally close the browser with many opened tabs; and when I reopen the browser, it takes a while. And most web sites nowadays use so many javascripts that they are problematic for my P4 pc. Is there a feature in PC's specification that would address this problem -- e.g. # of threads? # of core? etc.

I am considering an Intel 3rd generation i5 or i7 with Win7 Pro 64 or Ultimate 64, with 4 MB of RAM. Is Win 7 Ultimate the version that would allow me to use Virtualization without rebooting? And would it be cheaper to buy the PC with Win7 Pro and upgrade on my own to Ultimate? After purchase, I plan to put in the max RAM and may also get a solid state drive.

I am looking at Lenovo's ThinkCenter M82; and I have some questions about its specifications. [A pdf is attached]

1. What is a DisplayPort? Is it DVI?

2. Max graphics resolution. On this spec. it states 2560x1600 for both DisplayPort and VGA. However, on the spec sheet for its M72e model, for the same processor and integrated Intel graphic card, it states 2560x01600 for VGA and 1920x1200 for DVI-D @ 60 Hz. Is the difference due to some other aspects in the spec? Or is one of the spec wrong? If the latter, which one is correct?

3. SATA. What is eSATA connector? What is the speed of eSATA? What device is generally connected to eSATA? This model has 4 slots and 5 bays. I assume only devices in bays need to be connected to SATA connectors? There are only 4 various SATA connectors and 5 bays. How does it work? How many devices can be connector to SATA 6.0GB? And what devices are generally connected to SATA 6 connector?

4. Internal Connector. Don't understand the entire description there.

5. No modem. What do people generally do when the broadband internet is down? what is the backup plan? [I have no smart phone.] Is there a 32-bit PCI 2.3 modem card in the market?

6. What does the Security Chip do? Is there any reporting back or tracking of any sort?

7. Is 280 watts power supply sufficient?

8. 5 Bays. What is "...access, opt reader"? And does that mean that bay is limited to an optional reader? And also can't write? [I assume opt means optional, not optical?] And bays 4-5 are for any HDs?

9. Slots. Is 4 enough? Are most cards/adapters nowadays helf-length? Or would that make upgrading more expensive? Is there any difference between PCI Express and PCIe? What does PCI Express 2.0 x 16 mean -- version 2? and what does 16 represent? What does PCIe 2.0 x 1 mean?

I read in one of HP's spec about a PCIe x 16 (v3.0) graphics slot. Does that mean the version 2 above is not the latest version? What is the difference between v 2 and 3? I assume these versions are not firmware upgradable?

TIA

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I will answer some of your questions to the best of my ability. I've built a few dozen computers in my past, and my current systems are two windows 7 systems based off of a second generation i7 (sandy bridge) with a discrete graphics card for gaming, and a Sandy Bridge G620 for home theater purposes.

1. What is a DisplayPort? Is it DVI?
DisplayPort is in theory a replacement for DVI among other outputs, however it hasn't caught on nearly as well as HDMI. I've only seen it on my Dell Optiplex I have at work, and even then the DisplayPort doesn't work when a discrete card is added.

2. Max graphics resolution. On this spec. it states 2560x1600 for both DisplayPort and VGA. However, on the spec sheet for its M72e model, for the same processor and integrated Intel graphic card, it states 2560x01600 for VGA and 1920x1200 for DVI-D @ 60 Hz. Is the difference due to some other aspects in the spec? Or is one of the spec wrong? If the latter, which one is correct?
Honestly for the type of work you plan to do, a $40 discrete graphics card will be much more friendly at the resolutions you want to run. Keep that integrated graphics for i3-i7 sandy bridge will functionally run any resolution your monitor supports natively for general Windows 7 activity, it's really the additional stuff you want to do that will stress the system.

3. SATA. What is eSATA connector? What is the speed of eSATA? What device is generally connected to eSATA? This model has 4 slots and 5 bays. I assume only devices in bays need to be connected to SATA connectors? There are only 4 various SATA connectors and 5 bays. How does it work? How many devices can be connector to SATA 6.0GB? And what devices are generally connected to SATA 6 connector?
eSATA is an external SATA port (most likely unpowered) that directly connects to a motherboard SATA port, and allows hot swapping (basically consider it a USB slot for eSATA devices, with the throughput of SATA hard drives). I haven't bothered investing in any technology that utilizes my eSATA port however. USB3.0 ports and drives are all I need for data transfer.
That aside, internally everything from hard-drives to bluRay and CD/DVD-rom drives are connected to the SATA ports.

4. Internal Connector. Don't understand the entire description there.
This is a fun one:
Motherboards are often built with not only the USB ports on the back panel that you find on the computer, but also with USB "connectors" built right on the motherboard itself. How these work is that you can purchase a USB "faceplate" like device (often fits in 3.5" bays, contains almost no brains on its own, just has a couple dangling wires) and connect that hub to the internal connector. This allows your motherboard to support even more USB peripherals, without you needing to buy a pci USB card or anything like that.

5. No modem. What do people generally do when the broadband internet is down? what is the backup plan? [I have no smart phone.] Is there a 32-bit PCI 2.3 modem card in the market?
... My broadband has ~99% uptime, I'm not sure what post-apocalyptic scenario you are planning for that would need dialup... but honestly if you are still paying for modem access to the internet you are getting very ripped off. If anything, maybe see if your municipality offers a city-wide WIFI if you are worried about connectivity.

6. What does the Security Chip do? Is there any reporting back or tracking of any sort?
Looks to be a chip that handles encryption related duties such as authentication and key generation/storage.

7. Is 280 watts power supply sufficient?
The only thing that the wattage of power supplies really affect (aside from if you plan to add an exorbitant number of hard drives) is the graphics card. Some can run off of the motherboard's power, some need their own separate power (pci-express 6 or 8 pin power). At the same time, $20 can get you a 500W power supply on sale every other week.

8. 5 Bays. What is "...access, opt reader"? And does that mean that bay is limited to an optional reader? And also can't write? [I assume opt means optional, not optical?] And bays 4-5 are for any HDs?
While hard drive bays do not have access from the outside, 3.5" bays can house everything from floppy drives to multi-format storage card readers. That is what they mean by "opt reader", is that the 3.5" drive there would be occupied by any optional card reader should you so choose.

9. Slots. Is 4 enough? Are most cards/adapters nowadays helf-length? Or would that make upgrading more expensive?
Is there any difference between PCI Express and PCIe?
Nope, same thing.

What does PCI Express 2.0 x 16 mean -- version 2? and what does 16 represent? What does PCIe 2.0 x 1 mean?
PCIe2.0 x1 is a power-saving pci slot that replaces the legacy pci slots (which are like 5x longer and use more power) while maintaining enough data throughput to support what normal pci peripherals (wifi cards, etc) would need.
PCIe16 is generally referring to the slots that you can plug video cards into, as the x16 suggests, it has much more bandwidth as graphics are pretty data intensive.

I read in one of HP's spec about a PCIe x 16 (v3.0) graphics slot. Does that mean the version 2 above is not the latest version? What is the difference between v 2 and 3? I assume these versions are not firmware upgradable?
While pcie v3.0 was standardized in 2010, only the latest (second quarter 2012) graphics cards from AMD and nVidia use that capability to my knowledge. If you want to really future proof yourself for another half-decade, while having the ability to run some hefty graphics-intensive software of that time, pcie3.0 might be a better option.
If not, there are plenty of pre 2012 graphics cards (such as the one I'm running) that will do just fine for just about everything except CAD, and will keep chugging along for years to come.

Finally, regarding some of your objectives:

I am looking for a new PC to replace my P4 desktop. I generally keep my PC for 7-10 years. So I am buying a PC that is more than what I need now to allow some roon for growth so that I am not too far behind in 5 years. The main use of the PC would be spreadsheets, work processing, accounting, watching TV with a TV tuner, and internet (Hulu, etc.). I also want to use Virtualization for trying new softwares.

With respect to the internet, I generally close the browser with many opened tabs; and when I reopen the browser, it takes a while. And most web sites nowadays use so many javascripts that they are problematic for my P4 pc. Is there a feature in PC's specification that would address this problem -- e.g. # of threads? # of core? etc.

This is a function of a couple things: If any of the information is stored on your hard drive, then getting an SSD (solid state disk, rather than rotating platters) will greatly speed up everything, including windows boot time (although I just set mine to sleep to save time).
If you are still using dialup, that will definitely take you a tremendous amount of time to reload all those tabs.
Finally, any of the processors you mentioned (i5, i7) will destroy whatever you throw at it web browsing wise.

I am considering an Intel 3rd generation i5 or i7 with Win7 Pro 64 or Ultimate 64, with 4 MB of RAM.
You mean 4GB, but that's barely enough to just run Windows, which loves to eat RAM. If you plan to do any heavy virtualization, each VM will need a hefty amount of ram for its own swap space. Fortunately for you, 16GB of RAM regularly sells for $30 these days, so just keep an eye out and pop in some fresh ram whenever. Never upgrade ram from the retailer that builds your computer, as it'll always be marked up.

Is Win 7 Ultimate the version that would allow me to use Virtualization without rebooting? And would it be cheaper to buy the PC with Win7 Pro and upgrade on my own to Ultimate? After purchase, I plan to put in the max RAM and may also get a solid state drive.
This depends heavily on how you intend to implement your "virtualization". I use Oracle's Virtualbox, which allows you to run almost any client on almost any host, and gives it native access to quite a bit of hardware (except the video card, which is unfortunate). If you're referring to something I am unaware of, please ignore C:

confused200 said:   I am looking for a new PC to replace my P4 desktop. I generally keep my PC for 7-10 years. So I am buying a PC that is more than what I need now to allow some roon for growth so that I am not too far behind in 5 years. The main use of the PC would be spreadsheets, work processing, accounting, watching TV with a TV tuner, and internet (Hulu, etc.). I also want to use Virtualization for trying new softwares.

With respect to the internet, I generally close the browser with many opened tabs; and when I reopen the browser, it takes a while. And most web sites nowadays use so many javascripts that they are problematic for my P4 pc. Is there a feature in PC's specification that would address this problem -- e.g. # of threads? # of core? etc.

I am considering an Intel 3rd generation i5 or i7 with Win7 Pro 64 or Ultimate 64, with 4 MB of RAM. Is Win 7 Ultimate the version that would allow me to use Virtualization without rebooting? And would it be cheaper to buy the PC with Win7 Pro and upgrade on my own to Ultimate? After purchase, I plan to put in the max RAM and may also get a solid state drive.

I am looking at Lenovo's ThinkCenter M82; and I have some questions about its specifications. [A pdf is attached]

1. What is a DisplayPort? Is it DVI?

2. Max graphics resolution. On this spec. it states 2560x1600 for both DisplayPort and VGA. However, on the spec sheet for its M72e model, for the same processor and integrated Intel graphic card, it states 2560x01600 for VGA and 1920x1200 for DVI-D @ 60 Hz. Is the difference due to some other aspects in the spec? Or is one of the spec wrong? If the latter, which one is correct?

3. SATA. What is eSATA connector? What is the speed of eSATA? What device is generally connected to eSATA? This model has 4 slots and 5 bays. I assume only devices in bays need to be connected to SATA connectors? There are only 4 various SATA connectors and 5 bays. How does it work? How many devices can be connector to SATA 6.0GB? And what devices are generally connected to SATA 6 connector?

4. Internal Connector. Don't understand the entire description there.

5. No modem. What do people generally do when the broadband internet is down? what is the backup plan? [I have no smart phone.] Is there a 32-bit PCI 2.3 modem card in the market?

6. What does the Security Chip do? Is there any reporting back or tracking of any sort?

7. Is 280 watts power supply sufficient?

8. 5 Bays. What is "...access, opt reader"? And does that mean that bay is limited to an optional reader? And also can't write? [I assume opt means optional, not optical?] And bays 4-5 are for any HDs?

9. Slots. Is 4 enough? Are most cards/adapters nowadays helf-length? Or would that make upgrading more expensive? Is there any difference between PCI Express and PCIe? What does PCI Express 2.0 x 16 mean -- version 2? and what does 16 represent? What does PCIe 2.0 x 1 mean?

I read in one of HP's spec about a PCIe x 16 (v3.0) graphics slot. Does that mean the version 2 above is not the latest version? What is the difference between v 2 and 3? I assume these versions are not firmware upgradable?

TIA


GREAT!

~you should be good with an i5, 8GB ram, running win7 x64 pro; the difference will be night and day for you

~regardless of the amount of ram you have now, it's probably DDR, and that's a killer

~heaven forbid a lingering IDE drive, yikes!...you'll want a smaller SSD to boot from (maybe some programs) and a traditional disk for storage and other programs

~firefox is the best browser; just close all the tabs first if it's a problem

~use ccleaner if you think you may have accrued a ton of temp files

~you cannot expect things to still be reasonable 10 years from now, technology doesn't work like that...people usually donate P4s because they're far from adequate...you don't need a brand new setup every year, but consider upgrading parts or a refurb maybe every 5 years

WhyMingWhy said:   I will answer some of your questions to the best of my ability. I've built a few dozen computers in my past, and my current systems are two windows 7 systems based off of a second generation i7 (sandy bridge) with a discrete graphics card for gaming, and a Sandy Bridge G620 for home theater purposes.

....

4. Internal Connector. Don't understand the entire description there.

This is a fun one:
Motherboards are often built with not only the USB ports on the back panel that you find on the computer, but also with USB "connectors" built right on the motherboard itself. How these work is that you can purchase a USB "faceplate" like device (often fits in 3.5" bays, contains almost no brains on its own, just has a couple dangling wires) and connect that hub to the internal connector. This allows your motherboard to support even more USB peripherals, without you needing to buy a pci USB card or anything like that.

5. No modem. What do people generally do when the broadband internet is down? what is the backup plan? [I have no smart phone.] Is there a 32-bit PCI 2.3 modem card in the market?

... My broadband has ~99% uptime, I'm not sure what post-apocalyptic scenario you are planning for that would need dialup... but honestly if you are still paying for modem access to the internet you are getting very ripped off. If anything, maybe see if your municipality offers a city-wide WIFI if you are worried about connectivity.

......

7. Is 280 watts power supply sufficient?

The only thing that the wattage of power supplies really affect (aside from if you plan to add an exorbitant number of hard drives) is the graphics card. Some can run off of the motherboard's power, some need their own separate power (pci-express 6 or 8 pin power). At the same time, $20 can get you a 500W power supply on sale every other week.

8. 5 Bays. What is "...access, opt reader"? And does that mean that bay is limited to an optional reader? And also can't write? [I assume opt means optional, not optical?] And bays 4-5 are for any HDs?

While hard drive bays do not have access from the outside, 3.5" bays can house everything from floppy drives to multi-format storage card readers. That is what they mean by "opt reader", is that the 3.5" drive there would be occupied by any optional card reader should you so choose.

....

What does PCI Express 2.0 x 16 mean -- version 2? and what does 16 represent? What does PCIe 2.0 x 1 mean?

PCIe2.0 x1 is a power-saving pci slot that replaces the legacy pci slots (which are like 5x longer and use more power) while maintaining enough data throughput to support what normal pci peripherals (wifi cards, etc) would need.
PCIe16 is generally referring to the slots that you can plug video cards into, as the x16 suggests, it has much more bandwidth as graphics are pretty data intensive.

......

Thank you for a detail response. I have some follow-up questions:

4. Internal Connector. The spec states "...one open for media reader..." I thought some devices can read and write to media. If that is correct, does that mean that a media writer cannot be installed on this PC?

5. Modem. I was thinking that sometimes there are problems with broadband internet and the tech support could not fix it over the phone and have to wait a few days for the tech support to make a house call. I need a backup plan to cover those situations.

7. Power supply may be cheap; but one mistake can ruin the whole PC. So that is one thing I don't touch in the PC. I can add/replace RAM and HD or other devices.

8. Bay 3. Here again it refers to "...access, opt reader". No writer for that bay? Why? Because there are only 3 internal SATA connectors?

"PCIe 2.0x1 replaces the legacy pci slots". Does that mean my legacy pci adapter would not fit in that slot? If wouldn't fit, what is the purpose of it?

Also, I assume that an old 16-bit PCI card would not fit/work in a 32-bit PCI 2.3 slot? May be I should also ask: Is 4 slots enough?

TIA

confused200 said:   
Thank you for a detail response. I have some follow-up questions:

4. Internal Connector. The spec states "...one open for media reader..." I thought some devices can read and write to media. If that is correct, does that mean that a media writer cannot be installed on this PC?
MEdia reader is an industry generic term for a "Card Reader" which is usually a device that can both read and write to SD, MMC, Maybe CF, and other Digital Media type devices. Basically think of any kind of removable memory card that a Digital Camera has in the past 4 years and a Media Reader is how you plug those into your PC to transfer the pics off. They can all Read and Write

5. Modem. I was thinking that sometimes there are problems with broadband internet and the tech support could not fix it over the phone and have to wait a few days for the tech support to make a house call. I need a backup plan to cover those situations.
Bootleg the neighbors WiFi. Seriously, no one uses Dial Up anymore. If your Internet is down, you take your laptop down to the local Starbucks.

7. Power supply may be cheap; but one mistake can ruin the whole PC. So that is one thing I don't touch in the PC. I can add/replace RAM and HD or other devices.
Yes, you can fairly easily Add/replace RAM, HD, Video Card, etc. With the RAM just be sure to get something that meets the right spec

8. Bay 3. Here again it refers to "...access, opt reader". No writer for that bay? Why? Because there are only 3 internal SATA connectors?
Bay 3 is where you would install the OPTional Media Reader if you bought one or bought a model with one. Has nothing to do with Optical drives which is Bay 1 and standard on all models according to your PDF.

"PCIe 2.0x1 replaces the legacy pci slots". Does that mean my legacy pci adapter would not fit in that slot? If wouldn't fit, what is the purpose of it?
So here is a weird one. The processor you have in that machine is what controls most of the PCIe lanes available in the machine and most certainly would be controlling the x16 slot. The fact IBM lists this as 2.0 I think is a mistake as Intel clearly lists the 3470 as having PCIe 3.0
As for your question here, PCI != PCIe and your PCI cards will not be compatible. However the PDF says Slot 3 and 4 are tarditional PCI so you have both (most machines do)



Also, I assume that an old 16-bit PCI card would not fit/work in a 32-bit PCI 2.3 slot? May be I should also ask: Is 4 slots enough?
Correct, 16bit is dead
Is 4 enough?: All depends on what you want to do with the machine.
It used to be you added a NIC and Sound Card and Video card and such but now most of that is integrated and works well enough that it doesn't need to be replaced. I have a suped up equivalent of what you are looking at and aside from my Gaming oriented Graphics Card, I don't have a single additional PCI/PCIe card installed. As such the last 2 machines before this one were based on the MicroATX motherboard standard which limits the Slots to 4 based on the size. Full size ATX (which is on my new machine because I couldn't find a decently prices MicroATX version) is 7 slots. Large video cards like those used for Gaming or CAD will often take 2 adjacent slots (mine does). You only plug into one slot but the width of the card covers the next slot down.
Again I would ask, what might you wanna add down the road that makes you think you need additional slots?


TIA

BTW a TPM Security Chip is what Windows "Bitlocker" uses to encrypt your hard drive such that it cannot be easily decrypted if removed and installed in another machine.
This is only useful is you plan to use Bitlocker to encrypt your drive.

The irony here is that Bitlocker only comes with Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate and all these machines only use Professional.

There are free encryption software products out there that allow you to encrypt only certain folders (TrueCrypt comes to mind) which are probably more useful for the average home user who has only a hand full of files they truly need protecting.



Lastly, Lenovo is a Chinese company. Buy American and get a Dell or HP



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