The first computer I ever owned was bought for me by my parents from a dodgy little computer shop in the town where I live. A year or so after the shop closed down because it was terrible anyway. the computer was nothing but hassle and the shop simply should not have anything do with it really. Fortunately for me it eventually became obsolete anyway and after a while when I was starting my GCSE's my parents gave in around Christmas time and bought me another computer. We looked around for a while and when we were in Comet one day we saw what seemed like a reasonably good computer at what was then an ok price. The computer at hand was an AST Advantage! and cost £799.99. The specifications were fairly modest: Pentium 166Mhz 16MB RAM 2.5GB Hard Drive 14" AST 4N Monitor 1MB Trio on-board graphics card 16bit Yamaha on-board sound card Labtec Speakers 33.6k Mwave modem 8x CD Rom drive Keyboard + Mouse When we got the computer I still knew relatively little about them. So at first it seemed very good, I could go out and buy computer games and they'd work fine. At this point we were not using the Internet either so the modem was of little concern to me. Although I'd say it was an ok'ish computer it turned out to be a little bit more trouble than it was worth. When my parents finally let me have the Internet it turned out the modem the computer came with didn't work, the computer could never detect it. This forced me to go out and buy another modem. Soon after that the on-board graphics card fried itself when I switched the computer on one day. This resulted in us having to take it to a computer shop to have a new 2D graphics card put in. A few months later I decided that I required a 3D graphics card so that I could get the most out of some of the games that I had. So after finding out that I didn't have an AGP slot and only 2 PC
I slots I opted for a Voodoo Banshee 16MB 2D/3D graphics card. I put it into the machine, replacing the graphics card that had been previously installed only to find out that the Voodoo card would not work. I got the Voodoo Banshee replaced with another yet still it wouldn't work. So after much collaboration with a member of staff at 'Game' I bought a Voodoo2 12Mb accelerator instead. I put it into the computer alongside the 2D graphics card I already had in. I then discovered that the second PCI slot I had in the computer was broken so could not be used. Resulting in me being stuck with no 3D graphics, I would have to do without. Another problem that occurred was when Windows broke one day and would not boot. Naturally I assumed I would be able to format the hard drive and re-install Windows 95 again. I routed out the Windows 95 CD only to discover it was a companion CD therefore it would not install Windows, some of the required installation files were missing off the CD. I rung up the help line and they said I would have to use the 'Emergency Recover CD' which came with the computer. This CD simply formatted the hard drive and uncompressed the original configuration back onto the computer. The problem with this was that the CD uncompressed all the old drivers onto the computer and put on installations of programs that the computer didn't even come with! Eventually the computer became slow so after successfully being able to upgrade the RAM from 16Mb to 32MB I decided I wanted to upgrade the processor. Consultation with the manual told me that the AST motherboard would only accept processors up to 200Mhz anyway. So I decided that I would buy a new motherboard and processor. Alas the case had been specially designed, along with the AST motherboard, so I could not just pop another motherboard into the case. After all this I was very annoyed so I ended up taking the hard drive and one or two other bits
and bobs out of the AST computer and then buying and building a new computer instead. Since then I have always built my own computers and have had far fewer problems. Ahh but what about the guarantee you ask?? Well strangely enough the guarantee only covered one year and the problems all occurred a few weeks after one year of owning the computer. So the moral of this opinion is that buying computers from AST will give you nothing but problems, ideally you should never buy a fully built and ready to use computer as they just bring problems with them. I recommend building your own computer because it means you can 100% customise it for your own unique needs and if everything goes wrong you know the computer inside and out and can pinpoint the problem very quickly. Plus all the components you buy should have individual guarantee too.