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Compaq Presario 5250

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      17.03.2004 02:56
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      ****UPDATED**** PLEASE NOTE: This review is NOT about the Compaq Presario 5250. It is actually about the Compaq Presario S5100. This is the most appropriate category I could find. I asked Dooyoo to add the category for me but was told they'd not add it. The reason they gave for not adding the category was because.... "our research has found that this model is no longer available to buy in the shops". I pointed out to them that it was indeed available as I had bought it just a few days earlier in Curry's. It is also available in Dixons, PC World and many others. So where they did their "research" I'm not sure! So, bearing this in mind. Onto the review.... It was about 5 years ago that Sarah Louise turned from TV addict to Internet addict. It was at this time that we went from the ?pay per minute? Internet user to ?pay per month? user. Whereby we could use the Internet unlimited off-peak (well, they say its unlimited but technically its x hundred number of hours per week usually). This was what did it for me. If we got x hundred number of hours per week/month in which to use the Internet then why not get your moneys worth out of it? (Albeit, my dad was the one paying the bill?.!) Anyway, it was in 2000 that we got our second PC, brand new, Intel Pentium III, 866MHz, 30GB, DVD-ROM, Windows Me Operating System, basically it was pretty ?top spec? at the time, it was great, the speed of it in comparison to our old Pentium system that was running on the ancient Windows 95. It served us well. That was until a year or so ago. You see, at the
      time of buying the PC, the guy(s) in the shop s all told us that ?30GB ? you?ll never need more than that!? and ?866MHz ? that?s as fast as you?ll ever require!?. They were wrong. You see it was a year or so ago that Sarah Louise started putting her PC to real use. No longer did I just mess around writing reviews, playing games and cha tting on the Internet. Oh no. I needed a PC with lots of space and lots of speed. You see, being the Founder of a paranormal research society that starts to take off significantly only means one thing ? shed loads of reports, photos, video clips, sound files, not to mention thousands and thousands of emails, many hundreds of which containing rather large photo files, video clips and sound files, all piling up ready to be ?analysed? because people assume you?re the next photography expert or qualified parapsychologist. I soon found my faithful PC getting slower and slower. It was now slow. Very slow. The PC ?ageing? process can be viewed as being a fast or slow one. Technologically, PCs, ?age? remarkably fast. You can buy a brand new, top of the range PC one week and its old and out of date by the following week. However, for personal use, they tend to ?age? quite slowly. In this, I mean you don?t necessarily notice your PC reaching OAP status until its too late. I only noticed my PC seemed a ?little bit slower than normal? a year or so again, thought nothing of it. It got worse, but seemingly quite gradually. To the extent that I couldn?t remember how fast it used to be. I started questioning my sanity thinking ?maybe its always been this slow but now I?m used to running newer PCs at college and things, maybe I?m just expecting too much of it?? Anyway, a few weeks passed and Macromedi
      a brought out their latest version of Dreamweaver (the p ackage I use for web design). I installed the latest version only to find that my computer didn't have enough RAM to run the program. So, after waiting ages for it to install, I had to uninstall again! Enough was enough! It was time for an upgrade! Anyway, a number of months ago I decided it would be useful for me to have a firewire socket on my PC in order to download video directly from video cameras we use in the paranormal research group. I went to a few local PC shops to enquire about how much it would cost and also looked into upgrading whilst I was there to enable me to have Windows XP installed. I told them the specs, they then raised one eyebrow as if to say ?how do you live with a system so old?? and said that in order for me to upgrade to XP I?d ideally need more RAM and would need a faster processor. And with a new processor comes more fans and heat sinks. And with more fans and heat sinks comes a new cover because my old one wouldn?t fit. I also needed a CD-Rewriter installing in order for me to save all my photos, video clips, etc onto CD instead of taking space up on the harddrive. All in all, this came to over £150 just to ?upgrade? my PC and even then, I?d be running a basic PC which would, in effect, still be my old PC. And as they suggested (as had others I?d been speaking to) that perhaps my extremely slow PC was being slow because of a virus of some description or another? In which case, by merely upgrading, I could not guarantee that the virus would be transferred and would remain in my ?new? PC, hence being a COMPLETE waste of money. As I?m sure you can guess, this was a situation that needed some ponderin
      g. I looked around at Dixons, Currys and 0;C World only to be told to stay well clear because they were rip-off merchants. However, my dad gets 15% off any purchases at any of these stores due to his work. So, I start my search on the Internet for new base units to buy from scratch and found some quite cheap ones that were relatively ?top spec?. I was all set for buying one of these and using an *ahem* copied *ahem* version of Windows XP to save me spending about £60 on a CD ROM. That was until my dad raised his eyebrow over the warrenty and guarantee that runs if you install a copied version of XP onto the new PC. It was a valid point and as we don?t know all that much about PC repair, we figured it wasn?t a good idea for us to do this. But by purchasing an official XP CD ROM, this pushed the price of the base units up to those comparable to Dixons, Currys and PC World (taking the 15% off into consideration). That was it. I?d had enough of my old (read ?ancient?) PC. Despite my dad telling me it was a waste of money buying a new PC because our old one, and I quote, ?works fine for me?. (However, bare in mind that he spent a fraction of the time I spent on it!) So, I went out and bought myself a brand new computer. £420 it was to cost, so that?s £357 with discount. A good discount, don?t you agree? For the first time in my life I?d branched away from Intel Pentiums and opted for a Compaq Presario AMD Athlon (model number S5100) instead as I?d heard from numerous people that these were faster in general. It came with Windows XP installed on it (officially, and not from a copied source so my dad was happy!) It has funny numbers after its name, reading AM
      ;D Athlon XP 2400+. It comes with 256MB of RAM and 40GB hard drive. And, as if that?s not enough, it also comes with Integrated NVIDIA GeForce MX graphics and 64MB allocated memory! (And if you understood that last line, please feel free to explain in the Comments box because <Manuel voice> I know nothing about computer graph ics!) So, barring the graphics that I?m afraid I know very little about, what does all that gobbledygook mean? In layman?s terms it means?. This PC is suitable for everyone really, from beginner to advanced user. It could cope with most things that any heavy user could throw at it so anyone but the most determined gamer would probably find this PC to be more than adequate for their needs. (For the foreseeable future at least). And, for those of you wanting more technical knowledge, do the following. Open a new Internet Explorer window (or your default internet browsing software). Type www.google.co.uk into the address bar. Await Google launch. Type in ?AMD Athlon S5100? into the search bar. Press Enter. And await your answer! :-) Only joking, I?ll do my best to explain! For ease of reading and layout, I?ll lay it out in a more ?Specifications? manner like you?d find on other websites explaining new PC?s. So?. ------------------------------- ~ SPECIFICATIONS ~ ------------------------------- = = = Hardware = = = · AMD Athlon XP 2400+ - Logically you?d think this perhaps meant it runs at 2.4GHz wouldn?t you? Well, that?s where it gets tricky. Technically speaking,
      a 2400+ actually runs at 2.0GHz. You see there are two main &# 67;PU (Central Processor Unit) manufacturers, those being Intel and AMD. So, a 2400+ running at 2.0GHz actually runs as fast as an Intel Pentium running at 2.4GHz. So, quite illogically, AMD decided to name their CPUs with reference to how fast Intel chips run. Yes, I know. Stupid isn?t it? And thanks to Gareth (aka bujin) for that answer! (Ahh, the wonders of MSN Messenger whilst writing a review!) It is for the reason reading ?So, a 2400+ running at 2.0GHz actually runs as fast as an Intel Pentium running at 2.4GHz? that I was recommended to buy an AMD Athlon rather than another Intel Pentium computer. Technically, they run faster than Intel models for the same price. · 256MB of RAM - My old PC had just 128MB of RAM but most PCs you buy today come with 256MB of RAM. However, not only has the amount of RAM increased, but the type has changed too! You see my old PC had what?s known as SD-RAM (often incorrectly referred to as SDR-RAM for some reason or another). SD-RAM stands for Synchronised Dynamic Random Access Memory. This runs at either 100MHz or 133MHz. However, the newer version of RAM is different. In my new PC it is actually what?s known as DDR RAM. This stands for Double Data Rate Random Access Memory. As you may have guessed from ?Double Data Rate?, DDR runs at twice the speed (i.e. 200MHz or 266MHz). An
      d, thanks again to Gareth for providing much of the technical knowledge in th e above paragraph! · 40GB hard drive - Gareth becomes a little redundant here as there?s not all that much that needs to be said about the hard drive. What I can tell you though is that it runs at 7200RPM which is the fastest you can get. · 64MB allocated memory - Gareth has his job back as ?personal Sarah Louise review writer helperer?! Apparently, allocated memory simply means that it effectively nicks 64MBs of the 256MB DDR so in effect you?re actually running the PC at 192MB. · Integrated NVIDIA GeForce MX graphics - I?m not even going to pretend I know anything about this as I?ve already told you I don?t. So I?ll quote direct from the MSN window?. ?The graphics 'card' is integrated onto the motherboard instead of as an addon card. The GeForce MX is roughly equivalent to the GeForce2 card, which is a little out-dated and probably wouldn't perform too well on the latest games.? So there you have it. If you?re a major game player, you may be better going for a higher spec graphics card, otherwise, this is perfectly adequate. · DVD ROM/CD Re-writer combo drive - This basically means that you can play DVD?s and CD ROM?s and can copy CD ROM?s with the re-writer. It?s a combo drive so it?s all done in the one drive, as you might expect. (Even I understand that bit!) In a bit more detail, it?s a 48x CD-RW which means that its 48 times faster than the first ever CD drive released. The first ones released run at about 150Kb/s. S
      o a 48x CD RW will run at about 7.2Mb/s. You can get 52x C& #68; RW but 48x is more than adequate for most peoples? needs. · As with all PCs, you?ll find yourself with a standard 3.5? floppy disk drive. Not a vast deal I can say about this to be honest! · As previously mentioned, something I was looking to have on this new PC was that of a Firewire socket. I only needed one re ally but this PC has two. A Firewire socket allows fast an easy upload from things like video cameras onto your PC, which was the sole reason why I wanted (read ?needed?) one. It has one socket at the front for easy access at one at the back for tidiness on the front. · There are 6 USB ports on this PC. It?s the USB2.0 type which is the latest version and is faster than the USB1.1 version. You?ll find 2 USB sockets to the front and 4 to the back. So, that?s the hardware covered?. = = = Software = = = · As previously mentioned, this PC comes ready installed with Windows XP Home Edition. Once you load your PC for the first time you?re guided through the Registration process, its all very simple, even first time PC users should have no problems completing this process. · Along with the Operating System you get the usual with this PC, e.g. Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, the usual array of games, Microsoft Paint, etc. · However, you also get Works 7.0 if you wish to install it. (It?s not pre-installed, its on CD ROM). You do not get the Office suite so if you?re used to this, don?t forget to buy yourself a copy. I bought this PC from Curry?s, it wa
      s delivered to the store within 3 days and it came with a keyboard and scroll mouse. (You could buy it with a monitor too but we didn?t need a new monitor). One thing to bear in mind is that the PC manual(s) you get with this base unit all state that you need ?Active speakers?. This means your speakers need to be controlled separately from the computer itself (e.g. basically they need to have a volume button on them). How ever, our old speakers didn?t. You just plugged them in and altered the volume by using the ?Volume settings? thing in the toolbar on the screen. As we didn?t know we needed ?active? speakers until we?d already got it all set up, we decided to try our old speakers. It turns out, you don?t NEED active speakers at all. Our old ones worked perfectly well. However, as I was selling my old base unit on eBay along with the old keyboard and mouse, I decided to buy some new ?active? speakers too so I could throw the old speakers into the eBay deal. And, I think that?s it all pretty much covered really. You can see from the photo that this is a silver/black cover which is the standard colour now for new PCs, along with a silver/black keyboard and mouse too. I haven?t had any major problems with my new PC yet barring getting a virus on the first day (before I?d had chance to install antivirus software and a firewall!) However, a combination of AVG and Norman Virus Control have now enabled me to get rid of the virus. And Zonealarm Firewall will hopefully help prevent any unwanted hackers. This combination has, so far (and to my knowledge) prevented me from being infected by any more. (Although I have personally been infected?. at the time of writing, I?ve got a cold!) All in all, this PC is easy to use (once you
      get the hang of XP anyway, it is somewhat different to Windows 95, 98, 98Me, etc) . And in comparison to my old PC, this is remarkably fast. All in all, it gets 10/10 from me. Especially with a discount meaning I got it for just £357! ;-) Incidentally though, after selling my old PC on eBay and waiting for the buyers? cheque to clear, I set the old PC back to factory settings using the ?Restore disk?. When I restarted after doing this, the c omputer loaded remarkably fast. It amazed me and actually made me think ?so my dad was right after all, there IS nothing wrong with this PC!?. It just goes to show how much a collection of ?junk? and software that you install/download goes to affect the speed of your PC though doesn?t it? Thanks for reading! Sarah_Louise P.S. Hopefully this review will have the proper capitalisation. If it doesn't, I apologise, I used chuckleweb fix-it for the first time for this review! P.P.S. Due to some queries in my Comments section I decided to update this review. Firstly, there IS such a thing as Norman antivirus software. I don't mean Norton and its not a typo. You can find Norman here: http://www.norman.com And just as extra proof that this product IS still available in shops, direct your browser here: (Just either search for Compaq Presario S5100 or go via the Computing ----> Base Units only pages if any of the following links don't work) - DIXONS - http://www.dixons.co.uk/martprd/store/dix_page.jsp?BV_SessionI D=@@@@0871645009.1080259636@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccjadcldeele hkcflgceggdhhmdfif.0&page=Pro
      duct&sku=986836&category_oid=-9183&fm=4&sm=11&tm=1 - CURRYS - r>http://www.currys.co.uk/martprd/store/cur_page.jsp?BV_Session 3;D=@@@@1158754246.1080259751@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccladcldee llgkcflgceggdhhmdfhl.0&page=Product&sku=986836&category_oid=-11462&fm=9&sm=1& tm=0 - PC WORLD - http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/store/pcw_page.jsp?BV_SessionI ;D=@@@@0897641433.1080259841@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccladcldeel gfkcflgceggdhhmdfho.0&page=Product&sku=986836&category_oid=-15247&fm=0&sm=1&t m=1 (Interesting how the URLs are so similar isn't it - anyone would think the three companies were all the same company wouldn't they! ;o))

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