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Here's a PC that has served me well. It was bought for £1000 on a finance offer where I work a few years ago and has been a good all round machine for me. It's been used for everything from word processing to gaming and never had anything to complain about.
I'm not a hardcore gaming but it never struggled to run the GTA games and the graphics were good. No juddering or anything. Just smooth gameplay. It might struggle with some of the newer games out on the market now but I imagine it will still stand up to most.
The hard drive is also plenty big enough for the majority of users. People that use their PC for a great deal of video editing or downloading may want to upgrade.
You also get 512MB of RAM, which is plenty to run XP and multitask with a good few programs with no problems. More would be a lot better as Windows does take some time to boot up with the majority of commonly used programs all internet users should have that begin at start up (firewall, virus scanner etc.). Apart from that, 512MB is adequate for the majority of users.
It also comes with a DVD rewriter, which is very useful to burn videos or back up data etc. It will also burn CDs. It is a good quality one at that too. I've never had any coasters (discs that have failed to burn correctly) and has burnt thousands of discs in the time I've had it so it has seen a lot of use.
The processor (Pentium IV) is also a good performer. A thing that is often looked at by many when looking at how well their new computer will perform is the processor speed. Yes, the processor speed is important but there are other factors to consider such as the front side bus speed and cache. This is the amount of data that can be held within the cahce memory of the processor and speed the data can enter and exit. These are getting more increasingly important over the clock speed of the processor. Especially with dual core processors available now. For example, a 2GHz Pentium processor will outperform a 2GHz Celeron processor because the Pentium has a greater cache memory. In this particular case, the 2.8GHz Pentium IV is more than adequate for the majority of applications.
However, in terms of upgradibility, this computer isn't ideal if you ever have any desire to upgrade it. I filled the hard drive that was installed in this machine and wanted to install a second hard drive. Couldn't be done. The case lacked another 3 1/2" drive slot for a second hard drive. I was slightly ticked off. I invested in a new case and therefore had to go through the inconvenience of transfering all the hardware into the other case turning a 10 minute job into over an hour long job.
I also found that the PSU (power source unit) for this PC could have been better. It was slightly on the weak side, in my opinion, and decided to upgrade the PSU. The PSU is an important part of any PC. A good one can protect your hardware from surges and the like. A bad and weak one can fail and damage your entire PC so therefore it was worth the £35 for a decent upgrade. Another inconvenience here. The supplied speakers power directly from the PSU from a plug in point. This isn't a standard feature on PSUs and therefore I had to buy new speakers too.
Apart from those niggles with upgrading, the RAM and processor are easily upgradeable. You have one extra slot to insert another stick of RAM.
As for supplied software on the machine, you're not overloaded with useless junk you'll never use. You have your useful programs like virus scanner and media player bundled and should you choose to, you can use the recovery discs to format and install just Windows to get rid of all the bundled software. You must however have a couple of blank discs to burn the recovery discs as they don't come supplied already on disc.
There are also plenty of USB ports (which we always seem to be in need of these days). There are plenty around the back and a couple up front. You also have a LAN socket to plug the machine into a network, which is also a common requirement. Often to plug into your broadband router to get online.
As for manufacturer support, my experience with Packard Bell has been mixed. I had another different machine from Packard Bell some time before this one and the hard drive failed. I was bounced around their customer support and sent discs, which weren't even meant for my machine and would have left me in a bigger mess but because the hard drive wasn't working, I fail to see why I was sent discs to rectify it. I also had 3 customer support engineers come out to my PC weeks later and weeks apart. They were useless. I would have fixed the computer myself had I not been entitled to it free under the warranty. It was 6 months before my PC was up and running again.
That was my first experience with their support. It has since gotten better. The hard drive also failed in this machine about a year ago. I was bounced around a couple of people that weren't very helpful at all but one or two were extremely helpful. They now have a service that sends you out the hardware (in the event of hardware failure), with the tools needed and instructions, for you to install yourself. Much better as you don't have to wait around for an engineer to turn up. This option is still there though if you don't have the confidence to dismantle your PC to attempt repairing it yourself.
One other downside with this PC is the onboard sound. The sound card isn't very good at all. It begins clipping if you have the volume turned up to the max in volume control within Windows (not the volume control on your speakers). A bit poor for such a simple device in a £1000 machine.
Overall, a good performing all around machine with one or two minor downsides.