How warm a full-system deal from big chains?


Junior Member
Sep 27, 2000
Not nearly esoteric enough for this site, I guess, but Circuit City and Best Buy stores are pushing a desktop package of HP Celeron 633 with 64 SDRAM, 15GB UltraDMA hard drive, 48x CD-ROM, V.90 modem, 15" monitor, HP 648 printer, Windows ME and Works, for $649 (I'm ignoring those stupid $750-gets-you-$400 additional "savings"). This looks pretty good to me for a basic system, a couple of steps ahead of my 4-year-old Dell (and 10-year old DeskJet) certainly (I'd probably want to keep my 17" monitor, but no savings in leaving theirs out). Am I wrong about that, or is there some serious limitation in this system (maybe the sharing of 11 mg RAM with video)that I'm overlooking and will soon regret?



Diamond Member
Nov 26, 1999
the video card is the weak link of the system. integrated video, yum yum. don't except to play games well and stuff, it'll probably limited to basic, non multimedia intensive uses.


Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
Nat -- <<Not nearly esoteric enough for this site, I guess, but... >>

If you are inexperienced in buying computers, the main advantage to buying locally over mail order is that you have immediate, local recourse when you have problems. Unless you don't have any decent computer stores Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. are the only computer outlets in your area, a good real computer store is a far better place to buy your machine because you can choose your components and always be sure that you have the latest designs and best bang for the buck. Personally, I have no respect for &quot;department store&quot; computers. The cheap ones always have compromised designs, including shared memory video and cheap modems and other resources built into the motherboard, and the ones that might be adequate are overpriced for the performance.

When it comes to buying, I'm really spoiled. I live in L.A., which I have concluded is one of the sweetest places in the country for buying computers. We live on the eastern edge of the Pacific Rim, and the clone shops pick up their parts at the port, load them in their vans, and drive back to their shops where they make a living on 5 - 7% margins.

Judging from your post, you are one of those inexperienced buyers (not a flame). Before you start buying your setup, you might want to cruise the tech forums and learn more about what you actually want/need. By the time you know what you want, you'll probably have a better idea of where to buy it and what it will cost, too.

Good luck. :)


Golden Member
Sep 27, 2000
The HP isn't that bad. I set a friend up with the celeron II 600 model. It gets online at 52000+ kbp/s and it will play Half-Life in openGL @ 640x480. If you shove a cheap PCI video card (TNT, TNT2 Vanta, Banshee...)and disable the onboard, it will perform decently.


Diamond Member
Sep 1, 2000
The problem with those sort of machines is that you can not upgrade them easily if you want to.


Senior member
Oct 24, 1999
The HP and other major brands that sell out of these huge chains, (including Costco etc.) actually manufacture special machines for these high volume outlets. They are more highly integrated than their regular machines sold through their own outlets or computer stores. That means cheaper parts, more flimsy construction, harder to repair. They are captializing on their 'brand,' letting you assume that this particular HP model is as well built as their mainline, higher priced machines.

At some point the price makes it almost a throwaway item so that repair isn't an option. (Like refurb eMachines)

If you're not interested in overclocking or extensive upgrading or modifying, the major brands when purchased from a reliable computer literate source are very good.
Jul 16, 2000
Check the Serial Numbers on the machine, if it starts with KR it is responsible for a very large percentage of Tech support Calls ( By my experience over 1/2), plus they are not even made by HP just for HP. Also just for your own info if you get one of these get a new modem and sound Card ( It is a combo deal ) as they account for over 60% of Tech support Calls. The one exception to this is the Ones with DSL/56k Modems, the problem with these is that unistalling these bad boys usually results in reinstall of the OS as there is a **VERY EXPLICIT** way of doing it.



Senior member
Apr 25, 2000
D&amp;C: thanks for the inside scoop. I would greatly appreciate if you could give us some more info. I am trying to make a recommendation for a freind who will only feel comfortible with a &quot;name brand&quot; PC.

I went to Staples and found a model 6730 with the KR serial number. Next to it was a model 6735 which had a non-KR serial number. Does this mean that all model 6730s are KR and no model 6735s are, or can each model have some that are KR and some not?

I was comparing HP to similar Compaq models. Does anyone have an opinion on which is higher quality? My gut says HP aught to be but from what D&amp;C says maybe not.

My freind has been scared away from eMachines. Are they lower quality then HP or Compaq? One thing I will say for eMachines is that they all have decent onboard video with separate memory.

P.S. D&amp;C can you reveal how you come to the inside info?


Diamond Member
Oct 25, 1999
Emachines aren't very well liked here, but I am typing from one now. Mine is about a year and a half old. I don't think I'd buy one again just because most of them aren't very upgradeable. Mine also has a small 120 Watt power supply. But I have pretty much maxed mine out and it hasn't died yet. I put in a second HD for windows 2000, a TNT2 M64 PCI, H+ DVD decoder card, and a network card. I also have an extra case fan stuck to the bottom with double sided tape. It keeps that video card pretty cool. I don't have anymore slots left at all.