PC for a child. What capacity is needed?

For the PC, not the child :slight_smile:

My nephew is seven years old and I want to give him a computer but have little money. A friend has one for sale that seems OK. It has a capacity of 1.00 GB. It shows 196 MB of free space. Is this enough to play CD games? I don’t play games and have no clue as to what is neded.

Please help me out dear Dopers.

You are just talking about disk space, which is not the most important factor (though can be limiting). Most new computers have at least 20GB, so your friend’s computer is probably old (in computer years), and may be weak in other areas.

You have to look at:

The CPU–is it Pentium? What version? What MHz (processor speed). Most computers now are up in the 1.0 GHz range.

What version of Windows? You will probably need at least Windows 98.

What is the speed of the CD drive? These are rated as multiples of the original CD drive speed, 48x is not uncommon but you probably need at least 12x.

Once you look at those, you need to look at some sample games to see what they require. Many are conservative, especially for kids, but you don’t want to be surprised by bringing home a CD that won’t run. This happened to me.

I have a computer that has a Pentium clone, 333 MHz, and Windows 98 and it will no longer run some of my children’s games. So I bought them a new computer at Best Buy, an eMachines brand computer that has 1 GHz, something like a 20GB drive, and Windows XP. After rebates, I paid about $400 for the computer, 17" monitor, and color printer. Granted, not top-of-the-line quality, but still a bargain for a new computer. This may be more than you can spend but I just wanted to give it some scale.

Oh and the video card too. Even kid’s games are quite graphic intensive these days.

Well, it’s hard to tell what else you’ve got in there besides a one-gig hard drive. A PC for running educational programs, word processing, and maybe internet access requires a lot less than to play UT2K3 using a server. Here’s what I’d probably use if I were to build one:

A P2 or P3 processor or AMD equivalent. You don’t need a 3ghz, or even a 1ghz machine.

At least 128 megs of ram. This’ll at least keep the OS stable.

CD-ROM drive. We’re not at the point yet (although I thought we would be when I first bought one several years ago) where anything comes on DVD. The kid’s seven and doesn’t really need a burner either.

Sound and video cards. Ask the friend if the motherboard comes with onboard sound and video, or if the cards were installed seperately. It doesn’t really matter what there is; as I said before, I doubt a seven year-old will be playing Halo or any other intensive game that needs 3d-acceleration and whatnot.

As for the hard drive: A one-gig hard drive is very small by today’s standards. Unfortunately, I haven’t been a kid running educational games for about a decade, where they were generally running on DOS. So I don’t really know what the general requirements are.

Now, a well-written program will–or at least can–run almost entirely off the CD. However, there are still installation costs. Now, a lot of what’s on that hard drive currently could probably be deleted and overwritten. These can be anything from (just two things I picked off my hard drive) 80 megs for Master of Orion II to 700 megs for Civilization III.

If the price is good, it could be a good buy. As I said, this doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line, one from 1999 or 2000 would definitely be sufficent. It all depends on what he wants to run and how much space can be freed by deleting basically everything but the OS.

Children are naturally curious. It would be a good idea to get a computer that would allow him to try new things as it will help him learn. I would like to see at least:

300 mhz, 10 gb HD, win 98, 128 megs ram

With the above he has room to try things out and some power to play with. It sounds like your system would be better as a email/web terminal for grandma then a computer for sonnyboy.

Just my humble O

196 MB of free space is not enough for current games. A single average game can take up that much space on the hard drive.

Isn’t the free space currently on the HD irrelevent? I doubt the person in the OP would give it to his (or her) nephew without going through it and uninstalling unnecessary programs and documents(and pictures).

Geez, talk about misinterpreting the question. I was SO sure that this was going to be about what moral characteristics would be necessary before a child could understand the concept of ‘political correctness’.

Alas, I know nothing about computers. :smiley:

If its a kid who wants to play games -> top of the line.
If he doesnt -> bottom of the line.

IF you want a cheap computer try ebay.com I have seen plenty there that would be fine. A 1 gig HD with that much space free is pretty odd. What’s the other 800megs doing?

I put together a fairly low end computer for my kids a couple of years ago and put a bunch of software on it. It worked great. Then people started buying them software, and every new title out requires a fairly high end PC, even if it’s just a dirt simple game for a 3 year old. I ended up having all of their high end games on my computer, which I eventually just gave to them and built a new computer for myself.

Thank you all for the information and opinions.
All I know is that it is a Packard Bell 2951 with Windows 98, Microsoft Word and Works and 8x CDRom and says Intel inside. If you can tell me where to look to find the info (on the Intel or sound and video card) I will do so tomorrow as the unit is up and running. I know very little about this as you can tell.
The sale price is $100. I can spend about that much more if needed to add to this one or to try for another, but that is the limit of my limited budget.
My nephew loves to work and play on the computer at school and is doing very well in his studies, especially in math and I want to help.

Sounds to me like you have a perfectly fine beginner computer for your nephew, and if all he wants to do is simple kiddie games it is probably fine, but what you definitely need to know is all the specs, write them down, then when you go to buy software etc, always check on the box, or with the salesperson, if your specs match the minimum or recommended ones for that piece of software. Especially modern games.

You can get your specs by going to the Start menu, choose Settings, Control Panel, then double click on System. It will tell you on that front panel, under ‘Computer’, what your CPU processor is.

And as Handy noted, your Hard Drive seems unusually full, and will need to be cleared of a lot of extraneous junk. You should ask the previous owner about what it is, where it is, and if they can clean that out of there before you use it.

And make sure that the 196Mb is really free space - or is it your RAM memory? Which is quite a different thing.

Possibly the best thing you can do to keep a computer like that operational is not install any program that’s less than five years old. :slight_smile:

Packard Bell? Run away! Run Away!

Is Packard bell that bad?

Thanks you so much Guanolad for the instructions.

Yes, Stellablue. They had a terrible reputation right up until they went out of business. They also used a lot of proprietary components, so you probably won’t be able to find any replacement parts for it.

I had a packard bell - it was a solid machine but not very upgradable

I was going to say it sounded a bit steep (extrapolating the rest of the machine from what you said), but I usually buy my monitors separately, and you didn’t say anything about that. Perhaps comparison shop Ebay and the classifieds?

Packard Hell doesn’t want to tell me anything, but Google brings up someone’s page where he says he has one, and that:
“My computer came with Windows 95., 120mhz Intel P entium processor. 1 gig hard drive. 8x cd. 16mb ram. sound syst em 16 bitsrs, 3D sterio sound. 1mb video memory. video resool ution output up to 1280x 1024. SGVA monitor. 3.5 floppy. 33, 600 modem”

Which basically sounds like my cheap laptop. It can just play Warcraft 2, but I mostly use it for word processing, and for playing what is now termed “legacy” games. (Space Quest, Police Quest, Monkey Island, etc etc.). There’s a mountain of shareware and abandonware out there that (IMHO) is better, if less rendered than today’s 1st person shooter of the week.
Anyways, if it comes with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc, I’d say it’s not a bad deal. Right for you though, you decide.