View Full Version : Need advice DSL vs Cable
03-29-2003, 09:58 AM
They just finished putting in cable in my area for cable Internet (comcast). I now have a choice of cable or DSl from (Bell south). I want to get one or the other and I will be doing it this week. Which one should I get? I know there are a lot of people on here that know about his stuff. Also my computer is almost 5 years old. I have an IBM Aptiva 350 with 128. Do I need a newer computer to enjoy the service? They when I called, say my computer is OK, but I would like better then OK, does it matter? I tried posting to some Google boards on computer stuff and never got an answer, I guess the question was to dumb for them or something. I know you guys will give me some kind of answer. Thanks
03-29-2003, 10:17 AM
I don't know anything about DSL, but I know Kato's got it. We've got a cable connection and it's great! You're always connected, doesn't tied up the phone line, you can rent a modem from the cable company or buy one yourself (we did the latter), and you only get one bill, with the tv cable and computer cable on it. I imagine DSL is quite similar. I don't think you necessarily need another computer, but you might think about upgrading yours. We put another memory card in ours, which has sped it up quite a bit, but with cable, the speed is not a concern. It's "Speedy Gonzalez" fast, LOL.
Popcorn. I have Bellsouth DSL and I love it. My computer however is a Dell 8200, 2.0 hard drive with a Pentium 4 processor and 512KB of Ram. My computer loves DSL. In the rare instances I've had a problem Bell South has helped me to fix it. If you have any questions feel free to PM me or e-mail me at email@example.com. If you need to talk to me I'll give you my phone number and we can talk. I'm not the most technical guy in the world but I'll do what I can for ya.
03-29-2003, 11:44 AM
I'm no computer whiz, but I do use Comcast.
Although it is fast, most of the time, keep in mind that a cable hook up works like you are on a local network, or something like that. When more people in your neighborhood go on line, it slows down. From what I have heard, DSL does not have that problem.
Also, with Comcast, all the features they tell you about, in their advertising, do not always work. I don't know if this is my local area or everywhere. You may want to ask people in your local area about that.
Comcast customer support runs hot and cold. It depends who you get when you call. Usually, to solve a real problem, you have to work your way through the initial line of tech support, who are just reading instructions off a paper and have you do things like unplug your computer for a minute and then reboot. If they can not solve your problem, after a lot of your wasted time, they will refer you to the second line of tech support. These people seem to really know what they are doing.
I don't know much about DSL, but I have heard that they have some problems too, but that was a while ago and they may have solved some of them.
I think your computer will not be a problem. Cable in most cases is faster than DSL. You would have to call each company and ask the what their advertised speed is. As an example mine is 256 up and 3000 down, over 50 times faster than dial up. Some have more than one package. If you prefer buy your modem, there about $75 now online. My cable Co leases them for $10 a month.
Here are some links to forums where you will get an answer, you'll have to register to post here but it is a good source one I have used many times. Go above and click on the discussion then broadband and the general cable and DSL. I should note it is a good place to ask if you have any problems after install of cable or dsl.
http://forums.speedguide.net/cgi-bin/optd/optd.cgi?DATA_OFFSET=40&TCP_Options_string=020405b 40103030201010402&IP_MTU_DISCOVER=1&WIN=64240&RWIN =256960&MSS=1460&SCALE=2&TTL=54&TSOPT=0&SACK_PERM= 1&IP_TOS=0&IP=184.108.40.206&timestamp=1048960304
Another is DSL reports, There is a forum to the left and you may have to register. Lots of info on different cable companies. http://www.dslreports.com/
Here is a link to check speed just click on the city nearest you. http://www.speakeasy.net/main.php?page=sup_pops
Lastly here is a fairly recent speed test of mine using the above link. You ought to check yours now as a reference then later after cable or what ever you choose. http://www.dslreports.com/speedtests/2841630;225988;0ffaa9f2ed4edbe7f95a334ffdae70d1;2. 0;lax.speakeasy.net/1048490033
Well one more cable and DSL forum http://forums.zdnet.com/group/zd.Highspeed.Internet/community/oview.tpt/@thread@first@F@75@D-,D@all?ROS=1
All of these are good and you may find someone has asked near the same question.
03-29-2003, 12:15 PM
Either choice should be good for you, but sometimes DSL is a little more expensive. And, the only real downsides to Cable are:
1) the low upload speeds, in proportion to the download speed (which isn't really an issue, since most people don't upload much, unless they pass files for work or post a website).
2) Cable is a shared connection, so the more people that are using it at the same time, the more the connection is divided--think of it like shared water pressure. Give more weight to this, if you live in a area dense in population, who may opt for cable.
I think DSL tends to be more expensive in some areas as well. . . .
As for your computer, if it's a 350mhz, then it's okay. Download speed is primarily dependent on the connection, as opposed to the processor. If you think that the processor is to blame, and want to upgrade, then try some extra RAM first (128mb is good--especially since you are probably running Win98--If you have XP, then 128mb would be a minimum). A more powerful video card might be in order as well--like something in the Nvidia TNT2 range (even an M64 card), or some of the ATI stuff. (If you plan to play modern, 3D intensive games, spend more for a vidcard but don't get the high-end--however, if you're 'really a gamer', then you already know what to get.)
The machine I'm using is a circa 1999, dual-533mhz Celeron, 256Mb RAM, with an Nvidia GeForce3 ti500 (It was a dual-400mhz Cel, and worked fine then--I just got a deal on the 533s). The second processor is not really used, except for specialize apps, so it basically works as a single 533 Celeron, which most people will probably consider slow, since the "cutting edge" is around 2Ghz now.
I personally consider anything around 700Mhz as fast as most people will need (for awhile), and the high-end really tops around just above 1Ghz---most of the ".3", ".7", etc., is just selling the numbers, there's not a realistic gain in usability. And, if I were to buy a newer PC, I would probably try to save money on the processor, and use it to buy more RAM.
What I have is 1 gig and 512mb of DDR ram. I don't see the need in going to anything faster unless one is a gamer as you mentioned. Computers in that range can be bought fairly cheap now. Personally if I had a 350 I'd buy another before spending any money on an older unit. Like you I think his 128mb of ram should be adequate. A friend of mine with an old 350 has good speed on cable.
03-29-2003, 12:49 PM
In our area dsl is more affordable and seems to be fast. Cable gets clogged in many evenings and they charge too much for it here. The problem we have had is that we have several computers and dont know how to deal with the aspect of either getting more modems or networking. I am sure we would love it but just seems to be a lot of work to get setup in a house with multiple computers. If I am wrong about this, and there is a way around this, i would love the information.
Laura go to one of the forums in my other post. What your after is a wireless router. There not very expensive and fairly easy to set up. You only need a single modem.
03-29-2003, 01:20 PM
Networking several PCs with DSL is easy, but it will take a little time, and probably cost about $100-$200, depending on how many computers you have, and how much cabling you need.
Basically, you take the ethernet cable that runs from the DSL modem, and run that into the WAN (Wide Area Network) port on a hub/router. Then, the rest of your computers will plug into the same hub/router. (There will be some configuration to deal with, but it's not too complicated.)
<ul type="square"> $90-100 Ethernet hub (more $ for more ports)--routers are more $, but not really necessary, unless you have a lot of PCs in use on the network.
$15/ea NICs (Network Interface Cards) One required for each PC).
$??? Cables--Cables can get expensive, depending on length, and it's cheaper to buy cable at Lowes or Home Depot, but it's not always the most reliable stuff. The cost of cable ends is minimal, but the RJ-45 crimp tool is like $45---It's easier, to go w/ pre-made cables.[/list]
One thing to remember, however, is that many ISPs don't want you to do this, because they want to sell you their networking "package" (for extra $/month). To this end, and to avoid complicating phone-troubleshooting on their end, the often state that home networking is "unsupported". This just means that they won't help you fix it, if you have a problem. However, if you do have a problem, dropping the network down to 1 PC connected directly to the modem will get them to support you again.
Edit: Rod mentioned wireless. This will involve a wireless hub, in place of the ethernet one, and the NICs are a more expensive. The upside, of course, is the lack of cable everywhere, and the ease of moving the computers around.) A downside is, a 2.4Ghz wireless phone may kill your connection--I have a Siemens phone that does this, supposedly it varys by manufacturer. . . .
03-29-2003, 03:45 PM
I have DSL because cable is not available on my block yet. I get 768/128 for $50/month. Most people in Brooklyn I know that have cable are getting 2000-3000 down/ up(?). Thats about 3-4 times faster. Also, it's $10 bucks cheaper I think. Both services come with a free modem around here. I will probably switch when it becomes available.
(PS This thread is running off the right side of the screen on me. It is the only one doing that. Are others seeing it that way?)
Tom, It's running off for me too. This has happened a couple times before and I have no idea why.
As far as the subject of the thread, I am using a 56k dialup and don't see why there is a need for much more speed. I guess I'm just not into games. Once in a while I download something and it takes a while. I just don't know what I would do with all that speed. If Bearshare worked better and could find the music I want maybe I could use some more speed. For $5.99 a month I'm satisfied.
I would suggest that 128 mb memory is not adequate. I have a program that tells me how much I'm using and of 380 mb I'm often running with less than 100 mb available.
03-29-2003, 07:19 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote heater451:</font><hr> Networking several PCs with DSL is easy, but it will take a little time, and probably cost about $100-$200, depending on how many computers you have, and how much cabling you need.
I will definately go back and read the threads and links. In the meantime, here is the situation. My husband uses the desktop in the computer room. That one, I think would be the modem server and has win 2000 on it. Two rooms away, I sit with my laptop, which has an installed ethernet card. We really do not want cables stretched all over the place. We would want the hub, I think, so that I could have a wireless connection for the laptop. Of course the dsl company said we would need 2 modems and the guy who talked to me knew nothing about wireless.
I guess once we figure out how much this will cost and have the moolah /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif I can get my son to do this. He is going to computer tech school and has done a bit of networking on the job and has networked his three computers.
Really need to know how much money we would be talking about.
03-29-2003, 07:24 PM
Oh yeah. I did not mention our systems.
Desktop- gateway 1.2 gz,512 mb ram,p3 ethernet card etc win 2000 professional
Laptop- sony 900mz, 256mb ram,p3, ethernet card win xp home ed
I guess my system is pretty juiced up then. I have plans eventually to double my RAM and switch to a 19 monitor (flat screen).
Kato~~~~what can I say? I like big numbers.
Another option is wireless. This is a little more expensive but it is nicer than running cables. I set up a wireless network in a friends house (3200 sq ft) last Christmas and it works like a dream (anywhere in the house). I am not sure what he spent on the equipment but it is not a tremendous amount more. The nice thing is the flexibility of roaming anywhere around the house and outside (his porch and pool area) and still be connected to the web.
For most, the return on your money is not high because you are so used to going to the computer to do whatever you need. For my friend, he can go outside and watch his kids while they swim, and he can get his work done and emailed back to the office so they can get ready for a meeting. It is also nice to go into the Borders (or Barnes and Nobles) and use their wireless setup to connect to the net while having coffee and relaxing. When he takes his kids to the book store for the reading club, he is busy surfing the net (most of the time is in on net-meeting with his secretary).
Go with the one that offers you the most for the least amount of money. There are a few differences between the two, but to me they are similar to getting a camaro or getting a firebird. I am now using DSL and I personally do not like it, but the main reason is the upload rate. Very low, something like 125. I do a lot of work with the web and it takes too much time sometimes to put up a bunch of graphics to a site (I could double my monthly rate and get 3 the performance but that is not worth the money right now). When I was in Orlando, I had roadrunner cable and it seemed to be much faster on average.
Most companies will offer you different perfomance packages also. I would check into all that.
My vote is cable modem, but that is just because of my bad experience here with SBC. Others swear by DSL, but my issue is mainly with the provider.
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My husband uses the desktop in the computer room. That one, I think would be the modem server and has win 2000 on it. Two rooms away, I sit with my laptop, which has an installed ethernet card. We really do not want cables stretched all over the place. We would want the hub, I think, so that I could have a wireless connection for the laptop. <hr /></blockquote> Your cable/dsl modem would tie into the wireless router. You then have a wireless connection on your laptop and desktop.
The amount of money keeps getting cheaper and the technology is getting better. When you do set it all up make sure you change your SSID. If not, your neighbor could use your bandwidth for free. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
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As for your computer, if it's a 350mhz, then it's okay. Download speed is primarily dependent on the connection, as opposed to the processor. If you think that the processor is to blame, and want to upgrade, then try some extra RAM first (128mb is good--especially since you are probably running Win98--If you have XP, then 128mb would be a minimum). <hr /></blockquote> Yes, surfing the internet does not rely on the processor as much as your connection. RAM is always a good place to start first. I would definitely increase the RAM beyond your 128mb (I have 1.5 gb, not that you need this much I like it when messing with photoshop).
The last part to this quote reminds me of a funny you-had-to-be-there story. I was in a mom and pop computer store and there was a customer getting some help from the guy behind the counter. All the customer cared about was the amount of money he was going to spend. He wanted everything for about free. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Don't we all....So to help the guy, the salesman was putting together a list of hardware the customer would need and he wrote down 64 mb or RAM. The guy asked if that was enough. Well, I suppressed my desire to chuckle a little because the guy did not know anything about computers. Well the salesman said yes that would be plenty, 64 mb with win xp is the minimum (like you can even buy a 32 mb stick of RAM /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif ). Well this little old lady standing behind me spoke up (remember the rest of this guys computer is going to be pretty nice, p4 chip 7200 rpm hd, decent dual video out graphics card, etc), she said, "Well it looks like you are buying a corvette, but with that amount of RAM you will never be able to pull the 30 ft boat out of the water". I started cracking up. She went on to tell him that win xp will come to a screeching halt with only 64 mb of RAM. It was hilarious, I could not even say a word.
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I guess my system is pretty juiced up then. I have plans eventually to double my RAM and switch to a 19 monitor (flat screen). <hr /></blockquote> I say max your board out. I always fill the board up with as much RAM as it will handle. Is the monitor going to be a flat screen or flat panel? I am running a dual monitor system and have a 19in flat screen and a 15in monitor (ancient compaq).
03-30-2003, 10:48 AM
I think I will go with the Comcast cable, it is just $42.00 a month and free install, or $45.00 if I use their modem with the first three months $19.95. One more question that may sound dumb. Do they bring in a new line or use my existing cable line? Is it something I can move around myself later if I want to move the computer to another room, like I can do with the cable TV?
03-30-2003, 11:51 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote eg8r:</font><hr> My vote is cable modem, but that is just because of my bad experience here with SBC. Others swear by DSL, but my issue is mainly with the provider.
eg8r <hr /></blockquote>
In my home town of Roanoke, va, cable was very fast. Here in the md/dc are, people who have cable have said it slows to 56k in the evening when lots of people have come home from work. It is also out rageously expensive. Here dsl is cheaper and we think it is probably faster.
I am thinking that there is much local variance.
03-30-2003, 12:31 PM
It's easy to fall into the "more is more" arena, but I've seen studies where there were significant gains in speed up to 128mb RAM (Wintel machines, Win98-NT4-2k), and then only a moderate increase again, all the way at the 512mb mark.
There were two exceptions--one I can't recall, but the other was specifically with Photoshop. If you are deally with some really "heavy" PSDs, then you definitely want the extra--working w/ video files makes it a good idea as well.
Overall, unless you're working with very large files (graphics, audio, video), keep a LOT of windows open, or both, then the most RAM is the way to go. Ditto for gamers. . . .
On "older" machines, with the above exceptions, a NOTICEABLE change in speed probably won't be noticed above 256mb--if you can notice one above 128mb. This doesn't count for XP, in which you want to baseline at 128mb.
. . .Now that I think about it, other thefts of RAM are enacted by all that crap in the System Tray--and filling the tray is often something that PC vendors like Dell, HP, Gateway, etc., like to do. Those things will cause perfomance issues, especially when running a minimum of RAM.
Another oddity: Although many manufactures tout motherboards capable of taking 1-2Gb of RAM, they aren't always right. Sometimes, a mobo will only see a portion of that (although, this may also be the fault of the RAM itself). Other times, maxing out the RAM may actually cause unstability of the system, and result in crashing (again, to be fair, this may be due to mis-matching the brands of RAM).
OTOH, since RAM is still cheap--high quantities of RAM are certainly obtainable, if you "just gotta have it". Also, if you upgrade you're whole system, chances are good that you can migrate the RAM sticks, and continue to benefit.
03-30-2003, 12:45 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote eg8r:</font><hr> . . .I am now using DSL and I personally do not like it, but the main reason is the upload rate. Very low, something like 125. I do a lot of work with the web and it takes too much time sometimes to put up a bunch of graphics to a site (I could double my monthly rate and get 3 the performance but that is not worth the money right now). . . . but my issue is mainly with the provider.
eg8r <hr /></blockquote>As you said, the provider may be the issue, since DSL comes in different sizes: 256Kb, 512Kb, 1Mb, 1.5Mb, 2Mb, 4Mb, 6Mb. It may fall into a "get what you pay for" situation.
BTW, even with a slower DSL connection, you should be able to FTP (use a 'real' app, not IE) files fairly quickly. I don't recall what the package is here (BellSouth), but I moved about 1.5Gb of WAVs, graphics, and misc. files a few days ago, and it took around an hour.
I can't figure a website to be that big, unless you work for Amazon, or somewhere that need hundreds-to-thousands of graphics. If you don't, then I would suspect that you're uploading relatively uncompress files.
Gater, I'll have to decide what is best for the $$$$$. When I originally bought my computer it only had 128MB of RAM. I didn't understand that the more programs I had the more I'd slow down. I'm learning though at a painfully slow place. I'll be moving into my condo pretty soon. When that is accomplished I'll set up my library/computer room. I will then figure out just how psycho I wanna get.
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BTW, even with a slower DSL connection, you should be able to FTP (use a 'real' app, not IE) files fairly quickly. <hr /></blockquote> Sure IE sucks, I use CuteFTP. I am still at most only get about 125 up. I have the cheap plan right now. The price for service does not increase proportionately to the DSL speed. /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif
LOL, get real pyscho. RAM will help out if you like leaving multiple apps running at the same time. I have 1.5 gb of PC3200 DDR RAM and Photoshop does not bother it one bit. LOL Photoshop used to wear my computer out. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
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There were two exceptions--one I can't recall, but the other was specifically with Photoshop. If you are deally with some really "heavy" PSDs, then you definitely want the extra--working w/ video files makes it a good idea as well. <hr /></blockquote> It is funny, when all the computer stuff started getting cheaper there were many in this same camp that said why get all that you will never need it. Well, then burning CDs started getting real cheap. Then apps to make VCDs started popping up everywhere. Well then, many find out that it is a pain to sit and wait while data/video is encoding.
Anyone that has ever worked with Photoshop knows it is a RAM hog. There are settings that can be changed to reduce the amount of resources photoshop is using, but then you just slow down photoshop. Either way you are slowing down. The extra ram helps render any type of pic change, but a lot of RAM helps out a lot quicker. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
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Another oddity: Although many manufactures tout motherboards capable of taking 1-2Gb of RAM, they aren't always right. Sometimes, a mobo will only see a portion of that (although, this may also be the fault of the RAM itself). Other times, maxing out the RAM may actually cause unstability of the system, and result in crashing (again, to be fair, this may be due to mis-matching the brands of RAM). <hr /></blockquote> I am sure anyone can find fault with anything you buy. I am not saying this has never happened, but it has never happened to me. I have not heard of too much RAM hurting a system or making it unstable. This is however a problem with overclocking a processor.
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