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Combo system...Dell and aftermarket, thoughts?

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February 10, 2007 5:14:05 PM

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I am shopping for a new system and operating on about a $600 budget (new baby is expensive).

I have built a couple systems and also purchased a system from Dell with good results on both. Dell has a special right now of the following for $399 w/ free shipping:

Dimension E521
AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core 3800
Genuine Windows Vista™ Home Basic
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz- 2DIMMs
HARD DRIVE 160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
OPTICAL DRIVE 16X DVD ROM Drive
VIDEO CARD NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE Integrated Graphics GPU
SOUND Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio

I was wondering what you guys thought of that along with dropping these items in it to beef it up:
RAM
Video Card

That's $570 for the system (+/- a few bucks). It would be replacing:
P4 3.2ghz (northwood)
1mb ram
9800 Pro
Viewsonic VX922 (this will carry to new system)

So what do you think?
Worth the money?
Wait until I can afford a Core C2D? (probably months away)
Any changes to the above to make it better? (without adding a lot of cost)

I will be using the system for gaming (EQ2, Oblivion, etc), office, web-browsing, email and other basic uses.

Thanks in advance everyone.


~Jason
February 10, 2007 5:53:37 PM

First off, don't buy a dell.

Secondly, don't buy a dell.


Just for added emphasis, don't buy a dell.



I have a Dell Dim. 4700 and I have been playing the "runaround game" trying to figure out what is proprietary and what is not. If you want a PC that doesn't cost a ton but wont be obsolete in a year or two, then buy yourself a nice mobo that supports Duo Core and build from the ground up yourself.

I would wait for Duo Core prices to drop myself, since the old AMD systems require lots of power (which means lots of heat), and aren't as fast as some of the slowest Duo Cores.

On the "beef up memory" part, you'll want to buy all of your memory at once in identical pairs, so that you can run dual channel. At the same time, a slower RAM module will force your PC to underclock the other modules so that they all run at the same speed.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO BUY VISTA.

Unless you are a software engineer and you need Vista for work, you do not want to purchase it until SP2 (probably a year and a half). You'd have to be the world's biggest sucker to volunteer to beta test Vista for microsoft right now. Your games will run slower, that PC wont run the Aero interface, and your GPU wont natively run DX10, so you have no reason what so ever to buy Vista. What's so bad about XP anyways? Why do you need to upgrade if XP works just fine? :?
February 10, 2007 6:12:23 PM

Get this and a nice lcd monitor. Buy a dx10 card when they drop in price.
Related resources
February 10, 2007 6:26:46 PM

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
PC CHIPS A33G V1.0 Socket AM2 SiS 761 GX Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
OPEN BOX:Leadtek WinFast PX7900GS TDH 256MB Geforce 7900GS 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video
Transcend JetRam 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model JM388Q643A-8 - Retail
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W) Windsor 2.0GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADO3800CUBOX - Retail
Microsoft Windows XP Home Sp2b 1pk w/Upgrade Coupon for Vista - OEM
generic dvdr +$30



total$573.95
not including shipping.
off newegg.com
February 10, 2007 6:47:24 PM

I've had Dells for a long time. They are difficult if not impossible to upgrade. My E510 won't take a GTX, 8800 or other long video card, more than 2 hard drives, etc. It has a BTX mobo, making a real upgrade all but impossible. My next system will be a build with a big solid case that will become an evolving platform. That way I will be able to take occasional leaps in performance such as processor / mobo and so on.

There are some good threads here about building budget systems. My advice is to wait until you can ramp up your budget a bit. By then prices will drop and you will get considerably more bang for your buck. I'd avoid VISTA like the plague - unproven, driver-deficient corporate bloatware with anti-user features focused almost entirely on security (MicroSoft's, not yours).
February 11, 2007 11:06:25 PM

Paul, the only thing proprietary in your Dimension 4700 is the front panel connectors. Not too hard to change that is it?

To the OP: I'm not sure abut the extra ram. If you feel 2Gb is really necessary, go for it. The video card is a good idea. While I don't care for the BTX platform, that price is impossible to beat with a build-your-own. Have fun.
February 11, 2007 11:45:47 PM

Quote:
Paul, the only thing proprietary in your Dimension 4700 is the front panel connectors. Not too hard to change that is it?

To the OP: I'm not sure abut the extra ram. If you feel 2Gb is really necessary, go for it. The video card is a good idea. While I don't care for the BTX platform, that price is impossible to beat with a build-your-own. Have fun.


Excuse me while I call bullshit. I've talked to Dell techies and they themselves have told me that I would not be able to reuse a couple of Dell parts that I was planning on including in a new build.

Just off the top of my head I can tell you that the mobo/cases are built to be used only together. Say otherwise so I can start ignoring you and move on with my life.
February 12, 2007 6:03:30 AM

You might want to look into my post history in this subject before making such outrageous remarks. The only BS I can see in this thread is the FUD you're spewing. I know what is and is not true on the Dell computers of which I write.

No, your Dell case and mobo are not unique. Both are 100% mATX standard. That mobo will fit in any aftermarket case, and likewise, any aftermarket mATX mobo will fit in your Dell case.

But hey, if the concept of rewiring a couple front panel connectors is too much for your little mind to fathom, then by all means go ahead and buy new components.


There's your case with an aftermarket mobo and PSU installed. Ya, that's REAL proprietary... :roll:

And here's my 4500 while receiving it's "impossible" upgrade to the Asrock 775i65G



I actually had to do real work to make my case aftermarket friendly. You don't have that excuse, so quit your whining.
February 12, 2007 4:56:29 PM

Quote:
Paul, the only thing proprietary in your Dimension 4700 is the front panel connectors. Not too hard to change that is it?

To the OP: I'm not sure abut the extra ram. If you feel 2Gb is really necessary, go for it. The video card is a good idea. While I don't care for the BTX platform, that price is impossible to beat with a build-your-own. Have fun.


Excuse me while I call bullshit. I've talked to Dell techies and they themselves have told me that I would not be able to reuse a couple of Dell parts that I was planning on including in a new build.

Just off the top of my head I can tell you that the mobo/cases are built to be used only together. Say otherwise so I can start ignoring you and move on with my life.

Not true. While you have to be careful about the physical dimensions of the various possible components as you would in ANY build, not just an upgrade of a Dell, there are really no proprietary restrictions on most, if not all, newer Dells.

I don't know what those Dell techies really said. All I know is my own experience with upgrading a Dell 4600.

To the OP: Some things to consider (from someone who has been there and done that...as opposed to those who haven't):

1) Your motherboard will probably be your biggest problem when upgrading. The Dell-supplied motherboards tend to have fewer PCI slots, for example, than others...perhaps because they are designed to fit into cases smaller than ATX-size. Keep in mind that Dell might still use slower motherboards with locked BIOSes. There goes the overclocking option.

2) You probably can use a third-party power supply such as Antec. Maybe some older Dells needed proprietary power supplies. My 4600 doesn't.

3) You can use whatever case that your motherboard will fit into.

4) Use whatever RAM you want. Just keep in mind that you will be wasting money on the fastest RAM if your Dell-supplied motherboard won't be able to take advantage of it. There is no use in upgrading to fast RAM (more than 533 Mhz) if the Dell motherboard can only handle 533 Mhz or slower.

5) No restrictions on hard disks, CD/DVD drives, etc. Just make sure that your motherboard has SATA connections before buying a SATA drive.

If your intention is to buy a cheap Dell and then upgrade the heck out of it in order to achieve a fast, powerful system, then I'd advise against it. If this is your intention, it would be better to build from scratch.

If your intention is to buy a cheap Dell and then upgrade a little here and there to get a decent, moderately fast system, then go ahead.
February 12, 2007 9:52:20 PM

If you could live with onboard video until you can afford it, you could build a really nice AM2 dual core 3800.

CPU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
MOBO http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
RAM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
Case http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
DVD Writer http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
Floppy http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
hdd http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

This would run about $600 with shipping and you could get Kingston RAM that would be less expensive as well as a less expensive case. Then when you can afford, get a video card.
February 13, 2007 1:16:24 PM

I thank you all very much for your feedback and input.

Quote:
Unless you are a software engineer and you need Vista for work, you do not want to purchase it until SP2 (probably a year and a half). You'd have to be the world's biggest sucker to volunteer to beta test Vista for microsoft right now.

I do not particularly want Vista, but it is what comes with the system. Considering an OS (whether XP or Vista) is another ~$100 to the cost of a "from scratch" system it part of the reason this system is in my price range at the moment.


Quote:
Get this and a nice lcd monitor

$850 vs. $399.... notice the difference? :D 
Don't need a monitor.


Quote:
there are really no proprietary restrictions on most, if not all, newer Dells.

That's my experience as well on my previous Dell.


Quote:
Keep in mind that Dell might still use slower motherboards with locked BIOSes. There goes the overclocking option.

No problem, no plans at all to overclock.


Quote:
There is no use in upgrading to fast RAM (more than 533 Mhz) if the Dell motherboard can only handle 533 Mhz or slower.

Right. Good point and the exact reason why I picked some 533Mhz to purchase with timings the same as the stock memory.


Quote:
If your intention is to buy a cheap Dell and then upgrade a little here and there to get a decent, moderately fast system, then go ahead

You got it. I am realistic enought to know that my $500-600 isn't going to build a blazing system. That said, it should be a significant upgrade to what I have now. It will meet my currents needs (not my desires). I will not have a lot of $$$ tied up into something when the time comes and I CAN afford to build the system I desire.



Quote:
If you could live with onboard video...

No, I really dont think I could stand onboard video for anywhere near the time it will take me to afford my next system; I game too much.


Thanks again to all the replies. I am going to sleep on it today and make my decision tonight. The Dell offer expires tomorrow.

I didnt have any issues with my previous Dell power supply when upgrading. Do you think the stock PS will support the 7600GT ???
February 13, 2007 2:01:43 PM

That would work perfectly fine.

The main issues are ...........

1) The Dell BIOS will likely prohibit OverClocking.

2) If you ever want a Video card more powerful than the 7600, the PowerSupply will require an upgade.

However, this will give you a very nice system at a reasonable price.
February 13, 2007 4:55:30 PM

The new Dell power supplies are 305 watt units, and as always, that's rated as max sustainable load. It should handle your graphics card just fine. :wink:
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