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Can I build a better box than just buying this system?

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November 7, 2007 1:25:35 PM

Hi all,
I am in a bit of a pickle. My old home pc is a huge piece of junk and recently started having major issues. I got the wife signed off on buying something quickly, so we can get our computing needs in check (basic office stuff, printing, light gaming, be the central photo storage/editor, central music storage and streamer, be the make-shift NAS, etc). There are a few laptop users in the house, so centralizing all data somewhere is going to be essential. I am one of those people who dig getting into the gadget specs, but I just dont have time on this build... I was hoping you guys could help me come up with a nice system that will take us into the future for a reasonable budget ($400-$700). I already have a monitor. I am still debating whether I want to run ubuntu or vista and will probably run in some VM type of setup or dual boot. (I need bash, cli..my wife needs a working pc that works with all her school mates file formats...) Long story short is that I was looking at the open sources boxes on dell and they seemed reasonably priced, but I dont want to buy something that I could build a way better one for cheaper. Here are the specs on the dell box (inspiron 530N @ $709):


PROCESSOR Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E6550 (4MB L2 Cache,2.33GHz,1333 FSB) edit
OPERATING SYSTEM FreeDOS™ included in the box, ready to install edit
MONITORS No Monitor edit
MEMORY 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs edit
HARD DRIVE 320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™ edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 16X DVD+/-RW Drive edit
VIDEO CARD 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8300GS edit
SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio edit
KEYBOARD & MOUSE Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse edit
FLOPPY & MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive Included edit
MODEM & WIRELESS 56K PCI Data Fax Modem


What do you guys think? I will probably need to add another hd to meet my NAS needs too. Should I go this route or try to peice something together? Is there somewhere that already has the parts list for something like I am looking for? I want to try to buy something in the next day or so.....before the "just buy it.." mood passes :) 

Thanks all,
JD
November 7, 2007 2:14:33 PM

Well, in the HOMEBUILT forum, you aren't going to find many people that tell you to buy a system from and OEM. However, the truth is on lower end systems, the OEMs can generally offer you a better deal that buying one yourself. An added note, your time restrictions. Admitedly(spelling), a system doesn't take too long to build, but then again it does take more time than buying one.

If you build you own, you will not really see much of a difference in performance at this price point. Therefore, I suggest you go with an OEM.

Note: The place where OEMs get you is the upgrades. To minimize cost, stay away from these.

-Adam
(I know I'll get it for not telling him to build his own)
November 7, 2007 3:30:25 PM

Forget gaming, and forget overclocking if you buy that system.
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November 7, 2007 4:02:38 PM

Well, he certainly won't be able to play crysis, but it isn't really all that bad. I would think that this system would be ok for some light gaming. I mean my "on-board videocard mobo thingy" can play some fairly recent games.
November 7, 2007 4:23:58 PM

That computer sounds perfect for what he needs.

I'm assuming that "light gaming" means Solitaire or Simcity, not Crysis/Hellgate/CoD.

I'm also assuming that whatever motherboard is in there has network capabilities, so the thing can work as a server already.

Typically a computer like that will easily allow you to add a second hard disk, (say a 750GB WD7500AAKS) and the power supply will be good enough to support it too. However, that's about all you can upgrade on these machines.
November 7, 2007 4:50:04 PM

its a decent box for winxp but it would choke and die on vista. you need 4GB of RAM and at least an 8600 series card.

if you are looking at time, keep in mind that getting it build by dell and shipped to you often takes weeks longer than buying parts and shipping it to yourself and building it.

and don't get the upgrades through dell, they charge north of 150-200 for another 2GB of RAM...you can buy that stuff for 50$ without rebate on newegg, DDR2 800.
November 7, 2007 5:22:31 PM

Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz LGA 775 Processor $169.99
GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel $93.99
OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 $62.99
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA $79.99
SAMSUNG SATA 18X DVD±R DVD Burner W/ 12X DVD-RAM $29.99
ASUS EN8400GS/HTP/256M GeForce 8400GS $49.99
SeaSonic SS-500ES ATX12V 500W Power Supply $94.99
Total $501.94

All Newegg prices for comparison of a similar homebuilt. If you need a new case then add $50-$100 for you're preference. So you could save money and have the same system built with quality parts that is just the same, if you have the time to do it yourself.
November 7, 2007 5:24:45 PM

jd-santaclarita said:
Hi all,
PROCESSOR Intel® Core%u21222 Duo Processor E6550 (4MB L2 Cache,2.33GHz,1333 FSB) edit
OPERATING SYSTEM FreeDOS%u2122 included in the box, ready to install edit
MONITORS No Monitor edit
MEMORY 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs edit
HARD DRIVE 320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache%u2122 edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 16X DVD+/-RW Drive edit
VIDEO CARD 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8300GS edit
SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio edit
KEYBOARD & MOUSE Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse edit
FLOPPY & MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive Included edit
MODEM & WIRELESS 56K PCI Data Fax Modem

Thanks all,
JD


That's easily less then $700 in parts with case and mobo.

E6550- 170
Memory- 35
Hard drive- 70-80
Optical- 30-40
8300- 50
Sound- built into mobo
keyboard and mouse- lying around for nothing?
Modem and Wireless- network card 50
November 7, 2007 5:27:10 PM

I based my pricing on the component quality dell would stick in the system.
November 7, 2007 5:52:30 PM

buy half and half, get rid of the graphics card and lower the ram to 1gb. Buy those 2 parts from newegg their also very ez to install and not to mention cheap (at dell u have to pay an extra $100 for 1 extra gb of ram @ 667mhz when u can get 2gb @ 800mhz for around $70 at newegg.) Also remember to use dell coupons; this one 4J1M7748R2RRV6 saves u $350 off any purchase of $999+.
November 7, 2007 6:49:44 PM

lghtmup98 said:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz LGA 775 Processor $169.99
GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel $93.99
OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 $62.99
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA $79.99
SAMSUNG SATA 18X DVD±R DVD Burner W/ 12X DVD-RAM $29.99
ASUS EN8400GS/HTP/256M GeForce 8400GS $49.99
SeaSonic SS-500ES ATX12V 500W Power Supply $94.99
Total $501.94

You have the right idea here. I would edit as follows to make it closer to Dell specs, and improve the vid card:

CORSAIR 2GB DDR2 667 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $47.99
2600XT vid card - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $99.99
Silverstone 400w PSU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $49.99

New Total = $571.93

This is a nicer case than Dell's IMO. http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product... - $39.99 after MIR.

Solid light gaming rig.
November 7, 2007 9:10:45 PM

Either of the suggested builds would work well and be a lot cheaper. The only bonus you get with dell is the warranty. The only thing is you could probably buy extended warranties for all the parts and you would still be cheaper then the Dell.

Another thing you might want to take into account is would you be willing to overclock? You can get a $80 processor and easily overclock it way past the current one. (With stock cooling)
November 8, 2007 2:09:52 AM

Thanks for the responses so far. I am still a bit on the fence all around the board..(hardware and primary OS). I dont want to limit myself to the specs of that box i spec'd from dells open source offerings. If I were going to build the best box to meet all my needs above and spend up to $700, would these specs be on track? or am i missing the boat on something. The thing that worries me is the fact that i dont know much about video cards, so I am not sure which ones are good, great and lousy.. I would like to occasionally play some sports games, racing games, football, etc which I am not sure where they fall on the requirements. If you were in my shoes and were going to drop 500-700 on a box, what would you do?

Thanks again for all the info...very much appreciated.

Thanks,
JD
November 8, 2007 4:14:18 AM


Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $79.99

EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $89.99

Thermaltake Purepower W0100RU ATX 12V 2.0 500W Power Supply - Retail $59.99

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail $54.99

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $93.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E4400 - Retail $129.99

Microsoft Windows Vista 32-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM $111.99

LG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model GSA-H54NK - OEM $28.99

Total: $708 after shipping.



This will give you a really decent machine. It has overclocking headroom as well if you are interested in that. I included the OS, not sure if you need it because no one else included it, but you had it in your original post. You can pick out a relatively cheap case and keyboard and mouse if you don't already have those.

After the Case, keyboard, and mouse, it should be about $750. It would be a lot cheaper without the OS, and if you took that off you'd have some room for a better video card.

I'd suggest the x1950 pro if you can squeeze a little more money into it. But the 7600gt isn't a bad card. It's old technology, and won't play the newest games very well, but it'd probably be fine for most games.
November 8, 2007 5:48:53 AM

jd-santaclarita said:
Thanks for the responses so far. I am still a bit on the fence all around the board..(hardware and primary OS). I dont want to limit myself to the specs of that box i spec'd from dells open source offerings. If I were going to build the best box to meet all my needs above and spend up to $700, would these specs be on track? or am i missing the boat on something. The thing that worries me is the fact that i dont know much about video cards, so I am not sure which ones are good, great and lousy.. I would like to occasionally play some sports games, racing games, football, etc which I am not sure where they fall on the requirements. If you were in my shoes and were going to drop 500-700 on a box, what would you do?

Thanks again for all the info...very much appreciated.

Thanks,
JD

If you want to play games, I would not buy a Dell. In that price range, Dell does not even understand the concept of PC gaming. I would go to the web sites of your games, or read the box in the stores. Most will list minimum requirements, and recommended requirements. Go with the recommended.

You can also check out the Tom's Hardware VGA charts link on the front page. It lists most of the current cards and their various capabilities. Basically, in your price range, the best you are going to do is either the 2600xt, or the 8600GTS. These will play most games at lower resolutions just fine on a 19 or 20" monitor. The next step up would be an 8800gt and a higher end power supply. Both would take you closer to $1,000.
November 8, 2007 12:17:09 PM

jd-santaclarita said:
Hi all,
Here are the specs on the dell box (inspiron 530N @ $709):


PROCESSOR Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E6550 (4MB L2 Cache,2.33GHz,1333 FSB) edit
OPERATING SYSTEM FreeDOS™ included in the box, ready to install edit
MONITORS No Monitor edit
MEMORY 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs edit
HARD DRIVE 320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™ edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 16X DVD+/-RW Drive edit
VIDEO CARD 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8300GS edit
SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio edit
KEYBOARD & MOUSE Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse edit
FLOPPY & MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive Included edit
MODEM & WIRELESS 56K PCI Data Fax Modem


What do you guys think? I will probably need to add another hd to meet my NAS needs too. Should I go this route or try to peice something together? Is there somewhere that already has the parts list for something like I am looking for? I want to try to buy something in the next day or so.....before the "just buy it.." mood passes :) 

Thanks all,
JD


Try the Dell Outlet, you can find the same configuration for $200 less, or an XPS 410 with the same basic specs and an 8600GT or 7900GS for the same $709.
http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/desk...
November 8, 2007 2:09:48 PM

A Dell will always be different to a self-build computer. A self-build computer will always be at least 20% cheaper with the same component. And a Dell will always be better with service, warranty and less trouble. It just up to you to decide whether you want to pay the premium or not...

Suggest you to start config your Dell (if you decide to have a Dell) with Ubuntu's offer with Pentium Dual-Core series, you don't really need a faster Core 2 Duo if you only have light gaming...
November 8, 2007 2:29:58 PM

dell sucks they are evil! i hate dell!
November 8, 2007 3:02:01 PM

You will see that Dell always offers less features than a retail motherboard does. Same is true for other components. Dell cannot offer the same quality as a retail product.
!