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Dell Vostro 200 /w upgrades -- please approve

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November 27, 2007 8:44:04 PM

This is barely a "homebuilt" system, but it's within my confidence level. I have a 4 year old machine that I don't stress very much, and which I would like to replace with a more modern machine that can handle some moderate gaming. I got a discount through a professional association on some Dell machines, which lead to me browsing around their "small business" section, and I found the following which I thought may be a good deal. I would really appreciate if anyone more knowledgeable in such matters could look over this and make sure that I am getting a good deal, buying compatible components, and not foolishly overlooking some superior option in this price range or leaving anything out! Thanks in advance for the great help on this forum.

Base system: http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c=us...

Upgrades:
(RAM) http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=B8...
(video card) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And maybe: (wireless card) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168....

I know particularly little about processors and whether or not one of Dell's upgrades there would be worth it. Any comments on all this?
November 27, 2007 8:55:25 PM

That E2160 is a good OC'ing CPU, but I think Dell's BIOS are locked... so that's out of the question. I'd say it's ok for the value, except for the RAM. (You can get a set of performance RAM for a little less after MIR from Newegg.) Most people here, including my self, will push you towards building your own system though. What's your budget? Do you need an OS & Monitor? What else would you use it for besides gaming?
November 27, 2007 8:56:56 PM

You linked to a non-configured version of that system. Does that mean that you will just be going with that absolute base, or would you like us to try and build a decent system out of what dell has to offer.

On that same note, unless that special discount that you are getting is rather large, I would try to build your own systems....or have a company with a greater selection of products build one for you.

Some companies that build systems, while still remaining quite cheap: avadirect, NCIXUS, etc.

Hope I helped,
-Adam

P.S. Any more questions...don't hesitate to ask.
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November 27, 2007 9:25:36 PM

Thanks guys for the quick replies.

I configured that system from Dell to basically remove everything that I could. I think I do need an OS and was happy to see this came with XP and not Vista (My old computer is also a Dell, I doubt I can reuse the version of XP that came with that). I don't need a monitor or other peripherals. Aside from web browsing and some WarCraft, I really don't do anything too intensive with this machine. I also sometimes use photoshop, but really I feel like games are the only thing that ever strains the system. My budget is flexible, but around $500 feels like the most efficient price-point for my needs.

I read a lot about building my own system and overclocking in the last few days, including some very nice guides on this site and others. Given my level of experience and the amount of time and effort I want to spend, I feel like overclocking is way beyond what I would like to do. I was tempted to build my own system, but I sort of prefer the lower risk (and smaller thinking requirement) of just buying a box and upgrading the parts that are important to me (RAM and video card). Looking at the price of what I am describing here, it doesn't seem much worse than what I could make myself. Am I wrong?

If there are better options to choose at Dell (or for the upgrades I listed) I'd love to hear it. If the Dell system is just a plain bad deal (though it looks good to me), I guess I may have to reconsider that choice.

I'd like general comments also, but I guess my main questions are:

1) Will the parts I listed work well together?
2) Is it worth it to upgrade the processor a notch? I have no idea how those options compare in value.
3) Am I making a good choice of graphics card?

Also, I'd love to see a link to the better RAM -- I am worried if I pick it out myself it will be incompatible for some inscrutable reason. :( 

Thanks again for all the help!
November 27, 2007 9:43:37 PM

rgeist554 said:
That E2160 is a good OC'ing CPU, but I think Dell's BIOS are locked... so that's out of the question.


Yes and no.

I have a Vostro 200 at my office with an e2160 in it and I thought I'd try the 266Mhz Pin Mod for the hell of it, thinking it probably wouldn't work with the Dell BIOS. But it did work; went from 1.8Ghz to 2.4Ghz per CPU-z and has been working fine for two months.

So you can get a minor OC even though the BIOS is locked.

GL
November 28, 2007 4:03:39 PM

I'd appreciate any other comments people have before I commit to this. I also have three more questions.

1) The graphics card I linked was http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... but since then I have discovered http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which appears to be the same thing, with twice as much RAM, for only $10 more. Am I missing something, or would it be silly not to get the 512MB version? Also are these cards ones that require extra power or not? I am not sure how to tell. I am guessing they wouldn't have any heat or power issues in this system, but please tell me if that is wrong.

2) I was planning to buy two of those RAM sticks I linked and use them in conjunction with the two 512 sticks that come with the system, for a total of 3GB RAM. Is that a bad plan for any reason. Is there something about "dual channel" I need to worry about?

I also wondered how much of a difference it makes to go from 667mhz RAM to 800mhz. I was planning to use the RAM that comes with the system in addition to the stuff I buy, but if 667 is way slower, I guess I could just buy all new stuff at 800mhz. But I guess buying 4 1gb sticks would be bad because I heard that I can't use that much because of Windows XP. What would be the best way to upgrade this RAM? I'm looking for bang for the buck.

3) I sort of wonder about this Vostro system because it is for small businesses and I am not really using it for business purposes. I looked at their home line (Inspiron) and it didn't look like quite as good of a deal. If anyone thinks I am starting with the wrong model, I'd love to hear any advice on that or any other tips to make the most of my buying power.

Thanks again for the help.
November 28, 2007 6:04:27 PM

Quote:
Yes and no.

I have a Vostro 200 at my office with an e2160 in it and I thought I'd try the 266Mhz Pin Mod for the hell of it, thinking it probably wouldn't work with the Dell BIOS. But it did work; went from 1.8Ghz to 2.4Ghz per CPU-z and has been working fine for two months.

So you can get a minor OC even though the BIOS is locked.

GL
Very nice!

Back to zeroinfish -

1. Imo the 8600 isn't worth it for decent gaming, but if you're just going to use it for MMO's and websurfing, it will certainly work.

2. It's not recommended to mix brands of RAM, and after inspecting your system again tt doesn't say whether or not your RAM slots support Dual Channel RAM. So to stay on the safe side, just stick to non dual-channel RAM. The type of ram you want for your system is DDR2 800 / PC6400 or PC5300. You can sometimes choose RAM that is faster than the supported speeds on the motherboard and have the BIOS clock the RAM down to a stable speed.

3. The system will probably work just fine. Business computers usually come installed with Windows XP Pro though, that way the have better networking features as well as some other garble. You really can't beat the deal either since buying a mobo, processor, and RAM would cost that much just to buy and ship to your house. Would I buy it? No. Why? I still think you get a better "bang for your buck" by building your self. In the technology world you usually get what you pay for.
November 28, 2007 6:27:23 PM

Thanks for the post. What about the Radeon 2600XT, do you think that is a better value? I am worried about getting something that is too large/hot/power hungry for this system.

About the RAM, is there such thing as "dual channel" RAM? I thought dual channel was something that a motherboard supported or did not support, and any type of RAM would work with it as long as you installed it in matched pairs. So I don't understand it when you say stick to "non dual-channel RAM".

Also, does anyone have any view on the processor speed? I picked the cheapest one, because I am just not sure how to evaluate processors these days. Thanks for any help.
November 28, 2007 6:45:35 PM

The 8600 and 2600 are almost identicle in terms of performance. (The 8600 edges slightly ahead I believe) I don't believe either will be too hot or power-hungry for your system.

Yes, it's something the motherboard supports and as long as you have two identical sticks, they should run in dual-channel mode. Dual-channel RAM, or Dual-Channel kits I should call them, are just guaranteed matches that will always be capable of running in dual-channel mode. What you can have happen sometimes is get two almost identical sticks of RAM, but one could be a revision of the same model # and create potential conflicts.

At stock speeds that CPU isn't too hot. Like I said earlier, it's a good OC'er. It's running @ 1.6Ghz which is about 1Ghz+ less than the average. So you're not going to have the fastest machine. Something like the E6750 @ 2.66Ghz is more of the norm.

Here's a little tip for picking out CPU's:

1. Make sure it's a dual-core. Anything less these days is already dated.

2. Make sure it's either AMD x2 or C2D (Core 2 Duo). You don't want a terrible Pentium D. While it is a dual-core, the netburst architecture among other things makes it a poor performer among dual core chips.

3. Try to get the highest Ghz for the best price. (I'd say the minimum for a desktop that you want to last you more than a year is 2.0Ghz)

November 28, 2007 8:36:01 PM

Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Processor E2140 (1.60GHz, 1MB L2 Cache

That's dual core, but it isn't Core 2 Duo, I take it. Is it a Pentium D? I don't really know how to tell. Is upgrading to Intel® Core™2 Duo Proc E4500 (2.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800FSB) for $70 worth it? I never know when Dell is overcharging for upgrades like that...
November 28, 2007 8:49:40 PM

E4500 (Retail) - $129.99
-
E2140 (Retail) - $74.99
_____________________
Difference: $54.01

So you're paying about ~$16.00 more for it, but they're assembling it for you. Trade-off imo. (You know they pay a lot less than retail for the chips though, so it's on you to decide the worth) If you're really unsure, just type the product name into newegg.com and do a price comparison.

To answer your other questoin...

No, the 2140 isn't a pentium D. This a pentium D - http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?Image=19-1...
Avoid it like the plague.
December 4, 2007 5:16:57 PM

This is funny...I have the exact same questions! I have the Vostro 200 Slim...will the video cards mentioned acutally fit inside the case?
TIA,
Bill
December 4, 2007 6:55:59 PM

zeroinfish said:
I'd appreciate any other comments people have before I commit to this. I also have three more questions.

1) The graphics card I linked was http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... but since then I have discovered http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which appears to be the same thing, with twice as much RAM, for only $10 more. Am I missing something, or would it be silly not to get the 512MB version? Also are these cards ones that require extra power or not? I am not sure how to tell. I am guessing they wouldn't have any heat or power issues in this system, but please tell me if that is wrong.



The 512 version is GDDR2 and the 256 version is GDDR3. While I don't have any personal experience with the difference between the two, in Tom's Hardware, they say GDDR2 is significantly slower.
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/03/best_graphics_ca...
Just wanted to point out the difference.

Good luck with your new computer =)
April 8, 2009 3:09:45 PM

I have a follow up Question... Same Pc except the Processor is E6550, 2.33, 4MB Core Duo Kentsfield. I want to upgrade to a Q8200 Core 2 Quad.

1) Will the mother board run the new Chip?

2) Will a see a nice performance increase running in 64Bit?
!