Upgrading Dell XPS 720

Hey everyone. I just ordered a Dell XPS 720 and had a few questions about some upgrades that I'd like to make once I receive it. But, before I get into the system specs and my questions, I'll give a little background. I used to be a pretty avid follower of PC Technology and home built forums like this. I've been deployed for 2 of the last 3 years and have really lost track of what is going on, hence, the Dell and this thread, lol. So, because I'm so far behind the current technology, your input is extremely valuable. Ok, now to the specs:

Intel Q9450 (2.66GHz, 1333 FSB)
4GB DDR2 800MHz, 4 DIMM
GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
320GB SATA RAID 0 - Dual 160GB 10000RPM
And I believe the mobo is nForce 680i SLI

I think those are all of the components that are relevant to my questions, but if you need more info, please feel free to ask. Now to my questions:

1. I havn't purchased a monitor yet, but I'm looking at 22" and 24", leaning more towards the 24", probably up to 1920 x 1200 native resolution. That being said, would it be a good idea to pick up an additional 8800 GT to make use of the SLI capability? I enjoy gaming and one of my favorite things is looking at all of the pretty bells and whistles. Furthermore, would my CPU end up being a bottleneck if I chose the SLI route, as Dell has apparently locked the BIOS and made OCing the CPU impossible?

2. Apparently the RAM comes as 4 x 1GB sticks, occupying all four slots. Would it be a good idea to purchase 2 x 2GB sticks, I had heard occupying all RAM slots can hinder performance and cause undo stress on the hardware. Or, since I am using Vista 32 bit, is anything above 3GB still useless?

3. I had selected the SATA RAID 0 drive before I had done the proper research, which was stupid. Will I be able to replace those drives with a single, should one of them fail?

That's all the questions I have for right now. Thanks a lot for your time and help with this as it is very much appreciated.
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  1. First off I can understand your problem that youve lost touch with building PCs. But why a Dell? And how much do they want for this machine? My advice is to build your own. Your posting on a place that has a huge wealth of collective knowledge in PC building and repair.

    But on to the other stuff.

    Processor looks good. I would build my own and use a Q6600 and give it a little overclock.

    4 gigs of RAM is good in both 32 and 64 bit setups.

    8800 GT is still a solid video card.

    Dont bother with Raptors. Over priced and once whatever your doing is loaded, you dont see a big increase in performance. RAID 0 is great, but you need to have a large backup drive for storing things you dont want to lose.

    If the mobo is a 680i you will have problems. I dont even think a 9450 will run on a 680i but i could be wrong. Its probably a 780i.

    With a 22' or 24 inch monitor you will benefit from SLI especially at 1920x1200 resolution. A 9450 or 6600 will not bottleneck an SLI setup.

    Personally I prefer 2 sticks of RAM if going for 4 gigs. You open yourself up for issues by filling all slots on the mobo with RAM. Usually can be solved by bumping up the RAM voltage though.

    For RAID see my previous HD statement. My advice is use a pair of 250 gig HDs in RAID 0 for your OS and apps. Use a single large drive for storage. I have done this and it works great. But that being said I am working on a machine running RAID5 so my chance of losing things due to hardware failure are minimized.
  2. Missed the part where you said you ordered already. People should ask questions before they order, not afterwards! :pt1cable:

    First upgrade I would do is go to www.blackviper.com and remove all the crapware Dell probably has installed.

    Find out what brand video card Dell used in your build and go buy another. Your PSU should be able to handle another 8800 GT. You shouldnt have a bottleneck with a 9450.

    If you want to OC at some point and Dell has the BIOS locked down, just replace the mobo and reinstall Windows.

    Your RAM should be OK as Dell should test to be sure its working before its shipped.

    Add a large storage drive to store your stuff you dont want to lose. If you lose a drive in RAID 0, your screwed.

    I will say one good thing about Dell, its about time they quit using proprietary crap in their systems. This will make your upgrade path much smoother.
  3. Thanks a lot for the quick reply. You answered all of my questions and your answers were kind of what I was expecting. I knew I had messed up with the HD after I started to do some research. Also, your answer regarding the 9450 not being a bottleneck in SLI is actually pretty reassuring, I was kind of nervous about that because I couldn't find the answer anywhere.

    As for why I bought a Dell. To be honest, I'm impatient right now. Just about ready to go back home and I wanted something waiting for me when I got there. The total cost was $2100. I realize the type of rig I could build with that kind of money, but again, it goes back to me being a little impatient, lol. Once I get back home though, I intend to get back into the groove and start on my own project, likely with a budget of around $2500. It probably won't happen until Q4 08 though.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply, it really is very helpful.
  4. To be honest i bought a dell xps 720, i went online and picked out what i wanted and didnt want, i think i should have spent the extra 1000 and got the already made package by dell i was hoping to save money but think i did wrong this machine still cost me close to $6000 and if i dont pay it off real soon probably be $9000 with financing lol but anyways i was not as happy with it as i thought i would be i was wondering on how to get more speed on it and how to and what to shut down to make a smoother running game i have this machine for games only as i have another for other internet stuff that gives you viruses like porn ect . lmao i dont look much at that as i game to much lol
    anyways i was wondering what i can get ride of and what i can shut down ...
    i also am looking at laptops as i spend alot of time on the road working and i was wondering where and what kind i should get i was pricing and xps with dual vid cards but i was up to 4700 without special stufff (all the good things i druel over lol )but never the less still a nice machine but u add taxes ect ill be at 5500-6000 again i hate spending that much every three four years on computers !! what can i do or buy to keep my gaming at peek performance but still keep my budget down ? hope to hear from you soon !!1
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