I'm probably going to buy a Dell XPS 420 within the next few months.
I'm a non-gamer and a pretty average computer user... internet, office apps, music, light photo editing, movie watching, etc.
The base choice for the Dell system is the ATI Radeon HD3650 256MB... for $50 more I can have the Radeon ATI HD 2600 XT 256MB, and for another $50 above that I can have the ATI Radeon HD3870 512MB GDDR4.
For what I use my computer for, would getting one of the upgraded choices provide any benefit to me at all?
The base is the 2400Pro, but for $50, get the HD3650. All you need for all that is integrated really, but the HD3650 would be a wise investment. The 2600XT for an extra $50 is a joke because the 2600XT and the HD3650 are in the same performance class. The only reason to go to the HD3870 if you're planning on gaming within the next 6 months.
Go with the 3650. Basically the 3650 is the same as the 2600XT, but the 3650 is made on a smaller process and thus needs less power and generates less heat. I can't imagine why they would charge more for a 2600XT over a 3650. If you meant the 3450 though that's a whole other story. Anyway get the 3650. If you ever decide to put a blu-ray drive into your computer it will allow for smooth playback. If you are not going to play any games, then the 3870 will never be put to use by you so it will be wasted money.
@metsfan: To answer your question, you probably do not need a graphics card upgrade for anything you mentioned, with the possible exception of movie watching. Ram is cheap, so it is no real problem if the graphics card uses some of it.
Would you post the components and cost of all the parts you are considering?
No doubt, you can get a list of parts from forum members here to build it yorself. If you are considering anything better than an entry level system, a custom build can be significantly cheaper.
If you build it yourself, you will get a clean system with out "bloatware" and trial programs which can be a pain to get rid of. It only takes a couple of yours to do, assuming you have all the parts on hand.
I'm not using newegg to make him buy from there. I'm using it to list a reference point for prices. It might not be the best place to make a list to compare, but that list is very usefull to illustrate my point: Dell is expensive for his needs.