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New i7 computer - ~$1,000 ex. monitor

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July 1, 2009 5:49:05 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next two weeks
BUDGET RANGE: ~$1,000 (excluding peripherals/accessories/monitor)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: any US based site, also have a Microcenter fairly convenient (Boston)

PARTS PREFERENCES: I want a Core i7 based system as that seems to be the most future proof

OVERCLOCKING: Probably not

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Want to get a 24 inch monitor (1900x1080 or 1200), maybe a 22 inch - probably from Dell

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Have a wireless mouse but will be on the lookout for any sweet wireless keyboard or combo wireless mouse/keyboards deals in next couple of weeks
Will keep eye out for good Dell monitor deals in next couple weeks

For the actual computer, what I am thinking would be best is:
Ordering from HP or Dell the most basic model and swapping out for a better video card - probably not this month but in a few months or a year
(I have been using an old computer and have missed out on a lot of games in the last couple of years - I'll probably play those first and then upgrade for new games)
I realize I'll probably have to update the power supply if I do this but I am OK with that (it's possible, right?)
http://www.dell.com/us/en/home/desktops/desktop-studio-...
http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/computer_can...
Right now, the HP seems like a better deal at the same price (more RAM, bigger HD)

To me the advantages of this over building my own are:
1) Saves time and potentially not too much more expensive
- For example, if I take the HP and swap in a HD Radeon 4890 today, the price will be something like $1100+tax, which is comparable to the price I get when build from individual components on Newegg/Microcenter, although in the HP/Dell the HD, power supply, and RAM are probably not quite as good.
2) I actually really like the way these computers look and the simple cases
3) I'm not the kind of guy (anymore) who can stay up to date monthly on the best computer parts or how to keep things working well
- I don't see myself constantly upgrading, maybe only one or two major upgrades (graphics card, CPU maybe once in a couple years, adding hard drives here and there, swapping out RAM if I need more)
4) While I think it would be fun to learn how to build my own computer I don't really have the time and would get very easily frustrated if I get a DOA part or the computer fails to boot - definitely worth say $100 to me to avoid tihs

I've also done a lot of searches on this and from what I can tell the disadvantages doing this as compared to building your own are:
1) The motherboards are somehow restricted
- But I don't see myself overclocking really
- What are the other disadvantages of a the motherboards that come with these as compared to what you would use if you built your own system?
- Part of the reason I want to get a Core i7 is because I understand that the MBs will be more compatible with all future Intel processors - is this true and would there be any reason why the Dell/HP MBs would not allow a CPU upgrade?
2) For the Dell XPS specifically (maybe also the HP), there is only one PCIe slot
- What would I need an additional PCIe slot for (besides graphics)? I don't see myself ever using more than one graphics card
3) Come with cheaper stock HD and RAM components and power supply
- I would be most worried about the hard drive. Is it possible to swap out the HD e.g. with a WD Caviar Black drive from Newegg? How could I re-install the OS?
- How worried should I be about the power supply? Do I need to upgrade it from the beginning or only when I get a new graphics card?

Also considering iBuypower as they seem to have very reasonable prices but from what I understand the reliability is questionable.

Please let me know what you think about these questions / this plan. Are there any other issues I should be aware of?

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July 2, 2009 2:08:22 AM

I understand completely where you are coming from...

I started with a Dell Insprion 530 with a Q6600 and added a video card to better my gaming once I got more and more into gaming. The next thing I found myself doing is buying one video card (8500GT) than upgrading to a 8800GT. Well my PSU won't handle a 8800GT and I had to upgrade the PSU. I tried to go to the next gen video card and upgrade to a 9800GTX but then space & heat became a huge issue inside the Dell case. I started getting crashes do to overheating issues. Next, I ended up building a new computer from stratch with using just my Q6600 processor so I can have a system that support my needs. Two builds later I couldn't be more happy with my system... (well... I could be happier if I had more money to add a SSD, swap out to 2x GTX295... etc... but my computer plays every game I play at MAX settings with no issues... so it suits my needs!! :D  )

Basically... long story short... build your own!! Once you start the upgrade process you'll will end up basically building yourself a computer to meet your needs anyway. It is much easier to build from the start and have a much easier upgrade path than you would will Dell or HP... I'm not knocking Dell or HP... they are great computers for the average user but fail to meet the needs of a "TRUE" gamer... IMO.

Quote:
1) The motherboards are somehow restricted
- But I don't see myself overclocking really
- What are the other disadvantages of a the motherboards that come with these as compared to what you would use if you built your own system?
- Part of the reason I want to get a Core i7 is because I understand that the MBs will be more compatible with all future Intel processors - is this true and would there be any reason why the Dell/HP MBs would not allow a CPU upgrade?
2) For the Dell XPS specifically (maybe also the HP), there is only one PCIe slot
- What would I need an additional PCIe slot for (besides graphics)? I don't see myself ever using more than one graphics card
3) Come with cheaper stock HD and RAM components and power supply
- I would be most worried about the hard drive. Is it possible to swap out the HD e.g. with a WD Caviar Black drive from Newegg? How could I re-install the OS?
- How worried should I be about the power supply? Do I need to upgrade it from the beginning or only when I get a new graphics card?

1.) It is the BIOS that are restricted....
- I would always recommend leaving the door open for OCing... it is a cheap way to upgrade / get more out of a processor.
- You said one earlier... one PCIe Slot... next is onboard chip cooling. Most 3rd party MOBO's have better onboard chip cooling, which makes the system run much cooler and better
- Dell / HP should allow for upgrades with new BIOS being release but I won't expect them to upgrade them as quickly as a 3rd Party Manufacturer.

2.) I would always recommend leaving the door open for adding a second video card. Another video card is again another cheaper way to upgrade your system without having to upgrade your CPU or your complete system.

3.) You are correct... they do come with a basic / lowest possible powered components to run your system. Those components will be low end grade components. You don't want to risk your system with a low end PSU most of all.
- Yes, you can switch out the HDD for another hard drive. All you have to do is use the Dell / HP Reinstallation DVD and just activate with the key located on the Dell / HP case with the license information
- If you are running just the stock PC, you should be fine on the supplied PSU. If you do any upgrading, I would recommend the PSU is first and part of that upgrade
July 3, 2009 4:34:23 AM

Tecmo, thanks a ton for the thoughtful reply. After a bit more soul searching, I've changed courses a little bit and want to get a more basic PC that I will try to build myself. I just pulled to trigger on a $415 monitor, so will spend less on the PC hardware, especially since I am not playing the latest games...

I will post another thread for build advice shortly!
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