So I'm going to college soon, and my school demands specific computer hardware, Dell desktop specifically (its not "homebuilt" sorry ). Here's some main default specifics ($1800 total)
Dell Model B - Precision T3500
Quad Core Intel Xeon W3520 Processor 2.66GHz with 8MB L3 Cache
6GB, 1066MHz DDR3 RAM (6 DIMMs)
512MB NVIDIA Quadro FX 580
750GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
Now, this is a computer I'm going to be using for 5 years most likely and I am majoring in an Architecture program. I can't change the manufacturer because Dell provides the software bundles for the students and a significant discount.
Before buying it allows you to customize it and change parts. Should I upgrade the graphics card to FX 3800 (+$720), an FX 1800 (+$360), or keep it at the FX 580? Since I am using this for 5 years, I want a good choice that will last me for long without having to make significant upgrades. I might also upgrade the RAM for $120 to 3 DIMMs 1333mHz, as that's the only option as opposed to $450 more on 12 GB 1066mHz ram. Should I even just ditch the Graphics card upgrade and change up the RAM instead? Should I just ditch any upgrades in general? I personally don't know how easily workstation cards are replaced by newer models so I'm asking to find out a good answer. For my personal computer I have had for a few years, I bought the 8800 GTX with a good dual-core/RAM combo. I bought the 8800 GTX to last me for awhile, which it has so far. I don't know if the same idea applies and if I just might be wasting money.
To sum it up, I'm trying to figure what to splooge on and how to do it specifically. My budget is capped at around $2500, +/- $100 and my college is partnered with Dell for significant discounts. The default price right now is $1800.
The 580 is pretty low end. All those Quatros are crippled chips in one degree or another. The 1800 is basically a G94 chip (but with a 192-bit interface rather than 256-bit like the 9600GT) while the FX 3800 is a G200b chip with 192 shaders and a 256-bit interface. If you want something long term, then the FX3800 would make the most sense, but I think a better value would be the FX3700 which is basically a 9800GT and should be enough to squeak by latter on. You could of course get an 8800GT and softmod it into an FX3700, but that requires older drivers and you wouldn't have that same professional support that comes with a Quatro.