To Build or Buy Premade

Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime before Christmas
Budget Range: $1200 Before Rebates
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, video encoding, surfing the internet, watching movies
Parts Not Required: Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Intel i7
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200
Additional Comments: Windows 7 Professional, DVD-R/CD-R, at least 1GB hard drive space, will be running World of Warcraft, Photoshop CS3, Adobe Preimere, Starcraft 2, Star Wars when it comes out (needs to be able to handle that in Spring 2011).

Normally I build my own CPU. It has probably been about 6 years since I've built a new computer for myself. I have actually been able to run and do what I need with my current system just fine. It could be a bit faster but ultimately I needed to ugprade. After going over the costs to upgrade my current system, it was decided to look at purchasing a new system.

Currently I have been able to find for $1200 is a system from Dell. Normally the only thing I purchase from them is my Laptop, mainly because through work they have treated me right with my business account and repaired or handled my issues within 24 hours. I started to look at piecing it out to create it without going through them but I'm not too up to date on which hardware tends to play nicer with each other. Back when I greated my GigaByte system it had specific requirements with my Mushkin RAM and a few other components, which made it function and perform better than generic counterparts.

Processor: Intel Core i7-870 processor (2.93 GHz)
OS: Windows 7 Professional
Memory: 8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333 MHz (4 DIMMs)
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB GDDR5
Hard Drive: 1.5 TB Raid 0 (2x 750GB SATA 3GB/s 7200 RPM HDDs)
Optical Drive: 16x DVD-R Drive
Sound Card: THX® TruStudio PC

Am I going to build something comparable and save a $200 or something at the same price range that would be superior?
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  1. You can probably build the something superior for cheaper rather than one or the other as you assumed.

    There are a few flaws to the system you listed:
    1) 8GB is much more ram than even enthusiasts will use.
    2) GPU bottleneck for that CPU. At a minimum GTX 460 (or with the new cards, HD 6850).
    3) Raid is pretty much useless now with SSDs around. You're better off getting a SSD boot drive and a HDD for storage.
    4) Dell will use as much generic parts as they can which mean bad performance/reliability and little to no room for overclocking.

    Being lazy I will just copy pasta the closest match build in the "recommended builds by usage" link in the sticky posts for comparison. Keep in mind the prices are lower since the last time the build was updated and you can get many combo deals and promotions for cheaper parts. Also, depending on your purchase date, there may be even better deals closer to the holidays.

    Enthusiast: $1,288.89

    •CPU: Intel Core i7-870 Lynnfield 2.93GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor BX80605I7870
    •MOBO: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    •RAM: G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO - Retail
    •HSF: COOLER MASTER Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-GP 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU ... - Retail
    •HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    •PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
    •GPU: EVGA 012-P3-1472-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) SuperClocked 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
    •DVD: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support - Retail
    •Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
    •Thermal Compound: Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
    This build will allow you to play games at max settings at a monitor resolution of 1920x1200 or higher...
  2. the majority of people here will suggest you build your own, mostly because they already do build their own.

    basically, you can build with the same/similar parts for less, or better for the same when making your own.

    you can definitively do a better computer, for less.

    Here's what I got from fiddling for a half hour on newegg, compare to your $1200 dell build:

    I5-760 quad core + Sapphire 6850: $373.99

    a second Sapphire 6850: $179.99
    both video cards vent to the outside of the case, for better cooling.

    Windows 7 Home and MSI H-57-GD65 socket 1156 mobo: $209.99
    2 x16 PCIe ports for maximum speed

    4 GB DDR3-1600 RAM + NZXT EVO Classic case: $104.98

    4GB DDR3-1600 RAM: $79.99

    you don't really need the second stack of RAM, but I included it to match the Dell.

    4 extra fans for the case: $14.99
    You need more fans than NZXT includes, this should handle that for less than individual fans.

    G.Skill 40 GB SSD: $104.99
    Rather than RAID, use this as a boot drive. Its faster than any mechanical hard drive, and should be good for 3-5 years

    LG DVD burner: $16.99

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