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Can this Dell make a decent gaming pc?

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November 17, 2010 6:55:36 PM

My old gaming pc is almost 10 years old and I want to upgrade (replace) it.

For context, I’m an avid gamer, but not a picky one. My old pc was a dell 8400 but I eventually added more memory and an ATI X800 XL – that’s about the extent of my comfort level. I played Doom3 and the HL2s plus a few other games and loved it.

Now I’d like to play Penumbra/Amnesia, Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and it would be nice if the rig had enough oomph to play some of the newer games coming out. I don’t have multiple monitors, I don’t want to deal with overclocking, and midrange settings would be okay (higher the better, of course).

All the great advice in these forums has helped me get this far, but I’m afraid I’m still not confident enough to build my own. So I was going to try using a prebuilt Dell as a base and buying/cannibalizing parts to improve it. If you could tell me if any of what I’m doing won’t work or is a poor choice, I’d really appreciate it. I know enough to be dangerous, but my grasp on pc building is tenuous at best.

My thoughts:
DELL INSPIRON 570
Processor: AMD Athlon™ II X2 240 (2.8GHz/1MB cache)
Operating System: Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM - 1 DIMM
Hard Drive: Up to 640GB5 SATA hard drive (7200RPM)
Video Card: Integrated ATI HD4200 RadeonTM
Slots: PCIe x16(1), PCIe x 1(1), PCI(2)

Questions:
I think I have DDR3 SDRAM in the old Dell, so could I use that to increase the memory? Does “dual channel” but only one DIMM mean that I can add more memory? I’d like a minimum of 4GB I think.

I’m thinking of buying a radeon HD 4850 X2 and a 500-watt power supply. But I still have the old X800 XL, can I use both in the 570? Would that improve performance at all? I don’t think there are enough slots.

And instead of a new monitor, I have a sony bravia 1080p 120Hz LDC TV and the 570 has an HDMI out, do you think that will be good for gaming?

Sorry for all the info, but I thought more would be better than less. Thanks in advance for your advice!!
November 17, 2010 7:05:16 PM

I think you will build your next computer. You can do it.
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November 17, 2010 7:16:33 PM

The intergrated HD 4200 is not a gaming video card, that is designed for web browsing, if you try gaming on it, it wil be a slide show (the 4200 is alot slower than the X800 XL).
The 4850X2 would be a good card and no you cant use the X800 XL and the 4850X2 at the same time. Also I dont know if Dell's PSU is enough to power a 4850X2. While Dell has good PSU's they often dont have the wattage needed for a decent graphics card.

I also advice agaist using a TV as a monitor, the picture quality of monitors are superior to TV's, which is why they are more expensive. Also 4850X2's dont have HDMI out (at least most dont) you would need a DVI-> HDMI adapter.

The specs you listed is 2GB Dual Channel 1 DIMM, meaning there is only one stick in there, when you add a second matching stick the speed would double. WHen it is just one stick it is running at half speed because there is nothing in the other channel. I would verify the old computer has DDR3 RAM (PC-3), It probably has DDR2 (PC-2).

All that being said I would recommend reading up on building your own computer. You will save money, get what you want, and get more performance. There is a section on the forum for assistance with buying the parts.
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November 17, 2010 8:20:38 PM

lol, slide show.

Yeah, I read about how lousy the integrated/4200 cards are. I really really want to build my own. But I'm afraid that I don't know enough to even ask the right questions.

I've seen all the awesome (and reasonably priced) builds on these forums, and ordering the parts seems easy enough - easier than trying to retrofit a crappy Dell with poorly written specs. But it's dealing with the BIOS that scares the crap out of me. That, and if anything goes wrong I won't know enough to troubleshoot.

But I'll keep reading, and thanks very much for all your advice.
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November 18, 2010 12:38:04 AM

liziff said:
lol, slide show.

Yeah, I read about how lousy the integrated/4200 cards are. I really really want to build my own. But I'm afraid that I don't know enough to even ask the right questions.

I've seen all the awesome (and reasonably priced) builds on these forums, and ordering the parts seems easy enough - easier than trying to retrofit a crappy Dell with poorly written specs. But it's dealing with the BIOS that scares the crap out of me. That, and if anything goes wrong I won't know enough to troubleshoot.

But I'll keep reading, and thanks very much for all your advice.


Here is a guide about how to ask for help with building a new system which should help some of your questions:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/288241-31-read-postin...

Here is a guide on how to build a system you may find this useful:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-g...

You shouldnt really have to do anything with the BIOS, maybe change the boot order but thats it. If someone goes wrong this forum will still be here, and we can help.

This is a basic trouble shooting guide if you are having problems booting the system. (for future reference)
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-perform-ste...

If you have any friends who have built a computer before you could always ask them for advice. Alternatively if you dont feel comfortable building a system (I wasnt completely comfortable with my first build, but I do it all the time now) you could use a site like Cyberpower or Ibuypower, but before you buy from there it would be best to run it by people on the forum, they can give you advice on improvments.

I also forgot to mention another reason why not to use a TV as a monitor, is that TV's have a response time 20-30ms, while computer monitors have a response time 2-5ms.

Dont let all that information overwhelm you.
Good luck whichever choice you choose.
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November 18, 2010 3:04:03 PM

liziff said:
I've seen all the awesome (and reasonably priced) builds on these forums, and ordering the parts seems easy enough - easier than trying to retrofit a crappy Dell with poorly written specs. But it's dealing with the BIOS that scares the crap out of me. That, and if anything goes wrong I won't know enough to troubleshoot.


I've changed components one at a time before, but last week was the first time I built from scratch (previous computer was pre-built and 8 years old).

Using the guides on this site, I managed to put everything together very fast and without a single hitch; in fact, I've had far more trouble replacing individual parts in the past. I would definitely recommend it for this reason: if you're planning not to upgrade your computer for another chunk of years (like me), you're much better off spending your homebuilt savings on better parts for the long run.
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November 19, 2010 5:43:38 PM

Alright, I'm gonna do it! No dell hell for me. I mentioned it to my husband, and although he's an even bigger techno-noob than I am, he thought it sounded like a fun project.

Thanks so much all for the advice; I really like these forums. Hopefully you'll hear a success story from me in the not too distant future.
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November 19, 2010 6:17:40 PM

Good luck!
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November 29, 2010 11:55:37 AM

Best answer selected by liziff.
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November 29, 2010 12:59:41 PM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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