Keep XPS7100 or build myself

Ok, I'm new here and pretty much a computer novice, fwiw.

A few days ago I had the luck to find this site and the wealth of great info and advice.

Anyway, here's the deal. My desktop is an ancient eMac 1.25Ghz G4. It's been a great machine. However, to say it's long in the tooth is an understatement. So, lately I've decided to replace it.

After long internal debate, I decided that despite being somewhat of a Mac fan, the specs to price ratio just isn't there for me. I can't really justify $1200 for a new iMac given the specs and lack of upgradability down the line.

So, I've been PC shopping.

I've tried to educate myself over the past week or so on the PC front. It's overwhelming, actually. But, anyway, I have a fair grasp of things, I think, but I'm nowhere near the level of expertise of many of you on these boards. So, here is my situation and thought process for your input and critique:

Given how fast tech moves, it is hard for me to justify spending $1500 or $2000 on a computer. Whatever I buy, 5 years from now, which is how long I'd like a system to carry me, it's going to be a dog. So one half of my brain says just get something barely good enough to get you through 4 or 5 years and save the money now. The other anal retentive half of my brain says buy the latest thing to future proof yourself at a higher cost today.

Well, I've been thinking about building my own system, pricing components, etc. My goal was to kind of hit the happy medium between price, performance, and longevity. I had decided to maybe build something AMD based with a Phenom 2 quad core black edition, say a 955 or so. I thought a Radeon 5770 graphics card would also be a decent sweet spot between price and performance. So, I started pricing builds based on these basic criteria plus all the other odds and ends and came up in the $800-900 range by the time you got Win7, etc.

Yesterday, a deal came up that I bit on. I couldn't see me building a machine for less that exceeded the spec. I got a new Dell XPS7100 for $499. It has a 2.6Ghz Phenom 2 x6, Radeon 5450, wireless n card, 8 gigs of 1333 ram, 1TB 7200rpm HD, Win7 Home, 16x dvd drive. I know, the spec isn't ideal, but for the price it seems like a lot of machine for the money.

To me, the con of this unit versus my ideal goal is the relatively slow 2.6 CPU, the low end of the Phenoms. I would have opted for two less cores and a faster clock rate in an ideal world. Also, I think the 5450 is weak and will likely have to upgrade. I don't really game much, but that's probably because I've had a low end Mac for so long it wasn't an option. I may buy a game or two if I have a unit that will run decent games, so I see myself needing to upgrade the 5450 at some point. I don't know how much faster a better Phenom would be or whether I would even notice.

Ok, this is turning into a book, so the bottom line is, do you folks recommend I keep the 7100 considering the $499 price, and maybe upgrade the graphics card...or send it back, spend more money, and build or buy a different system. I'd really like to stay below $800-1000 if possible. Having spent only $500 so far leaves me $300 or $400 to tweak the 7100...or just scrap it and start over.

Thanks for advice and sorry for the super verbose post.
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More about keep xps7100 build myself
  1. Welcome to Tom's Hardware!

    You have expressed events quite well. Looks like you have your arms around a nice computer for its price. This review will give you more info: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3798/dell-studio-xps-7100

    I would suggest that you use this computer for about 6 months and then re-visit this topic again. That will give you enough experience under your belt to evaluate and spec out a new computer based on the then available components.
  2. That's a great deal. The X6 1035T has Turbo Core so it will be slightly faster than 2.6Ghz. It also has a 460W power supply so you can easily add 5770. You didn't state your workload but since you're using PPC it can't be much. X6 1035T isn't the best CPU out there. It's not so good at games and really good at multithreading but presumeably games will get better at multithreading.
    AMD's Six-Core Phenom II X6 1090T & 1055T Reviewed
  3. Yeah buy a 5770 later on, (after 3 months) but only if you game, video-edit or render, for just surfing the 5450 is a fine card
  4. Thanks for the replies.

    Good point about workload. I should have mentioned it.

    Well, I have an ASUS P50IJ laptop that I use a fair amount of the time so that has taken work away from the Mac as the Mac has aged. It's become so slow, and has gradually become incompatible with updates (such as the latest iTunes, etc) due to being a non-Intel machine, that I've used it less and less. It's basically become more and more painful around the house having one passable computer and the Mac which should have been retired by now.

    We have a 15 month old, so I'd like to get more into photo editing, movies, etc now that I have a need for it. As far as games go, I used to play some but since my hardware basically sucks for gaming these days, I just gradually stopped. I'd like to have something capable of playing a decent game now and again if I feel like it. I'd rather not be limited to where I see a decent game on the shelf and think, oh, I can't buy that since my POS machiine won't run it. I'm not a big first person shooter guy. Old games I used to like tended to be more strategy based, such as Command and Conquer back in the day, Conquest of the New World (again way back), Sim City, etc. Some titles that I have not played but look interesting to me would be Starcraft, Sins of a Solar Empire, and World in Conflict.

    I went out looking at displays yesterday. I must say I was kind of disappointed in what is out there in the 23" range. None of the screens I looked at were particularly impressive. My parents have a recent iMac and the display on that machine just blows me away. I looked at the Mac display again yesterday in a store, and again, none of the standalone PC displays I saw held a candle to it. Did some research on this subject, and it must be due to the Mac screen being IPS and the $200-$250 range flat panels I was shopping being TN panels. Looking around, it seems you can get a nice display, IPS, for a PC if you want to spend $400-500. I'm not real keen on spending this kind of money on a display. If I do that, I have $500 in the computer, $500 in the monitor, and $150 in a 5770 GC..I could have bought a dang iMac at that point. Saving some coin versus an expensive Mac was a main reason I ordered a PC. Frustrating. May maybe I'm being unrealistic expecting to buy a nice monitor for $200-ish.

    I'm going to go out today to a Microcenter that is on the other side of the city and look at monitors again and see if I can find a decent one without breaking the bank. Yesterday, on my side of town, I was limited to the big box Best Buy type places, not my favorites.

    Thanks for the replies.
  5. Yes, MicroCenter is a great store! Nice 'walk-in' tech support too!
  6. Not sure what you are comparing it to. Dell 23" Ultrasharp is $319 with free shipping. 21.5" iMac starts at $1199. $500(Dell)+$130(5770)+$320(Monitor)=$950. Better system, bigger screen, matte, 3 year full monitor warranty and $250 less. I've never seen an IPS screen at a retailer but maybe MicroCenter is different.
  7. @Unique:

    I went over to Microcenter and looked at a bunch of displays. I was going to order an IPS model online, but noticed a fair number of reviewers complaining about pink to green tinge, etc, and decided I wasn't willing to spend $350-ish on something I couldn't lay eyes on before purchase. You're right, I couldn't find a reasonably priced IPS monitor locally to check out in person.

    So, I decided if I was going to get a non-IPS monitor, I would go the value route rather than the quality route. I got a decent Viewsonic 22-incher, I think the model is VW2250, for $179. That puts my investment at under $700, and at that point I think it's a decent deal compared to an iMac that would cost me $1100-1200 range. I would rather have the Mac, but for what I really do with the computer, which isn't demanding, hard to justify $400-500 more money. The $500 saved can go in the little one's college fund, etc, which in the long run is a better investment than a computer I use lightly.

    Thanks for the reply
  8. The Radeon 5770 is good for the low price tag... But both the Radeon 6850 and Geforce GTX 460 stomp all over the 5770 for only a little bit extra in price. Just a thought and definitely worth thinking about for a nicely balanced budget system ;)
  9. powerpie5000 said:
    The Radeon 5770 is good for the low price tag... But both the Radeon 6850 and Geforce GTX 460 stomp all over the 5770 for only a little bit extra in price. Just a thought and definitely worth thinking about for a nicely balanced budget system ;)


    Actually, I picked up an ASUS 5770 the other day on sale at Microcenter. Thought about the 6850 but at the time could not justify the price difference given that I'm not a big FPS gamer...might never even max out the 5770 with what I do quite possibly.
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