Homebuilt vs. Upgrade existing computer


My son wants a gaming computer, but his funds are limited so he can only afford a budget option. He is considering building his own. He did some research, read the forums and came up with the following build:


While I understand the thrill of building your own computer, he would still need a keyboard, mouse and monitor and operating system which he hasn’t included in the price. Plus I think the Intel I3 CPU will become an issue.

I have a rock solid Dell computer and I’m thinking that it might be better to give him that as a gift. He could upgrade the CPU, video card (and possibly the power supply) and end up with a better build for way less money. Here are the details on the Dell:

Studio Mini-Tower, Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 (2.5GHz, 4MB)
6GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz - 2X2GB+2X1GB
20.0 Dell ST2010 HD Widescreen Monitor with VGA Cable
ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB
1TB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive 7200RPM
Integrated Media Card Reader
Microsoft 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition
Integrated 10/1000 Ethernet
Power DVD 8.3, DVD
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
What do you think; is upgrading this computer a better option in this case? Is there anything we would need to be aware of before upgrading the Dell?

Thank you!
5 answers Last reply
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  1. I would post your question in the dell forum on their website. List the dell model number and board number if you can. Cpuz will id the motherboard. Then you have to get lucky and find a q9550 or q9650 for around $100 used only if your board suports it; I've only seen one on craigslist in this price range. Finally, you'll need a better power supply, such as an antec or corsair in the 550-600w range. Pc power and cooling is also good; at one time they made power supplies specifically for dell. So the estimate for upgrading the dell is around $150-200 plus the video card. His selections for home built are pretty good; I would get the windows 7 off craigslist also if you need it for a homebuilt; you should find it in the $70 range; I prefer the pro or ultimate versions if you can find one unopened.
  2. Sorry, my boys are better at this than me. Just to make sure I understand, since the computer current has a quad core, the upgrade needs to be a quad core? I did a quick search and a q9550 is almost $300. Is changing the motherboard an option?
  3. No to changing the motherboard if the windows installation is tied to the board. Some models of the 510 are btx, which is a dead format for motherboards. If your ports on the back of the board are on the top, then your board is atx or micro atx format, and you can change boards. But if your ports are in the middle of the back, then you have a btx case, and atx and micro atx boards won't fit. BTX boards haven't been made awhile. I recommend you leave the Dell intact as is if you can't find a used cpu on craigslist. The 8300 is slow by quad standards. Best deal is a used near new system on one of the hardware forums. Lots of folks upgrade in nov-dec. Might find one with a 2500k in the $600-700 range with a decent video card on craigslist or anandtech's for sale forum. It can never hurt to offer less. I wait a few days to see if a system moves, then make an offer. The seller will sometimes mount the board/cpu for little or no extra (maybe gas money) to seal the deal on motherboard/cpu combos. I did that recently with my buyer. Here's one example of a good used board/cpu combo where the board is free with the cpu: http://austin.craigslist.org/search/sys?query=i5+cpu+board&srchType=A&minAsk=&maxAsk=. It's the second link from the top.
  4. the computer you have is a decent little computer. it makes it difficult to decide what to do. upgrading the CPU, while possible, will be an absolutely horrific price/performance ratio decision. So that leaves you with upgrading the GPU. You could get an HD 7850, an excellent GPU, for $170. But then, of course, you'll need a better PSU, which will set you back $40-50 bucks. which brings you to about 1/3 the budget he currently has.

    Before I get too ahead of myself, what games and what resolution does he plan to game on?
  5. agree, it's still capable, the graphics card is really holding it back. monitor/resolution and games please.

    only other option would be a ground up build. leftover 775 processors are very expensive and not worth the time nor trouble anymore.
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