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Dell or not to Dell

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December 7, 2012 4:02:12 AM

I am looking for some advice on buying a new PC with the intent of gaming. I started gaming way way back in the day with desktops...and that is where I learned how to build my own PC's, trouble shooting, upgrading and basic ins & outs of how computers work. After going through a few desktops, I jumped ship to laptops thinking that they were the wave of the future. The last few couple that I bought always felt like it was made from cheap plastic and eventually broke/fell apart/generally died after a 2-4 years of use.

Now I'm at a crossroads at looking to buy a new gaming machine, either a desktop vs. a laptop. I am leaning towards going back to the desktop due to the fact that you can readily replace components easily, they seem to last longer, and they have the raw power that laptops lack. For some reason, I feel like I'm taking a step back to the past, but I am really turned off by the flimsy quality of laptops lately (although the latest fad seems to be using lots of shiney brushed aluminum). So what I am looking for is something to play newish games like Borderlands 2, Diablo 3, Blackops....etc.

With a budget around 600-900, I was looking at picking up a Dell XPS 8500 i7 with 16gb ram and whatever 1GB graphics card they throw in with it (with the intent on upgrading at a later date). I know a few people will scream at me..."Dell is a ripoff", "Build your own, it will be better". So I think my really stupid reason for getting a Dell boils down to this....its about the computer case. I don't know if I am getting too old or whatever, but I get really turned off by computer cases that have all the gaudy neon lights and blinking fans and other accoutrements that makes it look like anextra out of an Micheal Bay Transformers movie (Cyberpower and Alienware for example). I know some folks are into that look, but I just want a sleek, non-flashy desktop case. The other reason is that I always like how handy Dell cases are to open up and take take components out (sliding drives, panels open up easily).

I guess I'm asking for anyone to recommend a decent gaming desktop with a non-flamboyant case that falls in the $600-$900 buck range. If not a Dell, then why not? Thanks for any tips

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December 7, 2012 4:47:01 AM

DO NOT GET A DELL!!! Horrible customer support is an understatement. Here is a quick, and nice version of what I put up with when I owned a dell laptop. It was actually much worse than what I state (wrote this in the past on another forum post).

"Some advice don't mess with it too much, as I dealt with dell tech support a LOT. Their the worst things known to man (Dell own alienware). Had to send in my laptop for hardware issues about 10times and they only fixed all the problems once. Sent it in for a busted dvd drive but they never fixed it except once, usually they sent it back to me without doing a single thing. So I had a faulty 2 dvd drive , and sent that in to be fixed probably around 7 times only fixed 1 time, as well as multiple faulty motherboard and power adapters from them, and 1 hard drive. Most times I had to send it in with multiple hardware problems as I gave up on the them fixing the dvd drive. And this was for a laptop that was babied and never suffered so much as a scratch on it."

That is why I recommend not getting a dell, to put it nicely. Now I am going to try to come up with a build for you, I am assuming you want a OS with your build and are not overclocking since you were looking at a pre-built.
December 7, 2012 4:59:28 AM

I would build your own, more money to better performance, for gaming you will only need several things.

i5 3450-3570k, Those do anything an i7 can in gaming, sometimes doing better than the i7, i5 3570k can overclock easier as well.
8gb of RAM is as much as you need, anything past 1600mhz is not noticeable.
Any 7870 can do really extreme stuff, hitting around playable FPS, I would go for a 7950, better performance than the 670 in most areas, they do trade blows, but honestly its miniscule differences between the two, 7950 is just cheaper.
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December 7, 2012 5:11:31 AM

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/rj0O
This is what I came up with, used an i5 processor as going with i7 won't really net you any real performance increase. And I have a radeon 7950 in there along with 16gb ram. I threw in a cheap heatsink just to give the heatsink a proper airflow direction so it doesn't circulate the heat back into the case like the stock ones do.

The case isn't flashy or anything but you need to buy more fans for it, you can go the cheap route and just pick up a bunch of low decibal low cfm fans, which is what I would do. There's a 4 pack of cooler master fans on amazon and probably a few other places for around $10 but be warned they use 3pin connection so it may cause some headaches. I personally would go that route and wire them up to a cheap fan controller and since their already low cfm/decibal fans try to fine tune it so it's completely silent. Or buy a bunch of cheap low cfm/decival fans which use a molex connector and hook it up the PSU as I believe the 3pin fans hook up to the motherboard if I am not mistaken or a fan controller if it supports that and i doubt the motherboard will support all these fans. Fans will set you back probably 15-20, but give you airflow that is only rivaled by much higher end/expensive cases. Oh and Newegg also gives you more details on how many fans this case can hold.

You can also squeeze in a 7970 in there if you want if your willing to stretch your budget a few dollars and look at the budget after rebates. $915 after 50 mail in. I go this route if you can.
http://pcpartpicker.com/parts/partlist/

Oh and it says theres a chance there is a compatability problem for the motherboard, there isn't according to reviews on newegg. According to them it support Ivy Bridge right out of the box so you should be set.

If you wanted to cut out $30 out of the build you can drop down to 8gb ram which is more than enough for gaming and still keep ddr3 1600 cas 9 ram in it and you won't notice a performance hit.

I put in Windows 8 in the build you can easily swap it out for 7 if you want without paying more as I think it was the same price.

Forgot to put in an optical drive, so toss in another $15-20 for dvd burner or $50-60 for blu-ray burner.

Closest thing dell has in terms of performance for gaming seems to cost close to 2k in comparison to the 7970 build from a quick glance, just another thing to think about if your still on the edge about building your own. And I just took a look at the Dell model you were looking at, even if you got the highest end GPU they have for that it won't even be close to what you can get from building it yourself, so I highly recommend not buying that Dell if you actually want to do any gaming.

And lastly this is the more budgeted approach which has 8gb ram, no aftermarket heatsink, and the dvd burner. It just needs additional case fans. (Yes I am bored and I like driving away customers from dell after they screwed me over so many times. Thus is why this post is so long and I probably edited this about 10x now) Come out to $885 after $40 mail in.
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/rj8l
December 9, 2012 1:37:48 PM

Well, let me offer a different point of view. Go for the Dell. I have used them for years and have never had a failure. In fact I just bought a new XPS 8500 myself during a sale. Got the desktop with an i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, 2 TB HDD, ungraded video to Nvidia, etc, etc, What made it a good deal was the free 24" monitor they were offering with this package. A good mid-grade monitor with solid reviews. Cost me a tad over $900. And then I spent another $130 to upgrade my RAM to 16GB and to get a 128GB SSD. I think with OS cost and free monitor all figured in it would have been hard to build for the price. Plus I got zero response here on a build post so...
As to Dell's customer service I honestly cannot tell you. I know years ago when we got my wife's laptop they helped here setup a wireless connection and such and she knows nothing of computers. That same laptop has been so abused physically by the kids that it is now in two pieces connected only by wires. But it still works just fine, LOL! I also have 3 older Pentium 4 desktops in use by family member still. Nary a hiccup on any of them. Now the HP I am replacing is a different story. It is the newest machine yet the power supply failed and I replaced that. But also, the multi-card reader went out years ago and the USB ports don't half work. It freezes on bootup sometimes and lately the on board video has dropped out a time or two.
So anyway, I have no qualms with buying a Dell. If you have time to wait and shop around for a sale and coupons you will be able to by the prebuilt for pretty much as cheap as you could build. Just my 2 cents.
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