I bought a Dell 8400 in the Summer of 2004 and its just not cutting it anymore. I want a lil more eye candy and I am not sure what to do. I have a P4 3ghz, 1 gig of Samsung ram, a Creative Sound Audigy 2 and a Radeon 9800 pro 128mb. Should i upgrade the video card (only have AGP slot) or should i upgrade the motherboard and take out the cpu and all the other components except the RAM and transfer them over?
I would say that your CPU is fine. Dell will skimp on the hard drive though, so you might want to get a fast SATA drive and controller if you don't have any SATA ports on your mobo. Also your graphics could be updated with something like a nvidia 6800GT for AGP. You've already got 1GB RAM which is good.
I wouldn't try to replace the mobo in that system. If you are going to do that, build from scratch with a new case and everything. A standard board might not even fit in that Dell case.
i second that vote. anything you build is better than whatever Dell can offer you -- price wise, performance wise, stability, take your criteria Dell will lose.
the trouble is some people are really afraid of doing this. it has to do with the warranty for some people, i think. individual components have warranties on them, so you should feel confident with that. if you buy from a reputable vendor you can return faulty parts, if you get any (i thought i have faulty RAM one time, but I just had to use different DIMM slots -- then it was fine).
at work we have a contract with Dell (I absolutely hate this fact) and I was asked to price out 3 new comps, for myself, my boss and someone else. it ended up being like $1300 each and it was very basic really -- 820 CPU, 1GB DDR2-533, 160GB, 17" lcd, radeon x300 (default). it's just insane, i could build an AMD system for around $900 that would be as good or better.