Please help me choose a desktop.


My friend wants to purchase a desktop computer for gaming, video editing, DVD DL burning, and multitasking. I have looked at some systems online, but I am not sure how much RAM or what CPU he needs. Hence, I have come to ask you guys for help (and I also have some questions).

Below are the systems - I could not tell the difference between them, other than the DVD drive, RAM, display, and price.

1) How do I know what CPU and how much RAM he needs?
2) Do all Blu-Ray drives burn DVD DL media?
3) Should he buy the system with the monitor included or without?

Thanks for your help.


(I opened another thread (same title) when I was not a member, so please delete that thread, moderators. Thank you.)
14 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about please choose desktop
  1. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. system 2 has 3Gb more RAM than system 1, bigger HD, bigger monitor, there's more expansion slot (tho they slower) on the 1st system. Systems 1,2, and 3 have card readers.

    The biggest difference I notice is the amount of RAM and the expansion slots. 6Gb vs. 12Gb you won't notice much if any difference. It's pretty hard to tap out 6+ Gb of RAM, so 12 is pretty much useless.

    If you plan to eventually add video cards, sound cards, attention to how many PCI slots there are. The graphics on these systems isn't anything amazing, so an add on video card may be in the near future for any of these systems.

    The i7 is a great all around CPU. It's good at gaming, video editing, everyday use.
    I'm not the most experienced w/ blue ray, but I believe they all use the same media.
    If they charge more than $150 or so for the monitor, I would look elsewhere.
  3. Aford10, thank you for your assistance. I will wait for other members to reply, and if none do, I will mark your answer as the best answer.
  4. Best answer
    leader said:

    1) How do I know what CPU and how much RAM he needs?
    2) Do all Blu-Ray drives burn DVD DL media?
    3) Should he buy the system with the monitor included or without?

    1. CPU - note that all of your sysems come with the same powerful CPU and a weak graphics card. Do you intend to upgrade the graphics card or buy a replacement? Note that the best deal usually comes from getting a sysem with a cheap graphics card and replacing yourself as Dell charges a lot for the upgrade. Does Costco have alternatives with a better card?

    If his budget is constrained to the amount of the systems shown? If so, you could easily increase gaming power by 4 to 10 times faster by getting a system with a less expensive CPU and faster graphics card - although the tradeoff is that video editing might be a little slower.

    If you have not addressed this issue yet then you have narrowed your search too quickly before addressing the bigger issues.

    Perhaps your friend should look at the THG CPU charts related to friend's application and decide the level with the best performance/price ratio for him. Note that video editing is the most CPU intensive single activity on his list so I would check this first, then see if that CPU fit will support his desired level of gaming - most likely it will. Then you just need to read a few reviews on multi-tasking to see if he is covered there. For instance, this recent THG article on multicores has some good info:,2373.html

    I would suggest sticking with a 3 or 4 core CPU - with a preference for the 4 for future proofing.

    An alternative or complementary approach would be to specifically identify video editing task software and specifically inquire about CPU size from users of that specific or similar applications - from the appropriate THG software forum or maybe from one on the software vendor's site.

    Keep in mind that software requirements - and the benefit of larger CPU size a likely to increase over time - but whether he can affort to build in headroom is a personal budget decision he has to make - and also depends on how long he anticpates using the computer and whether he plans to upgrade later and if there is a good, likely upgrade path. If he posts on a software forum, he might indicate how important these considerations are.

    1. RMA - the good news is that compared to the CPU decision, RAM is easy - 4 GB. With todays prices, no reason to buy less. That few of todays applications use more (most barely use up to 3 GB and will not likely use the last GB except maybe when multi-tasking):,2264.html

    Get a mobo with at least 4 RAM slots. Buy 2 x 2GB now, or if you stick with the i7 which has triple channel memory, then 3 x 2Gb. If he ever needs to increase RAM, buy another 2 or 3 x 2GB.

    2. I have not the foggiest idea. But it should be easy look at the specifications for a few to find out. Or you could select the drive that most interests you otherwise then confirm if it does burn DVD DL memory. Can you call Costco to get more info on their models?

    3. This is a personal decision - one strongly influenced by personal choice and budget considerations. A packaged system with a monitor is most likely to get you the best deal - but give you a poor quality monitor. You can either start with the packaged systems and google for reviews on the monitors, or start by looking at recommended monitors (google gain) and selecting the one that meets your performance/price preference and compare it to the package deals offered to see which way to go. There are a wide range of variable here - size, panel type, color quality vs. latency, quality, style, features, etc. Color quality vs. latency alone is a major issue since his applications have competing requirements - for instance gaming wants the faster panel (slower latency) - while with video editing - or even just watching video favors color quality. There is a tradeoff between the two. And finally, how much time is he willing to invest to make a good decsion that optimizes his choice? He might just read a few recommendations and reviews and go with that or could spend hours trying to understand the variables and how to select before starting to review recommendations and reviews. Again depends on his preference - and budget.
  5. RockyJohn, your post was very informative - I learned a lot from it; thank you very much.
  6. Good points by rocky.

    Though, in regards to scaling back the cpu, that'd probably be the worst place to cut back. I don't think it's a bad idea because of the quality of the cpu, but because of future upgradeability. If you were to go with a socket 775 cpu with the more powerful video card, it'd be pretty costly to upgrade the cpu down the road. That would require changing the board, RAM, and CPU. If you got the i7 with the slower video card, it would simply mean upgrading the video card (and possibly PSU) down the road. It's the cheaper path.

    Keep in mind that the i7 boards run triple channel DDR3 RAM. The dual channel kits won't work on the socket 1366 boards.
  7. One other thing - make sure you find out the size of the PSU and make sure it is large enough to support the fastest video card you may use - now or in the future. I am one of many Dell owners that found they could not increase their video card because the PSU would not support larger. Adding a better card would require replacing the PSU at a cost of about $100.

    The Dell Studio computers in particular were designed with "Studio" - video- in mind and most models have a small PSU. Make sure you find its size and see what video cards it limits you to. Dell has another line of "Gaming" computers with a larger PSU and a much higher price. Or you could just buy the Studio line and expect to replace both the video card and PSU. But check on the details.

    Also you might want to read these two threads about Dell vs BYO and the last one that started with someone wanting to buy a system and ended up building a fairly modest gaming system for under $600. From the comments in the post - you will see how that by adding $50 for a larger PSU and another $100 for the gaming card and he could have had a powerful mainstream gaming system.

    Of course, you can also find many other threads under Homebuilt Systems with examples of systems built for multiple applications for $1200 - $1500 with i7 CPUs - and for less with other 4 core CPUs that will still game as fast but might be a little slower on the certain video applications.
  8. Afords last post above makes a good point about the limited future upgrade path of Intel Quad Core CPUs. So you should consider:
    1. Whether you would want to upgrade CPU - many owners never do
    2. Going with an AMD CPU which does have a good upgrade path like i7 and is significantly cheaper than Intel CPUs for same performance level, but don't have the top speed of i7.

    If you are not significantly budget constrained or CPU intensive video applications are your first priority, then stick with i7. But if you can't afford to get a good video card now, then it may be worth saving on the CPU and getting the faster video card.

    In addition, there are many non-i7 CPUs - from Intel and AMD - now available that support top game play with little limitation and likely have the head room to do so for several years. So you could get a faster video card now and upgrade it in a few years and still not have the CPU significantly affect play. Course you can buy top end video cards today for highly competitve play that have some minor CPU constraints. But at this level you are beyond the power of simple qualitative statement about general preferences and would need to study a lot more about the quantitative limits of both CPU and Video card - and their relative quantitative impact in different applications - to adequately address this.
  9. best thing would be if you know someone good with computers then buy all the parts and get them to build it. computer makers like dell put too much software and low quality parts in there PC's that it would be only an entry level gaming system at best
  10. captaincharisma said:
    best thing would be if you know someone good with computers then buy all the parts and get them to build it. computer makers like dell put too much software and low quality parts in there PC's that it would be only an entry level gaming system at best

    That is one viable option. Just make sure the friend will be around to fix it if you run into a problem and will be there to help you upgrade, because you will have no vendor to call and without the knowledge that comes from byo you likely will not have the confidence or skills to fix it. Off course, alternatively you can plan to take in into a shop for expensive repairs.
  11. alternatively you can plan to take in into a shop for expensive repairs.

    might be less expensive but less of a headache then dealing with someone who doesn't speak English when you call the hp, dell, lenovo, etc etc helpdesk
  12. You can also get free advice here from lots of people that speak english. I would say many of the posters on this site are more qualified and knowledgeable than the 'support' techs you'll talk to from vendors.
  13. got that right most of the people who work for the helpdesk do not know anything about computers and just read and follow tech docs word for word and if they are having a bad day they will give you an easy fix by instructing you to format and reinstall windows to fix whatever is wrong with your computer.
  14. Sorry for the late reply and thanks for your input. I selected RockyJohn's first post as best answer.
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