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Little help? Sick of building my own PCs

whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
edited March 2007 in Games and Technology
After 10 years of building rigs for myself and others, I'm planning on turning in my geek card and going back to ordering one from Dell (currently eyeing the XPS 710). It's been a while since I last built a system and I'd like some answers to get me up to speed. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to help me out. If it encourages more participation, I will write poems/battle raps on any topic to those who provide me with quality answers. Also, please stay tuned to this thread as I'll most likely come back after the initial responses with some follow-up questions.

1.) First of all, the Dell thing. All I want is a reasonably powerful system that I don't have to put together and test. Also, something that I'd be able to do some modest upgrades to at some point (simple stuff like adding more RAM, better vid card, etc.). I'm so sick of having to research parts to make sure they're compatible, order them, RMA the ones that don't work or were damaged in shipping, deal with shitty support from some unknown Chinese company, etc. I just want it to be easy, you know? Dell seems to be targeting folks like me who want to start out with a decent system and maybe do a little aftermarket customization. I'm curious if anyone else has gone this route and if the systems they ship are as flexible and easy to work with as they claim to be. I know there are tons of people out there who will build a custom PC for you and ship it with a warranty and everything, but for various reasons I'm leaning toward a Dell and it would take a lot of convincing for me to go with one of those no-name places.

2.) I'm a bit concerned about cooling. I'm currently running an Athlon XP 3200 that heats up like the dickens. It used to be OK but over the years I've had to go to greater and greater lengths to keep it cool in a cramped computer nook down here in Florida. I have 3 ThermalTake fans at 5000 RPM and it's just deafening, and it'll still hit 70 C under load unless I keep the AC on 24/7. Such a pain! At work we've been getting new Dells every year or so for the past 5 years and I've always been impressed with how quiet they are, without even a hint of heat stress. I'm hoping their XPS models can do the same. Anyone with firsthand experience?

3.) I'm totally ignorant about the BTX form factor, which apparently is the only way you can get your XPS. Intel has reportedly canceled development of 'BTX products', which I guess means they will no longer be making BTX motherboards... so if I go with a lame duck BTX mobo, will that have any significant repercussions? As far as I know, you can still plug anything into a BTX that you could into an ATX (we're talking peripherals here; I'm not going to be soldering my own capacitors or trying to jam this thing into a custom case). So is there any cause for concern here?

4.) Graphics - My last machine was built when SLI and PCI express were brand new and nobody really knew what to expect. I haven't followed their development too closely, but I know that at one point, opinions on both were kind of mixed. As with the BTX form factor, I don't really think I have a choice if I go with Dell, but I'd still like to know what the current opinion is on these standards. The machine I'm looking at doesn't look like it even has an AGP slot, so are PCIe video cards really the wave of the future or is there a chance that we could revert to AGP? What about SLI technology? It seems so gimmicky but I'm pretty ignorant about it. Would I have any regrets for going with this setup or is this pretty standard nowadays?

5.) Finally, a there's the issue of cost. I know that I can probably get a comparable system for half the money (I can usually build an almost-top-of-the-line PC for around a grand), but I'm at the point where I'll gladly pay extra for not having to look at any tubes of Arctic Silver or request any NewEgg RMA numbers. Currently I can get the following for almost exactly $2000:

1kW PSU
Intel Core 2 Duo @2.13 GHz, 2MB cache, 1066 FSB
Windows XP Media Center edition
2 GB of DDR2
250 GB SATA HDD @7200 RPM
16x CD, DVD+/- burner, double layer support
nVidia GeForce 7900 GS, 256 MB

Nothing too fancy, but something that will probably start breaking down before upgrades become necessary. My current system was built in 2002 and still is pretty decent with a SATA drive, DVD burner, Athlon XP 3200 and 1 GB of RAM. I've never had to upgrade it, and hopefully this next system will last just as long. Currently I don't do anything more demanding than playing WoW.

So, my number one priority is just having a reliable, no-hassle system that will keep reasonably cool and quiet, with just enough power to make older games and apps look good, and newer ones run OK with, say, medium settings. I know I can spend a lot less money, but I've always readily paid extra for peace of mind and this seems like an OK choice for me. If you have any suggestions, though, I'd love to hear them.

whuppins on
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Posts

  • DietarySupplementDietarySupplement Still not approved by the FDA Dublin, OHRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    whuppins wrote:
    So, my number one priority is just having a reliable, no-hassle system that will keep reasonably cool and quiet, with just enough power to make older games and apps look good, and newer ones run OK with, say, medium settings. I know I can spend a lot less money, but I've always readily paid extra for peace of mind and this seems like an OK choice for me. If you have any suggestions, though, I'd love to hear them.

    I'm not being sarcastic at all... but have you considered a Macbook Pro? For about $2000 (or perhaps even less, if you or a close friend is a student/teacher) I think it would suit your needs just nicely.

    Also... Bootcamp!

    DietarySupplement on
  • SorensonSorenson Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    1) To be honest, I've heard a lot of crap when it comes to Dells, especially the pre-builts, being used for anything other than basic wordprocessing - the 'rents got one for themselves and at this point it acts like it's on the brink of a digital anneurism despite all kinds of maintainance and wiping the sucker several times.

    5) If you're getting 2K for that (I'm guessing no monitor, seperate sound card, or things like that) then I'm honestly thinking you're getting ripped off. I plugged those into one of the designs over here and a whole kit with those specific items was only about $1600. To be honest, I'd reccomend them - I got my current PC from them back in 2005 and it's been running smooth as silk save for the occasional fan rattle from forgetting to clean out dust and the like and the natural hardware limitations due to me being a cheap bastard.

    Sorenson on
  • crash5scrash5s Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Lot's of reputable companies have gone into the "gaming" sector. I know people that have purchased XPS laptops and had 0 issues with them.

    The thing about dell and any large OEM is proprietary hardware and shitty tech support.

    On BTX form factor, I love it. What dell brings to the table is a lot of people whos sole job is to make those boxes run as quiet as possible. BTX form factor came about as intels way of cooling off the old Pentium 4 Presscot chips without delta fans sounding like dustbusters gone wild in your room. I can hardly hear the xeon based BTX workstations we use at work, and they are built solid. BTX is just a fancier way of guiding the airflow over your parts, it doesn't affect anything else.

    On graphics. The AGP slot is dead PCI-E is the way to go. SLI is a debatable topic sure to fuel all sorts of flame wars. The jist of it is that SLI allows you to crank resolution AA/AF to insane levels with little to no performance loss provided you use high end cards. If you have an LCD with an absurd native resolution is great... but if you don't it's completely worthless.

    crash5s on
  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I had a great experience with a pre-built Dell machine I had all throughout the mid nineties-2001ish...I used the thing all the time and it kept on going and going, I never had to replace a single part. I think it's still working, it just got to the point where I figured it'd be better to buy a new one than to upgrade for HL2.

    Darlan on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I'd rather take half a day, save a bundle of money, and build my own rig then order a pre-built...

    Esh on
  • RonenRonen Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Esh wrote: »
    I'd rather take half a day, save a bundle of money, and build my own rig then order a pre-built...

    But he just wrote that that's exactly what he doesn't want to do... There is something to be said for having a single number to call for ANYTHING that goes wrong.

    Personally, I second the Mac idea since it can play games fairly well booted into Windows. Apple's support is (in my experience) pretty good, and it's nice being able to either call someone on the phone or just bring your machine down to an Apple store.

    Ronen on
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  • TxdoHawkTxdoHawk Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I reccomend poking around hardcore PC community threads, you wouldn't believe how many people share your point of view. One smaller company I thought was interesting was PCClub, they use all off-the-shelf parts and the prices still seem reasonable.

    Also, I only purchased one order from them, and never needed support...but I had a great experience with PCUSA, and their prices were awesome, at least at the time. I ordered a mobo, cpu, and a case from them, paid a little extra to have it all installed/mounted, and popped in the rest of the easy stuff myself. The warranty would only cover the parts they install, but if you want a nice option that's in-between DIY and OEM, going "barebones" is worth a look.

    TxdoHawk on
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  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Darlan wrote: »
    I had a great experience with a pre-built Dell machine I had all throughout the mid nineties-2001ish...I used the thing all the time and it kept on going and going, I never had to replace a single part. I think it's still working, it just got to the point where I figured it'd be better to buy a new one than to upgrade for HL2.

    Dell seems to go through cycles of being really good and being really annoying. Can't always tell which one they're in at any given time.

    Steel Angel on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Do you actually clean inside your system? Because the processor getting hotter and hotter and hotter sounds more like you've just got a lot of dust and fluff on the heat sink. If that's the case then cleaning it thoroughly rather than adding more fans is what you need to do.

    Also, your system from newegg looks a bit hopeless. 1kW PSU? What on earth are you planning on sticking in there? Even the 8800s will run off 500W PSUs. And I have no idea how you managed to get that to $2k, that looks like $1000 worth of bits and pieces.

    As for Dell, we use them at work, and our local lan centre has Dell XPS machines. They're ok although the case is far to big for my liking, I think you'll want to avoid the Dell TFTs unless you're going for the 2407 or arguable the 2007 (and even then there are probably better displays out there).

    Rook on
  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Macbook Pro
    Thanks for the advice, but I'll respectfully decline. I really need the future option of being able to open up my machine and upgrade/fix it, even if I don't plan on doing so. I've never used laptops because they are black boxes. I'm not yet ready to turn all hardware service and repair over to a third party.
    Sorenson wrote: »
    1) Dell r sux

    5) cyberpowerpc.com is good and cheap
    Thanks for the info. About #1, I will say that parents have a knack for bringing systems to their knees, no matter how stable. My parents screwed up their old one pretty bad, but they've been running an entry-level prebuilt (a Dell, in fact) with some anti-spyware/virus/etc. for a year now and it is still in mint condition.

    About #5, money really isn't that much of a deal here. I buy a computer every 5 years or so, and to me it isn't worth the $400 savings to go with a third-party builder. It's like, I'm leaning towards Dell, and the things that would make me switch are stories about how bad Dell is, not stories of how good some other place is. I checked the site and I agree it seems to be high-quality, but if Dell can deliver something just as reliable, I'll gladly pay the extra money. I know that goes against the DIY computer geek ethos, but like I said, I'm turning in my geek card.
    crash5s wrote: »
    XPS, BTX, SLI, PCIe, LOL, G2G
    This is all very good info. Thanks for taking the time. The remark about proprietary hardware caught my attention because I was under the impression that Dell was trying to move away from that, at least for its gamer-oriented lines. When I first cracked open my old Packard Bell (200 MHz Pentium WITH MMX TECHNOLOGY!), I was inundated with strange cables, plastic mounts, riser cards and just generally alien hardware. I've seen the insides of more recent prebuilts here at work and it seems they've come a lot closer to a standard form factor. Is this not the case? Do you (or anyone else) know of proprietary hardware shipped in Dells that may make subsequent maintenance/upgrades a bitch? Please tell me now, before I make a decision.

    The BTX situation sounds like about what I thought it was. The fact that it will be discontinued doesn't seem like it will affect my situation, plus the improved cooling/noise reduction seems like just what I need. Also, that SLI/PCIe info is duly noted. Thanks again.
    TxdoHawk wrote: »
    PCClub, PCUSA, barebones builds
    Thanks, I'll take a look at these sites. I've never done a barebones build, because it seemed at the time like it was paying someone to do work I could do myself. I guess this is still true, but maybe this is a better option nowadays when I can't be bother to do said work.
    Rook wrote: »
    Dustbusting, NewEgg (?), DIY, Dell stuff

    Aw man, I know it was a long post, but you could have at least read it. I do clean inside my system, and that's part of the issue: I'm having to clean it more and more frequently to get it to stay at the same temperature. Detaching the CPU/heatsink/fan, reapplying thermal paste, compressed air everywhere, yes. The whole nine yards. Systems just get old and rickety, though, moreso in hot, humid Florida (ask a guitar player what the Florida climate does to his strings). It's just not very easy on computer machinery, no matter how cool and dust-free you keep your place. Also, the system I'm looking at is from Dell, not NewEgg. 1kW is the only other choice besides 750w. I may switch, but just like everything else, PSU specs grow and grow all the time and maybe 5 years from now, I may need 1kW. 450w seemed ridiculous when I built my current system in 2002 but now it's pretty much standard.

    And yes, it is $1000 worth of bits and pieces, which I could order separately and build myself. But I don't want to do that and don't mind paying the extra money, which is the whole point of this thread. I think everyone's used to people making threads like this where the point is to save money. In my case, the point is to have a reliable machine backed by a reliable company that I will be able to upgrade if I so choose.

    Any additional advice is welcome. Please don't be discouraged by me getting sassy with people who are trying to help me.

    whuppins on
  • crash5scrash5s Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    This is all very good info. Thanks for taking the time. The remark about proprietary hardware caught my attention because I was under the impression that Dell was trying to move away from that, at least for its gamer-oriented lines. When I first cracked open my old Packard Bell (200 MHz Pentium WITH MMX TECHNOLOGY!), I was inundated with strange cables, plastic mounts, riser cards and just generally alien hardware. I've seen the insides of more recent prebuilts here at work and it seems they've come a lot closer to a standard form factor. Is this not the case? Do you (or anyone else) know of proprietary hardware shipped in Dells that may make subsequent maintenance/upgrades a bitch? Please tell me now, before I make a decision.

    The BTX situation sounds like about what I thought it was. The fact that it will be discontinued doesn't seem like it will affect my situation, plus the improved cooling/noise reduction seems like just what I need. Also, that SLI/PCIe info is duly noted. Thanks again.

    Most of the proprietary issue with dell (and for the record this applies to other companies performance intel PC's) revolves around the BTX form factor. Which means they all have their own motherboard, heatsinks, case, and cooling issues.

    Other then that you're good to go. So it's up to you how much you plan on mucking with those issues. If you plan on screwing with heatsinks or changing cases it's a bad idea, provided you don't no issues.

    crash5s on
  • smokmnkysmokmnky Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    My understanding is that the reason BTX is going out is because the P4s are heaters where the new Core2Duos run relatively cool. I'd say if your looking at $2k for a comp you should put a new 8800 in it instead of that 7900. Also with SLI its more gimmicky right now. You can get as good if not better performance out of of an 8800 than something in an SLI. Plus you have to have 2 cards in your system taking up space, needing cooling and generally driving up the the noise you want to avoid.

    Other than that I don't think you can go wrong with a prebuilt dell, a buddy of mine just got a refurbed 700 and he's loving it.

    Also have you thought about maybe Falcon Northwest or another company like that that deals in high-end systems only?

    smokmnky on
  • DoronronDoronron Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Take a peek over at gamespy. They're running a series of articles on building a DX10 machine from the ground up, so perhaps they can provide some pointers on possible components when you order prebuilt.

    Doronron on
  • DietarySupplementDietarySupplement Still not approved by the FDA Dublin, OHRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    whuppins wrote: »
    Macbook Pro
    Thanks for the advice, but I'll respectfully decline. I really need the future option of being able to open up my machine and upgrade/fix it, even if I don't plan on doing so. I've never used laptops because they are black boxes. I'm not yet ready to turn all hardware service and repair over to a third party.

    Well, I would urge you to read up on (at least) the "Hello, I'm a Mac thread" on the forums here and that may help you make up your mind. I don't consider this beating a dead horse because your response was one of "I need to be able to touch it" and not "olol mac suxors" so I think you'd be just fine in OS X.

    I also question the logic of "I can't give up control of my hardware even if I'll never change it" since it seems mutually exclusive... but that's neither here nor there.

    If you're not ready for a laptop, then those new desktops Core 2 Duo's are hella sexy one-piecers. Or, go with a "Pro" mac, which are towers are component based. And if you wait till mid-March, you get a new iteration of the OS.

    And the point was very valid about their support: you take it in, they fix it. Done and done. I do reccomend the Applecare package they sell, regardless.

    DietarySupplement on
  • cwapfobrainscwapfobrains Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I have a Dell Inspiron Laptop, and have had several problems with over the 3 years. I've had 2 AC adapters fail on me, a Hard Drive get slow and die, a battery which no longer works, and it has always had overheating problems. This is more of a "desktop replacement" than a laptop, especially now that there is no battery. My family has owned several Dell desktops however, and have had very few problems, so these kind of things may be limited to laptops, or it may just be that i do much more with my computer than my family, since they just function as an internet/email/photo machine.

    The one thing that I will say is good about Dell is the warranty/service. I had to call them several times throughout all these repairs, and every time once they knew what was wrong with it, they sent a replacement part next-day delivery, no hassles. I just had to return the faulty part, and it was all covered on the service plan.

    cwapfobrains on
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  • PatboyXPatboyX Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    im sort of in the same boat but i dont want a dell.
    the last rig i only "kinda" built but had the worst, worst, worst fucking experience with mwave. i had usually ordered from newegg but thought id give mwave a try after hearing good things and was promptly put in my place by this company.

    PatboyX on
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  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Thanks for the helpful info, all of you. I take any and all advice received from this forum quite seriously.

    crash5s - This BTX stuff doesn't sound too bad. First of all, it's not even truly proprietary -- I could still order a BTX HS/fan combo from NewEgg if I wanted to, it sounds like. As for the other stuff, I hope I never get so delusional that I think it would be a good idea to replace the mobo/case/etc. with my own stuff. If that were to happen, I'd deserve whatever grief I had coming.

    smokmnky - Well, the problem is that it's a $2000 machine with a 7900, so it'll be a $2500 machine with an 8800 :) Saving money isn't a priority per se, but I do have limits. This is actually the direction I was going when I came up with the questions below.

    DietarySupplement - Yeah, I don't have anything against Macs; my wife runs a PowerMac G4 with which I have a lot of experience over the years. It's just laptops in general -- I said I never plan to change it: I'm hoping it can still be chugging along happily in 2012 when I'm playing WoW 2 or whatever. But if something breaks, or if I realize that I'm going to need another gig of memory, I want to at least have the option of looking at it myself and not taking it in or sending it away. At any rate, I'll continue to check out current desktop offerings from Apple; I can certainly attest to their reliability and ease of use.

    cwapfobrains - Why don'tcha blow it out your eaww? Er, I mean, I agree with you, and I do put Dell laptops in a different category from their desktops. I have plenty of stories of their laptops going bad, but I don't take that into consideration when looking at their desktops. Obviously, I could be completely wrong to think this way... I dunno, I'm just not a big fan of laptops and perhaps more importantly, I don't need a laptop.

    Here are a few graphics card-related questions I came across when shopping around. I apologize for my ignorance re: current trends in graphics hardware; it is with no small embarrassment that I admit I'm currently running a GeForce 4200 Ti:

    Bonus Question 1: Say I currently order an SLI-compatible Card X that uses the GeForce 7900GS chipset. A year from now, I'm having to turn some settings down to enjoy the newest games, so I decide to upgrade by buying an additional SLI card. At this point, what kind of card do I need to buy that will be compatible with the original? Anything that uses the 7900 chipset? Something that uses the 7900GS specifically? An identical Card X, made by the same company and everything? Any GeForce 7000 series? Or anything at all, as long as it supports SLI?

    Bonus Question 2: How important will DirectX 10 be? Even though it's a steep jump in price, I may still get an 8800 if I can justify it. Currently, though, I'm not clear on just what's so great about DX10 or, more importantly, what software titles may require the GeForce 8000 series' full DX10 compatability. What would a person's reasons be for buying a GeForce 8 at this time, besides the obvious improved graphics?

    whuppins on
  • mausmalonemausmalone Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I'm gonna say what I always end up saying ... go with Shuttle.

    I know you want pre-built ... so you can probably go with an X100.

    But if you've got the skills to do so, why not get a barebones system, then add the ram, cpu, gpu, and hard drive? I mean, seriously ... it's not like you're constructing something huge in that case, it's only 4 parts.

    mausmalone on
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  • crash5scrash5s Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    This BTX stuff doesn't sound too bad. First of all, it's not even truly proprietary -- I could still order a BTX HS/fan combo from NewEgg if I wanted to, it sounds like. As for the other stuff, I hope I never get so delusional that I think it would be a good idea to replace the mobo/case/etc. with my own stuff. If that were to happen, I'd deserve whatever grief I had coming.

    While BTX is not truly proprietary by the text book definition it can still be a pain in the ass to track down from DIY vendors like newegg. Really only large OEM's picked it up so all their equipment is made to fit with each other. I wouldn't consider this a problem. The Dell BTX computers we have at work run very quiet and cool and I can't find a reason you'd want to mess with it. If you do manage to screw up a BTX component dell has replacements.
    Say I currently order an SLI-compatible Card X that uses the GeForce 7900GS chipset. A year from now, I'm having to turn some settings down to enjoy the newest games, so I decide to upgrade by buying an additional SLI card. At this point, what kind of card do I need to buy that will be compatible with the original? Anything that uses the 7900 chipset? Something that uses the 7900GS specifically? An identical Card X, made by the same company and everything? Any GeForce 7000 series? Or anything at all, as long as it supports SLI?[/qoute]

    You SLI with the same card. So if you have a 7900gs you need to buy another 7900gs. SLI isn't really picky about brands but you want to make sure that both have the same amount of video memory and the same clock rates. This is only an issue because some vendors like to sell OC'd cards.
    How important will DirectX 10 be? Even though it's a steep jump in price, I may still get an 8800 if I can justify it. Currently, though, I'm not clear on just what's so great about DX10 or, more importantly, what software titles may require the GeForce 8000 series' full DX10 compatability. What would a person's reasons be for buying a GeForce 8 at this time, besides the obvious improved graphics?

    Direct X10 will be vista only and should offer large performance boosts. In direct X9 you have pixel and vertex shaders, in direct x10 you have unified shaders (there are other ones but that's the big change).

    Currently there is no reason to buy a geforce 8 other then improved performance and future proofing. There are no direct x10 games out. You can buy a decent direct x9 card now and wait for generation 2 direct x10 cards once the games hit.

    Unless you know you won't be able to buy one down the road, or want the fastest card period now the 8800's are worth it. <--- and this is from a person with 8800sli.

    crash5s on
  • TzenTzen Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I own a Dell Inspiron 9300 and my family has two cheapo Dell desktops.

    The 9300 has taken an absolute beating from me. I should be arrested for abuse. Seriously. I've dropped it a few times. The only real damage was when I dropped it on a tile floor while it was on. It jacked the HDD, naturally. But even then I was able to just use a 40 gig partition of the 60 gig drive without any trouble at all for several months before I replaced it. The only thing I was sort of unsatisfied with was the LCD in the thing. It's not bad, but it's no Sony VAIO screen.

    The cheapo desktops surprised me. They are insanely quiet, format easily, and pretty much do what they were made to do without any problems.

    I still prefer to build my personal desktop machine, though. And I've never had to call Dell for support, so...

    Hello, my name is Khazapakistan, but you can call me Stan... How may I help you?

    Tzen on
  • Zen VulgarityZen Vulgarity What a lovely day for tea Secret British ThreadRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I've been running an Inspiron 8600 for years now. Dell laptops WILL last you so long as you're not a fuck-up with computers.

    One problem: They are fucking LAZY with drivers. You might have to find them somewhere else. I've had to run a VB script to install the new Catalyst drivers every time. The last time they(Dell) updated: 2005. Ouch.

    Zen Vulgarity on
  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    crash5s wrote: »
    Unless you know you won't be able to buy one down the road, or want the fastest card period now the 8800's are worth it. <--- and this is from a person with 8800sli.
    Did you mean to say "aren't" instead of "are"? If so, I'm pretty satisfied with the situation. Thanks for all the help.

    @mausmalone: Wow, Shuttle does prebuilt systems now? I didn't know, thanks! Also, regarding the barebones build: It's not that I'm trying to avoid a couple hours' worth of work, I just like the little details that you get with a more traditional PC vendor: Full warranties, online resources, comprehensive support (even if it is via Turkmenistan), etc. It's kind of a security blanket thing, but what can I say? I will pay well for peace of mind, no bones about it.

    whuppins on
  • smokmnkysmokmnky Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I'd say that the 8800 is worth it in terms of 3-4 year "future proofing." Once Vista becomes a bit more reliable and new games coming out DX10 is going to be the default standard. the 7900s aren't DX10. So you may save a little money now but your going to need to upgrade it sooner.

    Honestly I'd say don't waste your money on SLI right now its so not worth it. The bump is marginal and the 8800 is the way to go. Of course right now DX10 isn't that special because nothing is using it but that should change in the next couple of months. Plus the new 368 version of the 8800 just came out and its only around 300ish I believe.

    Also as Crash said with SLI you have to have the exact same card so if you have a 7900 you have to have the exact same card. Doesn't have to be the same brand but it must be the same card.

    smokmnky on
  • slurpeepoopslurpeepoop Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Is there any reason you're choosing Dell over any of the other "mainstream" companies, like HP/Compaq, Gateway (if they're still around), etc.?

    Honestly, for the 2 grand you are willing to spend, you can get a HP Pavilion with better stats in every category (except video card), a 22 inch flatscreen monitor, a 3 year warrantee where they'll come to your house if they can't solve your problem over the phone, plus all sorts of extra bells and whistles, and still have over $500 left over to buy whatever crazy-ass video card is out that strikes your fancy.

    I buy computers a few times a year, and when it comes to price, Dell is almost always overpriced when compared to their competitors. HP even has customer help people who speak English (unlike Dell), which is unheard of in this day and age.

    slurpeepoop on
  • gneGnegneGne Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    You have shops that sell branded parts and build the computer for you with the parts you want. Another good option?

    gneGne on
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  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I haven't read this whole topic, but I have built every PC I own, with my laptop being the sole exception. I purchased it last year, and I have to admit, even though it's my primary computer now, the entire ordeal has been very off putting. I will never buy from dell again.

    A list of the small complaints I have off the top of my head:
    -I had to spend 2 hours uninstalling useless shit that came pre-installed on the laptop. I don't need a fucking trial for AOL.
    -Dell doesn't ship any of the software you purchased. I got windows XP and a ton of extra software, but I'll be damned if I have my install CDs. this is UNBELIEVABLY annoying - dell honestly expects me to ship them my laptop if I want MY copy of Windows XP reinstalled. Luckily I have my own copy, but still, even after that, I have to hunt for fucking hours to find dell's drivers.
    -The equipment is shoddy as hell. There is a tiny switch that gets pressed when the laptop closes so it can tell if it's shut or not. The damn thing broke off 3 months after I got it, because I closed it too much. What the hell is that? Also, the backpack they sent with my laptop scratches the plastic on my laptop everytime I carry it.
    -My battery lost it's ability to retain a charge after 2 months. 2 months. On top of that, even when it could retain a charge, it'd only last for maybe 3 hours if I wasn't online or doing anything with video. Maybe.
    -The laptop is also heavy, and it gets very hot.

    In short, if you do decide to go buy a brand name computer, avoid dell. Admittedly, I haven't seen a desktop from dell, but I can tell you that my experience with dell laptops has been horrifying.

    TheSonicRetard on
  • taliosfalcontaliosfalcon Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    i have to second the avoid dell, i had a dell xps desktop at one point in the past, it had a fault somewhere that would cause it to lose power every hour or so, after going back and forth with their tech support, and them sending people out to replace parts for over a month before they'd finally agree to give me a replacement, i finally told them just to give me a refund and take it. At another point I ordered a laptop, it was DoA. i called support, they couldn't replace it for at least 4 weeks as they were out of stock on the model w/ the LCD screen i had, at which point i said i'd just like to send it back and get a refund..and it took me another 2 hours or so of getting flipped back and forth between managers etc to get them to waive the 15% restocking fee..ON A DOA LAPTOP :|

    taliosfalcon on
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  • NocturneNocturne Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I understand going with a highly acclaimed company that offers good support, I'm just not a huge fan of Dell myself, having built many computers and worked in computer repair for over a year.

    I suggest taking a look at building a computer through HP. In my experience they have incredibly reliable hardware and service. You can get a Core 2 Duo, 2 gigs DDR2, 320 gigs RAID 0 HDs, whatever interface options (second DVD drive, audio/video inputs, etc) as well as a 3 year full coverage house call warranty for around $1400. That just leaves you with a video card installation, and that's it. The only additional thing to think about is HPs come with a 350w power supply, so if you're looking at a higher end card you might need to upgrade that.

    Definitely play around a little at that site though, I think you get the best value and quality in one of those compared to an overpriced gaming machine, even including the cost of a new power supply.

    Also, the next gaming rig I build (in a couple months) with have a DX10 card, just for futureproofing. Already games like Supreme Commander and Crysis are going to take advantage of DX10 capabilities, and even more games will in the coming months.

    SLI, though it has become a lot better than it used to be, still doesn't make sense in my opinion. Most of the time you can buy a more expensive card and get much better performance than running cards in SLI or Crossfire. In other words it would make more sense to get one 8000 series card than two 7000 series cards in both the short and long term.

    Nocturne on
  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    smokmnky wrote: »
    SLI/DX10 stuff
    Part of my problem was that Dell offered only two choices on the XPS: the 7900 or the top-of-the-line $500-plus 8800GTX. So I didn't have the choice of an intermediate 8000 series as you say. However...
    Is there any reason you're choosing Dell over any of the other "mainstream" companies, like HP/Compaq, Gateway (if they're still around), etc.?
    Yes, there's a very good reason: Pure, old-fashioned, red-blooded American ignorance. The rest of my evening will be spent shopping at HP, although that may be the extent of the 'mainstream' companies. I know that Gateway is history, at least. Still, it sounds like a viable option. The big knock against Dell used to be that they were overpriced, but I had thought that they'd battled back from this in recent years. Hopefully the deal is as good as you and others say it is. Any anti-HP people care to come out of the woodwork at this point?

    Nocturne, thanks for the solid advice. I was going to ask if they let you upgrade your PSU, but I can just see that for myself. If not, though, wouldn't swapping in an aftermarket PSU void my warranty? Ah, I guess I can find that out on my own too. Thanks again, everyone!

    Edit Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, I'm not putting a high priority on future-proofing, at least with my video card. I play hardly any new games, and here "new" means "from the last 4 years". My performance may slowly decrease with each new title that comes out, but by the time I flat-out can't play a game because it requires DX10, I'll probably be in the market for a whole new rig all over again. Also, there will be flying cars.

    whuppins on
  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Am I the only one who read "1KW PSU" and thought "WTF?!" There's no WAY you need that much power, especially for that kind of rig. A 400W PSU could run that setup easily. If there's any way to downgrade that PSU then I would do so and save yourself some serious cash.

    These power supply calculators totally overestimate what you need, and check out what this one says you'd need if you used an 8800GTX:

    System Type: Single Processor
    Motherboard: Regular - Desktop
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2130 MHz Allendale
    CPU Utilization (TDP): 85% TDP

    RAM: 2 Sticks DDR2 SDRAM
    Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
    Video Type: Single Card

    IDE HDD 7200 rpm: 1 HDD

    DVD-RW/DVD+RW Drive: 1 Drive

    Fans
    Regular: 2 Fans 80mm; 1 Fan 120mm;

    Keyboard and mouse: Yes

    PSU Utilization: 100 %

    Total: 297 Watts


    300 watts. 300!

    And honestly, I would check out a place like CyberPower based on your previous complaint about lack of choices - places that specialize in gaming PCs give you way more choices than "7900GS or 8800GTX"

    tsmvengy on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    whuppins wrote: »
    Rook wrote: »
    Dustbusting, NewEgg (?), DIY, Dell stuff

    Aw man, I know it was a long post, but you could have at least read it. I do clean inside my system, and that's part of the issue: I'm having to clean it more and more frequently to get it to stay at the same temperature.

    I could of...
    I'm a bit concerned about cooling. I'm currently running an Athlon XP 3200 that heats up like the dickens. It used to be OK but over the years I've had to go to greater and greater lengths to keep it cool in a cramped computer nook down here in Florida. I have 3 ThermalTake fans at 5000 RPM and it's just deafening, and it'll still hit 70 C under load unless I keep the AC on 24/7. Such a pain!

    SORRY MY PSYCHIC POWERS FAILED. PLEASE ACCEPT MY HUMBLE APOLOGIES.

    You just said you added more fans, either way
    PSU specs grow and grow all the time and maybe 5 years from now, I may need 1kW. 450w seemed ridiculous when I built my current system in 2002 but now it's pretty much standard.

    I see, so somehow magically your PC started consuming a lot more power did it? Even the x800 used less power than the 9800xts did, expect the next gen of graphics chips to dip in power requirements as well when they shrink the die size.

    In 5 years time your PC will be useful as a paper weight and that's it anyways. And the only use of a 1kW psu is pretty much running Quad SLi. If you're not planning on spending about $1000 on graphics cards alone (or $1500 if you're buying through DELL), it'll be a huge waste of money.

    And as someone who says they want to play games "newer ones run OK with, say, medium settings" I'm pretty fucking sure you don't want SLi.

    Rook on
  • crash5scrash5s Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    bunch of stuff about dell using to massive a psu and not needing 1kw for an 8800

    You're correct you do not need that kind of PSU, but you have to understand how dell works.

    They buy PSU's in categories and some of their heavy duty work stations do need a 1kw PSU.

    So when they look at performance machines they slap either of their upper end (1kw or 750w) units into it. The weaker units are a good deal weaker and slapped into desktops meant for internet surfing.

    Often you are getting the higher rated part at a cheap price just because dell purchases so many.

    crash5s on
  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Rook wrote: »
    You just said you added more fans, either way
    I like how you read the same thing, twice, the second time quoting it, and still didn't understand it. I have 3 fans. I have always had 3 fans. I didn't add anything. And to everyone gawking at a 1kW PSU, even if you're being civil about it, let me reiterate: With Dell, your only two choices are 750W or 1kW, and they don't even drive the cost up. Read crash5s's post for an explanation. I agree that both are overkill and I honestly have no idea why I included it in the spec I wrote up. At any rate, I'm hoping that it won't be an issue at all as I'm currently looking at HP, who seem to have a little better selection.
    Rook wrote: »
    PSU specs grow and grow all the time and maybe 5 years from now, I may need 1kW. 450w seemed ridiculous when I built my current system in 2002 but now it's pretty much standard.

    I see, so somehow magically your PC started consuming a lot more power did it?

    You misunderstood me... again. I was saying that 450W or thereabouts is currently the standard for new PCs. I didn't say mine used any more or less power. I'm talking about future-proofing should the need arise to install additional power-hungry components. But please oh God please let's stop talking about PSUs I'm sorry I wrote about my hideous 1kW abomination please oh God oh God
    Rook wrote: »
    Even the x800 used less power than the 9800xts did, expect the next gen of graphics chips to dip in power requirements as well when they shrink the die size.

    In 5 years time your PC will be useful as a paper weight and that's it anyways. And the only use of a 1kW psu is pretty much running Quad SLi. If you're not planning on spending about $1000 on graphics cards alone (or $1500 if you're buying through DELL), it'll be a huge waste of money.

    And as someone who says they want to play games "newer ones run OK with, say, medium settings" I'm pretty fucking sure you don't want SLi.
    Finally, some (kind of) useful info. I was not aware of the trend of shrinking power demands. Does this apply to other components, or just graphics cards? I'll probably shoot for 400W or so, assuming I have the option with other retailers.

    Also, I beg to differ about the paperweight thing. My current rig is 5 years old and it still has enough power for the types of games I play; the problem is, it's falling apart. That's why I'm setting out to build a machine that has comparable specs, but better durability and support. I'm just behind the curve when it comes to PC gaming -- for whatever reason, I tend to play games several years after they come out. WoW is the one exception to this but even it is getting on in years and was never that demanding to begin with. I know, it's odd, but I think it's reasonable to expect this next rig to last for at least 5 years, provided it doesn't start breaking down or my gaming habits don't change drastically.

    whuppins on
  • crash5scrash5s Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Finally, some (kind of) useful info. I was not aware of the trend of shrinking power demands. Does this apply to other components, or just graphics cards? I'll probably shoot for 400W or so, assuming I have the option with other retailers.

    Video cards go up and down in power consumption. The current high end of both ATi and nvidia consume a lot of power, and disipate a lot of heat.

    What is going down in power consumption are CPU's and RAM. But this is a tad misleading since the current "performance" motherboard chipsets run hot and the best CPU's/RAM want them.

    crash5s on
  • TorbidTorbid Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I don't know about everyone else, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with a 400w PSU in a system I intend to game on. This is probably just me, as 400w could be technically enough, I'd still shoot for a 550w minimum.

    I've worked on alot of HPs, and pretty much everyone i've seen has had an inferior PSU. I think the last one of their media center PCs I opened up had a 300w supply in it. HPs are also pretty cramped inside, upgrades would be more difficult than a comparable dell (not that I'm recommending Dells, though).

    In my experience, Dells, HPs, and Gateways do not last more than 2 or 3 years before needing some kind of part replacement. I can not even begin to imagine the number of PSUs I've replaced or bad sticks of memory I've found in fairly new PCs from these brands.

    I'd describe my technical knowledge as only slightly above average though, this information is all from experience doing lightweight PC repairs.

    Torbid on
    XBL: Vehem [Fable2|SF2HDR]
  • mausmalonemausmalone Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    whuppins wrote: »
    crash5s wrote: »
    Unless you know you won't be able to buy one down the road, or want the fastest card period now the 8800's are worth it. <--- and this is from a person with 8800sli.
    Did you mean to say "aren't" instead of "are"? If so, I'm pretty satisfied with the situation. Thanks for all the help.

    @mausmalone: Wow, Shuttle does prebuilt systems now? I didn't know, thanks! Also, regarding the barebones build: It's not that I'm trying to avoid a couple hours' worth of work, I just like the little details that you get with a more traditional PC vendor: Full warranties, online resources, comprehensive support (even if it is via Turkmenistan), etc. It's kind of a security blanket thing, but what can I say? I will pay well for peace of mind, no bones about it.

    Ah, well that makes total sense.

    So, yeah, Shuttle makes a few complete systems now, but I really don't know what the deal is with their warranty setup. They're a little less powerful than you were looking for, but a little cheaper and definitely fit the "small and out of the way" requirement. They're actually just a little bit bigger than a Wii.

    EDIT: huh... I just noticed that you can actually buy whole Shuttle systems pre-built on their own website, not just the X100's on newegg. They seem to have a few extended warranty options too.

    mausmalone on
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  • Fartacus_the_MightyFartacus_the_Mighty Brought to you by the letter A.Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Regarding video cards, go with just one powerful card. SLI isn't worth it unless you're running at insane resolutions AND using AA, which is generally redundant. Regarding vendors, Gateway is a decent choice. Their tech support tends to use the same, off-shored, if-it-doesn't-match-the-script-you-must-reformat retards as Dell, and their Gateway-brand cases are usually durable and slick-looking (albeit mostly plastic).

    Fartacus_the_Mighty on
  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Torbid wrote: »
    I don't know about everyone else, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with a 400w PSU in a system I intend to game on. This is probably just me, as 400w could be technically enough, I'd still shoot for a 550w minimum.

    Eh, I game on a Core 2 Duo setup with a 7900 GT on 430W, and it's fine.

    Marty81 on
  • MorskittarMorskittar Lord Warlock Engineer SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Nocturne wrote: »
    I suggest taking a look at building a computer through HP. In my experience they have incredibly reliable hardware and service.

    I second this wholeheartedly. My current laptop is an HP machine, and I'm impressed as all hell with the quality, price, and service. My dad picked up a desktop at the same time, which he's been pretty happy with. It's a nice machine.

    There's a reason HP's market share has jumped past Dell as of late.

    Morskittar on
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  • corin7corin7 San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Marty81 wrote: »
    Torbid wrote: »
    I don't know about everyone else, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with a 400w PSU in a system I intend to game on. This is probably just me, as 400w could be technically enough, I'd still shoot for a 550w minimum.

    Eh, I game on a Core 2 Duo setup with a 7900 GT on 430W, and it's fine.

    I have a core 2 duo and a 8800 with a 500w and it does super.

    corin7 on
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