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Buying a PC

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by ian80, Aug 15, 2003.

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  1. ian80

    ian80 Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2002
    Messages:
    292
    I posted this in the general area, but realized its more of a hardware question. Here it is:

    Ok, for those of you from our last discusssion, I've decided to go the Dell route. I get a discount through U of T, so that's an added bonus. Here is the system I've come up with:

    Dimension 2400 Series P4: Pentium® 4 Processor at 2.40GHz with 533MHz front side bus BP245A [221-3129]
    Memory: 128MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333MHz 128M3 [311-2074]
    Keyboard: Dell™ Quietkey® Keyboard QK [310-1582]
    Monitor: 17 in (16.0 in v.i.s., .27dp) E773 Monitor E773 [320-4600]
    Video Card: Integrated Intel® 3D Extreme Graphics IV [430-3900]
    Hard Drive: 40GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM Hard Drive 40 [340-9481]
    Floppy Drive and Additional Storage Devices: 3.5 in Floppy Drive FD [340-9334]
    Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition¹² WHXP [420-1921][313-7222][412-0409]
    Mouse: Dell Optical USB Mouse OM [310-4037]
    Network Interface: Integrated 10/100 Ethernet IN [430-0441]
    Modem: 56K PCI Data/Fax Modem DFAX [313-1313]
    CD or DVD Drive: 48x Max CD ROM Drive CD48 [313-1476]
    Sound Card: Integrated Audio IS [313-0847]
    Speakers: Altec Lansing® ADA215 Speakers ADA215 [313-1874]
    Bundled Software: WordPerfect® Productivity Pack with Quicken New User Edition CCOREL [412-0397][412-0396][412-0174][412-0245][412-0395]
    Security Software: Dell Security Center by McAfee, 90 Day introductory offer (412-0326) MCAFE90 [412-0326]
    Hardware Installation Services: 1 Yr Ltd. Warranty, 1 Yr In-Home/On-Site Service, 24x7 Phone Hardware Tech Support, 365 days a year W11OS [950-1290][900-9054]
    SHIP: Shipping SHIP [009-4365]
    CD or DVD Burner for 2nd bay: FREE 48x CD-RW Drive (2nd Bay) 48CDR2Z [462-3127]

    Because of the power outage, I can't get the exact price, but it is about $675. Does this seem like a good deal? Could I do better elsewhere? What do you think of this system?

    I now have a few questions.

    1- Could this computer handle basic 3D rendering/animation using a program like 3D Studio Max. I'm not talking about really FULL scenes or advanced animation. I would just like to be able to play around with it.

    2- What can an onboard video card handle? If I plan to render and play games, should I invest in a video card? (There is a local computer store yard sale tomorrow, so if you give me some idea of what to look for, I may be able to pick somehing up)

    3- Is there a way around having to purchase a monitor through Dell. They don't give me an option to not buy one. That could be a big cost saver (I know people who could give me one for free)

    4- Is the RAM on this system upgradable? I heard a friend say that a certain type of RAM is more expensive, does this system have the cheap or expensive RAM? How much would I be looking at to upgrade to 516 MB(is that the right number?) from 128 if I go about it myself?

    5 - I also chose the smallest hard drive. Is that upgradable? I can upgrade at Dell from 40Gb to 120Gb for $160. Is this worth is? Can I do better if I do it myself?

    6- What is the difference between a regular 48x cd rom and 16x DVD rom? is it worth the $60 jump in price for the latter?

    7- Finally, I'm not sure if I'll get the FREE burner through my school, so if I were to buy one on my own at the yard sale tomorrow, what price range and specs should I look for.

    I really appreciate your help,
    Ian
     
  2. antares

    antares

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2003
    Messages:
    255
    You can go for a good video card, than to use the on-board one. Maybe an Ati Radeon 9600 PRO or higher. Maybe a GeForce FX could be another good card to get. Otherwise, if you don't want to do extreme gaming, then don't get the high end cards, which costs around 350-400 range.

    Also, when looking for a video card, make sure it has a fan on the chip and heatsinks on the memory.
     
  3. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    52,848
    First Name:
    Rob
    Video Card: Integrated Intel® 3D Extreme Graphics IV [430-3900 - with this I wouldn't recommend it. You should have a dedicated AGP video card with at least 64 MB of DDR. Thereis nothing extreme with that chip except extremely lame.

    Memory: 128MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333MHz 128M3 [311-2074]
    Are they kinding? XP needs at least 256 MB of RAM to run smoothly and lots more if you plan on doing Graphic Application. And not only is 128MB its also shared with the video meaning you don't have 128Mb for the system.

    Hard Drive: 40GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM Hard Drive 40 [340-9481
    Is this big enough for what you will be doing? You may want something bigger in the 80+ gig range.

    You may want to look into a custom built system, in which you could avoid buying a monitor, from a local shop. It may cost a little more but you'll sure get a lot more and exactly what you need.
     
  4. ian80

    ian80 Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2002
    Messages:
    292
    antares: I don't know anything about PC building. Would I simply be able to attach a new video card to this system? Do you think I could do this myself?

    Triple6: In Dell's defense, I am the one who picke dthe really low specs. Basically, my thought was that I could add on myself at a lower cost. So:

    Memory: Like I said, I want buy the extra RAM to make it 500+. I was just hoping you could give me a rough estimate of what ram costs and could confirm that it would be possible to upgrade on my own.

    Hard Drive: I'm currently have 7GB and seem to be doing just fine. Does the amount of space affect the speed of the PC, or jst how much will fit on it.
     
  5. compilerxp

    compilerxp

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,629
    The price is really low... Best Buy had a better deal for about $850 and that included a LCD (15" same as a 17" CRT) and printer - 512mb and Nforce2 board (4 times the 3DGraphic power of Intels' joke of built in video.) - Now its back up to $650 for the PC by itself (But you can get ANY 17" monitor for $125 new - or $50 used) - same 1 year warranty

    Little thing about Dell - they are no cheaper or better than anyone else at this moment. They got their name at the top now.

    Check out this PC:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1055388016187&skuId=5645965&type=product

    And you can GO pick it up today or FREE SHIPPING (The one above was part of the package deal) And I recommend the HP $100 Printer/Scanner unit - its great for college kids - little space and easy to use.

    Your questions:
    1 - The CPU is very good for 3DStudio Max.

    2 - The onboard video is useless for anyting other than desktop. Add about $100 to get it decent. Eats system RAM. Also, the little Dell you're looking at... doesnt have whats called an AGP SLOT - which *IS* needed for high performance 3DGraphics.

    3 - You can get a free monitor? Make sure its at least a 17" CRT that isn't too old. But they are cheap.

    4 - 128mb?! XP feels quite SLOW at 256mb - With 512mb, its peppy and YOU NEED 512MB if youre going to be using 3DStudio MAX.

    5 - 40GB is more than ENOUGH for many users, especially Office settings. But if youre doing 3DRendering or playing games (UT2003 eats about 3GB of space) or making Videos - 40G will go away quickly! The HP computer I linked for you includes 120GB and its a fast drive for a 5400RPM (about 30Megabytes per second - Vs 35~45GBps for top end drives).

    6 - The deal says HD Burner (for free)...

    Look at the LINK I gave you... You're looking at 100% the same price for both computers (but the Dell includes a $100 monitor).
    To UPGRADE the DELL, you'd be looking at blowing $310~350!!

    (The HP INCLUDES a DVD drive and CD-BURNER)
    When you get the HP, uninstall the JUNKWARE software - they have a lot of "servies" AD junk they want to sell you. Wildtangent can go - which tracks you, but you get some cool 3Dgames. The HP includes Firewire IEE1394 ports (2), 6-in-1 Memory card reader, audio ports in the dront as well as 2 USB ports. Its in a nicer case too.

    I'd only recommend replacing its CPU Cooler with a $20 one from CompUSA (Rated for XP2600) that is more silent and does a better job of cooling. It has a 6-point clamp! (Dont get the huge ones). Ask the tech for it... it has "CompUSA" for the brandname and it DOES keep the CPU much cooler.

    Also, the HP also has built-in video, but its about 4-5 times better than Intels. You can play many games on it... including GTA Vice city (Of course with a real AGP Video card, it plays much better).

    Hope you get this in time - the Dell is a RIP OFF.


    6 -
     
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