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Dell Warning for Home Gaming

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Reviews' started by Compiler, Jan 25, 2007.

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  1. Compiler

    Compiler Thread Starter

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    Recently, Dell has finally stopped making those rather ugly black/gray systems that had difficult to reach USB ports and no AUDIO out on the front. The new systems look rather sharp for current systems (2007)... and with the new systems, FINALLY - they have an upgradeable graphics slot (PCIe x16) - when in the past, only PCI slots where included and we'd see posts "I need to upgrade the video card on my Dell" and we tell them they can't get anything worthwhile. AGP is outdated but can play games. PCIe x16 slot is required for today’s systems.

    Well - when it comes to the insides, Dell really doesn't have any better quality or support over HPAQ (HP/Compaq) which is now the #1 PC seller. You spend quite a bit of money for about the same level of limitations when you MIGHT AS WELL have gone to CompUSA / Best Buy / Fry’s or even Wal-Mart for a better deal off the shelf, rather than wait about 2-3 weeks!

    The basis for this info review are 3 base systems, none of the Slim-line systems.

    Before I forget - the shocking thing is that when you go through the BUILD processes, there is a section where they sell GAMES... which will run like garbage on many of these computers!

    Our contenders are:
    Dell Dimension E520 = Low end~basic Intel P4/P-D/C2D systems. All are 533mhz RAM.
    Dell Dimension E521 = Low end~basic AMD64 & x2 DC systems. All are 533mhz RAM.
    Dell XPS 410 = Mid Range Core2Duo systems. All use 667mhz RAM.
    Dell XPS 710 = High end Core2Duo. Cool cases, dual Video card support, 667mhz RAM?

    The ONLY Dells with performance memory are the business machines.

    $1285 = Dell OptiPlex with 2GB DDR800 / DVI / AMD64 x2 4600
    $1685 = Above with Intel Core2Dup 6400 with exact specs… not a great deal.

    The issues:

    The E520/521 are BTX mini-towers (4 expansion slots) which have limited space due to design for heat from 4-6Ghz P4s which never made it to market. The cooling in the small space makes it about impossible to install any high-end gaming card. The 7600GT should fit as long as it’s a single-slot design (no fancy cooling) but the 305watt PSU (Power Supply Unit) is in the edge of being a problem. An aftermarket 350~400watt PSU will do the job. There is NO ROOM for today’s GeForce 8800 or ATI 1900XT cards to fit. So a standard 350watt PSU will do.

    Removal of the cooling hood will effect the BTX cooling design. Also, there is not a mount to attach a rear-cooling fan – in case the front fan and hood were removed. The Hard drives at the bottom (x2 max) do not get great cooling since there is NO REAR fan to pull air across the drives.

    None of these systems can be bought with high-performance RAM such as 667/800 and
    1066Mhz is supported by many of these CPUS. The end user gets 533mhz DDR2.

    With custom Dell motherboards, CPUs may NOT be upgradeable (there could be a BIOS CPU lock). For basic home or business, these PCs will work fine. But future upgrades are limited. If you think you or your kids may want to play games WELL on a PC, this computer WILL NOT DO.
    All comparisons below DO NOT include a monitor, unless noted otherwise.

    Typical cost of a good E52x system as follows:
    Bottom end E520 = P4 @ 3.0ghz / 1GB DDR2 / DVD RW drive / 250GB HD / onboard Video
    Price = $685 This is expensive. A 512mb / 160GB HD version = $610.
    Wall mart sells a faster Compaq with AMD64-3500 (512mb/160HD) + 17” LCD for $550 or about $400~425 without the monitor. That’s about a $200 savings!

    Note 1: Compaq has junky keyboard, replace with HP Multimedia keyboard for $25.
    Note 2: Hpaq (HP or Compaq) includes a 350watt PSU and has space for larger video cards and an optional rear cooling fan if one is not already attached.

    $550 = The next HP PC model up is a dual core x2 3800 with 1GB RAM (533mhz) & faster onboard video.
    $725 = Dell e521 with dual core Pentium D 805 (2.6Ghz) with 1GB RAM. Again, About $200 more expensive and less upgradeable and easily slower than the HP.

    More apples to apples:

    $615 = HP x2 4200 / 1GB (filled slots) / with Firewire & card reader
    $730 = Dell e521 with exact features above. (Still with no space and smaller PSU)

    Adding a GeForce 7600 card would require a PSU upgrade ($50~70) for the Dell, but not SOLD by Dell – you’ll install it yourself or pay someone else.


    Lets go up a notch to a more expandable Dell… the XPS 410.
    The case is a little bit bigger, but it allows for a larger video card such as the 7900 series… but it is unknown if it can handle a dual-slot sucking ATI 1900XTX or 8800. The cooling hood over the CPU is very close. Also, no optional rear cooling fan. The 375watt PSU will not handle anything more than a 7900gs which is the top card Dell offers for this system.

    $1550 = XPS 410 : C2D 6300 / 2GB 667mhz / 320GB HD / TV Tuner/remote & card reader
    $1525 = HP 7690 : C2D 6300 / 2GB 667mhz / 400GB HD / TV Tuner/remote & card reader (online)

    $ 880 = HP 7650: C2D 6300 / 2GB 533mhz / 320GB HD / TV Tuner/remote & card reader
    (Add a 7900gs from a store for $200) = $1080 total. $400+ cheaper off SHELF!!

    So even from HP, buying online cost MORE than buying from a store! (Prices are online and Best buy or CompUSA as of Jan 25 2007)

    Keep in mind, only the higher end Core2Duos such as the 6600. And 6400 is 5~10% faster than an AMD x2 4600. The HP with the AMD64 4600 has same stats as the $880 HP but $620.

    And with most brand name systems, there is no over clocking or tweaking.
    Any of these $800~1500 systems will need a new 500watt PSU to handle a GF8800 card.

    Now lets hit Dell’s TOP in gamer system. It looks HOT… but could be hotter under the hood.
    The XP 710 supports dual video cards, uses a chipset board that does NOT support x2 8800s or any other Nvidia video card. Comes with a 750watt PSU (unknown if Active PFC) and is the only possible gaming system Dell offers. At this point, HP top end system is $1675 with a Core2 6600 / 4GB RAM and a GF7600GT card – because they don’t offer to install a bigger PSU than 350watts. At these prices, the gamers build their own PCs… here is why:

    The XPS chassis offers 4 Optical drive bays and 4 HD drive bays (Typical $75~200 cases) and includes a Nvidia / intel 590 sli hybrid motherboard. We’ll go fairly top end with the following:

    Intel Core2Duo X6800 / 4GB RAM 667mhz / 500GB RAID 1 / 2x DVD 16x16 burners / GeForce 8800GTX Video card 768mb RAM . Windows XP Pro with upgrade to VISTA.
    No Audio card option was selectable. No added software included.

    $4,240 = Above price… for a gaming PC powerhouse.
    $3,120 = Hand Built system for gaming. Take about 3~5 hrs to build and prep OS.

    Parts = C2D x6800 / 4GB RAM 800Mhz / 500GB RAID 1 / 2x DVD 16x16 burners / GeForce 8800GTX Video card 768mb RAM – Latest ASUS 650i board, supports 1066/1333 DDR.
    Case includes 6 HD bays. A 600watt PSU (enough to power 2x 8800GTX) & XP PRO.
    Prices are from www.newegg.com as of 12-25-2007

    Notes: RAM is faster & for an extra $30 an over clocked version of the 8800GTX was available.

    NoteB: An Overclocker may buy the $220 C2D e6400 CPU + $50 Heatsink and reach the performance of a X6800 CPU. Since the Dell uses slower RAM, it’ll always have performance issues no matter how much the system is over clocked. So a price of $2340 is possible to have a PC that is faster and cooler than the $4200+ Dell.

    Which would you buy? And you can find a tech to build such a system for about $200~300.

    A quick backtrack to the mid-range gaming Dell:
    $1550 – Dell XPS 410 with Core2 6300 with 2gb 667mhz / 250gb HD / 7900gs video card.
    $1350 – Hand-built 6300 with 2gb 800mhz / 400gb HD / 8800GTS / SLI mobo system
    and a system that can over clock and a video card that is 3-4x more powerful.


    So besides a lot of data… what is the lesson:

    For basic pre-built systems under $1500, you might as well get a $600~700 AMD from HP that’ll perform about the same as many other Core2Duos (6300/6400) and more expandable as typical Dell systems (the low end e520/521 series).

    A TRUE high-end gaming/workstation PC is hundreds if not close to $2000 cheaper than a pre-built (but wait 2-4 weeks for delivery) Dell system.

    Links:
    Dell 710 : http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsdt_710?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04

    Dell 410 : Notice! The XPS 410 has been renamed 9200
    http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/dimen_9200?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04

    Dell e521:
    http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/dimen_e521?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

    And of course: www.newegg.com & www.pricewatch.com to shop online
    www.anandtech.com for excellent detailed reviews
    www.tomshardware.com for the video and CPU charts + reviews.

    :eek:
     
  2. SouthParkXP101

    SouthParkXP101 Banned

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    Dell sucks..... here is a good idea, dont buy them
     
  3. Compiler

    Compiler Thread Starter

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    That's all....?
     
  4. neos1

    neos1

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    Thanks Compiler,

    I'm about to purchase/build and the information that you put together here is valuable.
     
  5. anonymousx

    anonymousx

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    well ive never had a problem with dell, saying their crap is out of line.
    yeah dells c521's mini's arent going to be ground breaking, their supposed to be small and compact to get the job done, not exceed anyones expectations.
    Dell's e521, well their base is midrange, but have great options for customization.
    Dell does not have a Mini Tower E521, i think you meant the Dell C521, thats the Mini Tower. yeah everything's crammed in it to.

    i bought a dell e521 and customized it to an
    AMD X2 dual core 4600+ " LIVE!"
    3 gigs of ddr2 dual ram
    Corsair 620W HX power supply
    1 soon to be 2 EVGA 8800GTS 640mb 320 bit cards
    Windows vista premium though i dont need half the features
    250gig hd

    i dont know, but i agree with others that intels dual core may be 5 to 10% faster than amd's dual cores, but amd still has the better deal in their pockets as far as
    price vs performance goes. while dells pc's might be midrange there are several options open to upgrade them as well, which has worked out nicely for me.

    i dont really have the want to dish out over 2000.00 for a gaming pc that will outdate itself in a year or two, OverKill
    :)
     
  6. Compiler

    Compiler Thread Starter

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    I said that DELL systems, while improved quite a bit from their previous designs in that they ALL include a graphics-slot (PCIe 16x) - That the 52xE series (Not the tiny boxes) make for lousy gaming systems, unless the user gets nothing more than a 7600gs, and thats pushingit... wihout installing a new PSU. HP includes at least 350watts.

    How do you expect to FIT 1, much less 2 8800GTS cards into a Dell 52x?

    Why get 2 GTS cards?

    Why get a Dell... for gaming?
     
  7. loserOlimbs

    loserOlimbs

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    Worth mentioning....

    The PCIe slot is nice, but not an all new introduction from Dell, the 4700 dimensions had SATA and an open PCIe. Most importantly though, the PSUs are still low end and a good PCIe card will be out of the question without a new PSU most likely.
     
  8. anonymousx

    anonymousx

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    it fits fine, two will be a tight fit at that.

    the stock psu was 305w, Big deal, if your going to upgrade to a good pci-e card, you'll end up needing to upgrade the psu in the first place.

    i replaced the 305w psu with a 620w psu for 169.00
    never intended to use the stock psu in the first place.

    ive shared your info with others, and they think its bull.
    heh

    :D
     
  9. lexmarks567

    lexmarks567

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    good well tell your boss at dell sense you work for them. that there computers are junk and we will just buy there computers for firewood
     
  10. loserOlimbs

    loserOlimbs

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    Where is the Bull? What did I miss?
     
  11. Compiler

    Compiler Thread Starter

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    The PSU is the least of the problems... and I specified the e52x, not the c52x. (YOu'd think Dell had enough talent to cup up with 510 or 515)

    When you are having a point and counter point about a subject - you need to work abit to prove or show the other side as wrong or incorrect. It is one thing to BUY a Dell today and then decide to make it a bit of a power system later (ie: didn't know) vs. Buying a dell, knowing its a POS for gaming.

    1 - 305 watt is very weak, always to be replaced with a decent video card. Oh wow, youre spending $170 for a 620PSU to power what....?

    2 - As stated, all Dell e520/521s come with 533mhz DDR2 RAM ONLY... rather sub-standard for a "power user"... at least 667mhz to be respectable. The XPS 410 does come with 667Mhz DDR.

    3 - Installing (2x) GeForce 8800gts cards: The Dell e521/e520 only have a SINGLE PCIe x16 slot.... so exactly HOW are you going to fit 2 8800gts cards? Perhaps you should have read my review rathe than the first few lines... Not EVEN the XPS 410 includes a 2nd PCI x16 slot... So the only way you're gonna get 2 PCIe gaming cards into these PCs is by replacing the mobo... but how many MiniATX boards support 2 PCIe x16 slots? (hint, none)

    4 - How do you install a single 8800gts card? It requires TWO SLOT areas! Not only can you NOT attach it to the case, but the CPU & cooling system are in the way. Did you know that two objects cannot occupy the same space?

    Here on Newegg... locate a single-slot 8800gts: here is 25 to look at.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...e=&Description=8800GTS&Submit=ENE&N=0&Ntk=all

    And here is the tech page for the e521... but I already included the page:
    http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/dimen_e521?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn

    As stated before... for a basic system - the e52x are fine... for gaming, they are limted... Your statement "great options for customization" ?? 3 lame video options, very limited drive options, only Vista and a few HD options. When I go to newegg or Frys, I can choose from dozens of HDs, 100+ video cards etc etc.

    Now, if you modifed the case a lot or Dells has made some changes to their e521 that is not on their website - you can't fit a dual-spaced video card. Take pictures of your system with the 8800gts... what has been customized?

    $2000 for a killer gaming system? Sheesh, a lot of power can be built for about $1000~1200... unless you buy a Dell. the XPS 410 is about $1400 off shelf. But then ya need to toss out the PSU and Video card... (Waste of money) then spend $600+ adding parts you have just removed.


    Recap:
    521/520 = Very limited space, slow, weak power and expansion.
    XPS 410 = improved in all areas, but can still handle only a single powerful card.
    For the price, I could build a system with a lot more power.
    XPS 710 = very expensive... yet still lower-performance 667mhz RAM.


    So why buy a Dell....
     
  12. twinlights7

    twinlights7

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    I'm running a 7900GS in my E520 just fine on the stock PSU.
     
  13. Compiler

    Compiler Thread Starter

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    That is good to know... 305watts is cutting it quite close. Is there any indication if its an Active PFC PSU? Also, have you played a game on full load? That requires more power.

    If so - then it means owners of e520/521s can at least handle a 7900gs/7600gt.
     
  14. twinlights7

    twinlights7

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    Um, not sure about the Active PFC, but I did need to purchase a Y-cable power splitter for the card's 6-pin PCIe power thing. I've run America's Army, NWN 2, and CS:S all at max settings consistently. I run BF2 and Guild Wars on medium settings otherwise I would lag more than I need to.
     
  15. lexmarks567

    lexmarks567

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    he said his boss thinks are reports are bull :rolleyes: :rolleyes: so we think there computers are bull as there a pile of junk and all there good for is firewood.
     
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