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Solved: Need Advice on specs for a budget PC

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by melissapeeve, Oct 10, 2008.

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  1. melissapeeve

    melissapeeve Thread Starter

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    Hello, I will soon be purchasing a new PC and could use some advice regarding a few options that I don't understand.

    My basic criteria: a. I want to be able to play World of Warcraft WotLK (with 2-3 add ons, and - perhaps - Firefox open) with minimal lag issues. Rich graphics and sound would be nice, but I'm much more concerned with quick response time. b. I am on a pretty tight budget, and would like to spend less than $500.

    The Dell online store allows me to build an Inspiron 530, beginning at $279. I've gone through several configurations that have landed me at around $500 (I'd love to come in under that mark, if you think that most of the available upgrades are superfluous) but I don't have the knowledge to weigh one upgrade option against another. Examples:

    1. The "free" processor with this system is an Intel Celeron 450. At 2.2 GHz, this puts me well above the required 1.3GHz for the game. Still, I suspect that this is one category where an upgrade would be worth the investment, since (correct me if I'm wrong) memory and a graphics card are easier to upgrade than a processor, should I want to improve this system a year from now. But I don't understand the choices: "Dual-core" processors E2200 and E2220, for 1MB L2, and 2.2/2.4 GHz, for +$60/+$80, respectively. Or "Core2 Duo" and "Core2 Quad" for 3MB/8MB, and +$140/+$190, respectively.
    I did a bit of research through Google and was able to find some info on how these processors stack up against one another. What i was not able to discern is how significant a difference the upgrades would make for the sort of demands that WoW places on a system.

    2. I can upgrade from 2G RAM to 3G for $50, and to 4G for another $50. 2G should be enough to run WoW and a few add-ons, but if 3G would make the system more lag-proof, then it's worth an extra $50. But how does, for example, a "Quad" processor stack up against a doubling of RAM, for my situation? All I actually understand is that both should make the computer go faster, but I'd like to make a more informed decision between the two. :eek:

    3. I don't foresee needing more than the "free" 250G hard drive, or something better than the basic 16X DVD+/-RW drive that come with the sytem, so that's easy.

    4. The pre-upgrade "Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator", is, from what I understand (from one website, anyway), no good: it doesn't have its own memory, so it leeches off the system. Will a game like WoW benefit from a 256 Raedon card (+$100) rather than the 128MB version (+$60)? If so, $40 seems like a negligible difference. If not, no need to waste money putting high octane fuel in an old used car.


    Any advice/input is very much appreciated. Thanks for reading :D

    (And apologies if this was not the proper place for this thread)
     
  2. sup2a

    sup2a

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    Celeron are rubbish, VERY slow at least go for a dual core, core 2 duos are great and very powerful and the quads are great, depends on how much you want to pay. $50 for a gig of ram is ridiculous and its rubbish ram, go buy some your self and install it, we'll help you out choosing, go for the minimum and install the rest later that way you can go for a good brand like Kingston and have it last. It depends on WHAT the graphics card are not the amount of megs they have, the $100 for a graphics card probably isnt worth it considering you could probably buy it from a store it would cost you $30-50
     
  3. BG-0

    BG-0

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    Okay, the graphics card selection are a huge joke. HD 2400 Pro 128 MB for 60 $ and HD 3650 256 MB for 100 $? LOL. Or then, HD 2600 XT 256 MB for 150 $? :eek:
    Okay.
    339 $ from Dell. Pentium dual 2.2 GHz, all others default. (I guess)
    Add: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146580 x2 or 4
    Add: The "150$ video card": http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131057 (not recommended) or Radeon 4670, with aftermarket, 2-slot cooling, so you won't overheat: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161249

    139$ + 10 $ shipping -10 $ rebated if you choose to get 4 GB RAM and replace the 2 GB(4x512MB) that comes with it. (recommended... I can't find compatible DDR2 800 DIMMs for the Dell MB. So..) Or then get this RAM: http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=49DA3A77A5CA7304 x2. 68 $. (+shipping?) Or just stick with the 2 GB that comes with it.
     
  4. sup2a

    sup2a

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    careful suggesting a high end card, note that Dells have bad PSUs with their PCs and it probably wont be able to cope with many powerful cards
     
  5. BG-0

    BG-0

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  6. sup2a

    sup2a

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    yea well if you just want to play WoW most cards are fine, like i keep saying, my mate ran wow on a 32mb integrated card, and i ran it with a 5 odd year old integrated card, you don't want to risk underpowering a computer either way, go for a medium-low end card (like the one suggested and not a 2900XT) and you'll be fine, don't worry about installation its easy as anything.
     
  7. BG-0

    BG-0

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    Well, true, 4670 will be overkill for only WoW. Just buy the 2400XT and spend the extra on a better CPU.
     
  8. melissapeeve

    melissapeeve Thread Starter

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    Thanks so much, both of you, for your input.

    I think it will be worth the extra money for the Core2 Duo since you think that highly of it. I'll wait on RAM and just order some from Crucial a little while down the road - 2G should suffice for a few months, at least.

    I'll get the Powercolor 2400XT, then, too. That would land me at $419 from Dell + about $30 shipping + about $40 from Newegg: just under my limit.

    Two final questions:

    - If I look at my budget this week just before ordering and decide that I can spare an extra $50 for the Core2 Quad: how much better is it than the Core2Duo? For example: will I be glad in a few years that, just because of that extra $50, my computer is still pretty competitive?

    - When I receive my graphics card from Newegg, I figure it will be easy enough to install. But if I don't choose a different card from Dell, they will give me the default "Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator". When I googled that thing, I got this:

    "The new IntelĀ® Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (IntelĀ® GMA 950) graphics core is an intelligent and responsive graphics engine built into the chipset that is on the motherboard. This integration provides incredible visual quality, faster graphics performance and flexible display options without the need for a separate graphics card."

    Am I going to need to remove that when I put the new one in? Is that going to be a problem, given that it's "built into the chipset that is on the motherboard"?

    Thanks again, so much, for your input. All of this has helped me to feel much better about my purchase.

    :)
     
  9. BG-0

    BG-0

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    I think you'll be pretty happy with the Q6600. It is a great CPU right now, and in the future programs will be using it more effectively. It'd be a great buy.
    You don't have to, and can't, remove the integrated graphics. Don't think about it too much.
     
  10. Compiler

    Compiler

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    melissapeeve: Computers have built-in graphics... you can't remove it. Intel has the worst onboard graphics - doesn't matter since an add-on card is recommened. I also don't recommend a Dell... You're paying for a lot for a computer. No parts of it is "free"... and the upgrades become staggering. I don't see you needed a quad core or much hardware for WOW.

    It is the weekend, this is the best time to go out to Best Buy and Circut City to look at a package deal. Why? If your current PC is quite old, what do you have for a monitor?

    Here's a $580 deal with a 19" monitor. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=999998300050006&type=product&id=pcmprd98400050006

    This is just the PC for $400 : http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8885628&type=product&id=1212192194382

    It can ship out today or you can go to the store and buy it off the shelf.

    It does have a weakish PSU.... like most other name-brands. But for WOW, you may get away using an ATi 3450 or 4350/4550 as these are low-powered cards than can handle WOW easily. The 3450 is about a $40 card.... I'd get this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102757

    If you want more graphics power... you'll need to upgrade the PSU (about $50 on the low-end) and buy a $80 card...

    The 2600xt would require a PSU reqplacement... and for the same price, an ATI 4650 card is better.
     
  11. melissapeeve

    melissapeeve Thread Starter

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    Good to know. I just wanted to be sure.
    I understand that nothing is really free: i used quotes on the word to indicate that. By "free" i just meant: included in the $279 starting price. I'm happy to consider options other than a Dell... it was my understanding that Dell is superior to most of the budget PCs I'll find at Bestbuy, that's why I went in that direction.
    Thanks for the recommendation. I'm afraid it leaves me with more questions though: how does the Athlon processor compare to something like the Core2Duo? This computer looks like it's in the same range as the Dell build I was considering (though with a lot more HD space than I need). But I have no idea how to compare processors.

    It would be nice, as you point out, to walk out of the store with one this week rather than waiting for the Dell one to be built & shipped, so long as I'd be getting a comparable deal. As for monitors: the one I'm using is not great, but I'll be financially in a better position to upgrade in a few months than I am now; I thought I'd leave the monitor until then.
    Thanks again for everyone's input. And sorry to be all over the place with these questions: my lack of experience (and funds) makes me indecisive enough that I reconsider every time someone makes a point
     
  12. sup2a

    sup2a

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    AMD processors are good, but not recommended for heavy sort of stuff, not as fast in most cases as Intel, however they certainly are a LOT more budget friendly and are certainly good enough to do what you want it to do, of course get a dual core.
     
  13. BG-0

    BG-0

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  14. Compiler

    Compiler

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    When it comes to "budget" computers... they are what I call "same level of junk". Dell, HPaq, Gateway, Emachine, Acer (forget anyone?) - they are made as cheap as possible with most reliable parts to survive the warranty period. (3 years). Just get the best deal you can on one, that isn't complete garbage. IE: A celeron system with Vista OR... paying too much for so little. IE: Paying Dell $600 for a PC that is equal to a $400 HP.

    Core2Duo(C2D) is the fastest current CPU on the market... but just because you buy a low-end C2D CPU, doesn't mean its faster than an AMD CPU at the same price. IE: Just because you bought a CHEVY, doesn't mean they're all CORVETTES. Those AVEOs... are... well... you know, not corvettes.

    The $400 Intel computers are easily SLOWER than the AMD systems. And what makes the C2D attractive to gamers and such is the ability to "CHEAT" the CPU into running faster than its supposed to. Which is what NAME-brand computers DON'T DO.

    Until 2 years ago... not even Intel's $1000 Extreme Edition Pentium could beat a $300 AMD CPU (which was low end for AMD).

    Upgrading Dells are a pain... so if you ever need to do it in the future, an Hpaq uses more standardized parts. And to get that $280 Dell upgraded to that HPaq = $520 (Just the computer).

    Funny thou, Dell adds $140 to the cost to install WindowsXP on the machine. ugh... rip off... besides waiting about 2-4 weeks to even get the computer.
     
  15. BG-0

    BG-0

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    Yeah.. My bad linking to the Dell site, knew that it's only trouble.
     
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