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Buy new PC, or have one built?

by Rob10 / October 26, 2008 1:10 AM PDT

First, I apologize if this isn't the correct forum to ask questions about new builds...A while back, I was considering building my own PC, but now, having a 4 year old boy makes the time to properly research, build and trouble shoot one impossible. First I thought about a mainstream company like Dell, or HP. Then I spoke to a friend who works for Cisco who mentioned how hit and miss build quality is at these big assemblers and I was possibly better off with good local builder. Luckliy, I have one (though I don't know anything about his quality reputation). So I walked in and told him what I planned to do with it, and what my budget is.

I plan on spending around $800 for everything except for peripherials (i.e. monitor, keyboard/mouse, printer, etc.). I plan on using it for Internet, work/home photo editing, home movie rendering/editing, as well as storing photos/home movies/music. I may a few games, but I'm not a Gamer, but might get a few to play with my now 4 yr. old down the road). I want something good with displaying crisp text, photos, watching DVDs, and an occasional game. I may also want to record TV and wirelessly send video to another room He set me up with the following and wondered if this CPU/GPU/MB is a good place to start:

Intel Core2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz
PNY Quadro FX570 256MB
4GB DDR2-800 Memory (no brand specified)
500GB SATA-II HD (no brand specified, may add second HD for video
Raidmax Sagitta Gaming case with 450W PS.
LG DVD 20X DVD burner
Windows XP
Things that weren't addressed were:
> WiFi to send video to another room. Guy said bandwidth tech. wasn't
quite there yet(?).
> TV Tuner. I guess I want one, but can I add that later?
> Expandibility of MB to add above, plus a Blue Ray drive when prices
come down.
Any thoughts appreciated!

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Why are you the one to "trouble shoot"?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2008 1:14 AM PDT

You either bought one or had it built. Why are you the one to find the issues? Wouldn't it be the maker's problem and not yours?

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by Rob10 / October 26, 2008 2:10 AM PDT

Not me, I don't have time now to get up to speed technically, or time to trace problems. I would depend on the builder for hardware issues.

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Surrounded by Dell at the work place.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2008 2:45 AM PDT
In reply to: IT

The only reason I can call them hit or miss is because we have hundreds of them. While 99% of the time it's a software issue, the sheer numbers will tell you that Dells are no worse or better than other names. However my experience with "built" machines is I rarely see one with a proper install of Windows. How do you get them to have the BIOS current, the drivers are "checked out" and everything works? Each one is a custom job so unless you pay the "custom" fees like you see for a custom car, it's rarely right.

That's why I wonder why you would want such a beast.

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by Rob10 / October 27, 2008 11:49 PM PDT

I believe the shop builds everything per order, so I would consider them "custom" in that respect. I would hope that a reputable shop knows enough to make sure the BIOS is current and all the drivers are right. Unlike Dell and mainstream mega-builders, a small shop with a good reputation wants to keep it that way. Getting a box back under warranty takes up more of their time.

I have a Dell, and don't really have anything against them. I know the more computers you build, the more returns and DOAs, it's just the law of averages. For fun, I "built" a Dell XPS420 with similar specs. The only difference I could see was the McAfee AV and Microsoft Works. I was forced to take Vista, a lower watt PS, lesser GPU. Price for the Dell was $100 more. Not exactly cheaper! Also, from what I understand, Dell uses some proprietary MBs, PSs and other things that could affect making changes down the road less flexible.

and doesn't keep return customers.

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hard to recommned that for $800
by ramarc / October 26, 2008 4:53 AM PDT

considering you can get a retail pc that would suit you just as well for less. here's a $530 alternative:
and a $750 alternative: http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/HP-Pavilion-Media-Center-m8530f-Desktop-PC-KT334AA-ABA/sem/rpsm/oid/213658/catOid/-12962/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do

as for "WiFi to send video to another room. Guy said bandwidth tech. wasn't quite there yet(?)." wireless-g and wireless-n is certainly fast enough to send video. (what you're going to send it to is another question.)

TV tuners range from $50 to $150 and are available as internal cards or USB plug in devices. http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Pinnacle-PCTV-HD-Pro-Stick-USB-TV-Tuner-82301002301/sem/rpsm/oid/211545/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do

blu-ray drives are less than $100 but require a modern video card to offload the HD decoding. (the fx5700 is 5 year old tech and won't handle HD content.)
bluray drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106225
radeon 3650
radeon hd 3650: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102726

as you can see, if you start with the $530 pc, you can add all the features you want and still only spend $800.

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thats good
by ragu.draman / October 27, 2008 4:24 AM PDT

man you have got a preety good choice over there.I think you should change the cabinet ,something with 650 watts atleast.You choice of MotherBoard is good.You may consider newer GeForce cards which are much more advanced than the one you selected,say with atleast 512 MB GDDR3 or GDDR5 memory in your card so that the Video RAM bandwidth increses.I have no idea about the RAM , i myself use 4GB but doesn't see any changes using vista x64 business edition.Try one of the cooler master cabinets , those are very great.There is no support for wifi built in your motherboard.Try other intel good processors.It seems E8400 is a bit old.This motherboard comes with a decent overclocking ability,if you don't overclock try going with other asus mother boards with built in wifi or buy an wifi device additionally.I would post you boards with wifi builtin in one or two days.

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Good Solid Suggestions!
by KevyJ / November 1, 2008 4:53 AM PDT
In reply to: thats good


You have an excellent knowledge of hardware. I can see you've done some building.

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Nice Specs; Better than Off-the-Shelf
by KevyJ / November 1, 2008 4:25 AM PDT


-Get a little bigger power supply. Think about a minimum 550 Watts.

-Take a look at the 9600GT OC 512MB Graphics Card.

- Adding a TV tuner will be easy. Take a look at one of the online hardware vendors.

- I'm a little confused about the WiFi. If you have a router, you can install a very inexpensive PCI or PCI-E (1x) Lan card with your desktop. It is very fast.

Good Luck and Best Wishes.

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