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PC upgrade options - advice appreciated!

by nick_uk / July 4, 2010 7:01 PM PDT


I am looking for a PC which will be able to play most of the latest 3D games, and will also be relatively future proof (i.e. will not totally obsolete within 12 months and I can upgrade components relatively easily in future).

Alienware seems quite expensive for what you get. Instead I am now looking at the following PC -

Dell XPS 9000
i7 920 2.66ghz 8mb
6gb DDR3 1066mhz
NVIDIA GeForce GTS240 1024MB GDDR3
Cost (no monitor) - US$1000

My questions are as follows, and massively appreciate anyone that can point me in the right direction-

1) Is above going to do the trick for what I need? Below are some upgrade options...but are they worth spending the money on?
2) I can upgrade to i7 960 3.2ghz 8mb for an extra US$400 - which is quite hefty.
3) Can upgrade to GeForce GTX260 1.8gb GDDR3 for extra US$125 or to ATI Radeon HD 5870 1gb for an extra US$190. Would either option be worth it?
4) Another option is upgrade to 12GB DDR3 for US$125


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Not shabby.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 5, 2010 2:51 AM PDT

While some gamer may quibble my kid is gaming on a HP d5000t (intel quad core) 4GB RAM, the GT220 and Windows 7 64 bit.

Your machine is a big step up so it will game well.

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gts240 is midrange card
by ramarc / July 5, 2010 12:09 PM PDT

and will struggle with recent games at high res/high detail levels. also, if you're going to upgrade the graphics, skip the gtx260. it's a 2+ year old card. a better choice would be a radeon hd5850/hd4870 or geforce gtx465.

in the benchmarks below, the the gtx260 would be behind the gtx275 and dead last when compared to the other cards.

the extra ram will do nothing for your gaming... it's only good for specific professional 64bit apps that can consume more than 3gb of ram. 6gb is plenty now and you can always upgrade later (ddr3 ram will fall).

likewise the ugprade to a i7 960 won't help gaming much either. the 920 is very fast and most games will be gpu-bound. bank the $400 and upgrade the system in 12 months or just buy more games now!

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Thanks so far...
by nick_uk / July 5, 2010 7:52 PM PDT

I just did a bit of further benchmarking, comparing with the Maingear Shift P55. Choosing following options (to try to show a similar PC as the Dell) -

750W power
Radeon HD5870 1 GB GDDR5
i7 860 2.8ghz
8gb Kingston DDR3 133mhz(or 4gb for $200 less)
No screen
No other special extras

Gives a cost of US$2600.

To me they seem similar PCs, yet the Maingear is more than twice the cost.

Similarly, an HP machine -

i7 960 3.20 GHz
GeForce GTX 260 Special Edition up to 5374 MB total available graphics memory, with 1.8 GB dedicated

Is a cost of US$2600.

Am I missing something or is the Dell a steal at this price?

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by nick_uk / July 5, 2010 8:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks so far...

I realise that the i7 960 (HP) is an extra few hundred dollars with Dell, but even adjusting for that, it still seems like Dell is hugely cheaper.

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Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.
by Brechan / July 7, 2010 6:33 PM PDT
In reply to: obviously...

these brands will always be cheaper than the likes of companies such as Maingear, DigitalStorm, Widow, etc. for a couple of important reasons.
Dell (and the like) churn out 1000's of these computers every day, while Maingear (and the others) typically make only a few each day; catering to those that specify exactly what components they want in their computer.
The other reason Dell's are cheaper is that the only 'name brand' you might see for components is the graphics card, all other components are of 'builders quality', or to be more precise, no-name.
As you can see on the Maingear specs. all components are name brand (Kingston, Radeon, Intel,) and a more powerful PSU which costs more $.

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Thanks Brechan. However...
by nick_uk / July 8, 2010 4:20 PM PDT

the Dell has an Intel processor, and also a "name brand" graphics card as you point out. So the only component where a brand is not used is the memory.

Is having a Kingston memory chip worth spending an extra $1000 or more? Should be cheaper to buy the Dell and replace the memory seperately.

Please if I am missing some vital piece in the puzzle do set me straight! I am struggling to understand what value in terms of performance you get from the more expensive options.

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Is having a Kingston memory chip worth spending...
by Brechan / July 9, 2010 8:18 AM PDT

an extra $1000 or more?

Not necessarily.
But when you factor in the other components that make up a Maingear Shift; you'll start to understand why their computers are more expensive than 'mainstream' manufacturers, such as Dell, Gateway, Hp.

Maingear Shift P55 (base model)
Silverstone 750 watt PSU
ATI Radeon HD5750 GPU
ASUS Maximus III Formula P55 motherboard
Intel i5 750 2.66 GHz CPU
Asetek (maintenance free) liquid cooling
Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory (4GB)
Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, 64MB cache (640GB)

Having nothing but (really good) brand name components in each and every computer they produce warrants the heftier price (in my opinion)

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suggest you stick with dell build
by ramarc / July 9, 2010 10:19 AM PDT

dell is a buick/opal... boutique builds are bmw's/mercedes.

like cars, the dell will do what you need. it might be a tad slower in benchmarks, it won't have as much cache, but it will work. and considering the level of components you're using (i860/hd5870), the difference won't be noticeable outside of benchmarks.

as for memory, it's a commodity. the only difference is it's overclockability. there's hardly any difference between any brand ddr3-1333 at the same timings. only spend extra if you plan on hitting ddr3-2000+ or want very very tight timings. (if you don't know anything about timings/overclocking etc, stick with the best priced ddr3-1333.)

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