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View Full Version : Need counseling on a new computer I'm buying



hrgiger
01-10-2008, 04:16 AM
I ordered a system from Dell last night with some money I got from Christmas. Budget was the key since as much as I want to, I can't spend a few grand or more on a new system, at least not for a while. I just need something to get me by for the next year or two that will serve me better then my current system.

I still have the ability to make changes to my order until early next week so I thought I'd ask for some input on what I've got and what I might need to change. I currently have a P4 2.4GHZ running windows XP with 1.5GB of RAM.

What I ordered:

The Dell XPS 420

Intel Core 2 Q6600 Quad Core (8MB L2 cache, 2.4GHZ 1066FSB)
Windows Vista Home
3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz-4 DIMMS
128 ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO (the video card I got the cheapest one they had because I want to buy one myself- mostly likely a newer GForce)
500GB 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s 16MB cache
Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme music card
Already have a monitor. I have the ViewSonic VP201s which serves me fine for now. I'll be upgrading that a little later.


What do you think I might need to change? I can spend a little more if I need to. They had a duo core processor that was $50 more that was 3.0GHZ with a little fast FSB. Would that be faster then my Q6600? I didn't really want Vista Home but I didn't want to spend another $150 on Ultimate. Is there any reason I couldn't install XP Pro onto this system? Will everything run just as well under it?

Thank you for your input. I should try and make any changes on or before the weekend.

T-Light
01-10-2008, 04:27 AM
WOW.

Wish I was given that kind of cash for christmas.

Can't give you any advice though I'm afraid, I stick to laptops only these days, looks a damn nice system though. On the Vista front I don't know what to advise, Vista's still a nightmare for me when it comes to LW. BUT, XP won't be supported forever, and as far as I'm aware Vista Home is a little limited. Can't you plumb for Vista Premium just to be on the safe side or is that not an option?

prospector
01-10-2008, 05:38 AM
I just got my quad system Q6600 too, and you'll just giggle yourself silly over the difference you'll see.
I do radiosity for everything now.

I have just OC'd it to 3.006 GHz with stock fan and even that was an amazing speed difference in rendering.
Will go to 4GHz when my water cooling comes in. (if I can)

Windows XP runs fine here.

I also have 4 gigs ram (it came with rebate so I got more than 2), and even tho windows (32) reads only 3 gigs, I am looking at program to use the other gig as a virtual HD to be used as swap file.

You won't be sorry

mattclary
01-10-2008, 08:53 AM
I agree with Neverko. I would bump to 4gb and get a 64bit OS.

I build all my own and think it is a much better way to go. If you can't, do you have any friends who can? I'll be happy to give you all the tech support you need to do it yourself if you want, will even give you my phone number.

LW_Will
01-10-2008, 09:07 AM
You need at least XP Pro or Vista Pro to get at the full power of those 8 procs.

I'd prolly set up the system with a dual boot, 32 and 64.

Bump the RAM and graphics card memory. 256 or 512 would be fine. It seems to me that I've seen more problems with 64bit drivers running into problems with smaller memory foot prints.

Also, I'd try and find drivers for your mb, graphics card and the rest now, before they show up on your doorstep.

GregMalick
01-10-2008, 12:06 PM
Congratulations!

You are going to be so happy with the E6600.
I just upgraded from a P4 1.6 Ghz 512MB ram and my LW benchmarks show it to be 10 times faster.

I'm using the Vista Home Premium with no problems.
I may have a problem with DFX+ & Vista though.

I'd see how Vista works out for you before you spend the bucks on XP.
Drivers may become an issue. My HP 1012 doesn't have a Vista driver but there's stuff on the web that helped me get it to work.

Qexit
01-10-2008, 01:11 PM
If you want to stick with XP Pro don't Dell still offer it as a free option if you don't want Vista ? Then again, it might only be with Vista Premium or above.

I was running a pair of Dell Dimension 9150 Dual Core PCs until quite recently and had absolutely no problems with either of them. They were also the two quietest PCs I've ever owned :) One small fault being that the BIOS does not allow for any over-clocking. You only get that with the XPS 710/720, and even that is very limited.

Prior to the Dells, I always used to build my own but at the time I got them I could not build them myself to the same spec for the same price. So they were bargains :thumbsup: My current main PC is a modified retail computer. A company in London has been selling factory refurbished Advent GX9200 PCs on eBay with the following spec:

* CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme, Quad-Core, QX6700 EXT (2.66GHz)
* Motherboard: Foxconn 975XT 7AB
* RAM: 2 GB Buffalo DDR2
* Power supply: Tagan 800W
* Graphics: 2x ATI Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB (Crossfire)
* Hard disk: 2x Seagate Barracuda 400GB SATA
* Optical drive: Sony DVD-RW
* Network: 2x Ethernet (Marvell Yukon)
* Sound: Realtek HD Audio integrated
* Windows XP Pro Media Center 2005

They sell for between 430 and 600 but they have a design fault, which is why they are being off-loaded so cheap. The supplied motherboard does not actually support quad core CPUs. So in my case, I removed the m/b and graphics cards and sold them on eBay and replaced them with a good Asus m/b and a GeForce 7950 graphics card. Final cost around 450 :D Here in the UK, the CPU alone would set you back about 550

mattclary
01-10-2008, 02:00 PM
You need at least XP Pro or Vista Pro to get at the full power of those 8 procs.

I'd prolly set up the system with a dual boot, 32 and 64.

Bump the RAM and graphics card memory. 256 or 512 would be fine. It seems to me that I've seen more problems with 64bit drivers running into problems with smaller memory foot prints.


Did I miss something? He will have one CPU with 4 cores, not 8 cores.

He doesn't plan to use that video card.

RedBull
01-10-2008, 02:17 PM
I ordered a system from Dell last night with some money I got from Christmas. Budget was the key since as much as I want to, I can't spend a few grand or more on a new system, at least not for a while. I just need something to get me by for the next year or two that will serve me better then my current system.

I still have the ability to make changes to my order until early next week so I thought I'd ask for some input on what I've got and what I might need to change. I currently have a P4 2.4GHZ running windows XP with 1.5GB of RAM.

What I ordered:
The Dell XPS 420
What do you think I might need to change?

The fact it's a Dell Desktop? :)
Generally you would be able to build one or have one build it cheaper than Dell and you would usually get a bit better quality parts which are more often upgradeable. But for a integrated system, they usually aren't too bad these days.


They had a duo core processor that was $50 more that was 3.0GHZ with a little fast FSB. Would that be faster then my Q6600?

No! keep the Q6600, for anything rendering wise the Q6600 will be much faster, currently running my Q6600 at 400x7 =2.8Ghz anyway...


I didn't really want Vista Home but I didn't want to spend another $150 on Ultimate. Is there any reason I couldn't install XP Pro onto this system? Will everything run just as well under it?

Yep, if your looking to save money and frustration, go for XP64. :)
It will work no problems and it's a few seconds faster to render per frame for myself too.


Thank you for your input. I should try and make any changes on or before the weekend.

Enjoy the newer faster rendering times.....
And then wait for the realization, that you can never have too many cores.. :)

hrgiger
01-10-2008, 04:24 PM
Thanks for all the replies.

As far as the money for Christmas T-Light. No, I didn't get that much but I got almost half of it and Dell is offering no interest until 2009 which will make it much easier for me to buy it over the next few months.

A couple of you mentioned a 64-bit OS. I didn't realize that the hardware was already 64 bit capable. But then that's why I'm asking you guys this stuff. I'm really not very knowledgeable about the hardware and haven't been keeping up with the new stuff in the last few years. But running the 64 bit OS will just allow me to take advantage of more RAM? In the meantime, I already have XP Pro from my previous system. Any reason I just can't use that? It never asks for any serial number as it came with my Dell so I'm wondering if I just can't install it on the new one too?

Yes, I was wondering too about overclocking. I was going to look into it and get a new cooler for it if I did. I'll have to look into whether or not I can overclock the Dell. I originally intended to build my own system but right now, I'm so busy with work and I'm so tired half the time I"m home that I just don't need the frustration, especially if I fry something since I have yet to build my own. Probably next time though.

hrgiger
01-10-2008, 04:41 PM
Upon further reading, it seems that overclocking a DELL isn't entirely possible because they use a lot of custom made parts and they take a lot of the overclocking options out so you can't. Too bad. Well, I'll certainly consider that in the future.

I see on pricewatch, I can score WinXP PRO 64 bit for around $90. I may do that.

bobakabob
01-10-2008, 05:07 PM
I've always found Dell workstations solid and reliable with good tech support and warranty. Dual boot is definitely the way to go, you won't have any issues with peripherals or legacy software and Lightwave runs like a dream on XP64 taking full advantage of all that extra RAM.

hrgiger
01-10-2008, 05:47 PM
MattClary, I must have missed your post the first time around. I appreciate the offer and I may take you up on some free tech support later on. I've talked on the phone with another LW user a few months back and he offered the same help. The LW community rocks. Right now though, I have to finance half the system so that's part of the reason I couldn't build my own right now, I can't buy all the parts outright. Also the reason I'm going to cannabalize the monitor and speakers from my current system until I can get something better. Maybe in 6 months or so, I might be ready to just swap out the motherboard with all new processor and memory and I may ask for some help then. Thank you!

Yeah bobakabob, I've never had any problems with my current system which is also a Dell so I stuck with them for another purchase.

mattclary
01-13-2008, 08:38 AM
Steve, swapping motherboards in Dell machines may or may not work. Currently most Dells use BTX style boards. You can tell a BTX machine by which side the cover opens. As you face the machine, a BTX will open on your right (the machines left). BTX boards are relatively rare outside of OEMs.

Also, one of the HUGE downsides of a Dell is the you can not reuse the OS on a non-Dell machine. In some cases, it may not even work on another Dell.

With all that said, I understand why you are getting a Dell. Obviously they don't suck TOO bad, as this one has served you well for several years now! ;)

And yeah, if you ever need anything, IM me.

Lito
01-13-2008, 08:59 AM
Well I agree with most of the posts, try for 4GB of RAM and a 64bit OS. Just note that if you buy a MS OS that comes with a dell it will be locked to the Dell motherboard. So if you change it you'll have to buy a new OS also. I always have found it better to build your own, but in many cases it is still cheaper to buy from a company like Dell. I guess it comes down to how long you plan on sticking with the original parts. IMO if you plan on upgrading or changing the parts sooner rather than later it might be more worth it to build it yourself.

hrgiger
01-13-2008, 01:53 PM
Well, as I said, I just need to upgrade mine now and get something a little more modern to get my by until money is a little better.
As far as the video card, will I have any problem putting in a better one in this Dell system? I was looking at a GeForce the other day. I think it was the 8800GT or something like that.

pcphoto
01-13-2008, 02:10 PM
I have read all the messages in the thread. I am at a point to purchase a new system. Some of my associate suggest I should seriously consider switching over to the Apple instead of staying with the PC. (I don't think that SE will work on an Apple). They say that the CPU, etc is considerably faster. I am considering a custome, quad-core, Zenon system. Does anyone have an opinion on this.
Thanks for any suggestions,
Peter

AbnRanger
01-13-2008, 07:32 PM
3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz-4 DIMMS
It may be too late now, but the speed of your RAM is pretty important. That 667mhz is the slowest.

What I would do is ask them what the maximum speed rating that MB allows. It may be 800mhz, but most new MB's allow 1066. If it does have that capability, then have Dell put in the minimum amount of RAM (probably 1GB)...for warranty purposes. Then buy yourself some aftermarket memory (Dell will charge you out the wazoo for additional RAM) at the 1066mhz rating.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148069

If you get a 64bit OS, you can crank that puppy up to 8GB rather inexpensively!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146692
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227195

mattclary
01-14-2008, 09:45 AM
As far as the video card, will I have any problem putting in a better one in this Dell system? I was looking at a GeForce the other day. I think it was the 8800GT or something like that.

I started to say you should be safe, BUT, some video cards need a special power connector. Most modern power supplies have them, but Dells' power supplies are usually designed for the system they are in and often have fewer connectors than normal. I would not count on being able to put in a high end card in a Dell unless it came with a high end card.

See attached pics. 2400Pro and 8800GT...

hrgiger
01-14-2008, 02:33 PM
If I'm not mistaken (and I may very well may be), I thought the Nvidia card I was looking at in the store the other day had the 16 pin PCI like the 2400 in your pic Matt.

Either way, I'll find out tomorrow when its scheduled to be delivered.

AbnRanger
01-14-2008, 08:22 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about the memory speed if your main concern is modeling and rendering. I did several tests on my machine going from 533MHz and upwards. The difference in render speed was miniscule. The Core 2 processors are not very concerned with the memory speed and 667/800 is more than enough.

I picked high speed, high quality memory to have head room for overclocking with guaranteed stability, not because of any performance concerns.

If you want performance gains, you'll probably want to toy with tighter timings instead of looking at the MHz... even then, with these newer generation processors, memory speed isn't the factor it once was.With OGL related tasks and to some degree, renders you're right..that RAM speed isn't as important. But don't forget all the other things he WILL be doing that involves RAM caching. I would think FPrime, and anything that involves Real-time performance would fair better with RAM that's twice as fast as the OEM stuff that Dell throws in. Surely dynamics and HyperVoxels could use it as well.
Combustion and After Effects DEFINITELY could use all the extra RAM speed you can muster.
Plus, HR, if you got a 64bit OS, you can put in 4 modules of 2GB each, for a total of 8GB...there will be times you're glad you had it

hrgiger
01-15-2008, 05:41 PM
Well I was expecting my new computer today but FedEX screwed up. They attempted delivery even though I told them specifically I'd be there to pick it up. Of course nobody was here to take delivery. Now the manager says he'll make sure it will be there tomorrow when I come back. So for tonight its sitting in some FedEx drivers driveway (since I was told they take their trucks home after I asked to wait for the truck to come back in). So I'm not too happy with them right now.
Before I went to FedEx to be disappointed, I stopped and bought the video card I wanted. It's the e-GeForce 8800GT. It was on sale for $260. It looks like it should work in the system. The only concern I have might be the power supply. The card wants a minimum of 400W power. If it doesn't work, the store I got the card from sells 400W Dell power supplies. Or, I've also seen I might be able to buy any ATX power supply and buy a $15 converter that converts from the ATX supply to the proprietary Dell motherboard.

bloontz
01-15-2008, 06:22 PM
You should try to get a bigger supply than 400 if at all possible. The bigger the better. I tried upgrading the graphics card in a HP machine with a 400 watt supply. The card wanted 400 minimum and the machine randomly rebooted after the upgrade. I stuck an 800 watt psu in it and it's been fine.

mattclary
01-16-2008, 10:03 AM
You should try to get a bigger supply than 400 if at all possible. The bigger the better. I tried upgrading the graphics card in a HP machine with a 400 watt supply. The card wanted 400 minimum and the machine randomly rebooted after the upgrade. I stuck an 800 watt psu in it and it's been fine.

Or just get a 400w power supply that is actually worth a cr*p.

bloontz
01-16-2008, 01:11 PM
Or just get a 400w power supply that is actually worth a cr*p.

The 400 watt supply was actually an Antec replacement for the original 275 watt supply. Perhaps Antec makes crap, I'm not a hardware fanatic. I would still try to get a bigger supply, you may need it in the future. I have a Dell Precision that had the same problem when trying to upgrade the graphics card. The Dell also had a video capture card and that may have been drawing enough power to push the system over the edge.

hrgiger
01-16-2008, 03:35 PM
I got my system today but its still in the box. I have to transfer a bunch of stuff from my current HD onto my external HD before I can crack it open and see. I'll see if I can see on the PSU what the wattage may be. From what I understand, the XPS 420 I got should come with either a 400 or 425 watt PSU. But then again, they may have just given me what I needed to run the crappy video card I had them put in it. If it doesn't work, I'll definately be trying to get Dell to give me a better power supply.

creativecontrol
01-16-2008, 05:17 PM
I'd also get either Vista or XP 64-bit for a new machine. Installing XP shouldn't be a problem if you want to stick with that... I still recommend 64-bit though.

Hi Neverko (or anyone with Vista),

I also need some counseling. I'm putting together a new box and I'm wondering how your experience has been with Vista 64. I need 64 bit and I'm not sure if I should go with Vista or XP. At one point there were some major bugs with it shutting down renders and the like. Is it pretty stable now?

Lightwolf
01-16-2008, 05:53 PM
I've had it for 6 weeks now on a new machine. Stable, nice to work with (I love the revamped explorer).
Disk and network i/o is slower though, but SP1 (coming soon) is supposed to fix that.

Cheers
Mike

creativecontrol
01-17-2008, 07:55 AM
Thanks! I'm going to give it a try next month.