Please help long time Qt3er select computer model

50%? Well, that changes everything. Can you toss a laptop onto your order too if I wire you some $$$? :-)

As for “paying $115 for technical support and assembly,” he’s also getting a warranty. That counts for something. I mean, sure, the individual parts in my FrankenPC are warranteed, but if the whole thing goes kaput, I have to diagnose the problem myself, figure out which parts died, deal with individual manufacturers, etc. There’s something to be said for just calling Dell and saying “my PC don’t work no more.”

On the subject of Dells, I have mixed feelings. I’ve ownded several; they’ve all done yeoman service. OTOH, the proprietary motherboards and power supplies make upgrading virtually impossible. My current 1 GHz PIII is a dead end–you can’t upgrade the processor even with one of those adapters (I’ve tried) and you can’t upgrade the powersupply because the connectors are proprietary (one of them at least is, and that’s all it takes).

Dell’s mobos are Intel, but not off the shelf Intel–they’re custom jobs that I’m sure cost them less, and offer essentially the same functionality as store bought boards, but are not truly “standard” it seems. If you are not going to do much home brew work, it’s not a bad deal if the price is right, because the machines have been in my experience reliable and solid performers. But…

Now we need to upgrade our two identical Dell PIIIs, and I don’t think we’ll be going back to PCs Limited this time around. They’re too pricey for what you get at my current budget level and I’m tired of the custom parts. Unfortunately, everything I look at is expensive, and we need full machines (the aforementioned inability to upgrade is biting us in our collective asses).

As far as I can tell, the CPU is a minor part of the cost for what I want (which includes a minimum 80GB drive, DVD, CDRW, 512MB RAM, Audigy 2, GeForce 4 4600 Ti or equivalent, USB 2.0, and a nice case with front mounted USB!). Going RDRAM vs DDR is a price thing; I’ve been happy with my PC800 RDRAM but I’m not sure it’s worth it at the sort of machine I’d be getting this time (i.e., not cutting edge 3.06 GHz mojo).

I’m thinking either P4 2.53/2.66 GHz DDR, or Athlon 2600+/NForce2 mobo/DDR; the price differential varies but isn’t that great. Opinions on RDRAM vs. DDR, P4 vs. Athlon, etc.? It’s all probably moot for now though as I still can’t seem to find this sort of setup for less than $1500 x 2.

Buy me.

I would say skip the RDRAM, DDR 400 is nearly as fast and cheaper. Also RDRAM is a deadend dying solution if there ever was one. I love my P4 it is fast and stable and was the easiest build I have had yet (the heatsink installation was a breeze among other things). At this point though I don’t know that you can go wrong with either. The costs and performance are relatively similar now and they both have good motherboard choices. I would still lean towards a P4 because of the easy setup and great retail heatsink/fan and due to the fact I have one and it is fast and very stable.

– Xaroc

I’ll second that offer to wire you money if you’ll toss in another laptop! And, if possible, can you have it delivered to my wife before Christmas? ;)

Death Wombat,

Skip RDRAM. I did a lot of research before my last upgrade, and the new 845PE chipset boards that support DDR333 RAM are neck-and-neck with PC1066 RDRAM in the benchmarks. Each RAM type wins about half the benchmarks, but in almost all cases the numbers are within a couple of percent of each other.

I went for the Asus P4PE board, which has built-in sound (although I don’t use that), network, firewire, 6 USB 2.0 connectors, etc. Nice, stable board.

As for P4 vs. Athlon, that one’s tough. I ended up going for P4 due its edge in video editing. Game-wise, the similar speed ratings are pretty much neck-and-neck.

If you go Athlon with an Nforce2 motherboard and DDR400 memory, you’ll be all set for an easy upgrade to a Barton Athlon on your next update.

If you got P4 with and 845PE motherboard, you’ll be all set for an upgrade to a Hyperthreading CPU when the prices fall. (Not a big deal for gaming, though.)

So each one offers interesting possibilities going forward. Personally, I think Barton may offer the bigger performance boost, but I couldn’t wait until next year to do my upgrade.

I’ve been looking at P4 options, too, and I agree with Denny’s conclusions. The other thing is everyone talks about how DDR is cheaper. That’s maybe true on the cheap end, but on the super-duper end, it isn’t. Here are some memory prices for 512MB from Newegg:

RDRAM: Samsung Original RIMM 4200 32-Bit 256MB RAMBUS RAM
$121@, so $242

DDR: Corsair CMX256-3500C2 - 2@$119, so $238.

Wow, four dollars. Take your pick. Where you will save money is the motherboard, as the RDRAM boards run higher.

Just curious Denny, but what did you upgrade from? It’s hell keeping up with the Atkin’s, but someone has to do it. ;)

But seriously, I am just curious how long most people wait for an upgrade, assuming you upgrade regularly? Not to hijack the thread, but it’s sorta on topic.

Feel free to hijack away. I still haven’t bought the system yet. I’m driving myself fricking crazy trying to get everything I want for the exact price I want. The new systems don’t come with the ti4200 cards, the Radeon 9700 TI is 100 bucks too much, the Radeon 9700 Pro is 300 bucks too much, and when I go back to the refurbish models there never seems to be anything quite as good as the very first system I posted the specs on. On the one hand I want to beat my head against the wall, and on the other hand I remind myself that I just started looking 2 days ago.

Anyone know what the difference between the 9700 TI and the 9700 PRO is?

Well, it won’t look so bad if I say I upgraded from a 1GHz Pentium III, instead of an Athlon 1800+. :-) I have two rigs here, and needed to upgrade the 1GHz system. (Which is used as a second rig to test games on so I can try them on ATI and Nvidia both, a PVR, a network gaming rig, etc.) So the Athlon went into the 1GHz system and I put the P4 in my own rig.

Definitely a good idea to give them a call… Of course, that means interacting with other human beings while shopping… :shock:

In the last two years, I purchased a car, condo, and engagement ring, plus got laid off. I feel your pain. All that said, I’m just dying to get my hands on one of the new Nforce2 based Shuttle systems when they come out… sigh Poverty beckons… Where’s that thread about credit card debt go??? :P

Calling was an exercise in frustration.

This is homebuilt? I would like to build one of these myself one day. I only want to record a few shows, so I am not sure if want to plunk down for a TiVo just yet. I suppose I could build one with a decent capture card and TV Tuner card but haven’t really done much looking into it yet.

My last (still ongoing) upgrade was a reminder as to why I don’t do this more often.

First, I got bad RAM, then a bad motherboard (which was under warranty, but took quite awhile to get back), and then it turned out that my process flaked out sometime between when I shipped the motherboard off and when I got it back – it wasn’t under warranty, and I don’t really have the cash right now – between Christmas and getting laid off – to get a new one, yet. sigh

If anyone’s got a spare Athlon XP they can loan me for a couple of months, I’d appreciate it. :-)

I’ll give it back, honest!

(Of course, I’m joking – I would never seriously ask to borrow a CPU from one of you guys. Of course, if any of you do have a spare, and wouldn’t mind, I wouldn’t tell ya no, either! :))

Yep, it’s a great use for an old computer. BUT – the computer PVR experience is more like a very flexible VCR and nowhere near as good as a real TIVO. By the time you invest in an All-in-Wonder 9500 card, you could have bought a Tivo. (You can get the much cheaper 7500 if the rig’s not going to be used for gaming…)

Trust me. You want a Tivo. Tivo rocks.


Next time, get a processor/motherboard/RAM combo from They’ll test everything before they send it for under $10. Saves those kinds of headaches. I didn’t do it on this last rig because they didn’t have the P4 chip I wanted, and I was sweating bullets till I found out everything actually did work.

I wish Googlegear offered a similar service.

Heh heh, very few people who own a TiVO argue against owning one :) It does one thing and it does it extremely well.

So while on the one hand, I understand the PC guy thinking of “it’s basically a Linux system with a mpeg decoder card” - it is - but like DennyA says, you want a TiVO.

Holy crap. That was my 500th post. I really need to get a life.

(Notices TyJenks’ total. Phew.)

That poor bastard must be a complete and utter loser or have a job that bores him to tears. Probably both.

Shut up, both of you.

Wow, nightmare. This is my reason for wanting to just go with a pre-built, too. It’s aggravating to have to troubleshoot these things when stuff goes wrong. I suppose Denny’s suggestion to buy a pre-tested system from Mwave goes a long way toward negating the downside, and it is nice to get the parts you want and know your machine inside and out… I guess I would be more willing if there was a bigger cost savings for my effort. I’m always willing to save a buck. ;)

BTW, would a 1.2 Anthlon w/ 100Mhz FSB be helpful? I may know someone who may not need theirs in a few weeks. It has sucessfully been “o/c” to use 9*133, if that’s any help.