Thinking About Buying a Dell

Historically I’ve always built my own systems, but I’m pretty out of the DIY loop these days, and I’ve had enough problems with individual pieces of hardware over the years that having a warranty on the whole thing has some appeal. At any rate, Dell has the following Studio XPS system for $899, and I was thinking of picking it up to replace my existing computer, which has almost completely outlived its usefulness:

Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 64-Bit
Intel® Core™ i7-920 Processor(8MB L3 Cache, 2.66GHz)
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs
640GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
ATI Radeon HD 3450 256MB
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio

They’ve also got the S2409W (24" widescreen LCD) for $209 right now, which I’m considering getting along with the desktop machine.

A few questions:

  1. Is the price for the computer ($899) pretty good? The same CPU with a comparable motherboard came out to like $600 individually, so adding everything else on seems like it would get me to $900 pretty easily. I don’t mind paying a little bit of Dell tax, as long as it’s not $300 worth or something (which seems unlikely in this case).

  2. I don’t intend to use the included graphics card, but the only upgrade available from Dell was a 4850 for $200 more, which is a a complete ripoff as far as I can tell. I was thinking about getting a 4890 to throw in it, but the computer only comes with a 360 Watt power supply. In theory this should be sufficient, as the reviews of the 4890 show whole systems drawing around 310 watts with a more powerful, overclocked CPU, but I realize raw wattage isn’t the only issue at play. Is this a concern?

  3. Likewise, is airflow a concern if I put a 4890 in it? I have little idea how well ventilated the case is.

  4. The monitor’s native resolution is 1920x1080 (16:9) as opposed to the seemingly more standard 1920x1200 (16:10). Is that going to cause me any annoyances, or will I never know the difference? Is it otherwise good? I like Dell’s LCDs, but have never used one for gaming.

  5. Are we on the cusp of a big price shakeup, or a big sale from Dell or anything? If I wait a week will I be able to get the same system for half the price or something ridiculous?

Please feel free to respond with other advice, or even just random insults, as you see fit.

Lynnfield is due in Q3, and it should be much cheaper than nehalem. Also, if you buy vista after 6/26 you get a free upgrade to windows 7. So I would at least wait another 3 weeks.

Your config is pricy, but it’s not low-end either. Follow the standard dead sites (slickdeals, etc) for dell deals.

That PSU will probably be an issue with a 4890. Airflow, monitor, etc, all are fine.

I’m also going to buy a Dell instead of building for a number of reasons. I will probably also buy a similar i7 config that you listed here.

The only thing I’m holding out for is Win7. Stusser is that 6/26 date confirmed?

I also agree that you should wait for some of the solid Dell deals that occur regularly.

I’m no tech, but I’ve read that the Dell PS can typically handle a higher rated card.

That is a good deal price for that system. The only better I’ve seen it was $949 with a 4850 instead of the 3450, but I think that was in-store at Microcenter only.

You can probably get a decent (650W or so) power supply and Radeon HD 48xx card for < $200 if you shop around. My current computer is a Dell XPS system I used a bunch of coupons on to get to ~$500 (Intel Quad Core, 8GB RAM, 650GB HDD), then just swapped out the video card with a Radeon HD 4850 and replaced the 370W power supply with a 650W power supply.

The XPS systems do a good job with bundled and routed cabling (a lot of cabling run behind slots in the case), so it took a bit of extra effort to remove all the original cabling during the PSU swap.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. According to Dell this is ~$250 off the normal price, and it will stay at that price until the 25th, so I’m not furiously chomping at the bit to press the buy button. I’m never sure how reliable their “sale” prices are, though – it seems entirely possible that this will become the standard price for this configuration after that date, but it seems reasonable in any event.

If it wasn’t for the PSU I’d probably bite the bullet right now, but throwing another ~$70 cost on top of everything tends to push it out of an attractive price range, so I’ll probably at least sit on it for a week or two and see if some better deals materialize. The Windows 7 upgrade would be nice, but I should be able to get an inexpensive copy through work, so it’s not a huge concern. The monitor seems like a good deal in any event, so I may go ahead and buy it, since it goes off sale tomorrow. My poor old system won’t be able to do it justice, but oh well.

I don’t know if you frequent any of these sites, but they’re pretty good at posting the latest Dell coupon codes:

http://www.4computercoupons.com/dell-coupons.html

http://www.techbargains.com/dellcoupons.cfm
http://www.cheapstingybargains.com/cheapster/dell/

Unless they’ve changed their machine design since I bought one, the included power supply will require some type of splitter, as it only comes with a 6 pin PCI-E power connection. I haven’t kept up and don’t know what the power draw of a 4890 is, but I’d be a bit leary of using it with the included power supply. You could swap the PS, but the case is tiny and I found it to be a royal pain.

  1. Likewise, is airflow a concern if I put a 4890 in it? I have little idea how well ventilated the case is.

Assuming the 4890 is a standard double slot cooler you should have room for it with about 2" to spare from teh bottom of the case given where the PCI-E slot is located. You will probably have to move the included hard drive, however, since the hard drive comes mounted to the side of the case and, IIRC, it would be in the way of the video card given the length of the ATI cards. (Well, any modern high performance card, really.)

Also the method of hard drive mounting is such that a full length video card plus an additional hard drive is probably out without some fancy aftermarket mounting hardware.

  1. The monitor’s native resolution is 1920x1080 (16:9) as opposed to the seemingly more standard 1920x1200 (16:10). Is that going to cause me any annoyances, or will I never know the difference? Is it otherwise good? I like Dell’s LCDs, but have never used one for gaming.

I have their 24" with the same resolution, and have been quite happy with it. Got it along with the computer on a similar deal setup I believe.

Might I suggest that you check out the offerings at:

I believe I’ll probably go with some place like this when I finally get around to upgrading my system. (The i7 was for my wife, with the thought that I’d get a new system in reasonably short order, then we decided to start looking into buying a home so that got delayed indefinitely. Meanwhile she puts the 920 through its paces with Plants vs. Zombies and web surfing. :) )

I have their 24" with the same resolution, and have been quite happy with it. Got it along with the computer on a similar deal setup I believe.

I went ahead and ordered it. The price ($210) seemed good enough that I didn’t want to pass it up. It’s certainly going to be better than my ancient PF790.

After reading this and thinking about it more, I’ve decided that going the Dell route, at least with that model, is a bad idea. The need to upgrade the power supply keeps it from being competitive cost-wise. Which brings me to:

Might I suggest that you check out the offerings at:

www.cyberpowerpc.com

These guys actually look pretty good in terms of pricing. Are they generally considered reputable? The BBB gives them a B-, but that’s not necessarily the end of the world. Have you (or anyone else) purchased from them before?

This thread reminds of something I’ve always wanted to ask. A bunch of folks here bought the so-called Stusserbeast. What upgrade path did you all take?

I run my 4850 on a 375W dell PSU, they rate their PSUs rather low.
I have a Dell 420 XPS that I got with that 24 inch monitor for 1k back in december (EPP + Dell deal)

The 1080 monitor runs games just fine. I have yet to play a PC game that doesn’t offer that resolution setting. Hell Freedom Force has that setting available.

I love my computer to death.
I had my first BSOD last night, but it was due to my video drivers messing up, a quick reinstall did the trick.

People complain left and right about dell, but if you buy one of their nice XPS computers you really get a good deal. They do a top notch job building the XPS machines. They tend to have great customer support for the XPS owners as well.

I purchased my last PC from cyberpower. They were absolutely bottom dollar for the high end system I specced out a couple years ago. Cyberpower reviews are mixed. It seems that if you have no problems then you received a great deal on a cranking system. From what I read online;If you have problems, you are probably fooked, and my impression is that you have more chance of problems with a cyberpower PC. My system has been a bit glitchy, the system is really loud, my video card died, my cooling system had a couple issues, and I have had a couple other random problems. I purchased Dell for all my pc’s in the last decade before this and I have had zero issues with any of my Dells, so I have been a bit spoiled.

I have an Inspiron 530 (Dell budget system) that I added a better video card to that has been perfect for over a year now. Other then a video card upgrade, this system should be good for another couple of years at least. Considering my upfront cost for the system (including video card) was $650, I can’t complain. I certainly couldn’t have built something comparable for any less money.

As long as Dell keeps offering the regular deals, they’ll be hard to beat for value IMHO.

Someone please explain this to me.

Alienware M17 laptop in the US - $1800us
http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-alienware-m17x?c=us&l=en&s=dhs

Alienware M17 laptop in NZ- $4470nz ($2812us)
http://www.alienware.co.nz/dnn2/default.aspx?tabid=104&ConfigurationID=75

:(

Before the 8800gt in my StusserBeast took a shit two weeks ago (after 15 months, not bad!), I was playing Assassin’s Creed at 1440x900 cranked the fuck up, Crysis at 1440x900 all on High (but shadows on med), and Fallout 3 all the way up.

I haven’t felt the need to upgrade. At all!

I upgraded the 8800GT to a 4870 and then to a GTX260 (I’m never satisfied). This change necessitated a new PSU. You can’t put more than a Q9550 on the mobo, according to the support forums, so I’m waiting for that to go down in price.

I’ve actually still using my un-upgraded StusserBeast and I’m mostly still happy with it, but then I play a mix of both new and old games. Right now, GTA IV is giving it a hard time but it’s still borderline acceptable to me.

I’m not particularly anxious to upgrade or anything. Just wondering what my upgrade options are or if I should just wait until next year and get an entirely brand new machine, by which time my current PC would be around 2 years old.

PC gaming is d0med. Don’t you have an Xbox dude?

My Jr. Beast hasn’t required an upgrade yet either. Having a 1280 resolution monitor probably helps. :-)

My story exactly. Same system, same price, same upgrade. Only thing I regret is the weak PS (350w), that really limited the card choices. I went for a 512mb 8500, which is fine for now, but I sense another $600-700 purchase from Dell in a year or so.