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Subject: Need help building a PC rss

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jeff
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My PC is on the way out. It's so on the way out the door it is in the repair shop. I'm looking at a couple of Dell desktops. Why Dell? cause they have an easy to handle finance program.

It's between the XPS 8300 & XPS 7100

The big factors that are affecting my decision would cause a difference between prices of $270.00

so which way should I go?

8300
Intel i7-2600 8MB 3.4Ghz
AMD Radeon HD 6770 (video card)

or

7100 and save $270.00
AMD Phenom ii x4 945
AMD Radeon HD 6670 (video card)



Otherwise everything else I put together is the same.

I would like it to be a higher middle of the road PC that will last me a good bunch of years. I do not do high end gaming but I do not want to be limited to the possibility of it. I mostly use it for business, school, internet, and online gamming (World of Tanks and Minecraft)

Any opinions will be appreciated. Sorry if I do not reply for a while I'm writing this before leaving work and will not see any responses till tommorrow.

Basically what I'm asking is... is the $270 worth saving for the 7100?


Thanks
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Josh Jennings
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I haven't kept up with PC parts since I built mine last October, but at first glance I'd say save the $270 and go with the 7100. A 3Ghz quad core processor should be fine to run anything out there today (I have a quad core 3Ghz intel processor in the aforementioned PC with no problems running anything). When I bought my processor a year ago it was basically the fastest thing out there without spending $1000 on a CPU, so I would hope that it lasts another few years at least. Hope that helps.
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Xander Fulton
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First off, I would extremely strong recommend against the Radeon 6770 or 6670 - they are, in fact, not new/modern cards, but rebrands of the years-older Radeon 5770 and 5670. Basically, Dell ripping off buyers by sticking a new label on the cards (2 years old for the Radeon 5770/6770! The 5670 is a few months newer, but you could buy one new for only $99 MSRP almost two years ago, now.) Given how easy putting a video card in a system is - it really is pretty much the simplest of the possible system upgrades - might make the most sense to buy a system without a GPU, and buy an external one separately.

As to the CPUs - I'd go Intel this round, but I've built a lot of AMD systems in the past. Either CPU is fine, but the Intel is considerably more powerful.
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Chuck Meeks
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I would agree with buying a seperate graphics card. Those cards are beggining to get a little long in the tooth although either would work for you. You can usually find some really good deals on newer cards anyway. On the CPU side of things, I would go with the Intel processor. I have built both AMD and Intel systems and they are fairly comparable, but my personal rule is to buy the best CPU that I can afford when upgrading.
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Xander Fulton
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To kind of build on my above point - the CPUs are both solid. I see that Dell's site offers a Radeon 6870 video card, which is a VERY big step up on the two cards you are considering.

For what you describe as your computing needs - honestly - both CPUs are pretty much overkill. Indeed, I'm only using a Core i5-2400, myself, and I actually do *serious* CPU work on my system (massive, massive image rendering, lotsa super-high-end gaming, etc) and it's been easily more than sufficient for my needs.

What I'd actually suggesting doing - if the goal is to get *everything* through Dell for financing reasons - is to drop that XPS 8300 down to a Core i5 chip instead of the i7, and splurge on the Radeon 6870 with the money saved. If I'm guessing your config right, that'd make it roughly a wash in price when paired with a Core i5-2400 chip.

And when it comes to any kind of gaming, it's definitely the video card that becomes the limiting factor LONG before the CPU does. Intel's Core i5 and i7 lines are such serious killer-performance-kings that I really don't see that changing any time soon. In buying a system intended to allow at least midrange gaming for 'a number of years', you definitely want to balance on the side of the video card.*

* Unless, of course, you mean a GREAT number of years. If talking about 4-5 years, then it's a safe bet that you cannot build a system today to handle the AAA-titles that many years down the road, so might as well spend the money on the CPU under the assumption you'll definitely need to at least upgrade the video card once in the system's lifetime. (Upgrading a CPU is...possible, but upgrading a video card is 'trivial')
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jeff
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XanderF wrote:
if the goal is to get *everything* through Dell for financing reasons


It is. Which is why I will probably get the video card through them installed. I had a lot of suprise expenses come up in the last couple of months and my money is flowing to quickly out of the house. My cash right now in the budget is low. I don't want to go on the cheap side on this purchase though and need upgrades in a couple of years. Which is why I will spend big and finance it.

XanderF wrote:
Unless, of course, you mean a GREAT number of years. If talking about 4-5 years, then it's a safe bet that you cannot build a system today to handle the AAA-titles that many years down the road, so might as well spend the money on the CPU under the assumption you'll definitely need to at least upgrade the video card once in the system's lifetime. (Upgrading a CPU is...possible, but upgrading a video card is 'trivial')


I do... and based on your opinion here I will go with the i7 and the 6770. The 6870 is sexy but a big step up in price. I think the 6770 will more than cover my needs, and as you said "upgrading a video card is trivial" in a few years if my needs out weigh the card I will change it then.

Thanks for the imput and the help deciding. Sometimes it helps just to have people to bounce thoughts off of.
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Kunnagh Scott
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If I could do a very slight hijack job on this thread... more of a generalisation, really...

Is there a good online resource (other than the fine folk here in chit-chat!) of what is a reasonable graphics card (or other bit of PC hardware, for that matter) at any given point? I'm looking to upgrade my PC, or possibly go for a new one, and the list of stuff is bewildering. (And I work in IT...)

For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?

Cheers
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jeff
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kunnagh wrote:

If I could do a very slight hijack job on this thread... more of a generalisation, really...

Is there a good online resource (other than the fine folk here in chit-chat!) of what is a reasonable graphics card (or other bit of PC hardware, for that matter) at any given point? I'm looking to upgrade my PC, or possibly go for a new one, and the list of stuff is bewildering. (And I work in IT...)

For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?

Cheers


Awsome question...
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Kunnagh Scott
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AvidHunter wrote:
kunnagh wrote:

If I could do a very slight hijack job on this thread... more of a generalisation, really...

Is there a good online resource (other than the fine folk here in chit-chat!) of what is a reasonable graphics card (or other bit of PC hardware, for that matter) at any given point? I'm looking to upgrade my PC, or possibly go for a new one, and the list of stuff is bewildering. (And I work in IT...)

For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?

Cheers


Awsome question...


modest
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Chad
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kunnagh wrote:

If I could do a very slight hijack job on this thread... more of a generalisation, really...

Is there a good online resource (other than the fine folk here in chit-chat!) of what is a reasonable graphics card (or other bit of PC hardware, for that matter) at any given point? I'm looking to upgrade my PC, or possibly go for a new one, and the list of stuff is bewildering. (And I work in IT...)

For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?

Cheers


I usually look at this graphics card hierarchy at Tom's Hardware. It doesn't really get into any detail but it's nice to know "what level" each card is on in comparison to each other.

They also have lists of the "Best Cards for the Money" at different price ranges that does go into detail. Should be some performance charts on there too if you are interested.
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Josh Jennings
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AvidHunter wrote:

I do... and based on your opinion here I will go with the i7 and the 6770. The 6870 is sexy but a big step up in price. I think the 6770 will more than cover my needs, and as you said "upgrading a video card is trivial" in a few years if my needs out weigh the card I will change it then.


One thing to think about is that although upgrading a graphics card is usually trivial, it can depend a bit on other components such as the motherboard, power supply, and even the case that you are getting with the computer. Some of the newer video cards are very large (My Radeon HD 5850 is nearly a foot long). From what I read of the XPS 8300, the case should be large enough to hold even the larger cards, but I don't know about the layout inside. Also, the power supply unit for the XPS 8300 is 460W which should be good enough for the 6770 card, but if you're looking to upgrade in the future you might need a little more juice. Just some food for thought.
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jeff
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thermogimp wrote:
AvidHunter wrote:

I do... and based on your opinion here I will go with the i7 and the 6770. The 6870 is sexy but a big step up in price. I think the 6770 will more than cover my needs, and as you said "upgrading a video card is trivial" in a few years if my needs out weigh the card I will change it then.


One thing to think about is that although upgrading a graphics card is usually trivial, it can depend a bit on other components such as the motherboard, power supply, and even the case that you are getting with the computer. Some of the newer video cards are very large (My Radeon HD 5850 is nearly a foot long). From what I read of the XPS 8300, the case should be large enough to hold even the larger cards, but I don't know about the layout inside. Also, the power supply unit for the XPS 8300 is 460W which should be good enough for the 6770 card, but if you're looking to upgrade in the future you might need a little more juice. Just some food for thought.


Thanks ...and that is a great point. One that I am fairly carful of now. My first PC ever was a deal through a company I used to work for. It was a low profile desktop. I knew nothing about computers. I found out how it was next to impossible it was to find a good video card for a low profile case.

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jeff
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I case anyone is interested here is the final decision.

I'm preatty good with making deals and communicating with companies (remember they want your money you can usually get them to discount you some how) so I managed to get it with a discount of 548 and the wireless card for free and no shipping. The total damage was just over 1,500 with tax. Kinda high but doing it this way saves me a crap load of time and energy. My free time and energy is worth a lot of money to me.

External System Details:
System Name and Type: Desktop - XPS 8300
Monitor: ST2220L 21.5-inch Full HD Widescreen Monitor
KeyBoard/Mouse: MK710 Wireless Desktop/ Mouse included with Keyboard purchase
Speaker: AY410 2.1 Stereo Speakers with Subwoofer

Internal Performance Components:
Processor: Intel® Core i7-2600 processor(8MB Cache, 3.4GHz)
Memory: 8GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 4 DIMMs
Hard Drive: 1TB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
Video Card: AMD Radeon HD 6770
Optical Drive: Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability

Internet & Communication Features:
Modem: No Dial Up Modem Option
Wireless: Dell 1501 Wireless-N PCIe Card

Software Included:
Operating System: Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64Bit, English

Office Software: Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2010
QuickBooks Pro 2011


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Xander Fulton
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AvidHunter wrote:
kunnagh wrote:

If I could do a very slight hijack job on this thread... more of a generalisation, really...

Is there a good online resource (other than the fine folk here in chit-chat!) of what is a reasonable graphics card (or other bit of PC hardware, for that matter) at any given point? I'm looking to upgrade my PC, or possibly go for a new one, and the list of stuff is bewildering. (And I work in IT...)

For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?

Cheers


Awsome question...

It's not as straightforward as you'd think. While it isn't as complicated as asking "What is the best car?" (to which the reply is "Well, what do you want to do with it?"), there are a number of factors to consider.

For example - video ram can play a factor, depending on your task. Some 3d modelling programs, imagine editing programs, etc, can take advantage of the video card processor's mathematics capabilities to accelerate their functionality, and they like having lotsa ram on the video card. (Ditto, possibly, various general purpose GPU usage)

Some games, even older ones, have user-community efforts to mod them with massively high resolution textures. That ALSO requires a lot of video ram (most mainstream games do not require much more than 512mb of video ram, and pretty much any title will have a texture option that fits in that little amount of ram).

The amount of video ram really doesn't play any kind of impact on performance at all, otherwise. If all the game textures and video storage needed fits into video ram...performance is whatever the video processor can handle. Lots of ram does nothing to improve it. On the other hand, if you CANNOT fit all the game textures into video ram, then it has to swap out to system ram (or, worse, the hard disk), and that results in a MASSIVE performance hit. So video ram is one of those things - find out how much the games you play needs. If you have that much, no point getting more, you are set. If you don't...big trouble.

The video card processor, itself, also differs a bit in performance ranges. Ostensibly, the number of cores on the chip determines performance...BUT...as time has gone by, new performance-enhancing features have been introduced that significantly improve the capability of the chip cores, as well as adding new features (such as a big one in DirectX 11 games - tesselation, which makes the in-game 3d models less 'polygony' and more 'smoothly rounded')

And, of course, depending on how the game is coded, it can take advantage of those features differently and result in different performance ranges. Best bet when making a decision is to find a site that benchmarks the games you play - or games LIKE the ones you play - and search their reviews for the cards you are looking at.

Tom's Hardware has a LOT of cards tested, for example, but in a relatively small set of titles. (Remember, when looking at that chart, Radeon 5770 = 6770. They are identical in every way.)

Xbit Labs, in comparison, includes much fewer cards in any of their single reviews...but cover performance in a MUCH wider range of games.

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Xander Fulton
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thermogimp wrote:
One thing to think about is that although upgrading a graphics card is usually trivial, it can depend a bit on other components such as the motherboard, power supply, and even the case that you are getting with the computer. Some of the newer video cards are very large (My Radeon HD 5850 is nearly a foot long). From what I read of the XPS 8300, the case should be large enough to hold even the larger cards, but I don't know about the layout inside. Also, the power supply unit for the XPS 8300 is 460W which should be good enough for the 6770 card, but if you're looking to upgrade in the future you might need a little more juice. Just some food for thought.


True, but keep in mind we are talking about performance years down the road.

While the high-end cards today do require external power connections and a hefty PSU...most midrange and all budget cards do not. In 5 years, the budget cards of that period will be performing just as well as today's high-end cards, but like all budget cards, will not need external power connections or hefty PSUs. So...it's not usually that big a deal, unless you are upgrading to the high-end at a pretty regular rate.
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George Kinney
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kunnagh wrote:
For instance, how could one tell the relative merits of the three cards being discussed here?


GPUReview, they have a side-by-side comparison page where you can select cards, tweak the clock rates, installed RAM, etc, and see their specs.
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Matt Riddle
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charts, charts and more charts. toms hardware and the like make comparative analysis really easy
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