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How does this Dell stack-up against an entry-mid level HTPC?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 Michael D. Bunting

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Posted November 12 2004 - 02:47 PM

DELL DIMENSION 8400

The high end Dimension 8400 is very expandable, with Intel 925x chipset, PCIe x16 (the replacement for AGP), PXI x1, 3 PCI, 4 S-ATA, 1 IDE port, and bigger, tool-less clamshell case

CPU: Pentium® 4 Processor 540 with HT Technology (3.20GHz, 800 FSB)

OS: Windows XP PRO

RAM: 512MB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 400MHz (2x256M)

HD: 80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)

Single Drive: 48X CD-ROM Drive

Video Card: 128MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon™ X300 SE

Sound Card: Integrated 5.1 Channel Audio

Dell Media Experience™ Deluxe with Remote Control

IEEE 1394 Adapter

Integrated Gigabit Ethernet

Promos:

- 2 Year Limited Warranty plus 2 Year On-site Service ($156 Value)

- FREE 19" Flat Panel Display ($519 Value -- Selling on ebay for $350+ currently)

- FREE Dell Printer (720) w/ 1 Year Service ($79 Value)

- $100 Mail-In Rebate

My Final Cost (After Rebate!) would be: $1018.48

However, after selling the 19" Monitor on ebay for $350 (+ shipping) (which I plan to do because I don't need it)...I would only be paying $668.48 for this computer.

So...how does this Dell stack up against a entry-mid level HTPC?

Any components above that absolutely won't do the job needed from a HTPC machine?

Things that I will probably add to the computer (NOT purchasing from Dell) once I get it :

512 MB more of RAM
Dual Layer DVD Burner
300GB SATA Hard Drive
Perhaps? a better Video Card (I need your thoughts on this please!)

Thanks for any and all comments that you might have for me. This doesn't seem to be too bad of a deal for what I would be getting (at least in my mind).

Thanks!

Mike

#2 of 15 Joey_R

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Posted November 12 2004 - 04:07 PM

I'm an XP Pro man myself, but... based on the current generation of posts/comments I've read, Windows MCE seems to be a legitimate player with real(ized) benefits for the HTPC user. A comparison of the two OS's (if you can really call it that) might be in order. MCE appears to be mentioned more frequently with positive connotations. Members far more knowledgeable than me can speak to this topic.

It just seems to me, that if you are buying the OEM version of an OS now, why NOT make it Windows MCE? Of course, my obervation may be moot; Dell may quash this idea with an exhorbitant price for the MCE edition of Windows.

Two cents done! Good luck!

#3 of 15 Michael D. Bunting

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Posted November 12 2004 - 04:48 PM

Thanks Joey...

and yes, I agree....even before I read your reply I had already decided to go the route of MCE 2005 with this. I'll just order it with XP Home ($40 cheaper than PRO) and then order MCE 2005 from Newegg for $139 or so......

#4 of 15 SethH

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Posted November 12 2004 - 04:52 PM

That's a very good deal. I built myself a computer 3 months back with very similar components (925x chipset, PCIe card, Intel Pentium 530 P4, SATA HD's etc) and it cost me about $1000. I did get 2 80gb drives instead of one and a dual-layer dvd burner, but other than that it's almost identical in specs to that computer. I think you'd be getting a heck of a deal there.

You might consider an upgrade to the video card, but there really aren't too many options out there right now for PCIe. You might also consider a separate audio device. The Intel HDAudio is pretty cool, but I haven't really tested it out. I would think a separate device would be better.

#5 of 15 Darryl

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Posted November 12 2004 - 05:51 PM

This deal is through Dell's small business section. I can't find a way to select MCE as the OS anywhere in the small business section. On the home office section of Dell's site, MCE is just $40 more than XP home. Anyone know if there's a way to get MCE with this deal, so I don't have to get MCE elsewhere?

#6 of 15 Scott L

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Posted November 13 2004 - 08:52 AM

Let's see:

Abit "AA8-DuraMAX" i925X Chipset Mobo - $149.99
P4 540 3.2 GHz - $221.00
Corsair Value Select 512mb (2x256) DDR2 PC2-4200 - $150.25
Sapphire ATi Radeon X300SE - $66.00
WinXP Home w/SP2 - $91.00
Fortron 350W PSU w/120mm fan - $39.99
Samsung 16xDVD/48xCD drive - $22.99
Seagate 80GB SATA - $69.00
Case (take your pick) - $55

Total = $715.23

Assuming you don't need a 19" monitor as you said and don't like to fool with rebates. You also get name brand components with this setup. What brand ram and PSU does Dell stick in its systems?

#7 of 15 RandyMcc

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Posted November 14 2004 - 02:29 PM

I agree with Scott L. Build your own, gives you more flexability and higher quality components.

#8 of 15 SethH

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Posted November 14 2004 - 03:23 PM

You guys are also forgetting about an operating system. In his case I think he was planning to purchase an OS separately anyway. Don't get me wrong, I build my own computers. But it's NOT ALWAYS cheaper. An OS, other than Linux, will cost $79-$200 in addition to the hardware cost you guys listed.

#9 of 15 WayneO

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Posted November 14 2004 - 03:58 PM

It may not end up being cheaper, but building your own is the way to go. Dell's machines perform mediocre at best and lack the upgradeability of a custom machine. I could even build AMD XP processor PC cheaper that would better almost any Dell.
If the best advice is "listen for yourself", then why offer your opinion?

#10 of 15 Darryl

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Posted November 14 2004 - 04:56 PM

Quote:
Assuming you don't need a 19" monitor as you said and don't like to fool with rebates.


I'm sorry, but that's a cop-out if I've ever heard one. Since when is the hassle of a rebate greater than the hassle of building your own system? Don't forget the hassle of tracking down the components, and the shipping costs of getting the components from multiple sources (I ended up buying from 5 different online retailers to get the components for my most recent build).

I agree that it's rare to find a pre-built that can compare cost-wise and quality-wise to a personally built system, but this comes close. Dell's higher-end systems use good components, as good as the components listed by Scott L. The desktop I bought from Dell had Crucial RAM and a Seagate hard drive. Many of the components were better than I probably would have gotten on my own (when I've built my own systems in the past I've tended to get at least a few components that are cheaper than I should have settled for).

And the system is highly upgradeable. As my Dell has aged I've added RAM, a second hard drive, a wi-fi card, a DVD writer, and a video capture card. And it still has a little room to grow.

And don't forget the 2 year warranty. Ever had a power supply go bad? I have. Ever had a CPU go bad? I have. Ever bought the wrong component? I have. Ever bought a system fan that looked good on paper but ended up being so noisy you had to replace it? I have. :b Those failures and mistakes add to the price over time.

I guess my point is that "build your own" isn't always the hands-down don't-even-have-to-think-about-it best choice. Some pre-builts are pretty darn good, and with the right deal can compete very well with the pros and cons of a home built machine.

Quote:
A comparison of the two OS's [XP Pro vs XP MCE] might be in order.


XP MCE is XP Pro. The only differences are 1) XP MCE doesn't let you connect to a domain, 2) MCE comes with the Media Center app and interface (obviously), and 3) XP MCE is cheaper than OEM XP Pro (by about $20?).

IMO, having to buy MCE separately is the deal breaker here. If you could add $40 to get MCE it would be worth it (to me). Dishing out $140 for MCE makes it no longer worth it.

#11 of 15 Michael D. Bunting

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Posted November 14 2004 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for all the information and help guys.

I actually placed the order the other night. I then called to see if I could get MCE 2005 instead of XP. I tried 2 different times and nobody at Dell would do it for me. I told them that I would probably cancel my order and they still didn't really care.

So, today...I tried once again and got the same answer (NO). So I canceled my order.

I have built PC's before, it's really not a hassle for me to do it again. I actually like doing it and have put together systems for friends and family over the past 4-5 years too.

I'll build my own "HTPC". It will just end up costing me $1500 or so - cuz I really like to go all out when I do something Posted Image

It's not really a hassle to order your own parts either. www.newegg.com "normally" has the best prices/service, so I always go with them for just about everything I order.

I used to have a pretty good HTPC but sold it earlier this summer because I thought I was moving Overseas...turns out I'm not moving anytime soon (that I know of) and now I miss my HTPC Posted Image

Thanks again guys!

#12 of 15 Dave_vega

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Posted November 14 2004 - 07:50 PM

I got a dell and use it as my HTPC..I have 0 complaints..quiet bugger also Posted Image

#13 of 15 Scott L

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Posted November 15 2004 - 03:17 AM

Seth- I included XP Home, which he said he wanted later in the thread.

Darryl- very nice post. The gamer in me always tells me to build my own but I understand that that's not for everyone. Just fyi Newegg has a one year warranty on everything they sell (extended warranties are always optional) but I'm willing to bet the barn those components won't die in 2 years. Posted Image

Michael- Glad to see you went with the dark side. Posted Image Dell phone support can often times be hit or miss. The one time I called them about a problem with my Uncle's laptop was a joke.

#14 of 15 Darryl

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Posted November 15 2004 - 08:14 AM

Scott,

Thanks for not taking my comments personally. In case you couldn't tell, the only reason I've ever built my own machine was to save money. I don't enjoy putting the pieces together, so I consider doing the build myself a definite negative. I've built 3 machines from scratch, and have also bought 4 Dells over the years. None of my self-builds were as reliable as the pre-builts, and in spite of buying quality components where it mattered, I never saw a significant performance boost from a home-grown computer. I guess I just suck at building my own box.

#15 of 15 Alf S

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Posted November 15 2004 - 08:56 AM

Michael,

Just wanted to mention this MEDION .

It has a lot of nice features including Seagate 200GB SATA drive, DUAL LAYER DVD burner, 512 PC 3200 memory...plus a lot more.

I got the Medion Composer this summer (smaller version) and love it. Super quiet and very fast. Very well put together IMHO.

Find more of these on their site: MEDION
WOOSAH!.

 






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