Upgrade or buy new: what would you do?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DaveF, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm curious how others approach the issue of computer upgrades vs. buying new. So, tell me what you would do in my situation, or what you've done for yourself in the past.
    I'm typing this message on my Dell P3 450 machine. It came with 96MB RAM which I upgraded to about 325 to aid my thesis research. The original Voodoo 3 video card was replaced with a ATI Radeon VE which is driving two monitors (17" & 15"). My harddrive is puny bt current standards, only 9GB, but it's enough for me. Now that I no longer do research at home, it's got enough horsepower for my needs. It only lacks when it comes to games. It's a bit sluggish at times with UT and it's iffy if I could play newer games like Warcraft 3, and UT 2003 is out of the question.
    I can upgrade to a 1 GHz CPU for about $150 which would help UT and similar games. Or I could just buy a new machine for about $1500. Or I can just do nothing, save my money, and enjoy what I have.
    I reckon I'll just keep with what I've got for at least six more months, and then think about buying new.
    What would you do? Or what have you done?
    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    I strictly use the 40% rule.
    If the total cost of upgrading is 40% or more of the cost of buying the equivalent new system, buy the new system instead.
    $1500 for a new machine?! Sorry, Dave, but I have to firmly say "Upgrade"! What you're talking about doesn't come CLOSE to to 40% of $1,500 (which would be $600, BTW).
    You can get a good Athlon 1.7 GHz + motherboard for < $350.
    A 60 GB hard drive is less than $100 if you look for it.
    Even if you also need a new video card, which you really dont, a respectable GeForce 3 card can be found for < $100, and that will still be more video horsepower than just about all games need. (Get ready for a certain user who will tell you to not go less than GeForce 4. [​IMG])
    If I were in your shoes there is no f**king way in hell I'd be able to justify the costs of a $1,500 machine over an upgrade.
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  4. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

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    With today's environment (by which I mean hardware price is falling faster than a rock), I strongly urge you to consider going new. I have done the exercise my self. It sounded like you probably has a Dell XPS T450, a 1G P3 100FSB alone will set you back over $200 (FSB133 is much cheaper, but that does not work on your machine). For the same money, you can go to EBay and BUY a NEW barebone Celeron 1.7 with midtower, 300W PS, fully assembled, integrated 8x AGP graphics and AC97 sound, all new and warrantied.
    The one single biggest problem with upgrading a PIII SDRAM class machine is if you spend the $300, or $400, or $500 and it still does not perform to your expectation, there's not a whole lot you can do. You are max out with Processor speed at 1G(or Celeron 1.7 if you use adapter), you can't go to higher performance RAM or higher AGP without throwing away your motherboard...
    If you shop around and buy a new machine with a new platform, you have a lot more headroom to play with.
    Personally, I looked at upgrading my XPS T500 for months, but the number just do not add up. I ended up buying a Dell 4400 for $540, with a P4 1.7, 40G 7200rpm HD, SBLive, Geforce 2 MX/MX400 with TV-out, CDRW, XP-Home. That was a few months ago, I am sure the same setup is cheaper now. If you go AMD and totally build your own, it's even cheaper.
     
  5. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  6. Kelley_B

    Kelley_B Cinematographer

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    I'd say upgrade/go new system by building your own! You can keep some parts of the current system you have, but get new mobo/ram/processor/videocard....its your choice in the end, but you will see better price to performance and learn a whole lot about PCs by building your own.
     
  7. MikeyWeitz

    MikeyWeitz Supporting Actor

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    I say learn how to build your own. You could build that $1500 system for less then $700,

    You could slap together an AMD XP 1800-2000 rig with a DD soundcard, Geforce 3 (or even a 4 ti series), 60GB 7200rpm drive, 256Mb ddr,40xs burner and DVD rig for well under $800(including a nice Antec case) that will pretty much keep up with a $1500 store bought rig.
     
  8. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Let's see...

    New processor: $150 (highest MHz the Dell board can handle, don't forget the heat sink and thermal compound)
    New hard drive: $100 (about 60 GB)
    New video card: $100 (ATI Radeon 8500/9000, Ndivia TI4200)
    Extra memory: $50-$100 depending on type and quantity needed to reach about half a gig (optional, that's just my own minimum requirements).

    That's a total of about $400, much less than $1500. And you can transfer the hard drive and video card to a new machine or if it's possible in the Dell case, install a new motherboard and add in the proper processor and memory upgrades.

    The best part of a DIY machine is you can pick and choose exactly what goes inside the box. And if one component doesn't quite fit in, you can easily swap it out for something better, usually for much less than the cost of a new machine.
     
  9. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    What they said. Build it yourself. You'll end up with a much nicer rig. Plus it's fun doing it yourself.
     
  10. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

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    If you do indeed have a Dell Dimension as I suspected, I strongly recommend you to go to Dell's user forum (you can find it easily in Dell's site), go to Dimension and hardware upgrade. It is a very active forum and people know what they are talking about. I am kind of the lone voice over there against upgrade because I simply don't think the number adds up. But a lot of people over there do it because they love to fiddle with these stuff and if you consider upgrade as a possibile option, you HAVE to go there and check things out.
     
  11. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    I highly recommend learning to build your own. I just built mine earlier this year and I will never buy a brand-name PC again. The performance + reliability factor has the possibility of far outweighing even the most popular brand-name computer available. Of course, that's just my two cents but I strongly recommend learning to build your own PC.
     
  12. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    The cost of all the OEM parts nessasary to build yourself a Dell-equivelent system will CERTAINLY be less. Much less. Most of Dell's post $2000 desktop systems could be built easily for well under $1500...
    As far as the general upgrade vs. build a new system, I don't have the luxury of a budget where I can really follow the 40% rule... it comes down to a part-by-part replacement whenever I feel that I can afford an upgrade I want... eventually I will have upgraded every part and end up with two functioning boxes and the process repeats itself. It's a terrible system that has served me well for years and sapped most of my spare cash [​IMG]
     
  13. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    Last week, a Dell Dimension 4500 with a 2.4Ghz Pentium 4, 40GB 7200RPM Ultra/ATA100 HD, 16x DVD-ROM, 64mb nVidia GF4MX AGP card w/TV output, 128mb PC2100 DDR SDRAM, 10/100 PCI NIC, built in sound (disable-able, if that's a word), Keyboard, Mouse, Mini Tower Chassis, Microsoft XP Home, Microsoft Works Suite 2002, 6 months of 56k internet access was $497.10 after rebate, including free shipping and a 1 year parts, labor, & tech support warranty.

    What can we build for ourselves for that price?
     
  14. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Gabriel, it's not just a question of price, it's also a question of quality components and optimum configuration. For my needs, the Dell system you described has the following shortcomings.

    - Only 128 MB of memory. Windows XP needs a lot more than that to run efficiently. Plus, the memory is only PC2100 (DDR266), not PC2700 (DDR333) which is the new standard.
    - Windows XP home. I need the functionality of Windows XP Pro.
    - NVidia GF4MX. This card is at about the same level as a GeForce 2! I need a minimum GeForce 4 TI4200 or ATI Radeon 8500/9000.
    - 40GB ATA100 HD. It won't be very long before I fill that sucker up. Plus, ATA133 drives are readily available.
    - Monitor not included.

    The biggest problem with the Dell system is that I don't even know where they got half the parts. Who makes the GeForce card? The memory? The hard drive? Does Dell make or design their own motherboards? There might not be a big price difference between a ready-made system and a homebuilt system composed of similar parts, but at least you know exactly what you have inside your box.
     
  15. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    Francois,

    - The memory is very easy to upgrade, and cheap.
    - XP home does not have dual proc support and domain support. You can upgrade to pro for $80
    - The GF4MX card can be upgraded for cheap
    - Again, 40GB can be upgraded. ATA/133 means absolutely nothing right now, even in a RAID 0 of 4 ATA/133 Western Digital Caviar SE drives, which are the fastest ones available. The interface is never the bottleneck.
    - Monitors can always be purchased elsewhere.

    Building your own computer can be rewarding, and often allows you to choose the components you want. However, let's not confuse this with being able to build a better computer for less. Gone are the days when you can build a better computer for less money by yourself. I agree you can build a better computer, but dollar for dollar, you can get a faster, more stable machine for 90% of your applications from an OEM.
     
  16. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Gabriel, after your last post, the price is no longer $497.10 for that PC. I think that was Francois' point. Francois is also right about the OEMs using lesser quality parts to build the machines, including mobos.

    And it should be mentioned that the Dell Dimension 4500 with 256 MB RAM and WinXP Pro runs about $1000 after rebate this week. All other specs are the same.
     
  17. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    Dell uses WD hard drives, Asus or Intel motherboards. I've seen Visiontek video cards (nvidia reference design), and ATI. Memory is Samsung original, Infineon, or Micron. Network cards are Intel 82xxx based (Intel's universal 10/100 pro management series chip). DVD-Rom drives are Lite-On, Hitachi, or Toshiba (though they have used Pioneer and Panasonic). Mice are logitech or microsoft.

    What lesser quality parts are you talking about specifically?

    BTW, Dell Dimension 4500 with those specs (2.4Ghz, 64mb GF4MX, DVD, 40GB HD, etc) and upgraded to 256mb of ram and WinXP pro is $768 after rebate with free shipping right now from Dell Small Business.
     
  18. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    It's amazing how the same computer costs $250 more for a home/home office user than a small business user.

    Also, what good is the 6 months of 56k internet access that you included in the specs if you don't pay the $30-50 to add the modem?

    Either way, it's not $500 for all of that.

    And I used to use a Dell when I was employed and I've seen other Dells. I have seen what could only be called generic parts being used for audio and video as well as custom mobos.
     
  19. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    The prices rise and fall just like on self-built computers. Dell's year end is Sept 30th. There's a great chance they'll have new deals. Sure, 6 months of internet access is no good without a modem, but you can always add one.

    What good is the free DVD player program they include with most video cards without a DVD-ROM? Same difference.

    The issue is the price/performance of the intended purchase.
     
  20. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    I agree with you 100%. But I was just going off your list of specs.

    Anyway, there's nothing wrong with buying a Dell. In fact, they are probably the only company I would recommend if someone didn't want to have one built.
     

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