Help a girl out! Questions regarding upgrading a Dell XPS (long)

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Nov 14, 2010
RE: What component to upgrade on my Dell XPS?

Sorry this is really long, I figured I'd spit it all out right and be as specific as possible!

Since this is my first post here: Hi :hello:

I've come to ask the great minds here for some much appreciated advice on what would be the one thing I could do that would increase gaming performance on my current rig.

Current Specs: Stock Canadian Dell XPS 630?
CPU: Q9300 @ 2.5GHz
RAM: 4 X 1GB DDR2 6400
GPU: 2 X 512MB 8800GT SLI
HD: 500GB 7200 RPM (western digital)
Mb: nforce 650i SLI SPP (Dell Druid something...)
PSU: 750W
OS: Windows Vista32

Normally wouldn't by a pre-built Dell but this was the last floor model at FutureShop - I noticed it had minor damage to the case and front LED panel was cracked so I spoke to the manager?? who lowered the price for me the next day and I got an awesome deal. The guy then walked me to my car, gave me his card with his private number written on it so maybe there were other reasons for the additional $200 discount lol.


My Computer use:
Adobe Suite CS4 ( primarily Photoshop)
Gaming - Age of Conan, Oblivion, Mass Effect, Bioshock......
Ideally I like to play at the highest res my monitor can support (1650X1050) with at least 8XAA and highest possible settings, over 30FPS

On the newer games and when I have a lot going the computer starts to chug so I figure its time for an upgrade. I'd love to play Age of Conan DX10 at med-high settings, right now 5-20 FPS :(

Now that the warranty is up, I've also considered overclocking although I've never done it before and from what I understand from searching the forums, my "yorkfield" CPU is somewhat limited in this regard. I'm willing to give it a go. I live in the Canada and my apartment stays about 20 in the summer and 15 in the winter. The computer is adjacent to a window so is constantly bathed in cool air. Nothing like gaming in mittens and a toque.
Should I upgrade one or more of the components - spend under $250(Canadian) and would be ordering from ncix or tigerdirect ca.

Some options I've considered:
A) Upgrading my OS to Windows7 64bit ($149.99) and adding some more RAM ( I have extra compatible 2X2GB = 6GB total)
B) New video card - EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1 GB ($200)? It has HDMI which I currently lack ( which sucks with a 40" HDTV near by)
C) Overclocking
D) ?

So which would provide the biggest boost in performance?

My preference is for a single video card because of ease of install and the fact that I can add another down the line for SLI. But I'm not sure if the RAM and CPU would limit the benefit received from a new card. 64 bit Windows 7 has it's advantages too as I could add more ram, be rid of Vista and increase multitasking capabilities. Oh, the conflict!

Thanks to everyone who read all this and thanks in advance for any suggestions! and sorry if a similar question was already posted here.



Aug 24, 2010
Hi babalon and welcome to toms.
Now lets get down to business.
1st upgrading your OS would be a waist of time and money, unless you have a problem with the Vista OS.
2nd a new video card would be your best bet. Going from the 8800 to a GTX460 1GB is a great idea and the best thing to do. The GTX460 will do everything u want a more (Adobe Suite CS4 loading times will decrees significantly with nvidia cuda). My suggestion is to get the EGVA for the lifetime warranty and also, get 1 that isn't OCed. You can OC it urself and save some cash.
3rd if you have 2x2GB of memory, use that instead of the 4x1GB sticks, exspecially if the speed is higher than the 4x1GB sticks.
Lastly you shouldn't have to OC your CPU it's a quad core with more than enough power to run those games that you are playing.

PS. dont use tigerdirect, use they have better pricess. any 1 would do!
GTX460 is the best Nvidia option while keeping things simple. Upgrading your OS isn't going to make your machine faster and is a waste of your hard earned money so side with the card. 4GB is enough for most users till they start doing large projects but 8GB is viable even for DDR2.
My thoughts:
A) Install that extra ram and upgrade vista to the 64 bit version. Microsoft will sell you a 64 bit dvd for only the procesing cost which was $10 when I did it. You will need to do a clean install to make the switch. If, by any chance you are a student with a .edu e-mail address, you can get windows-7 for about $30 instead. CS4 photoshop responds very well to lots of ram.
B) GTX460 1gb is a very good card. For gaming in most games, the graphics card is much more important than the cpu. There are exceptions. The GTX470 price has been slashed, so look into that also. Your 8800GT cards are worth about $50 each on ebay to defray the cost.
C) A bit more speed would help. Dunno about overclocking that chip. You could look on ebay for a stronger cpu if your motherboard will support it.
D) Other options:

Consider planning on a rebuild after sandy bridge launches in January. Upgrade the graphics card now, and sell off the parts you don't reuse in January.

Look into a SSD for the OS and frequently used apps. $100 or so will make your PC feel alive again. No help for gaming though.


Jul 22, 2010
Girl help coming!

-see what's the best proc your board can handle. That'll help if your video bottlenecks your cpu

- Windows 7 really is a good os but you don't have to have it

-A gtx 460 is nice, msi make some good ones.

- DON'T go with an Solid state drive. An unless you think your computer is really slow most can go with out it. Plus 100$ will only get you about 60 gb of storage.


Nov 14, 2010
Thanks so much!

I just ordered the Vista64 - you saved me A LOT of $$$$ I would have never known about that unless you told me. The MS website is so convoluted for getting any info on VISTA - keeps redirecting you to Windows 7 :/ It's almost like their embarrassed about it.....

I'm going with Mainly because I can pick it up tomorrow sans shipping costs.



May 5, 2007

I think and SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make, maybe not on the cheap per-se, but if you get one for a boot drive you can get it cheap(ish) and still get great performance. So I wouldn't take it off the list completely.

And you are wrong, she HAS to have Windows 7!

= P


Nov 14, 2010
;) Being of the gentler sex does have it's advantages.

Regarding the mobo, apparently it is locked on Dell XPS's with Q9XXX, so I'll swap it out somewhere down the line.

I have just realized this is the UK/ Ireland forum. The level of literacy should have clued me off right away.
My comp seems to have developed a foreign identity.
Well, I am a Donaldson, and my parents are from Dublin, so have I somehow transfered my heritage on to my comp. Or perhaps it is the constant rain, overcast clouds, cool weather and general dankness that is confusing the poor dear?
For some time now its been identifying itself as being from the UK. International websites show prices in pounds and microsoft websites keep switching to UK from Canadian. "We are sorry, but you may be unable to complete a purchase. You appear to be in the United Kingdom. Click here to go to the Microsoft Store for the UK."

Thanks again guys, I suppose this is "solved". Going to upgrade to Vista64, slap in extra ram to make 6GB and get the new 460 GTX!
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