XPS 8300 Bang for Buck?

gull47

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Ok, so I'm looking to spend <$900 on a new desktop, I want something that can last me for a while, I'm no longer super demanding on my computer (ex-gaming enthusiast), and I'm out of touch now on computer builds and pricing. I want it to be able to play games at a decent level (basically if it can handle something like Diablo 3 or starcraft 2 at mid settings and handle those kind of new games for a few years I'm good), and handle financial modeling (just need enough processing power for excel/access/sql), maybe HD TV too (but that's standard for most ok/good systems from what I can see).

Dell is having a pretty sweet deal on their XPS 8300 system, and so far I can't find something better, or even a build that is as cheap with equal components... but as I said, I'm out of touch on what's comparable. My one worry is if the GPU is adequate, and from what I've read I'd be limited in upgradability without swapping out the PSU (and that can lead to all sorts of issues with BIOS/mobo updates and compatibility from what I've read), but for the price it might be ok. Or would it be better to buy an i5 kit with a better GPU (e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.692056 but lacks pieces and software...) If someone knows of a cheaper/better build for this price/good enough cheaper build or even a better prebuilt let me know! Otherwise any opinions on the quality of this system would help. Thanks!

Current Dell build I'm considering @ $848

System:
Intel Core i7-2600 (sandy bridge)
8gb DDR @ 1333mhx (4 dimm)
AMD Radeon 6670 1GB DDR 5 (upgrade from GeForce 530, could go for 6770 for $80)
1 TB 7200 SATA HD w/ 16mb cache
Single 16x DVD-RW
THX TruStudion PC Soundcard
Dell Wireless N PCIe Card

Software (since it goes into the price):
MS Office 2010
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (can get upgrade to pro for $30)
 
Solution
Instead of buying from Dell, I would really consider building it yourself. Great experience and loads of fun.

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 $190 [$150 in Microcenter]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115074

CPU Cooler: Stock

MOBO: ASRock H61M/U3S3 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157236

RAM: G.SKILL 2x2GB DDR3 1600MHz $27
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231396

GPU: Sapphire HD 6850 $155 [$140 after MIR XFX has free game but $170]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 $50 [Buy two if you want! WAS $60!]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

CASE: Antec $60 [$45 after MIR; I don't...

wintermint

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It seems like this system will be for gaming and some financial usage base on excel and such. You won't need to spend $300 on the i7-2600. The i5-2500k is good enough, it's only $220 and it will have badass overclocking since it's the k edition.

1333mhz rams are cheap but Sandy Bridge really benefits from 1600mhz. It will only cost like $10-15 more average. You can usually find some with promos or MIR but I do recommend making the jump to 1600mhz.

The HD 6670 isn't a bad card but that's not good for gaming. You can usually find the 6850 for $135-140 after MIR. If that's consider high, you can opt for the GTX 460 for $120-130 after MIR.

As for hard drive, I would go for the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200rpm for $60 [not sure if there's any promos for it atm, usually not]. The spinpoint f3 has great performance and is recommended by many of us here.

You can just grab any optical drive for $20 on newegg. Beware of shipping fees, there's usually one or two that has free shipping.

I don't think you should buy a sound card.. yet. You should see how the onboard audio suits you first. Integrated audio has made leaps and bounds over the year. It should fit your need just fine.

I have nothing to say about the wireless. Make sure you get OEM for the OS it's like $100 only. If you wait, ppl will suggest builds for you :)

 

masseybe84

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When it come to gaming i really hate Dell/HP or the other big name computer companies. My first gaming rig was a Dell and it provided nothing but headaches with a low quality motherboard and and PSU with no leg room. CyberpowerPC is the only computer seller I recommend to anyone that asks and refuses my pressures to build their own.
The 6670 will be horribly underpowered for what you want to do with it i.e. gaming. The PSU on Dell's is exactly enough for what the system purchased needs so no room for an upgraded video card later on. 8gb of ram is cheap but unneeded. You really only need 4gb for gaming. The sound card is useless since onboard audio on MBs is more than adequate nowadays. The 2600 is overkill for your application. The 2500k will run just as well at stock and better if you decide to overclock when is completely painless with the unlocked multiplier. You might want to check to make sure it is coming with MS Office 2010 full and not the free trial version. They always add it as this big bonus but the free version is not of the same quality as the paid especially if you use it a lot.
That combo bundle is a lot better deal than the Dell. The processor is overclockable. The video card is better. The PSU is of high quality. The MB is overclock friendly with USB3 and Sata6. The ram is better (you do get less of it though). You will have to buy Windows 7 and a wireless card if you need one. And I like Open Office better than trial crap anyways. Also no bloatware and a better case/fans.
So long story short don't buy the Dell. Get the combo off Newegg. Good on you for building your own. There are lots of guides on here and on the internet to help you out should you need it. And if for whatever reason you decide not to build your own CyberpowerPC will be able to provide a much better balanced gaming PC than Dell will for a smaller markup.
Sorry for the long post. This brought back painful memories of playing Diablo 2 on my POS Dell back in the day.
 

gull47

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massey & winter -
Thanks for the updates, I may go ask for a build then and hope to get something a little cheaper (since apparently the i5 is good enough to last). The combo kit on new egg was just an example, I don't know if the components are any good in that. The more I look into the Dell, the more I don't like it (I had the same issue with my old dell years ago that you mentioned massey). I just liked that you could get an I7 system so cheap, but the gpu seems pretty weak and the psu is a joke.

My biggest issue with building my own is I just don't know components, brands and pricing anymore (I used to know the best components/builds when p4 with HT was the newest and best and 1gb gpu's were just released...). I looked at the "budget gaming" builds here and they were all in the 900+ range, without software. I don't know what GPU systems are good (I'd prob want a mid level one to keep in my price range), the best mobo combos, or anything about the new AMD's. Odds are I won't overclock (I fried my crappy dell ages ago and never have tried since), since I want to ensure the system lasts for a while. IF you know a good $500-850 build (mid-level gaming and financial modeling) that can last a few years, or even just what components or brands are good for a build like that, I'd appreciate some suggestions.
 

wintermint

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Instead of buying from Dell, I would really consider building it yourself. Great experience and loads of fun.

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 $190 [$150 in Microcenter]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115074

CPU Cooler: Stock

MOBO: ASRock H61M/U3S3 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157236

RAM: G.SKILL 2x2GB DDR3 1600MHz $27
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231396

GPU: Sapphire HD 6850 $155 [$140 after MIR XFX has free game but $170]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 $50 [Buy two if you want! WAS $60!]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

CASE: Antec $60 [$45 after MIR; I don't know your taste in cases]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042

PSU: Antec Earthwatts 430W $44
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371034

OPTICAL: Any $20 CD/DVD Burner

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OEM $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986

SOFTWARE: Microsoft Word 2010 3 Users $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116856

$846 or $816 after MIR

I think you will be fine with the i5-2400 along with a H61/H67 motherboard. The i3-2100 actually matches up to quad cores in gaming, you can save around $65 if you go for the i3-2100 instead but you would be getting a dual core CPU. I know I suggest 1600mhz for the sweet spot. The H61/H67 motherboards don't support 1600mhz. In your case, I don't think this will affect you. You probably won't notice the difference haha. The 6850 should handle the games just fine. It's really good for 1920x1080. As for the case, I don't know your tastes/prefereces. I would go for the Rosewill Challenger instead or something already $50 haha. The Antec 300is a nice simple case. It doesn't look like you are a comic con geek. I included the OS and Microsoft Office you want too by the way take a look!

 
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masseybe84

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^
Love the 6850. I have one in my wife's build and it handles 1920x1080 beautifully. The I5-2400 is definitely a good CPU if you don't want to overclock. Check for combo deals for the OS. You can save 10 bucks on Win 7 at newegg with like half their computer items.
If you are wanting to stretch the budget a little past the 846 mark here are a couple other options for the MB and the PSU.
MB: ASRock P67 PRO3 SE LGA 1155 Intel P67 $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157249
This is pretty much the same board as the M-ATX in wintermints' post but its the P67 chipset which supports 1600 ram. It is an ATX design which make room for an additional X1 slot and an X4 pcie slot on top of the X16 (not meant for crossfire). This might be needed if you are wanting to add a TV tuner card and a wireless card. And it come with 4 slots for ram instead of 2 should you ever decide to double up to 8 gigs at some point.

Another case option for $40. Not as nice as the Antec 300 (less space for hard drives) but it will cool well enough, especially if you buy another 5 dollar 120mm fan for it and I hate MIR. You have a 50/50 chance of if being a hassle.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119195

I really like the Antec Earthwatts line of PSU. That 430W may as well be a 500W. It can handle a lot of hardware for such little wattage. Make sure you have a power cord lying around though. It doesn't come with one, saving the earth and all.


 

gull47

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Awesome stuff, thanks a ton guys, I'm looking into parts now, may order soon. Is the 6850 a good enough gpu to last for a while? I can get windows and office at a discount (microsoft student deals = awesome pricing...), so I have some flexibility with some parts pricing. I'm thinking of going i5 2400 and a 600w PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.702969) which is cheaper than the 450W with the deal (basically the psu is $40) but is the thermaltake a good reliable brand?, and going with massey's P67 Mobo recommendation (since winter recommended 1600 RAM, why not utilize it fully?). Would a better GPU that works with the p67, a better mobo (more PCI-E slots?) or 4gb more RAM be good choices?
 

wintermint

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Yes the HD 6850 will last you for awihle. My friend games with a 5770 and he plays League of Legends, WoW, Starcraft II and got good fps. The 6850 is above that, you should be able to be fine. You should be getting reasonable fps close to the one in this benchmark: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/291?vs=302 Please note that they're testing it in high resolutions and max setting including anti-aliasing (AA). Your 600W will have enough to power another 6850 so you're set to upgrade in the future. Please make sure your motherboard has 2 pcie 2.0 slots for dual x8 or single x16 though [crossfire purpose]

As for the power supply, you should cross reference it to review sites like hardwaresecrets or johnnyguru. Normally, the good ones are xfx, antec, and corsair. seasonic is like the best but they also manufacture for the previously mentioned brands.
 

masseybe84

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The Thermaltake PSU is kinda meh. It has some issues with ripple which can affect the stability of the system if it reaches over 80% of its capacity which is only 80% efficient (not 80 Plus). Not an issue with how much wattage you will be pulling from your system but I wouldn't buy it. My trusted brands are Corsair, Seasonic, Antec, or Silverstone. At this point if it isn't 80 plus certified it's immediately suspect just because 80 Plus efficiency and general overall quality go hand in hand. 80 Plus certification is pretty much a given with current quality PSUs. Not to say that every 80 plus PSU is high quality.
The 6850 is a pretty powerful GPU. If you are a big fan of playing FPS games on max settings then you may want something a little more powerful or get a MB with X8/X8 PCIE slots for crossfire later down the road. More RAM won't add anything to your system. At this time 4 gigs is more than enough for any games and it seems like your usage outside of that is fairly light. Really the skies the limit though but you just need to make sure you be realistic with the budget you have set.
 

gull47

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Ok, after doing some hunting on newegg, I think I've found my components, but since as I said, I'm not familiar with current quality/compatibility, I wanted to run this by you two one last time if I can.

Build plan:

Case - Antec Three Hundred ($45 MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042

PSU - Antec BP550 Plus 80 plus cert ($50)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371016

GPU - Saphire 6850 ($140)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

RAM - G.SKILL 4gb DDR3 1600 ($34)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231193

HD & Optical Combo - Seagate 7200rpm 1TB SATA III + ASUS DRW 24x DVDRW ($70)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.696141

CPU & MB Combo - Core i5 2500k + MSI-P67 B3 (2x PCI 2.0x16 slots) ($310)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.660242

(for some reason details on the mb seems to not be loading, here's a listing for it open box:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130583R)

Total after MIR's: $649

I think the CPU/MB combo is a pretty sweet deal (cheaper than a 2400 + good mobo), but I just want to make sure that the MSI mobo is a good one, and that it will be compatible with everything (it seems to be, SATA III, DDR3 1600 support, LGA 1155), I assume the PSU works with it too? Would this MB be good if I decide to OC (OC genie II seems to have some good reviews) and will it work well with CFX if I ever add a 2nd GPU (I did see space might be an issue and I may lose some SATA ports, and would a tv tuner/wireless fit on the PCI 1x?), additionally will this fit ok in the case (work with forward I/O and back panel)? Finally will a 550W PSU cover everything and allow for growth (either a 2nd GPU for CFX and/or OC)? I'm also thinking of getting a cheap vista disk (if I don't have an xp laying around) off ebay and getting the student upgrade to Windows 7 pro ($30!), so that might save a little bit. Should I buy any extra cables or cooling/fans?

If you don't like the mb/cpu combo my alternative setup is:
Core i5 2400 ($190): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115074
BioStar TP67 B3 ($125): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138317

And to add some prettiness :) (unless you have a better suggestion at the 150-175 price point for 23+"):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236059
 

masseybe84

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Yeah everything is compatible. Definately take that 2500k/MB combo. That's a good quality board. With an unlocked multiplier you shouldn't really need software for the OC though. An aftermarket heatsink is suggested for an OC. It will run cooler and quieter. The Coolermaster Hyper 212+ will just barely fit in the Antec 300 case, and I mean just barely but is a really good bang for buck product at $30.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065

The Tuniq Tower 120 is also a really good Heatsink. It's a little shorter which is a good thing and is $26 dollars but it's kinda hard to find.

The Tv tuner card will happily sit in that top PCIe slot should you crossfire down the road. Fitting both a wireless card and a tv tuner as well as crossfire will be a bit tight, But it will all fit. The Top card will be getting extremely warm at high GPU loads though which is usual anyways. The back panel should be compatible with the 2 addon cards. It's hard to tell though. I have 2 of the same wireless cards in a CM 912 and a 690. It fit in one perfectly. I had to bend the panel a bit to get it to fit in the HAF 912.

Antec illusion is going to provide better cooling so long as you are okay with a subdued blue LED fan in the front. Cost 5 bucks more but cheaper than adding any case fans to the normal 300.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

That system with 2 6850s will only draw around 400w of power so the PSU is enough to handle it efficiently.

The monitor looks really good though I'm not much of an expert. The specs are all good though and it has DVI/HDMI.

Don't quote me on this but I've heard people have had success with getting a full windows 7 for the student discount price no upgrade required even though it says upgrade disc.
 

gull47

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Awesome, after tax with monitor the computer comes out under $900, I still need to get software, but that's pretty easy. Thanks for all your help guys, I def have learned a bit about new systems... As for OC'ing, I figure I'll hold off on that for now, and leave it as an option later if I decide I want some more processor speed.

Given that this is my first full build, odds are I'll wind up on here somewhere asking for guidance walking through bios setup etc... I plan on using this guide: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/building-pc,511.html If I install windows xp and then upgrade to windows 7, will that cause any sort of turmoil with my system/require changing things? I'm looking forward to finally building a rig (and relegating my old laptop to backup status).
 

gull47

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Hey... so I just realized that the ram I got says it's for p55 chipset (even though it's ddr3 1600), will I have compatibility issues/lower performance than a p67 designed ram? I read a review about the same issue and they say it's working fine on p67, but is the other ram better for my chipset since it's designed specifically for it, or is it not work bothering about?
what i ordered:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231193

should I have this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231427
 

jackspeed

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um 2 things if you didn't order I would suggest this case http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147153 50 the antec wokrs well (i have it myself but the cable management isn't great but it works) and then as for the ram question. I personally like the ripjaws. but you should be fine with the other pair. As for student discount you can get microsoft office academic for $100 it is office professional. Windows only sells upgrades at a cheap price :-( check your school.
 

masseybe84

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The ram you purchased is on the motherboard's compatibility tested list so it is guaranteed to work. The whole "P67 memory!" or whatever other phrase is used is just a marketing gimic. They figure people will be to lazy to check a motherboards memory compatibility list so they slap it on the title or in the specs so people will buy it.
 

gull47

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Just when you thought you were done with me...

So I was perusing newegg, and they have some great deals on memory right now... given that I bought my 4gb of gskill 1600 for $34, I was thinking of ordering this set of 8gb 1600 (1.65v, 9-9-9-27)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104173
OR http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-104-266&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=2
for $48 and RMA'ing my other stuff back for a refund... (only difference I can tell is a different heat spreader, lower profile may be nice)

Is the drop to 1.65v from 1.5v and 9-9-9-27 from 9-9-9-24 anything substantial? I doubt it would impact my build with my PSU (550W 80+cert), and I am running xfx 6850's now... but I want to check. Again it doesnt state it is p67 focused, but it seems compatible (it should work at 1.65v with i5 2500k right?) and it has intel xmp which my current memory doesn't have... any quick replies would be appreciated :)