Help with Computer decision

By donnman · 35 replies
Dec 11, 2005
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  1. Hi all,

    I'm hoping you can offer some advice about a computer that I'm thinking of buying from Dell. I will list the features of this computer in hopes that you will take a look at it and give me some honest opinions on the deal. If you like it please let me know. If you think it's a rip-off tell me why.

    Thanks for any feedback, it is appreciated.

    Thinking of ordering the following...any thoughts?

    Dell XPS 400
    Pentium® D Processor 820 with Dual Core Technology (2.80GHz, 800FSB)

    Genuine Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition

    1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz- 2DIMMs

    20 inch UltraSharp™ 2005FPW Widescreen Digital Flat Panel

    250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™

    256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) nVidia GeForce 6800

    Sound Blaster® Audigy®2 ZS (D) Card w/Dolby 5.1, and IEEE 1394

    Dell 5650 5.1 100 Watt Surround Sound Speaker System with Subwoofer

    Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW w/dbl layer write capability

    13 in 1 Media Card Reader

    Dell Wireless Keyboard and Optical Mouse

    Single TV Tuner + Remote Control - watch and record TV on your PC

    Combo: Sonic DigitalMedia and MyDVD Plus (DVD+RW only)

    Starter Entertainment Pack - Basic digital Music, Photo and Game experience

    McAfee SecurityCenter with VirusScan, Firewall, Spyware Removal, 15-months

    1Yr Ltd Warranty, 1Yr At-Home Service, and 1Yr HW Warranty Support


    Dell EPP/FSS customers: Save $220 off this XPS 400. -$220

    $200 off systems priced $1999 and above. -$200

    Receive 6% off systems priced $1600 and up with 1/2 yr At-Home service. -$107.88

    Save 2% using the Dell Preferred Account. -$33.80

    $25 off Dimension and Inspiron systems over $499. -$25

    Free 2nd Day Shipping on Select Dimensions! $24 Handling Fee applies. -$96.00

    SUB TOTAL - $1431.32
    S&H - $120.00
    S&H DISCOUNT - (-$96.00)
    TAX - $87.33
    GRAND TOTAL - $1542.65
    • Total savings from coupons/discounts is over $600
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Does it have to be Dell? And XPS is a consumer product line..

    Dell bashing aside.. At the moment, buying Intel dual core CPUs is throwing your money away. Perhaps you could show this to someone selling systems with AMD processors and ask them to make a similar offer?
  3. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    I'd have to agree with Nodsu (did I say that? ;) ) on the dual-core issue. While I don't have much against Dell, the rest of the system looks to be pretty nice. BUT, have you ever considered building your own? At least that way you know exactly what components you have in it. If not, what you list is fine other than what I've stated above.
  4. donnman

    donnman TS Rookie Topic Starter

    What is wrong with Dual Core

    Sorry Im new to the forum and this will be my first upgrade for my computer in 10+ years.

    Im still green behind the ears but trying to learn and not get cheated...any and all help is appreciated.

    Could you explain why dual core is throwing away money?

    Don :bounce:
  5. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Nono.. Dual core is good, very good and you should definitely get something with a dual-core processor. It is just that the desktop CPUs made by Intel are inferior to the ones made by AMD (oops, I think I just caused a nuclear flamewar).

    All the components in your PC are good (well, we don't know what crap motherboard Dell gives you) except for the Pentium D (which is just plain slow). And since Dell will not sell you anything with an AMD inside no matter how you beg them to, you should go and look at something made by some other company.
  6. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,569

    i reccomend you see what a local PC repair shop or technician may have to offer.
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Still faster than a 10-year-old CPU, I'd guess.
  8. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Beware of Dell, if you ever want to expand!
    NO serial ports
    NO parallel port
    NO PS/2 ports for mouse & keyboard
    Everything is USB.
    Inferior powersupply.
    The new BTX motherboard layout is different from the rest of the world.
    The case now opens on the right side (everybody else's opens left).
    Very few (if any) PCI slots free.
    Unless you specifically ask for it, only system restore CDs
    You get lumbered with all sorts of junk 90-day trials, incl. the dreaded Symantec bloatware.
    You probably get a free piece of crap-junk Dell printer, which costs an arm and a leg to run.
    Need I go on?
  9. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    great - as an example of shop-bought machine installations, My aunt had just bought a Compaq Presario V2125EA (or something like that!). It had hardly been used, and already I had become so painfully slow that I had to re-install it for her.

    Better still is that in using the OEM driver disk that came with it, it STILL had problems connecting to wireless (or rather, re-connecting to wireless), but after a fresh install (leaving out about three metric tonnes of bloatware) It's much much faster now, and she's actually seeing the benefit of the hardware inside it now - takes a while though!
  10. barney_3d

    barney_3d TS Rookie Posts: 20

    We have over 1200 Dells here where i work and to be honest the support and low quality of parts has been shocking. As a techie you cant avoid the standard dell dreaded procedures when things do go faulty..

    example: PSU is dead, call Dell.. can you reinsert all the memory, reseat all cables, reseat CPU, reseat harddisks, check all lights and cables.

    If i have a flat tyre on a car i dont ask for an oil change in the garage....
  11. toffeapple

    toffeapple TS Rookie Posts: 152

    Its alright giving this advise IF he can build his own PC..lets get things into perspective..what are you gonna use it for?
    Its alright having an AMD or even a dual core intel if your gonna use it..but you wouldnt buy a Porsche for bringing the kids on a school run.....
  12. barney_3d

    barney_3d TS Rookie Posts: 20

    true but its still better to avoid a Hell box
  13. toffeapple

    toffeapple TS Rookie Posts: 152

    i agree but for your average user they provide what you need..they deliver them to your front door..and there the budgie
    we all know that they provide substandard components but they must be keeping consumers happy in some respects or they wouldnt be worth billion's of dollars...for someone who cant build a PC or isn't into the hassle of sourcing one form the web or whatever...whats a better alternative?
    packard bell(completely sh*thouse but great for throwing from 3rd story windows they explode spectacularly!)
    i dont know whos the least cr*p
  14. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    You could just go down to a small mom and pop computer shop and tell them about this deal, and see what they can biuld you. Thay also may use some cheap parts, but when trouble strikes most are there for you and fix it without much of a problem. Thay can give you a AMD X2, and any thing else you may want, with out the junk you don't. Thay may even be able to upgrade your old system, even keeping all your old files and save a little money.

    One thing I know, in a small shop around here with two grand, you can have yourself a nice, very upgradable computer.
  15. Arcanum

    Arcanum TS Rookie Posts: 181

    I have to agree with some guys here...
    Check your nearest 3-4 computer shops, and see their pre-built rigs, for that money you should find something equal or better if you look for deals.
    And if something goes haywire, it'll be simpler and quicker to fix then when having a Dell.
    Your experience should at least be less (h/d)ellish, than with the Dell.
    You can even customize the rig build up to an extent you see fit, so you can throw out the stuff you dont need, and include something you actually do need.

    Anyway, I recommend you atleast get yourself a 6800GS for the graphics card.
    The amount of RAM is good.
    And I must say, I don't like the CPU. Go with an X2 if you can - really great CPUs, the dual-core Intels fall short when compared to an X2.

    If you can, stay away from Dells, not many people can say more positive things about them than the negative they have experienced.
  16. darkstuarez

    darkstuarez TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Just don't get an EMachines...
  17. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,569

    yes, it would be wise to stay away from OEM builds. as suggested, you'll end up wasting money unless you see what local PC shops have to offer.

    and the X2 is a better choice than the pentiumD for a multitude of reasons - heat, power consumption, and performance are a few main ones.
  18. spyker_C8

    spyker_C8 TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Don't let these guys fool you, Dells are perfectly fine. Their support is great if you have patience and they're always willing to help out the consumer. I called Dell and told them that I wasn't happy with how Windows with running and they sent me a copy of Win Xp Pro with a new cd key for free...

    Plus their cds are only loaded with Windows and nothing else. Just wipe out the hard drive and reinstall Windows and you'll have a fast running pc without any of Dell's preloaded junk.

    Their supposed use of "junk" pc parts is another thing thats not actually true. I have a Seagate harddrive, a fanless cpu cooler, a very robust power supply, Samsung ram, etc. This is coming from a true "dell" user and not from those other elitists "custom" pc builders.

    Plus Dell's pricing is some of the best in the business. I got my 8400 with a 19" lcd for $550. Their is no way someone can build a faster rig with the same amount of money I spent on my Dell.
  19. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    The Dimension 8400 is/was a high end product, selling for ~$3000 when launched. Of course you get good service and decent parts if you cough up such a sum. It's not like they charge you the money for the fancy paintjob or bigger numbers in the product name.
  20. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,569

    i think part of the problem is that dells are limited to intel cpus, so the amd a64s and X2s cannot be had inside a dell box.
  21. barney_3d

    barney_3d TS Rookie Posts: 20

    I'm no elitist i'm an IT techie at an academic institution that bought lots of Dells and now no longer does so on or only in limited numbers.

    the boxes have a high fault rate compared to others and the support is dreadful
  22. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    My mother bought a comp. from a small chain store in SLC. Grandkids come over and mess it up with all sorts of junk slowing it down. She takes it in thay clean it up for FREE. Not just format-install, I mean clean up, keep all her files. See Dell do that.

    You can't buy parts for the price Dell pays, but you get better parts, better upgrade path, and better survice. Beter survice than I can give her I If had biult it.
  23. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,569

    another aspect of buying dells (or with any other oem for that matter) is that you have only one source for support. a standard PC can be upgraded/repaired by any technician or PC repair shop in the world. but dell users are at the mercy of a single large corporation with no alternatives. you can't even talk to microsoft about your problems, they will be handled by dell. dell can decide what to charge for parts, service, and when to discontinue manufacturing. the fact that there are many support sources available to standard PC users ensures competitive pricing and the ability to get replacement parts that work, even years after the machine was originally purchased.
  24. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    Most Dells ARE upgradeable and repairable from 3rd party techs. I've worked on plenty of them both for friends outside of work and at work. I see about the same failure rate among them as any other.
  25. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    How do you replace broken Dell proprietary parts? Except for going and ordering them from Dell (and paying ridiculous sums)?

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