Need advice about new computer purchase...

My old Gateway is dead so it’s time to get a new computer. I definitely don’t plan on buying from them again as it caused me nothing but trouble, so looking into Dell upon advice from knowledgeable friends. I’m looking to spend $400-500. There’s one up right now for $399 on the deals page over at HTF ( that looks good, but has an integrated video card. I plan on doing some gaming on the machine and using it as an HTPC, so should I wait until a better deal comes up for a machine with a better video card, or buy this one and purchase a card seperately (they have similar deals daily)? Or should I just look elsewhere? Thanks…

If that computer meets your computing needs just see if it has an open AGP slot for a new video card. I don’t think the 2400 has one but I am not certain. It will be hard to beat a Dell price but I always recommend calling local computer shops and see what they charge to put one together for you.

That looks like a good deal to me. As long as you can disable the on-board video without too much trouble (I haven’t done this on a Dell), I would recommend buying something like this and adding your own video card. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a similar computer in your price range that comes with a graphics card suitable for gaming.

Dell 2400 == No Gaming, on-board video only, no AGP slot.

Get this only if all you want to do is surf the wep and email or chat.

the 4600 is ok if you get the upgraded video and double the RAM.

If the reason you are going with a Dell is because you can make payments then go to your local credit union and get a loan and buy from a local computer store that will service it there. I get all my stuff from a place about 2 miles away and I can take it in if I have a problem and they’ll put it on the bench an check it out right away.

So how about something like ?

Really, I’m trying to get the most out of $500 give or take a bit. Ebay? Any advice would be welcome on the best deal possible for, at most, $600. Really looking for a decent video card for HTPC and some gaming (dual DVI would be super fun, as would DVD burner). If that involves building my own computer, that may be possible, but I’ve never done such in the past…

Ebay. Specifially, Starburst Technologies. 2.2 GHz P4s from $269! I bought an Athlon 1800 from them and, other than needing to upgrade the power supply after adding a second HD, it works great.

There’s very little info on those comps bJeff** unless I’m missing something?

OP: IF you are willing to invest the time in learning how to build your own PC and have someone to help you out if you run into any problems/questions, then that would be the best way to go IMHO.

Go online and do a little homework. Find out the prices parts are going for, then locate a computer fair near your location and take a gander at what they offer. Buy anything that’s cheaper/better there, then buy the rest online.

To get you started, you’ll need:

  • Case
  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • Fans (atleast one case and once CPU fan (most cpu’s come with a fan))
  • Sound card (unless motherboard has on integrated, and you don’t care about sound quality)
  • Video card (very important for gaming) you’re looking for atleast a Geforce 4 ti class or Radeon 9500 + to tackle the newer games.
  • CD/DVD drive
  • Hardrive
  • Floppy drive
  • Power Supply

Have fun :wink:

BabaBooey, I don’t like PC Chips motherboards in the Magic Micro computer although you can select many better ones from the drop down box. They are not the best performing boards. Those systems do not come with an OS either. I prefer building one but that takes some time to do research and you need to invest the time to learn how they work.Do you know anyone that could help you?

I’ve built my own PC before. Don’t do it if you’re trying to save money. You won’t succeed. PC building is for people who want to assemble that “dream computer.”

I’ll second going to Dell and looking at their economy computers. Just make sure it has what you need. E-mail them if need be.

Well let’s see here. Are there any parts we can cannibalize off the dead gateway?

Using the handy list from Kinthalis, let’s see what we can build.

Case - This should run you anywhere from $40 and up. Let’s say we’ll buy a $50 case.


We’re going to kill 3 birds with one stone here. I recently build my “dream” computer recently, and let me tell you, the on-board sound was fine. It held it’s own while I spent my money on other high performance parts, and then when I was done (and had saved up again) I went out and bought a new soundcard.
(you may have to paste that in 2 pieces)

So, mobo, CPU, & sound will run us $213.99
Actually I just realized we can do a few more group stonings here, let’s go back to the beginning.

Case with power supply and fans! $40.00!

More cases around the same price.

Video card - There were 2 areas where I initially skimped on my computer when I built it, the sound card and the videocard. I did this, so I go dump my money into the top of the line CPU, motherboard and memory (the foundation). As we know, the onboard sound worked great, so that would be fine until I upgraded. With the video, I decided to get a cheaper card, using it until I could go buy the $350 super card a few months later. I decided to buy a Nvidia FX5200, which was good enough to run all my games, but inexpensive enough for me to be able to eat. I still have this card in my computer today, and while I still plan to upgrade, I’m in no hurry. I think the P4 2.8 can pretty much crunch anything you can throw at it, so when I DLed the UT 2004 demo the other day, it ran like butter, even with the FX5200.

Fx5200 - $99
Fx5600 - $129 <----I’d go for this if you can.

CD/DVD drive - I’d just strip the old one from the Gateway.

Hardrive - How big was the drive? I would use the old one, just reformat it.

Floppy drive - I’d strip this from the Gateway as well.

Obviously, whatever died from the old computer is not cannibalizable (made that up)

OS - This is the only part that kind of gets you when you build your own. Look through the disks that came with your old computer, there should be one for the old OS, whatever it was running. You can install the OS from that disk, otherwise you can go buy XP from Ebay or something. You could go Linux, which is free, but I’d stay away from that for now.

Where we stand now, we’re at $394.00

The only question is the OS and the hard drive, which would run you about $100 each if you need them. This still brings us up to under $600, and gives you a solid foundation to build upon. Add a DVD burner and more toys at your leisure.

Upon proof reading, I’ve realized we neglected ram. Let’s add a dimm of 512 DDR which will run you about $70 bucks.

Well depending on the OS and hard drive we may or may not have a nice deal.

Hoped this helped.

That’s the kind of thing I was looking for World Eater, thanks. If I do decide to read up on building one, that will be the front runner. However, what does everyone think of this:

It looks solid, but how can a guy sell a new Dell cheaper than Dell will directly? Is it like other electronics where if he buys bulk he can get a deal? I’m also confused as to whether it has AGP slots as it says has “Up to 8X AGP graphics capabilities” but “supports up to 3 PCI devices”. Do PCI drivers suck that badly? (I looked up some on newegg and the have that FX5200 listed…)

They just list the basics for each, yes. Example:

Those who want to know more can fire off an email to them. They’re good at responding to emails.

Any opinions on:
+$170 upgrade to FX5600.
It’s from the company Jeff posted, but a faster setup. Basically I would like a machine to be able to play HLII and DoomIII at, say 1280x1024. It would also function as HTPC, playing DVD’s through DVI cable and, if possible (though not necessary) be fast enough to record HD material once I get a capture card in the future…

AGP and PCI are differnet types of slots in which additonal hardware - video cards, sound cards, network cards, modems, ect, are added into. Most motherboards these days come with one AGP slot, and a couple of PCI slots. AGP is specifically made for video cards, as it can communicate with the CPU and motherboard much faster than the older PCI specification. PCI video cards are quite crippled, and are only suitiable for 2D and old games these days, but work wel enough for sound cards, network cards, ect.

8X AGP refers to how fast the AGP port communicates with the motherboard; it is 8 times faster than the original AGP specification.

3 PCI devices means that the motherboard has 3 PCI slots - you could add in a soundcard, network card, and still have one PCI slot left for expansion.
And right now, I would HIGHLY reccomend ATI’s Radeon cards over Nvidia cards at the moment. Nvidia cards just can’t do DirectX 9 games very well, and often have poor image quality. I reccomend getting a Radeon 9600 XT for ~$150 - it will also come with a coupon for a free copy of Halflife2 when it comes out. Or more on the budget side, a Radeon 9600 comes in at under a $100 at and provides very good performance. Just whatever you do, don’t get a Powercolor built card; they are often cheaper than similar Radeon cards, but are cheaply built and sometimes underclocked. Go with ATI built, or Sapphire.

Thanks for the advice, someone just mentioned going with the 9600 over the FX5600, and I read a few online shootoffs that had results which back that up. So what do you think of the computer otherwise? Looking to buy tonight…

That machine looks pretty good, but don’t spend $170 to upgrade to a FX5600. The FX series of cards perform terribly in Half Life2, at least in the early benchmarks that have been released. I reccomend getting a Radeon 9600XT for around $150, which also comes with a coupon for HL2 when it is released. has some benchmarks on Half-Life2 - note that the Radeon 9600 Pro beats out even the GeforceFX 5900Ultra, and the FX5600 is simply unplayable. And the Radeon 9600XT will be even faster, as it is just a higher clocked 9600 Pro.

Everything that I read on another forum also also recommends ATI based cards over the FX Nvidia cards. If you go Intel don’t settle for a Celeron if you are going to do games. The computer linked is 75…00 for shipping and no OS so keep that in mind in your purchasing. Multi wave also sells assembled barebones systems and they have a good reputation. You will save money vs. performance if you choos AMD.You can mix and match components at their site. Click the information link at the top of the page on what they do for you. ResellerRatings provides customer experiences with online sellers and is also worth a look if buying online. Use the 2nd box down to search their database. I know Tiger and MultiWave are in there.

I purchased the computer that Jeff had listed, so thanks for the advice everyone. I do have two final questions. If it doesn’t have an OS, what will happen when I turn the computer on and will installing Windows be an easy task? My other question is, once I get Windows installed and attempt to install whatever video card I buy, will the stock card be a burden on the computer or will it be easily disabled?

Installing Windows is pretty easy - just follow the directions that come with windows. When it ask to to format the harddrive, I reccomend setting up two partitions - one for windows/programs, and the other for your personal data files. I also reccomend formating it to the NFTS file system, as it has fewer problems than the older FAT32 in my experience. Here is the full description for the Microsoft site. Make sure you update your machine after you get everything installed.

As for installing a new video card, if you are replacing an older one all you have to do is uninstall the old drivers, (if you need details on how to do this, just ask) turn the computer off, take out old card, insert new card, boot machine up, and install new drivers. Make sure you get the latest drivers available from whichever company you buy the card from by checking their website.

However, if the computer you purchased comes with integrate video, it gets a bit tricker - you have to go into the bios(by pressing “del” or “F10”, or whatever key your computer indicates) right after it starts up, and find where to turn off the integrate video. Do this after you uninstalled the integrated video drivers, but before you insert the new card.

w00t! Gratz on your purchase BabaBooey looks like you got a pretty decent deal. Has it arrived yet?