The Budget: I have about $900 to play with. Naturally I’d rather go beneath that level, but if needs must…
The Background: My PC from 2007 has done a yeoman’s job for the past four years, but I need a boost. I work at home and am on this computer a crazy amount of time. I use it for image editing/creation (Photoshop & Fireworks), web design (Dreamweaver and, alas, FrontPage), and the usual word processing stuff. I also play games, mostly singleplayer FPSes. While I’m not a major gamer by any stretch, I still wanna play new stuff now and then.
The Current System:
Dell Dimension E521
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4400+ 2.3 GHz
4GB RAM (4x 1GB; the only upgrade I’ve made to the system)
Vista 32-bit (so I know that 4GB isn’t really 4GB)
ATI Radeon X1300PRO w/256MB
1 PCIe x16 slot
19" Flat Panel monitor w/speakers
Hard Drive, 320G, S2, 7.2K, 16M Unleaded, Seagate-GL
DVD+/-RW, 16, TSST SATA, Black
So far, the system’s worked darn well for my work needs (though sometimes things get a little slow when I’m flipping between Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Word, IE, FF, Opera & CuteFTP simultaneously). It’s my “play” needs where it falls down, hard.
As I said, I’m not a huge gamer, mostly Half-Life 2 mods and STALKER, but I want to be able to play more modern games (especially Portal 2, baby!!!). The newest game I’ve been able to play is Amnesia. Most games look at my weenie video card and smack me in the face for my effrontery in assuming I could run 'em. Call of Pripyat was supposed to be able to run on my system, but after I purchased it, the game says my video’s too low. Sigh.
The Conundrum: Is it worth it … or even possible… to upgrade this system so it’ll suit my needs for the next few years? Everything I’ve read about upgrading E521 Dimension graphics cards indicates that a big problem is my low-wattage PSU, and the need to add fans for cooling. I can’t imagine being able to upgrade the Power supply myself… I’ve upgrade memory and sound cards before, but that’s where my expertise ends. So I’d probably need to pay someone to make whatever upgrades I need, right?
Or is it just throwing good money after bad? Should I just buy a new system? And if so, what recommendations can you give me? I know everyone hates Dell these days, but with only one exception I’ve had nothing but good luck with their systems.
As a test, I priced out the following Dell Studio XPS 7100 system for $871:
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64Bit
AMD Phenom™ II X6 1045T + ATI Radeon HD 5450 1GB
Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2010
SERVICE PLAN 2 Year Basic Service Plan
6GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 4 DIMMS
1TB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
OPTICAL DRIVE 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
No speakers (my monitor has speakers attached)
Dell Consumer Multimedia Keyboard
THX® TruStudio PC™
No Dial Up Modem Option
Dell Laser Mouse
SECURITY SOFTWARE McAfee SecurityCenter, 15-Months
(I don’t need a monitor or speakers – my current monitor is fine, and it has speakers attached.)
Is this a good system? Any recommendations of other brands? Or should I save my money and do stuff to my current system?
(OH and also, I’m not the type to build my own system. Just not comfortable doing that much tinkering. Which is a pity, I know, 'cause I’d probably save a bundle if I could. So I’m looking for pre-fab configurations.)
The TLDR Version: Upgrade or buy new? And if new, can you recommend any systems?