your opinion on Dells

in computer shopping, I’ve traditionally stayed away from Dell for two reasons:

  1. they don’t use AMD processors.
  2. they give me a weird, bad, creepy feeling in my stomach (like most other very large corporations).

however, my computer situation is becoming dire. my monitor’s about to go poop, I had a change of motherboards which caused incompatibility with both my DVD burner and my gig of RAM, and I’ve got a Radeon 9700 sitting useless on my desk because it simply will not function in this tired pile of scrap. I need a new computer.

now, if I already had any decent parts, I’d build my own. but starting out with basically nothing, I don’t trust myself to be frugal… and besides, I really don’t know if I feel like going to all the trouble. wouldn’t it be nice if I could just get a reasonably priced machine, with reasonable ability to run good games, just show up at my doorstep, without having to bang it all together myself?

and then suddenly I hear that Dell’s signed a deal with AMD. suddenly this all seems possible. but then I’ve still got problem 2… I can’t get rid of the feeling that I’d be doing something immensely stupid. my main concern is that it would be somehow harder to upgrade piece by piece, but I don’t know where I’m getting that notion or if it has any basis in reality.

can anyone help me out here? tell me about your experiences with Dells, especially (but not exclusively) as used for gaming. I want to know as much as I possibly can before I go all Office Space on this beast.

I’ve only purchased 2 laptops from Dell. The first was back in 2002, and I was very impressed with the service. Two times I had to send it back to Dell for service and both times they fixed it within a day or 2 (I had an extended service agreement). I then upgraded to the laptop I now have in order to run AutoCad and the service was TERRIBLE! I bought the machine, had a motherboard issue within 4 weeks of receiving, then spent 6 additional weeks with them trying to get it resolved. In the end, they did good by me, but at the time, being without a computer I just bought was very frustrating. Since then I have had it repaired once, and they sent someone out to me at my office to fix it (unfortunately the guy didn’t reattach the wireless card). So, I think they’re basically good, service wise, given one time out of 4 was bad, and in the end not really THAT bad. However, I don’t like the layout of my laptop. Basically the design is great for business, but what I dislike is that the speakers are in the front, and thus usually covered by your hands when in use. Also, the USB connectors are in the back, which again is no big deal if you use it at a desk. The battery doesn’t hold much of a charge, either. Other than all that I have loved both my Dell laptops.

I have two, a desktop an a laptop. Both are nice machines, plenty powerful for the work I have to do.

I made the mistake of using their financing to make these purchases. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Their finance department is as useless as teats on a boar hog. When I needed another computer, I asked if I could have my credit line increased. Oh, no, we don’t do that. Then the sales rep suggested I make a large payment, so as to increase the credit line, which I did, on-line. Then I waited for it to post. And waited. And waited. Finally the payment showed up - I think 10 or 14 days later - but NO INCREASE shown in “available credit”. I called the call center. No one there could help. I finally got so P.O.'d that I paid the account off and bought a Gateway.

You may find these discussions informative.

I work in IT and people always get me to recommend computers for them. If I don’t want to spend much time on it and they don’t know much about computers, I tell them to get a Dell. They are pretty good as far as big box vendors go. They put together some lower-end machines that are a really good value. I have used many and helped support many.

The only two complaints I have are:

  1. The sometimes use proprietary parts which is not good if you want to upgrade or if something breaks.

  2. Their higher end machines don’t usually seem like such a good value. I would by high-end systems from companies that specialize in that (or build my own much more likely).

Not a gamer, but I’ve been using my trusty Dell laptop since 2004.

I was happy with the financing, happy with the performance and happy with the service. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was when I tried to upgrade the memory and discovered that whatever a given company may say about compatability, it doesn’t necessarily work that way with Dell.

yeah, the whole “proprietary parts” thing is exactly what I’m worried about. I don’t want to have to go buy a whole new freakin’ system when I feel like upgrading one or two parts. wonder if there’s any way to request they don’t use that stuff.

I finally ran out of old parts with which to build new machines for my family, so I recommended my parents and my brother to buy Dells.

So far, they seem ok. My parents got the barest one we could get and my brother got a souped-up version of that (Dimension?)

My only problem was the 2+ hours I spent on each “de-crapifying” the machines. When you first turn it on, complete boot up is like 5 minutes. That’s unacceptable Getting rid of all of the poop they put on there got it down to about a minute which is where I wanted it to be.

Note that half that stuff is just 30-day trials (most likely why Dell can be so cheap). So if you get used to using all the new fun programs that came with your Dell, get used to paying for them 30 days later.

Another thing I didn’t like was the way those mini towers are put together. Dell comes up with a very fancy new case design every time I see one. In order to add a second IDE drive to my brother’s machine I had to remove the huge plastic fan casing and the largest heatsink I’ve ever seen and use a lot of digital dexterity to get that drive seated up there in the single available slot. Upon observing the other SATA drive bay…I am not exactly sure how I would get another drive in there and be able to plug it in to the power. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I recommend that if you want to expand your Dell in the future, get one with a larger case.

My business partner got a Dell laptop about a year ago. He has since scrapped his 3 old mottled-together machines and seven monitors…and his desk! He sits in his comfy chair in the family room and works all day. The life of Riley, I tells ya :slight_smile:

I highly recommend Dell if you want a cheap PC laptop. I have one myself and am quite happy with it. If my mother wanted a desktop PC, I’d also recommend Dell. For myself, the Dell desktop is just a bit too much of a hassle to be worth the slight time and money savings compared with building my own. As ZipperJJ said, they install it with a fair amount of crap on there – if you own a copy of Windows, it’s worth just wiping the drive and reinstalling clean. I think most upgrades should be fairly painless (RAM, optical drives, PCI cards, etc.) but I did find adding a hard drive to my wife’s old Dell to be a bit annoying due to the case layout.

It really just depends on how much you plan on messing with it once you have it.

Not RAM. I have yet to successfully get any memory that was bought after the fact to work on a Dell. Otherwise though, never an issue.

Be wary. Dell tends to use cheap parts, especially hard drives, and I’ve had to replace a bunch.
Additionally, you may find that the stock power supply in any given Dell desktop is not beefy enough to power that Radeon 9700 video card that you have. The low form-factor boxes (not the towers) have a completely proprietary power supply, and upgrade is not an option.

The Dells are mostly not bad, for cheap computers, but you may be better off building your own.

I’ve bought Dell over the last 7 years for home use (mainly e-mail, surfing and turn-based computer games). I paid in full.

They’ve all worked fine for me.

I’ve owned a Dell Inspiron 510m for about a year and a half, and I have two friends who have identical ones, both around the same age. They’ve all been pretty decent, trouble-free machines. Haven’t had to deal with customer service, or upgrade, but reliability has been good. My $0.02.

I’ve bought three computers from Dell - one desktop tower, two laptops. The laptops I’ve bought have been refurbished. I’m not a high-end modder or gamer, and I’ve been quite satisfied with all my purchases; they’ve been great for my needs. I upgraded the memory in one laptop with no problems at all.

Heh - I accidentally stepped on one of the laptops, but it continued to work fine for a number of years. I recently bought the second laptop to replace it.

I paid in full, so I’ve no opinions on their financing. I’ve been quite happy with them.

We bought a Dell Dimesnsion 4600 for gaming. So far, we’ve been quite satisfied with it. I’ve never had a game which won’t play on it (with the exception of some old, old games like the original SimCity.)

Nor have I had any problems with it. It’s the most “bug-free” computer I’ve ever had.

I bought a Dell laptop (Inspiron 9300) last year from their outlet store and I like it. The battery failed after a few months, but the warranty service was quick and painless. I don’t think I even had to talk to anyone on the phone - after filling out the complaint/report online, I exchanged e-mail once or twice and then they said “OK, it’s probably your battery, a new one is on its way.”

If you decide to buy from Dell, look around for sites that list their deals and coupon codes.

Just my experience – I bought a Dell Dimension Series back in early 2001.

It still runs great. I did updgrade to XP right away, as well as add 256 of memory and a 180 gig hard drive in addition to the 40 that it came with.

In it’s sixth year, I couldn’t be happier with it.

Their XPS series is meant, I think, for gamers, so that’s something to consider. Also, they bought Alienware but run it as a separate subsidiary, so you could look at their systems.

If you’re really concerned about the system having proprietary parts, you could spec out your system and go to a local white box vendor or a mail order house specializing in build-to-order systems. But if you want an inexpensive box, Dell systems can be quite affordable. (I bought a $600 system for my mother to use for email and web access.)

I bought an XPS system a few months ago. I use Photoshop quite a bit and play around with some 3D rendering and I play some games.
I love it so far.

I got a nice flat panel monitor. After a few days I noticed a dead pixel. I was trying to decide if it was worth the hassel of returning it to get a new one thinking that I would be without a monitor for at least a week.

Then my phone rang and it was Dell calling to see how I liked my new computer. I told them about the dead pixel and they shipped a new one that day with a return lable for the other one.

I’ve only purchased Dells for the last 6 years – 1 desktop and 3 laptops. All worked fine. I’ve made upgrades to the desktop over the last 5 years and they were a breeze to do. I particularly like the Dell user forums where you can go for help or offer help to others.

What he said, word for word.

As for proprietary parts…if that bugs you, then take the time to learn how to piece together your own system–it’s really not as difficult as most people think. The only proprietary parts I recall Dell using are mobos and occasionally power supplies.

Otherwise, they usually tend to be pretty solid and reliable. Nothing sexy, but they’ll get the job done.

The preinstalled software can be a real pain to remove, though.

For low-end systems that you’re not going to do any heavy gaming or graphics work on, they’re the bee’s knees. I think out literally dozens of the cheaper Dell systems we’ve bought over the years where I work, only a couple have had hardware issues, and those were from broken keyboards. :slight_smile:

Higher end, less good. In fact, the only time I’ve ever had problems with Dells crapping out is with the higher end gaming models–they strike me as being kind of unreliable and flimsy.