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New computer/Proprietary parts

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Hi everyone, I'm new here. I know a few things here and there about computers but not a lot. I'd love to build my own PC, but I have about a million questions... please bare with me.

2 years ago, my dad decided it would be nice to grab me a computer for college... and wow, what a lovely computer he got. He got a Dell. It's decent, nice for doing whatever I guess, my gfx card is a wimpy GeForce 5200 and that thing can't do much... I have 512mb of RAM (yes, I added these so no more warranty for me with Dell- whatever. :whistling: )

I'd love to make my own PC, and I already know Dell uses proprietary parts, so the motherboard and all that junk has got to go!

However, I'd like to know, if anyone knows anything about Dell computers, please help me!

Since I already have an existing computer, I'd like to buy the bare minimum of what I need to make a new one. You know, so I don't have to buy a new monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. (budget isn't really an issue, I just don't want to spend $600+ on a processor or something). Nothing too outrageous.

My main concern is that, when I do indeed want to get a new computer, I want to know if I can use my old parts from my Dell. There are a few important programs/files on there and since Dell likes to use proprietary parts, I'm afraid I'd have to reformat my hard drive when I have to install Windows XP on my new computer... or are the HD's not really a problem? Is it only the power supplies and motherboards Dell uses? What about sound cards/network cards? Can I take these from my Dell and install them into a newly built PC? And I believe RAM is fairly flexible with computers. I hear just to be safe, that if you install dual RAM, use the same brand, and make sure it's compatible with your motherboard.

I guess what I want is a new motherboard, case, processor, powersupply- the core basics, but use my existing HD, sound/network cards, mouse, etc in hopes that I don't have to shell out a ton of money for new parts because of Dell... and since I'd like to make my own PC, I won't have this problem in the future... hopefully.

Any help is greatly appreciated! I just read somewhere that Direct X 10 is coming out soon and Intel is coming out with a new chip? Would is just be safe to wait?
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    motto - Just get-er-done

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DirectX 10 is really meant for Vista. I don't think there will be a DX 10 download for XP for a while. It depends on how long you want to wait to build a new puter. I don't wait and usually build myself a new computer every six months with whatever is out there. Other than video editing any new hardware will do most anything you want. It would be better for you to buy a new HD and use the old drive as a slave to it. Yes, replace the case, MB and PS, even tho dell has quit using proprietary parts since about 2000. The rest of the parts i have swapped into other computers with no problems. The case-Mb-cpu and PS amounts to 3/4 the cost of a new puter so you really are not saving much by using as many parts as possible from the dell. Guess which parts are likely to fail first in the computer.

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