I know the first thing you'll say is 'build your own, it's half the price'. I'd love to, but unfortunately that's not an option. I'm also not looking at companies such as CyberPower, which don't provide comprehensive tech support and have F ratings with the BBB.
The companies I've considered are: Dell (x10-h2c?), Alienware (ALX?), Voodoo (Omen, I think), and Falcon (Mach V).
I recognize that some people are fanboys but “Falcon rocks Dell suxorz” doesn’t help me any.
I do a lot with multimedia, including, but not limited to: games, movies, making movies, 3d animation, graphic design, music, DJing, and lots of general multi-tasking.
My budget is very solid, but I still want to optimize for price. For example, I made comparable systems on Dell and Falcon. XPS was about $7800 and Falcon was almost 10k. I need to know if the extra 2-3k for Voodoo or Falcon or the extra 1k for alienware are worth it-i.e. equivalent systems perform better than the cheaper dell because of great wiring/OCing/cooling.
I'm gonna list what I'm thinking, in terms of hardware, along with questions on each piece.
Intel® Core™2 Extreme QX6700 (8MB,3.2GHz Factory overclocked)
I notice dell overclocks this, but doesn't provide tech support for overlocked things. I believe the other companies overclock. Any particular company better or offer better service/warranty for OCing?
I picked this over dual cores/AMD under the belief that, at the same price as the X6800, quad core would be the future. Seems to perform better on most things, with the exception of OpenGL, and a few other tasks.
Vista, Home Premium. Should I also have XP Windows Media edi. on this, just in case, as Vista gets through these first months? Also, Vista Premium has the media center edition like features, such as TV tuner support, xbox connectivity and such?
4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 4 DIMMs
4x1 is the best, I think. All the companies provide this, but I don’t know, say, if Voodoo uses much better RAM than Dell. Is this where that 1-3k price increase comes in, on parts like this?
320GB Performance RAID 0 (2 x 160GB SATA 3Gb/s 10,000 RPM HDDs
The dual raptors, I think for the OS + all installed programs?
Then a 750 Gig 7200 RPM for mass storage (another can be added in few years when I fill it up).
Voodoo uses Seagate, and again, I don’t know what Dell uses. The only standard are the dual raptors, though some people even recommended I buy a 15k 70gig drive (no one provides that standard).
16x DVD-ROM Drive (My current comp has a cd burner and a dvd burner – stupid choice, can’t copy DVDs easily). I could go for two dvd burners, but that’s optional.
16x DVD+/-RW w/ dbl layer write capable w/ lightscribe hopefully.
No blu-ray reader/burner, 900$ for 2x burning is stupid.
Hmmm. 2407 and 3007 24” 30” widescreen digital flat dells seem to be nice. I don’t know if the dell LCDtvs are any good. The new 27” seems to be slightly more expensive, and not worth it. I know the 24 and 30” are Hi-Def and such. The 24" has some inputs, component/vga that the 30" doesn't. Could I hook up a 360 directly to the monitors, press ‘source’ or w/e, and have the game on the screen? And how would I get surround sound if 2/3 cables were plugged into a monitor. Or does a single HDMI cable work better than the component cables. I’ve used dual monitors for a while for graphic design and 3d modeling, but dual 24s seems ludicrous, which is why the 30” is looking attractive. I want great high quality image, gaming and support for hi-def movies, 360/ps3 and hopefully live tv. The monitor/tv tuner is important for me. Which brings me to my next point…
The companies don’t offer these standard, or maybe only crappy analog ones that comes with media center. ATI's TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner claims to be hi-def and Vista ready. My current tv tuner is terrible quality, but internal, which is nice. I currently hook my xbox to it, and play through that terrible quality. Since no one offers the tuners by default, should I purchase the ATI HD external tuner, and use that for HD input for television/satellite and 360/ps3? Is the quality very good? I know that HDCP is a requirement, which the dell monitors have, I believe. http://ati.amd.com/p...ital/index.html
Dual NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GTX, 768 MB
No question on this one. One of these outperforms crossfire 1950s I hear.
Again, does dell provide a 500$ GTX while voodoo provides a watercooled 700$ BFG GTX. Or are the video cards provided by the companies the same? I hate how these cards take up two PCI slots, which is going to limit stuff later.
AGEIA® PhysX® physics accelerator:
Worth it, not worth it? Only $250. Does it complement the GTXs, or would it just sit idly? Once I add this on, I can’t get a nice sound card.
I have the klipsch promedia 5.1, which are nice, but analog, and have a screwy center + annoying wires. I really want a wireless setup, and 7.1 seems way excessive and impractical to set up for the space I’ll be in. The Logitech Z5500 500 Watt 5.1 Digital Surround Speakers seem nice. Speakers are probably the easiest thing to order separately, so if there are any suggestions on good speakers.. Note- I’m not setting up a media center, so I can’t mount 3k speakers or anything. $300,$500 dollar computer speakers. Considering the speakers are of such low quality compared to the GPU/monitor etc. do I need…(below)
The pre-installed 5.1 or 7.1s with dell or alienware, or is it worth it to get something like the Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ XtremeGamer High Definition 7.1 Audio, or the Sound Blaster X-Fi™ Fatal1ty. On all the systems, voodoo, falcon, having the PhysX plus the sound card exceeds the number of PCI slots. Do I dish the PhysX, or dish the sound card? It seems like the inexpensive speakers would be the bottleneck, and I might as well dish the sound card and go with the PhysX.
Floppy drive, media reader:
I don’t do uber gaming hotkeys. Play, pause, mute, search and stuff like that would be nice. Backlit keyboards are cool, a screen isn’t. I’m fine with a wired keyboard (usb on the monitor) though a wireless is great too. What do I get? The Saitek Eclipse, Saitek 2, the Logitech® Cordless Desktop® MX™ 5000 or the Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard.
I have an mx 1000 now, I guess (the name is all worn off). How is the MX revolution? The 1000s great, not latency, good feel, recharging in the dock weekly is easy. However, I never use the few hotkeys they have. The revolution looks nice, with the click and word and instasearch and good battery life.
Laser needs mousepad? Cheap one?
Battery Backup/Surge Protector:
APC Back-UPS ES 650 VA w/ Phone Protection
Battery backup comes in handy a dozen times a week where I live. I don’t know about surge problems ever, but I certaintly need a battery backup with the new comp. The 650 APC costs about 90, for 4 backups and 4 surges, which is good enough. Is there another surge protector, or it this one fine?
Western Digital 500GB My Book Premium Ext HD 7200RPM USB 2.0/FireWire 400
500gig external for storage backup. Fast enough to be worth it, or overkill?
Microsoft Office Small Business ed. .has word, excel, outlook, powerpoint and publisher. I don’t use publisher. I hear there’s a student edition w/out publisher that’s a good bit cheaper, but no one seems to provide it on install.
I have had pop-up nightmared with McTacky and Norton (and Panda). I use free avast now, along with S+D, Ad-aware. Is there a good all-in-one program cheap, or is the free avast and spyware checkers a good set-up?
I hear vista lets you burn DVDs without buying software. Yes? If not, Nero?
Some of the companies offer 4 year (Dell) or 3-year (Alienware, Voodoo). And dell jacks you another 70 for ‘completecare’, whatever that means. I should note that I hate Dell’s tech support, and the month it’s taken from my life, but they have replaced an x800xt and a power supply, and saved me from fan failure which would have killed my comp.
This is important. 24/7 or weekend support, who has expert technicians and who has Indians reading from a script (cough dell). Is falcon’s phone support good? How about replacing. It’s $530 for Voodoo’s aircare service. Can they not send a technician with a replacement GPU? Do I have to pack it up and mail it? The pluses and minuses of everyone’s tech support and warranties are very very important. Who OCs, who provides warranties for OCs?? etc. Can I install that new tv tuner I purchased separately without voiding dell’s warranty…
Other Stupid Questions:
Fingerprint scanner (this comp. is expensive, so I need fingerprint security?)
Did I forget anything? I want this rig to be ready to go.
Vista – problems with drivers/software? Will it kill my iPod etc.
Any thoughts or ideas, suggestions – great!!
Whoever sticks with me through this will be my own personal Jesus Christ!