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Can I build a good computer from Dell Dimension 4100 chassis?


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#1
StonongtonQB

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I have an old Dell Dimension 4100 and am looking to replace the motherboard, video card, sound card, etc etc to build a new gaming system out of it. There are so many different motherboards out there that I don't know what to choose! I certainly don't want an integrated video or sound card. I want to be able to use either an ATI 3870 or Nvidia 9600 or better. I'm also not looking to break the bank on the motherboard either because I still have to buy RAM and a new hard drive. Should I get something with PCI and PCI express slots? And can I use my existing power supply?

Here is what I have to work with... the first 8 pictures are of the tower and the last is a picture of the existing motherboard (which is going to go):
http://jlavado.hostei.com/
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#2
StonongtonQB

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I would like to also add that I really don't care about the aesthetics... if you look at the back there is a metal plate over the ports. I have no problem rocking it without the plate... same goes with the PCI slots. I don't know if the PCI-E slots are the same size but if they are smaller I really don't care. Help would be greatly appreciated. This is my first build. I would also like to add that I will be using a fresh copy of Windows 7 x64

Edited by StonongtonQB, 14 March 2010 - 08:33 AM.

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#3
StonongtonQB

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are you all clueless about this?
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#4
DaffyKantReed

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are you all clueless about this?


Not at all. The answers to your questions are trivial.


Have a nice day!
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#5
Ferrari

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There really isn't any way of telling what form factor that case takes for the motherboard. From looking it seems to be an ATX or mATX, but without physically being there its too hard to tell. Also, every Dell I've worked on (and most other OEM machines) have special proprietary connectors for the front panel connectors and such. So you would have to do some wire splicing along with soldering new connectors and probably some trial an error to figure out which wires do what. i.e power button, reset button, hdd activity light, power light, etc.

This is more along the lines of a "case mod" and I wouldn't suggest it since it's your first build. You would have a much easier time if you went with a cheap case like THIS HERE for $18. It's not the greatest case in the world, but compatibility should be all there. Other cheap cases HERE

There are so many different motherboards out there that I don't know what to choose!

Yes there are. Generally what works best for me to help you is if you give me a budget on what you plan to spend on the entire build. From there I can make suggestions for the best bang for your buck and see what we can put together for your build within your budget. Once I know that, I can put together a "mock" build for you.

Should I get something with PCI and PCI express slots?


PCI Express slots are the newest fastest slots available on a motherboard. More specifically, PCI-E x16 2.1 is the fastest right now. So picking a video card that is PCI-E x16 2.0 or higher is the way to go. As for the sound card, PCI or PCI Express will do just fine. Some sound cards get really expensive and unless you are a DJ, doing some sound recording, or some sort of mixing artist... I think onboard sound with the newer motherboards will do you just fine. A dedicated sound card is overkill and eliminating it will probably keep you within budget easier.

And can I use my existing power supply?

I wouldn't suggest that AT ALL. OEM power supplies that come with systems like Dells, HPs, and Gateway's are just barely powerful enough to power the current system. If you go with newer more power consuming technology, the existing power supply just won't handle it. It may start up, but you risk blowing every single new component up in the system if it fails and goes "pop".

Also, most video cards in the range or higher than what you are looking at require a more powerful power supply even at which point I would recommend a 80 plus certified PSU to ensure your rig gets clean and stable power even under load like when gaming.

In a nutshell, give me a dollar amount and I'll tell you what is possible or what's not possible. Also, mentioning what games you plan to play now and in the future will help me as well. Any other specifics as to what you will use this computer for will also help.

Let me know. :)
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#6
StonongtonQB

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thanks a lot ferrari! i'm going to look into just starting over completely. i see your points. i've been checking out these links and am also considering going to a computer fair this weekend to see what parts they have to offer. although i agree with what you said about the sound card, my concern is that when the next version of windows comes out, the card will no longer be supported. thanks again and i will keep you posted!
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#7
StonongtonQB

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to add, i am looking to keep my costs below $700 while getting a radeon 3870 or nvidia 9600. what do you think is possible from scratch?
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#8
Ferrari

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I think for $700 you can have a fairly nice computer. Below is links to a system I put together for you that has an AMD Athlon II x4 Quad Core Processor, a nice Radeon 5750(much better than 3k series cards), 4gb of DDR2 RAM @1066mhz, a 320gb hard drive, DVD/CD Burner and Windows 7... all made with quality brand name products.

Total Price = Approx. $690

Athlon II x4 630
Gigabyte Motherboard AMD 785G Northbridge, AMD SB710 Southbridge
Sapphire Radeon 5750 1gb 128bit GPU
4GB (2 x 2gb) G. Skill RAM
OCZ 600 Watt PSU 80 Plus Certified
320gb Western Digital Caviar Blue, 7200 RPM, 16mb cache (SATA 2 Interface-3gb/s)
LG 22X DVD/CD Combo Burner
Gigabyte ATX Case
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Here is a CPU Hierarchy Chart so you can see where the processor ranks among all the others. And a review of the 5750 ranking BEST Graphics Card for the Money in the $130 range(the one I linked to costs $145).

Let me know what you think. I'm open to any concerns or questions you may have. :)
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#9
StonongtonQB

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I probably should have mentioned that I have licenses for Windows 7 Professional x32 and x64 so I suppose I could substitute the cost of Windows for a new monitor. Only concerns I have with that video card is compatibility with games (is this made by ATI or a knockoff?) and the lack of a DisplayPort output. I also see a laundry list of complaints about the card

Edited by StonongtonQB, 17 March 2010 - 06:19 PM.

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#10
Ferrari

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Hi StonongtonQB,

I'm not sure what you mean lack of compatibility with games. It will play any game you want. It supports all the way up to DirectX 11 which MS Windows 7 does as well. If games you play only use DirectX 9 or 10 then that will work as well. That card is capable of playing many games (if not all) at good FPS.

Also, this card does have a display port. It has an HDMI output, a display port output, and 2 DVI port outputs (and the card comes with a DVI to VGA adapter if your monitor uses VGA). Any 5XXX Series card from ATI can support 3 monitors at a time if you ever wanted which is called Eyefinity. How to setup Eyefinity Video. <---Also talks about how the display port must be used if using 3 monitors. 5XXX series cards with Eyefinity enabled can reach resolutions of 5760 x 1080 (1920 x 1080 times 3). The 5XXX series is the latest line from ATI.

To answer your question about who makes the card... ATI's GPU (graphical processing unit) is on the card. It will be on any ATI Radeon card. There are several manufacturers who make video cards. Sapphire, EVGA, PowerColor, and XFX to name a few. Sapphire is actually a Brand Name. Any 5750 is probably within your price range. I just like Sapphire. Here is a list of all 5750's at Newegg HERE. Just so you know, the next step up would be a 5770, then 5850, and finally 5870. (excluded some others).

Copy and Pasted from Sapphire 5750's specification tab on Newegg.com HERE

Ports
HDMI 1 x HDMI
DisplayPort 1 x DisplayPort
DVI 2 x DVI


That's good you have a license. If you don't want to spend the money on a new monitor, there is a motherboard that I originally had in mind that has a better northbridge(video card talks with northbridge) and southbridge(hard drive controller) that also uses DDR3 memory... if your interested...

Edited by Ferrari, 17 March 2010 - 06:42 PM.

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#11
StonongtonQB

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i wouldn't mind hearing about it... everything i see nowadays seems to have ddr3, seems to be the way of the future! do you think this stuff will be a lot more expensive at a fair? keeping my old monitor would be nice but i really wouldn't mind getting something newer either. i trust you with the sapphire card. the more i look into it the more i like it.

the motherboard you mentioned has integrated video and sound. would it be cheaper to find one without integrated video?
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#12
Ferrari

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I think it may be more expensive at a fair, but I'm not 100% sure. Generally, most computer geeks shop Newegg because they offer incredibly low prices and are known for taking care of their customers should their be a problem. A tie or a very close second would be Tigerdirect.com. It's really up to you to look around for the best prices, but I'm willing to bet you end up finding the best deals on Newegg or TigerDirect. Especially since there aren't any taxes unless you live in New Jersey, Tennessee and I believe California.

I think with a new build you would really like a new monitor, I'm not sure what you are using now. When I built my last rig, I planned on using an old CRT to get me buy until I saved up a little more for a nice LCD. Well, less than 24 hours after the computer was built I emptied my checking account of it's $200 and bought my 23" LCD :) I couldn't stand have a brand new computer looking at a crappy monitor.

the motherboard you mentioned has integrated video and sound. would it be cheaper to find one without integrated video?

Not really. This is a hard question to answer. Things that decide how expensive a motherboard are more on the northbridge, southbridge, how many SATA ports, what kind of PCI-E slot, but not really whether or not it comes with onboard video. Generally speaking, the more expensive boards come WITHOUT onboard most of the time.

Here is the motherboard I was talking about... HERE and the memory to go with it HERE Everything else can stay the same. In a nutshell, the board is better for gaming because it uses a better northbridge (chipset) and the southbridge will control the hard drive(s) better. Also, since you will be using DDR3 1600 with this board, anything using RAM will be faster. About 534mhz faster comparing 1066 to 1600.

It's always best to remember that the computer is only as good as it's weakest component. Let me know what you think and ask more questions if you'd like. :)

Edited by Ferrari, 17 March 2010 - 10:00 PM.

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#13
StonongtonQB

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Ok, so I ordered everything you spec'd out! Will I need anything else to get this running that I may have overlooked?
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