Is Dell worth considering?


P

Peto

Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office use.
Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home recording
facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or remove
a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

--------------

A few years ago I was told to steer away from Dell because:

1) there was no room in their boxes for expansion hardware,
2) their power plug for mobo power was non standard,
3) Dell designed most hardware so there was not much service info
4) etc

But now I am told dell are ok.

Is it true those 3 things are no longer such a problem with Dell
because expansion hardware is less likely now as there is so much
function on the mobo (reasonable sound, some video driving, USB,
audio, firewire, ethernet, etc). Also I'm told Dell are now using
standard components rather than specially designed versions of
components.

Are these things about improvements really true?

Does this mean Dell is now worth considering? What drawbacks does a
Dell have nowadays?
 
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C

CBFalconer

Peto said:
Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office
use. Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home
recording facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or
remove a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

Then look out for a used or free discarded machine. There are lots
of these available with 500 to 1 Mhz processors, or faster. You
can normally upgrade it by adding memory (use ECC memory if
possible) and/or disk drives. Local will save you lots of money on
shipping.

When free you can afford to try various brands out.
 
L

letterman

Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office use.
Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home recording
facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or remove
a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

--------------

A few years ago I was told to steer away from Dell because:

1) there was no room in their boxes for expansion hardware,
2) their power plug for mobo power was non standard,
3) Dell designed most hardware so there was not much service info
4) etc

But now I am told dell are ok.

Is it true those 3 things are no longer such a problem with Dell
because expansion hardware is less likely now as there is so much
function on the mobo (reasonable sound, some video driving, USB,
audio, firewire, ethernet, etc). Also I'm told Dell are now using
standard components rather than specially designed versions of
components.

Are these things about improvements really true?

Does this mean Dell is now worth considering? What drawbacks does a
Dell have nowadays?

I've had some older Dell computers (late 1990's). They were just some
older used computers I picked up in the past few years. They seemed
to work ok. I'll admit the cases are lacking expansion, but I can say
that for almost all store model computers. I always build my own
computers into large tower cases so I got lots of room. I cant say
anything bad about the electronics on those older Dell computers. Of
course things may have changed.....

If you want a computer to match your needs, and to save money in the
process (after all, buying a Dell is paying for the name). Build your
own. Get a tower case with lots of room, add a motherboard, some
cards and drives and ram, and you'll get just what you want. I'm not
sure just where to shop for these, but I know they sell barebones
computers. which is a case, power supply, motherboard & CPU. You add
your own drives, cards, ram, keyboard, mouse and monitor. I think
that's the way to go, because you know the motherboard, cpu, and power
supply match. You can probably select the case you want.

It's really not that hard to build your own when you get these
barebones systems. You probably got a keyboard, mouse monitor and
maybe some of the ram or cards. Someone else on here might know the
places to buy these. I've seen them, but dont recall where.
(I'd avoid Ebay).
 
G

Grinder

Peto said:
Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office use.
Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home recording
facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or remove
a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

--------------

A few years ago I was told to steer away from Dell because:

1) there was no room in their boxes for expansion hardware,
2) their power plug for mobo power was non standard,
3) Dell designed most hardware so there was not much service info
4) etc

But now I am told dell are ok.

Is it true those 3 things are no longer such a problem with Dell
because expansion hardware is less likely now as there is so much
function on the mobo (reasonable sound, some video driving, USB,
audio, firewire, ethernet, etc). Also I'm told Dell are now using
standard components rather than specially designed versions of
components.

Are these things about improvements really true?

Does this mean Dell is now worth considering? What drawbacks does a
Dell have nowadays?

Dell is currently in the process of screwing up an order for me. I just
wanted to get a low-rent XP machine, and they made it seem so simple to
buy one of their refurbs. They've pooched that, and now it looks like I
may have to wait a couple of months to get my money back.

I'm sure that I'm just one of the unfortunate ones that's been the
victim of an innocent mistake, but they certainly aren't tripping over
themselves to make it right.
 
J

John Doe

Grinder said:
Peto wrote:

Consider as many things as you have time for.
Dell is currently in the process of screwing up an order for me.
I just wanted to get a low-rent XP machine, and they made it seem
so simple to buy one of their refurbs.

FWIW.
Are you talking about the Dell website where they list
refurbished computers and you order it from there? Just curious. I
have done some window shopping there. You might compare the prices
there to what can be found on eBay (if you don't mind the potential
hassles that come with buying stuff on eBay). I don't know how the
eBay buyers get the PCs from Dell, but maybe somehow they get the
PCs cheaper than from that Dell website.
They've pooched that, and now it looks like I may have to wait a
couple of months to get my money back.

If you haven't taken delivery, you can ask your bank or credit card
company to reverse the charges pending an investigation (always
works for me).

Good luck.
 
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P

Paul

Peto said:
Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office use.
Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home recording
facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or remove
a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

--------------

A few years ago I was told to steer away from Dell because:

1) there was no room in their boxes for expansion hardware,
2) their power plug for mobo power was non standard,
3) Dell designed most hardware so there was not much service info
4) etc

But now I am told dell are ok.

Is it true those 3 things are no longer such a problem with Dell
because expansion hardware is less likely now as there is so much
function on the mobo (reasonable sound, some video driving, USB,
audio, firewire, ethernet, etc). Also I'm told Dell are now using
standard components rather than specially designed versions of
components.

Are these things about improvements really true?

Does this mean Dell is now worth considering? What drawbacks does a
Dell have nowadays?

The worst part about the prebuilt computers, seems to be the
software setup that comes with them. Having to burn your
own recovery disks, is a detail many people forget to do.
I'd prefer a simple single partition install and a standard
Windows installer CD, that allows a "repair" install if I
need it. The prebuilt machines have the "recovery partition",
but that method deletes the contents of C:. So the OS
and (bloated) bundled applications are an impediment
to owning a prebuilt.

There are a number of ways to connect data hard drives to a computer.
A USB enclosure is one way (about 30MB/sec). An ESATA enclosure
gives about the same performance as an internally connected
SATA drive (70MB/sec to 120MB/sec, depending on the brand
and class of drive). Some computers also have removable drive
bays, and a tray system for drive removal, so you don't have
to use an external enclosure. The most flexible option is
the external USB enclosure, as if you go to a friend's house
with the data hard drive, they are likely to have a USB
connector on the back of their computer.

For me, the best kind of enclosure for a computer, is one with
a simple removable metal side panel. The computers that "scissor"
open, a technique used on some older Macintoshs and on some
Dells, really stinks in terms of the convenience factor.
To work on a Macintosh like that, I have to place it on my kitchen
floor and work on it. And gently push the cables into place, so
that when the enclosure is closed up again, no cable gets snagged.
(These are cables in the expansion area. The system cables are
nicely dressed, but when you add hardware to the machine, to do
actual work with it, that is when the fun begins. On a tower with
removable side panel, there is less that can go wrong.)

So if someone can sell me a computer, put a *standard* Windows
installer CD in my hand, I might buy it. But I'd also need
to see a picture of the interior of the computer, to see
how miserable it is to add hardware to it.

When buying a prebuilt

1) In the past, video card expansion possibilities on the cheapest
machines were limited. Many customers (suckers) opened the
computer, to find only PCI slots available to add a video card.
The cheapest computers had no AGP slot built into them.
That was in the AGP slot era. Things have changed a bit, in that
now the computers are more likely to have a PCI Express x16 slot.

2) On a lot of the prebuilt machines, the power supply is undersized
for a good video card upgrade. The power connectors may be limited
in number. If you wanted to add a GTX280 to the machine, there
wouldn't be enough PCI Express power connectors, nor would there
be enough amps available on +12V to power it.

3) Provisions for cooling may also be limited. The way that the CPU
is located and cooler mounted, limits the ability to place a
high end processor in the CPU socket. BIOS controls for making
settings changes are minimal. BIOS upgrades, to add support for
newer processors may be nonexistent. Upgrading the processor is
more of a challenge than it should be.

4) A number of the form factors that prebuilt computers come in,
are not big enough for any kind of significant upgrade. If the
case is tower sized, then it may have more add-in card slots.
Some computers are small enough, that only low-profile add-in
cards fit. Many computer may also have issues taking new video
cards which are quite long. (Even my home built computer has
trouble with that.)

In my current computer, I have about six expansion slots, but
I probably would comfortably use three of them, leaving some
room for cooling. I've had several machines, where I filled all
the slots. So it can be done. It just depends on how much heat
a card throws off, and for video, I like to leave a blank slot
next to the video card. My current video card has an 80mm fan
mounted in an adjacent slot, as the card is fanless, and the
80mm fan helps keep it cool.

A DIY computer provides the best ability to control upgrades.
You can use a standard Windows installer CD. So from a usage
standpoint, I'm not even remotely interested in a Dell. A
Dell is more like an "appliance".

The Dell is now more likely to stick with standards, at least
for the power supply. So swapping a more powerful ATX supply
should be possible. But it is the mechanical details, such
as how much room is there for a new supply, a new video card,
a bigger CPU heatsink for a processor upgrade, those are
the things that you cannot plan for, when buying a prebuilt.

Paul
 
C

cosmo_kramer1

Can you guys advise me please.

The sort of system I want to get is a desktop PC for home-office use.
Also I want a bit of multimedia capability mainly for home recording
facilities rather than multichannel playback of music.

I may need access to the inside about once a week to add or remove
a particular data harddrive.

Price is very important so don't want to pay extra for anything
very leading edge.

--------------

A few years ago I was told to steer away from Dell because:

1) there was no room in their boxes for expansion hardware,
2) their power plug for mobo power was non standard,
3) Dell designed most hardware so there was not much service info
4) etc

But now I am told dell are ok.  

Is it true those 3 things are no longer such a problem with Dell
because expansion hardware is less likely now as there is so much
function on the mobo (reasonable sound, some video driving, USB,
audio, firewire, ethernet, etc). Also I'm told Dell are now using
standard components rather than specially designed versions of
components.

Are these things about improvements really true?

Does this mean Dell is now worth considering? What drawbacks does a
Dell have nowadays?


It doesn't sound like you need an extremely powerful/modern PC to do
the things you want to do. Have you considered buying a used computer
off Craig's List? I would think you can get a reasonably up-to-date
(1GHz+ processor, 512mb+ ram, CD/DVD, WinXP, etc... machine for $50-
$150, which is far less than you'll pay for a new Dell, Compaq,
etc... I prefer Craig's List over eBay, as you can shop local and not
have to worry about the hassles of shipping and paying for something
without seeing it or trying it first.
 
C

CBFalconer

Grinder said:
.... snip ...

Dell is currently in the process of screwing up an order for me.
I just wanted to get a low-rent XP machine, and they made it seem
so simple to buy one of their refurbs. They've pooched that, and
now it looks like I may have to wait a couple of months to get my
money back.

Just consider the prestige. With the present financial state you
(and similar) are probably Dells primary source of loan funds, and
the interest charged is highly favorable! :)
 
E

Ed Cregger

CBFalconer said:
Just consider the prestige. With the present financial state you
(and similar) are probably Dells primary source of loan funds, and
the interest charged is highly favorable! :)

-----------

As long as you order something conventional from Dell, you will usually get
a very stable computer. I'm on my fifth Dell now, after homebuilding many
computers over the years. I can no longer see well enough close up to build
my own, so I buy a Dell as close as I can get it to what I want. Then I add
this or that and it usually works out fine.

I'm typing this on my Dell Quad-Core 2.5GHz machine. I love it. Rock solid,
no blinks, no stutters and its running stock XP Media Center. To hell with
Vista.

I stopped gaming when the games became more luck and less skill, so I don't
miss not having the absolutely fastest computer in the world. This is
perfect for multitasking and writing/producing/recording music. Plus, the
price was right.

Ed Cregger
 
G

Grinder

Ed said:
-----------

As long as you order something conventional from Dell, you will usually get
a very stable computer. I'm on my fifth Dell now, after homebuilding many
computers over the years. I can no longer see well enough close up to build
my own, so I buy a Dell as close as I can get it to what I want. Then I add
this or that and it usually works out fine.

I'm typing this on my Dell Quad-Core 2.5GHz machine. I love it. Rock solid,
no blinks, no stutters and its running stock XP Media Center. To hell with
Vista.

I stopped gaming when the games became more luck and less skill, so I don't
miss not having the absolutely fastest computer in the world. This is
perfect for multitasking and writing/producing/recording music. Plus, the
price was right.

I would probably be agreeing with you now if they could have managed to
put the right computer in the box. They didn't.
 
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E

Ed Cregger

Grinder said:
I would probably be agreeing with you now if they could have managed to
put the right computer in the box. They didn't.

------------

I am not saying that Dell is perfect.

I had to send back the one before the latest one I bought. It was soooooo
slow, I couldn't stand it. Then when I tried to remove Vista, which I am
convinced was causing the problem, it wouldn't let me remove. Damned near
replaced the hard drive with my own and load XP from there. One day, a nice
lady from Dell called and asked me if I was happy with my new computer. I
said no. When she asked what they could do to make me happy, I told her that
taking it back and giving me a refund would do the trick. Without batting an
eye, she agreed to do so and sent me a box with free shipping attached. Now
how do you top that? It can't be done.

Ed Cregger
 
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B

Big_Al

Ed said:
Grinder said:
Ed said:
Grinder wrote:
... snip ...
Dell is currently in the process of screwing up an order for me.
I just wanted to get a low-rent XP machine, and they made it seem
so simple to buy one of their refurbs. They've pooched that, and
now it looks like I may have to wait a couple of months to get my
money back.
Just consider the prestige. With the present financial state you
(and similar) are probably Dells primary source of loan funds, and
the interest charged is highly favorable! :)

--
[mail]: Chuck F (cbfalconer at maineline dot net)
[page]: <http://cbfalconer.home.att.net>
Try the download section.
-----------

As long as you order something conventional from Dell, you will usually
get a very stable computer. I'm on my fifth Dell now, after homebuilding
many computers over the years. I can no longer see well enough close up
to build my own, so I buy a Dell as close as I can get it to what I want.
Then I add this or that and it usually works out fine.

I'm typing this on my Dell Quad-Core 2.5GHz machine. I love it. Rock
solid, no blinks, no stutters and its running stock XP Media Center. To
hell with Vista.

I stopped gaming when the games became more luck and less skill, so I
don't miss not having the absolutely fastest computer in the world. This
is perfect for multitasking and writing/producing/recording music. Plus,
the price was right.
I would probably be agreeing with you now if they could have managed to
put the right computer in the box. They didn't.

------------

I am not saying that Dell is perfect.

I had to send back the one before the latest one I bought. It was soooooo
slow, I couldn't stand it. Then when I tried to remove Vista, which I am
convinced was causing the problem, it wouldn't let me remove. Damned near
replaced the hard drive with my own and load XP from there. One day, a nice
lady from Dell called and asked me if I was happy with my new computer. I
said no. When she asked what they could do to make me happy, I told her that
taking it back and giving me a refund would do the trick. Without batting an
eye, she agreed to do so and sent me a box with free shipping attached. Now
how do you top that? It can't be done.

Ed Cregger

I bought a laptop and had the LCD screen defective and a key on the
keyboard defective, and they sent a tech out to repair both. But other
than that, its been plugging along for 3 years. I initially used the
on line chat about 7 times to tweak items in XP and they were quite good
at helping me. I can easily find my drivers and software downloads on
their web page. Overall, I think their support is good.
 

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