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Old 07-24-2011, 07:39 PM   #1
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Default Computer Hardware...Suggestions

Hey,
Well this has a little bit of a story to go with it, and i typed this without it, and it kinda left me wonderin, so im just going to tell it. Anyways...

My dad gets me free computers from his work(im in high school). He is "Tech Department" for an Insurance company. Its a small company, so he does everything. And he is able to bring me a new "updated" computer every 6 months or so. The problem is, they are optiplexs. Right now, my build is:
-Optiplex 720
-Core 2 Duo 2.33ghz
-HD2400
-2 GB DDR2 330mhz ram
-like 350 watt ps
-10k rpm hard drives
This would be a great build if i was logging onto and working from terminal servers all day, and doing nothing that requires a decent CPU, GPU, or ram. I would like to go spend 800 bucks at newegg, and buy me a computer that would last me well into colledge, but he thinks that i will be buying "low grade products" and that i have to buy one from Dell (he has a representive that gets him huge discounts, but there is still no comparison). SO i can go on and on, and dont get me wrong, im thankful for the stuff like Free microsoft products due to the Mircosoft Partner network, and mostly fast hard drives (he is about to get me like a 300gb or so ssd). But i would like a decent computer.

So here is what i want to know. What can i do with the limitation of only screwing with Ram, GPU, and CPU(if i do it behind his back...) I am thinking about:

Putting like DDR2 800 mhz ram, but i want to make sure all ddr2 ram will fit, or if i will have any problems with that. I understand that i will have to take my current ram out, and DDR2 ram is freaking expensive.

Putting a Core 2 Quad in, but them are freaking EXPENSIVE to.

Getting a better GPU. But this is a problem, because it has to be low profile, to an extent. i have one slot, and no 6 pin connector. Also, its not one of those tiny cased computers, but i run into a lot of size problems as well.

What, if anything can i do to at least make it play 2002 Games BF2 and The sims 2 at high setting, cause it wont. It also must do audio work(im a musician). Am i better off to just wait tell i graduate then build a computer?

Thanks for the help.

Edit: I know my MB is locked, but would using a 3rd party program and Overclocking help me any. 50 bucks for a cooler is better the 200+ for a processor.
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: Computer Hardware...Suggestions

You'd think given his position, he'd be more knowledgeable about who has good parts and who doesn't. To be honest, I pity his company if he thinks only Dell has the good stuff. *sigh*

Your CPU/RAM/GPU choices are going to be limited first by the motherboard and second by the power supply in the system.

DDR2 is DDR2. You just have to look for the size and speed that you want (DDR2-800 should be fine for your system) and install it. Presto!

CPU is a tricky one - just about any of the Core 2 CPUs should be ok, but we need to know which motherboard you're using. Download this program: Speccy - System Information - Free Download and run the report, then upload / post it here. (you can go to File > Save as Text File to get it into a forum friendly format if you don't want to take screenshots)

Power supplies are going to be next, since you can't upgrade the GPU without having a sizable power supply in the system. Do you know what wattage yours is rated at right now? even if it's high, I would hesitate to recommend a very high end GPU on the system since Dell isn't exactly the Corsair or Seasonic of the IT world.

Just looking at the Optiplex 720 online however leaves me a bit sunken. You're much, MUCH better off getting a new system put together, or at the very least, buying a full size or mid- ATX tower and then putting things into that one (which should be OK for the motherboard and hard drive/CDROM drives)

There aren't any very powerful low profile video cards out there. Would need to know if you have interests outside of BF2 or Sims 2 (both are pretty old, considering what we have out there now)

Dell motherboards are made to be used in business class environments when in the Optiplex systems. There are no options to overclock that CPU unless you buy another board. Sorry.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: Computer Hardware...Suggestions

To save you another boring story, I did a lot of research on the items, and I believe that it was quality products, and that the power/price ratio could not be matched. I have the Shopping cart at Newegg saved, but its at home, and the only Internet access I currently have is my iPhone. He tells me a lot that he uses Dell over HP because he can get better deals on the same computer(hardware wise), and better customer support. And Both over Itty Bitty Minds(IBM incase) because they are slow. I know that there are others, but Im not going into that.

Is putting 800MHz ram in my computer going to give me at all an increase, and will it be noticeable, effecting load times and such.

As I said before, I'm away from my computer, so I will run that when I get home. But if I do buy a processor, I'm going to have to do it behind his back, and if I screw something up(I'm not sure if I'm confident in myself...) I'm dead. So that's not a great idea.

I don't know off the top of my head what the PSU is, but I would bet money it isn't over 400 Watts, and more likely 350. I have had 3 other Optiplexs, and they all had 350s if I remember correctly. Can you please tell me what you mean by "I would hesitate to recommend a very high end GPU on the system since Dell isnt exactly the Corsair or Seasonic of the IT world."

I agree. About the only thing they are good for is logging on to terminal servers. I don't get what buying a new case would do for me. Other the maybe give me more room for a Video Card. But I have asked my dad if I can put a bigger PSU in one of the Optiplexs, and he says "That is a PERFECT working computer, your not going to take that thing a part just so you can play some stupid game."

I would love to play new games. I'm at heart a guitarist, but I love computers, and anything to do with them. I would love to be able to play newer games, but I have never had a computer that met minimum requirements of anything newer that I would like. Let alone not have to wait 10 minutes to load a map with crappy graphics. But I can't do it, let alone run Sonar properly, my audio studio.

That's what I though, and there is now probably of Overclocking my GPU or Ram either, cause of the MOtherboard, correct?

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Computer Hardware...Suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
To save you another boring story, I did a lot of research on the items, and I believe that it was quality products, and that the power/price ratio could not be matched. I have the Shopping cart at Newegg saved, but its at home, and the only Internet access I currently have is my iPhone. He tells me a lot that he uses Dell over HP because he can get better deals on the same computer(hardware wise), and better customer support. And Both over Itty Bitty Minds(IBM incase) because they are slow. I know that there are others, but Im not going into that.
I tend to agree with his stance, but the fact that you were looking at PARTS, not specific OEMs, is what I was commenting on. (OEMs being individual parts, Asus motherboard, Corsair RAM, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
Is putting 800MHz ram in my computer going to give me at all an increase, and will it be noticeable, effecting load times and such.
You'd be surprised how efficient the 533 RAM is in your particular system. I used to think it was "DDR2-800 or nothing" but memory speed isn't as important as memory quantity, if your system is already starved for room to do things in. That being said, DDR2-800 is going to be easier to find than 533, and it IS an upgrade, I just don't want you to expect an across the board performance gain when there are tests done that say otherwise. It's still a wise upgrade however.
I'm dead. So that's not a great idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
Can you please tell me what you mean by "I would hesitate to recommend a very high end GPU on the system since Dell isnt exactly the Corsair or Seasonic of the IT world."
Simply stated: Dell power supplies are not engineered for longevity. They're engineered to be sold with the system and if they last a long time, great for the customer, but they're generally "just enough" to run the computer as it ships to you. Nothing more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
I agree. About the only thing they are good for is logging on to terminal servers. I don't get what buying a new case would do for me. Other the maybe give me more room for a Video Card. But I have asked my dad if I can put a bigger PSU in one of the Optiplexs, and he says "That is a PERFECT working computer, your not going to take that thing a part just so you can play some stupid game."
Putting the system into a new case gives you more options to upgrade, like a real power supply (not one of Dell's wimpy custom OEM parts for the Optiplex case), future expandibility, etc. It sucks that your dad is such a blowhard on this area. Most IT professional fathers I know (mine included) were more than happy to help me design and build my own system. It's a learning experience, and it's not relegated to the elite class of people. Truly anyone can do it if they set out to do it. To be honest, the more he pressures you to accept the status quo, the more I'd be tempted to go behind his back, but that's just my "protest nature" kicking in. I'm sorry you have to deal with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
I would love to play new games. I'm at heart a guitarist, but I love computers, and anything to do with them. I would love to be able to play newer games, but I have never had a computer that met minimum requirements of anything newer that I would like. Let alone not have to wait 10 minutes to load a map with crappy graphics. But I can't do it, let alone run Sonar properly, my audio studio.
These reasons alone are why you need to build a system or upgrade yours to a point where you can be happy with it. See above comment about oppression.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xb2003 View Post
That's what I though, and there is now probably of Overclocking my GPU or Ram either, cause of the MOtherboard, correct?
Your CPU/RAM can't be overclocked on the existing Dell board, but if you get an aftermarket GPU, you can easily overclock those independent of the motherboard.
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