Recommend a desktop for $2000 to $3000

Howdy all,

I find myself in the market for a new desktop (oh, darn!) and want to explore all options.  I have always purchased DELL Computers with reasonable satisfaction but I know more this time around and want to make a more informed choice.

I want to be able to:
Update a word document, while I
download a program off of the internet, while I
listen to MP3s on Media Center, while I
recieve new mail, while I
print a document, etc. etc. etc.

I am very specific about the sound card but not gaming capabilities.  Would you all please recommend: 1) Pre-made/pieced together, 2) the best processor/mother board combination, 3) compared experience of P4 versus AMD versus Xenon, etc.


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GreatWhiteOneConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Man if you put that much money into a computer and allow someone geek to build it for you without a warrenty and an awsome custom case, you are crazy.  Check out
Those are PCs for people who are serious about gaming and have the money to spend.  I have been building PCs for myself and others since the origination of 3d cards and before, but if I had the money, I would buy an alien ware machine.

Good luck
burrcmConnect With a Mentor Commented:
What I would do. AMD3000+, decent board and video card, 1GB RAM, 120 / 160GB HDD, DVD dual layer burner, 500w ps, 17" LCD, Server case (more robust) and save some for an adsl modem. XP and a free Office suite. Put it all together, sit back and enjoy. This can be done for less than $3000 (Aus).

Chris B
CallandorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
With a budget like that, you could get a very powerful gaming machine - prices have really dropped, and you can get a decent machine for $1000.  Maybe you should do that and spend the rest on a really good display and sound system.

P4 cpus run cooler and do well in video processing, like compressing video to DVD mpeg2.  They cost more than an equivalent AMD cpu.

AMD AthlonXP cpus are faster than the similar rated Intel cpus in games and office apps; they also are cheaper.   They run hotter and require a better quality heatsink if you want to get the most out of them.  

Xeons are very expensive Intel cpus, but work very well in servers and desktops that require a lot of processing power.  They excel powering databases and doing multiple tasks, since you can create multiple cpu systems and they are hyperthreading as well.

For AthlonXP's, I recommend nForce2 chipset mmotherboards: Asus A7N8X, or Abit NF7.  For Intel P4's, the i865PE or i875G chipsets are desirable, and I recommend the Asus P4P800 or Abit IC7-G.  The Xeon requires the Intel E7505 chipset and there are a number compared here:  You said you want your own sound card, so you can skip the models that charge you for providing all that onboard sound.  

Since you're not concerned with gaming, a very ordinary Radeon 9200 or nVidia FX5200 will do, and you can upgrade if you change your mind.  If you are very interested in multitasking, get lots of memory to avoid swapping - 1GB minimum, and perhaps 2GB.  The hyperthreading P4 3.0 may work better for that, though the AthlonXP 3200+ is pretty good, too.  A fast 10000 rpm SATA drive would also be desirable, such as the Western Digital Raptor, which comes in 74GB size.
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And a decent power supply to drive all that:
Enermax 460W
Speechy_JeffAuthor Commented:

It seems to be the general opinion that I should piece together rather than add a bunch of upgrades to a DELL basic (or some equivalent).

Xeon is the chip of multi-tasking but P4 or AMD will do the trick (list in descending order of price).

I can scavenge my current system (DELL 8100 P3 (1.2 GHz processor), 1.2 GB RAM) for 1.2 GB of RAM and a dual layer DVD.

How much should someone charge me (total or hourly) to scavenge the old, install the new and transfer data?


If you find a shop that custom builds computers, they may give you a few dollars for your old computer, as it's not that old that they wouldn't want it.  I think taking the parts as listed above, and getting one custom built may be your best option, as I have heard that Dell can be picky with adding parts if it's not something that is normal for them.  
If you are going to get everything new - I'd suggest a RAM upgrade that is compatible with your mainboard.  With $3000-$4000 you could, without problem, get a mainboard that supports DDR2...  

Here is what I suggest:

AMD Opteron Model 150   $540
  -L1/64K+64K   L2/1MB
  -Operates at 2.4GHZ

ASUS "SK8V" K8T800 Chipset  $172
Supported CPU: Socket 940 AMD Athlon64 FX Processors
Chipset: VIA K8T800 + VIA VT8237
FSB: Scalable HyperTransport
RAM: 4x DIMM for Registered ECC DDR400/333/266 Max 8GB
IDE : 3x UltraDMA 133(1 from Promise R20378) up to 6 Devices
Slots: 1x AGP 8X, 5x PCI, 1x Wi-Fi
Ports: 2xPS2,1xLPT,SPDIF Out,1xCOM,8xUSB2.0(Rear 4),1xLAN,2x1394a(Rear 1),Audio Ports
Onboard Audio: AD1985 Codec
Onboard LAN: 3COM 3C940 GbE
Onboard SATA/RAID: VIA VT8237, 2x SATA, RAID 0/1; Promise R20378, 2x SATA, RAID 0/1/0+1
Onboard 1394: VIA VT6307
Form Factor: ATX

4x512MB ECC Crucial RAM  $149/EACH

Sounds like the rest you can get from the other PC.

I would not get an Intel based board that has DDR two.   They are very rough to say the least at the time being.  They are better then they were a month ago, but I don't think the stabliity is there yet to consider purchasing one.  However, the AMD based DDR 2 boards are very much winning the race to get DDR2 on the market.  

>>How much should someone charge me (total or hourly) to scavenge the old, install the new and transfer data?
a lot unfortunately.   You just have to be very careful to find the right place.  Some of these places are charging and arm and a leg for computer work.  The reason is that most people don't know what they are doing, kind of like auto mechanics that do the same thing.  
Most high quality computer parts come with at least a one year warrenty.  Some with two or 3 year warrenties.  
Speechy_JeffAuthor Commented:
thanks to all.  I will  post another question that continues this line but it seems right to close this out and move on to the next part of the process: AMD Athlon 64 FX53 and motherboard to be put into my current DELL.  Thanks again to everyone.

Speechy_JeffAuthor Commented:
BTW, it was either the AMD option or buy directly from Alien, which turns out to be a heck of a deal/sight, hence the point distribution.
You will need a new power supply as your DELL power supply will not work.
Well, if he's going for Alienware, he won't have that problem (accepted answer).
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