Should I buy new? purchase advice.

Ok gurus what should I do in this scenario:

Currently have a Dell Dimension 8100 and the HDD is going out.  I've had the computer for a few years.  right now, I use it mostly for internet, writing, a game here and there. I may use it for more in the future.

Before I buy a new HDD it might be more cost effective to buy new. I see Dell has 8400 refurbs for as low as $600.

My thinking is this:

new computers are so inexpensive that putting any money into this old one doesn't make sense.  by the time i get the new hdd and perhaps a powersupply and quieter fan and whatever else may come up in the near future, i'm up to at least $150. For a couple hundred more I could have a much better system. Mine is a P4 1.4Ghz, 512mb, 40g, 100mhz bus, nvidia geforce2 GTS/GE Force pro.

Does it make more sense to use the money to upgrade or should I just invest in a new system since mine is becoming older? For example, I know my bus is low (100mhz).  I don't want to spend much.  Any suggestions? upgrade or buy new?

If new what do you recommend I get? Dell?  What the best system for the money?
LakefrontAsked:
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CallandorCommented:
If you can get a Dell 8400 for $600, grab it.  The 8400 is a top of the line machine, if the one you are thinking of has specs like this: http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,117517,00.asp

Since this machine is more than twice as fast, the price makes it a good upgrade.
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LakefrontAuthor Commented:
the article states "The motherboard's PCI Express X16 slot is filled with an ATI Radeon X800 XT graphics card, with 256MB of graphics memory."

however the refurbs are listing this card:

128MB PCI Express ATI Radeon X300 SE

much difference i suspect
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ErnieExpertCommented:
On another note, hard drive prices are also quite low.  You can get a 120GB hard drive for $80 which is quite a bit less than $600  If all you use it for is internet and writing, I wouldn't worry about the speed.  The occasional game, however, depends on what games you play.  Dell should have given you a resource cd with all your drivers so reinstalling the hard drive should be pretty simple.
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LakefrontAuthor Commented:
unfortunately, i called Dell and they said this computer only supports an 80gig drive.  
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CallandorCommented:
Yes - the X300 SE is ATI's bottom of the line PCI Express cards - better than integrated solutions, but not a speed demon.
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LakefrontAuthor Commented:
do you think teh X300 is better than what I got now?

nvidia geforce2 GTS/GE Force pro
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CallandorCommented:
I think your card is still faster (see the fill rate and memory bandwidth): http://www.rojakpot.com/default.aspx?location=3&var1=88&var2=0
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saoirse1916Commented:
Lakefront: the X300 is a DirectX 9 compatible card whereas your GF2 is only DirectX8, so if you are planning on playing any of the newer games and want to view the newer pixel/vertex shader features, the newer card is definitely a better way to go.  It's true that the X300 is not ATI's best card in terms of framerates, but it'll certainly make games look a lot clearer with better effects and you will not lose anything in terms of speed.

However, if you're more interested in basic word processing & internet access, you can get a new hard drive and you'll be all set.  The Dimension 8100 will support a hard drive larger than 80GB.  You might (though I doubt it) require a BIOS update in order to use a larger hard drive but that's a pretty quick fix.  
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LakefrontAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your comments.

Do you know if the Dimenstion 8400 is quiet?
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saoirse1916Commented:
Yes, it's actually suprisingly quiet.  I'm pretty sure they still use passive cooling on that one (i.e. no fan, just a heatsink.)  I may be mistaken, but if they do use active cooling it's covered by a pretty good sized green plastic airflow director which also helps to muffle the noise a bit.
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