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Old 02-12-2008, 07:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Hi All,

I want to get my old son an entry-level desktop gaming rig for his 16 b'day - hopefully something he can upgrade but who knows if he will ever want to do it. Originally we discussed him building his own computer but this plan never got off the ground because 1. he has few financial resources and 2. he's TERRIBLE at making decisions. So - I have decided to take the bull by the horns and get him at least started for his b'day. He needs a full setup, including monitor, as currently he is using a laptop with integrated graphics. I would expect this to last him till he goes off to college in 2 ½ years.

Right now he is playing WOW and doing some video editing on his current computer - I think with a newer rig he will expand his gaming, but again who knows. My budget is about 1000 bucks for everything, including a monitor if possible.

Here's the dilemma - in my budget there are a few mainstream systems that will meet his needs FINE for now, may or may not be upgradable, come with operating systems and support. They are the HP d449t, the Dell Vostro 400. I have configured them as follows:

HP - Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit), Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad processor Q6700 (2.66GHz), FREE UPGRADE to 3GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x1024,2x512) from 2GB, 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT, TV-out, DVI-I, HDMI, 802.11 b/g USB Wireless LAN card, 500GB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive, LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive, 15-in-1 memory card reader, 3 USB, 1394, audio, Integrated 7.1 channel sound w/front audio ports
– Norton Internet Security(TM) 2008 - 15 Months, Microsoft(R) Works 9.0, HP keyboard and HP optical mouse

This comes in at $900 with no monitor – and is billed as “very expandable” with lots of bays, etc.

Dell - Intel® Core™2 Quad Proc Q6600 (2.40GHz,8MB L2Cache,1066FSB), Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium, 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz - 2DIMMs, Dell 22 inch Widescreen E228WFP Analog Flat Panel Display, 512MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GT, 250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache, Dell 19-in-1 Media Card Reader, Single Drive: 16X (DVD+/-RW) Burner Drive, cheapest Dell keyboard and mouse

This comes in at $1050 with a 22” monitor – other than adding memory and another hard drive this is about as good as it gets, however it does have the best video card (by far I think?) and a decent big flatscreen.

After doing a ton of research on the web, my third option is to buy a pre-built stock parts rig from a seemingly well respected vendor called AVADirect. Their lowest end system that appeals to me comes in as follows:

CUSTOM COMPUTER, Core™ 2 Duo Extreme Performance Series System
COMPUCASE (HEC), 6C28 Black/Silver Mid-Tower Case, 485W PSU, ATX
• ASUS, P5B, LGA775, Intel P965, DDR2-800 8GB/4, PCIe x16, SATA 3Gb/s /5, Audio, GbLAN, ATX, Retail
• INTEL, Core™ 2 Duo E8400 Dual-Core, 3.0GHz, 1333MHz FSB, 6MB L2 Cache, 45nm, 65W, EM64T EIST VT XD, Retail
• OCZ, 2GB (2 x 1GB) Gold GX XTC PC2-6400 DDR2 800MHz CL 5-5-5-12 SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
• GIGABYTE, GV-NX85T512HP, GeForce® 8500GT 600MHz, 512MB GDDR2 800MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, VGA+DVI, HDTV-Out, Retail
• SEAGATE, 250GB Barracuda 7200.10, SATA II 300MB/s, 7200-RPM, 16MB cache
• RAID, No RAID, Independent HDD Drives
• SONY, CRX320EE Black 52x32x52-16A DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo Drive, OEM
• LINKSKEY, LKA-CR15B Black 19-in-1 Card Reader/Writer Drive, 3.5" Bay, Internal USB
• MICROSOFT, Windows Vista Home Premium Edition 32-bit, OEM
• WARRANTY, Silver Warranty Package (3 Year Limited Parts, 3 Year Labor Warranty

This comes in at about $900 with no monitor – all of this is highly configurable, I made a few changes (upgraded the processor and added an operating system and a card reader, but every option is changeable, for a price of course).

OK – so, sorry about the length of this post but I have to make a decision soon in order to get this here in time for his b’day. Do I go for the “expandable” HP system? Or the Dell Vostro with a 22 inch monitor and the best graphics card, but little space in the case for upgrades? Or do I buy what is fundamentally a bare bones system for him to perhaps learn and tweak and overclock on? Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

If you want a budget gaming system then overclocking is really the only way!

I recommend buying all the pieces seperately and putting it together/overclocking it with him. It will be great fun, a good dad/kid thing to do, and also a very good learning experience.

give me a sec and I'll try to piece together a build
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Newegg.com - LITE-ON Black 16X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 16X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 16X DVD±R DVD Burner - OEM
24

Newegg.com - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320820A 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 Hard Drive - OEM
75

Newegg.com - Hanns·G HB-191DPB Black 19" 5ms DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2400:1(DCR) Built in Speakers - Retail
170

Newegg.com - XFX PVT88PYHF4 GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
230

Newegg.com - Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W SLI Ready-ATX12V V2.01 Power Supply 115/230 V CSA,UL,TUV,FCC - Retail
70

Newegg.com - Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
65

Newegg.com - ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
180

Newegg.com - Intel Pentium E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
Newegg.com - Rosewill RCX-Z4 120mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - Retail
103 combo

That's 916 before rebates....861 after rebates. Then just pick up your case of choice, keyboard/mouse, and decide whether you want xp or vista
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Thanks for the quick reply - I have some questions about your build it yourself option. It seems to me that buying a retail Vista Home Premium (which is what I am looking at, he wants Vista and I don't see any advantage in going beyond that) is about $200.00, and a case will run me about $50-100, which is about the 2/3's of the difference between that and upgrading the AVADirect system to an 8800 graphics card. That just leaves the monitor - but if I build myself don't I have to worry about some cables and stuff like that as well? Is this really a better option than going with the AVADirect approach, which would give him something he can play with straight out of the box and can overclock and upgrade as he sees fit? As well as some support for what it is worth. Am I missing something in terms of the price of a legit operating system? Also, as far as the AVADirect system is concerned, there are a ton of options that only change the price by a few dollars, in terms of motherboard, case, memory brand, extra cooling, even graphics card brand. I am trying to sift through those to get the best immediate bang for the buck and let him decide to upgrade later as he sees fit - is there anything that stands out as an immediate poor choice?

Thanks for your time
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Old 02-12-2008, 11:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

The only things OEM in that list are the optical and hard drives... but the motherboard will come with the cables they need.

Yeah, he could plug up a pre-built and go from there, but there is NOTHING like putting together your own rig with your own hands. It's better than restoring a '65 Mustang. Well, close anyway. Plus, since you put it together, you know how to take it apart and upgrade it.

Gurusan's list is a good one. If I were to change anything it would be to go with a more powerful processor, but that's about it.

For the OS, you can go with an OEM version of Vista. It's the same as the retail, but you're not supposed to transfer it to a different system than the one it was initially installed on. "Supposed" to is the opportune word.
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Old 02-12-2008, 11:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trotter View Post
For the OS, you can go with an OEM version of Vista. It's the same as the retail, but you're not supposed to transfer it to a different system than the one it was initially installed on. "Supposed" to is the opportune word.
what if you format your pc? then can you re install it on the your fresh installed opc again?
im guessing this is a yes...but id like to make sure.

And gurasans rig is good except for the processor. If you dont wanna deal with oc, you could always get the e8400 or the q6600.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Yes, you can reinstall. It works like the copy on a pre-built... you're not supposed to install it anywhere else.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

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Yes, you can reinstall. It works like the copy on a pre-built... you're not supposed to install it anywhere else.
alriht tahanks.
although they should make it like office, where you can have 3 licensed users!
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Quote:
Originally Posted by krazyq View Post
alriht tahanks.
although they should make it like office, where you can have 3 licensed users!
Agreed and since when the heck should an OS cost over 50$? Linux looks nice and its about 30$ but at the moment I m afraid of change.
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: help me buy a present for my 16 year old son

Linux is free. Yes, there are a couple of pay versions, but all the rest id completely free for the downloading, which is legal.
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