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Apr 17 2008

New Computer - Dell XPS 630


I finally broke down and ordered a new computer. We got our old one in the fall of 2001 and while it was still running strong, it was a little slow and unable to handle really demanding programs (*cough* recent *cough* games *cough*...OK, photo and video editing software too). Since last year, I've been researching options, configuring potential systems, watching prices and waiting for new components to come out. Finally, last Friday I found I was able to use multiple discounts on a Dell build of components and options that I really liked. The final price was below even what I could get at a discount parts seller for everything unassembled. I placed the order and, today, our new Dell arrived.

892-intel-e8500.pngThe hardest decision was whether to get it with Windows XP or Vista and whether to get a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. Long...very long...story short, once we decided that, since we weren't breaking the bank getting the most outrageous options possible, this computer would not have to have a life-span of nearly seven years. XP is sturdy, familiar, faster and more compatible than Vista. Along with many, many others, we'll be skipping Vista entirely and go straight from XP to Windows 7. Since we were staying with XP, I decided we'd also stay with 32-bit as there is simply no compelling reason to jump to 64-bit.

Once the decision was made that the computer wouldn't have to last forever, the choice of what CPU to get was also easier. At similar prices, dual core chips run at a higher clock speed than quad core chips. But, for programs that are optimized to run on multiple cores, the slower clock speed of a quad core CPU is more than made up for by the additions cores so, in theory, a similarly priced quad core is faster than a dual core. In actuality, very few programs are optimized to take advantage of multiple cores. As a result, most programs today, including high end games, run faster on a similarly priced dual core rather than a quad core. I picked out the 3.0GHz E8400 as the optimal performance value in dual cores but to qualify for one of the discounts I had to go with the slightly more expensive E8500. The end result with the E8500 and discount was much cheaper than configured with the E8400.

The final specs on our new Dell:


- Intel Core2 E8500 (3.16GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 1333 FSB, 45nm)
- 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz, 4 DIMMs
- nVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
- 750GB Hard Drive, 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
- Dual Drives: 48x Combo + 16x DVD+/-RW w/ dbl layer
- Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
- 750 watt Power Supply
- Windows XP Professional

I wouldn't have even gone with another Dell except for the fact that they are moving their tech support back to the United States, they are moving away from 891-dell-ultrasharp-2208wfp.pngproprietary hardware and some other reasons such as their implementation of ESA (Enthusiast System Architecture).

In January we replaced our monitor. Our old CRT had grown irreversibly fuzzy. After much research and consideration, we went with a Dell 22" UltraSharp 2208WFP widescreen flat panel monitor (1680 x 1050, 5 millisecond, 1000:1, adjustable height, tilt, swivel and pivot). The quality and design of the monitor is outstanding.

[Update:] Holy cow is this thing fast! I had purposely been keeping my expectations low regarding noticing any speed change except in really demanding tasks. But, everything, from just opening a file to surfing the internet is much much faster. And, I'm not talking about just an incremental increase in speed, everything is faster by an order of magnitude! It's amazing!

Posted by Don |


  1. Don,

    I enjoyed finding your post about your Dell XPS 630.
    I just bought one for my wife since running genealogy programs on her older HP Pavillion /w Windows was getting to be a hassle. The darn thing keeps shutting down on her.
    She said she needed a bigger computer, but didn't know what to buy.

    Ironically, I configured one pretty much the same as yours, with Windows XP, except that my 4gb of memory is not the Corsair.... she doesn't play games anyway.
    No monitor; we'll use her existing 20" Samsung flat screen.
    This afternoon I bought another 21" Samsung wide screen monitor in order to see what's going on between the computers when I (attempt) to transfer files and programs).

    You didn't mention what kind of video you had. Is it integrated or a separate card?

    Ours came with the 512mb Nvidia 8800 GT video. I don't know if it's integrated or a separate card (I haven't unpacked the computer yet. We'd like to add a 2nd monitor.

    Do you know if just putting a 2nd video card in the machine and hooking it up to a separate monitor will work so I can pull windows across from one screen to another?

    One last question and I'll leave you along... how did you transfer files from your last system to your new Dell XPS 630? Did you by any chance buy the Laplink PC Mover Dell offered? I did, but after reading some of the reviews I'm almost afraid to try it.

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