Questions

Buying a gaming pc help!

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Buying a gaming pc help!

Petersnoboard93
I'm trying to build a gaming pc on dell. I thought about building one myself but decided against it. So my question is, will this pc I build be a strong gaming pc, what should i upgrade? Thanks

Components
-Intel ? Core?2 Duo Processor E6400 (2.13GHz, 1066 FSB)

-Genuine Windows Vista? Home Premium

-19 inch E197FP Analog Flat Panel

-2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs

-320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache?

-16x DVD+/-RW Drive

-Intel? Graphics Media Accelerator X3000

-Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
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    CG IT

    and a mainboard that supports gobs of memory [some will support up to 16 GB] Get a Direct X 10 capable graphics card with as much onboard memory as you can afford [think 512MB]. Get the 320 to 380 bit memory interface [think $600 USD for just the graphics card].

    Most mainboards have 3 or more SATA interfaces. don't settle for just 1 SATA drive. Find a mainboard that supports RAID 5 with SATA and get more than 2 drives. Newer games that will be coming out will take up far more HDD space than todays games.

    Don't skimp on your display. Many DirectX 10 graphics cards support HDTV as well as DVI. A 19" LCD display today is just standard fare. 32" displays or even Quad displays are better than just a skimpy 19" LCD. [see digitaltigers.com zenview powertrio display].

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    rbardy

    Read this... spot on!!

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    jasocher

    This is an awesome 19" monitor. I've got a 17" version as well and it's also a kick *** gaming monitor.

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    aptechme

    Don't forget that unless you are going to purchase the 64bit version of Windows, don't bother getting more than 3 gig of RAM. 32bit versions won't support much more.

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    ifitz

    Actually 32 bit Windows will run up to 4 GB of RAM, There are documented registry changes on the Microsoft site to optimize your system. As for purchasing 64 bit Windows, you will need to verify that there are drivers for all of your hardware before taking that leap.

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    JamesRL

    The OS will take it. My computer has 6 memeory slots and will handle 16 GB of RAM.

    But if you are running XP, the max is 3.5 - if you put in 4GB it will only see 3.5. Your computer may be different.

    James

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    Evil Never Dies

    Vista HP will handle 4GB with no problems.

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    mjd420nova

    Get yourself a nice 750 watt power supply to keep that all running, otherwise it'll get toasted with not enough juice and the voltages will start to drop off and roast things good. A good PCI-E Nvidia video card with loads (512MB) of memory should handle just about all the games out there.

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    $$$

    Petersnoboard93

    I really only have like $1,500 to spend can you make any recomendations for hardware w/ in that price range, also do you know of any online guides that help you build a pc and can help me reasurch?

    Also can you make a list like
    Hardware-Minimum
    Harddrive-At least 320 gb
    or
    memory-at least 4gb

    or w/e

    Thanks

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    CG IT

    overclocker cafe is a good site for gaming.

    http://www.overclockercafe.com/

    gamespot has articles on next generation games that use DirectX 10.

    Thats really what you want to research, the game developers and what's in store in the future, then plan accordingly.

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    mark

    You will never get the best Motherboard or graphics card or fastest memory from a DELL.
    I might be Bias because I build these systems for a living Buut you will not be able to tweak alot of things on the MB let allone get the full power of what it is capable of from DELL. The sell average systems for the AVERAGE user. The are usually not as upgradable down the road when you need just alittle more power for that New game you just have to have!!
    If you whant some more advise write mark@tek-plus.org.

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    george.hickey

    Hi,

    I built myself a decent gaming rig last year for around the money you're talking about - it is the most cost effective way to go, especially given that component costs are about 25-33% less than what you get them for over here in Europe.

    If you want to build yourself one, there are other posts here with good guidelines- personally, I would go for at least 2GB of branded RAM, Athlon64 2.4GHz or above, Nvidia 7950GT with 256MB onboard VRAM or better, 2 SATA disks in a stripe (RAID-0) with a third storage disk if you can afford it, a sound card (Soundblaster) and a flat panel with a 5ms response time or less.

    On the other hand, you have a whole load of specialist builders who start at below your price range:
    http://www.ibuypower.com/
    http://www.vigorgamingpc.com/
    http://www.abs.com/app/ult_compare.asp
    http://www.aeoncraft.com/
    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/
    http://www.buyxg.com/
    http://www.widowpc.com/

    ..to well over your price range:
    http://www.alienware.com/
    http://www.falcon-nw.com/
    http://www.voodoopc.com/

    I have not bought anything from any of them except Alienware (cracking pieces of kit - just a bit expensive) so I can't vouch for them but all of them look good on paper. I'd do a bit of research into them - see what kind of support they offer and see if you can customise a machine the way you want it.

    Good luck with it and happy gaming!
    G.

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    dreux.grever

    Honestly, $1500 isn't really enough money to build what most people consider to be a strong gaming pc. So it all depends on your gaming habits (do you play Vanguard, which needs a Cray to run well) or something a little less graphic intensive. Also, do you mind running games at lower graphic settings.

    If your budget is really that limited, get 2 gb of memory (4 is better if any money is left over at the end), some sort of Nvidia 7900 or 7950 video card with 256 mb of memory, I'd go with smaller, but faster hard drives if I could (10,000 rpms) but if you plan on burning lots of video or music the drive you've selected is a good choice.

    I this this sort of rig can be bought or built for about your price range and will give you acceptable performance for most of todays games.

    Most of the advice I'm seeing in this thread is from the really hard core machine builders..and you'd need 4-5k to build the machine, let alone buy it.

    Might as well buy a water-cooled Dell in that case. (OK, those are 6500)

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    devesh

    Very well put Dreux. $1500 is most definitely not enough, and compromising on the video will be the downfall of any gaming PC

    I personally use an overclock 7950GT, the 8800 is still not value for money. However, I would disagree with you on the 256 Video memory. Even a basic game like Flight Simulator X, sucks up all 512MB of video RAM.

    On the Hard Disk front, I find, with 2GB DRAM and the 512 VRAM, I can get away with 7200rpm SATA drives. The game takes a minute or so extra to load, but I can live with that. I have just a puny 200GB drive, and I am happy as a clam, even though I have Quake4, FSX, Call of Duty, Hitman, .... god only knows how many games loaded, along with about 40GB of Music, and another 10GB of photos. No video though.

    I saw some good gaming systems at Tiger that can be brought up to spec for about $2000 - $2250.

    No point spending $1500 and have yourself wishing for a new computer in 6 months. :))

    Regards

    Devesh

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    rbardy

    Take a look at that link under 'Guide'. It has some really good info and some excellent informtion. It's not always as easy as recommending one part over another. Sometimes you need to understand the 'why' before you can spend the extra money on something. Some people love 10,000 rpm HDDs... others can't justify the price... so it comes down to what you really can afford. That guide does a good job of explaining and pricing for you.

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    support

    Having built my last system, and doing the research for building my next one (with gaming in mind), your budget is going to put some serious kinks in your "Gaming PC". The guys telling you max memory, are not exactly looking towards the right thing. As one posted, 3GB is about all you are going to be able to utilize, the rest is wasted memory and money. Look more towards the best processor you can afford... Intel seems to have the best processor on the market, even in light of the latest AMD attempt to even things up a bit. Think about a pair of 200 GB HD's, instead of one monster size drive. Don't be afraid to remove games once you finish playing them... no need to leave them on your HD, taking up space! Graphics, Sound Cards and Speakers, are essential to having a great gaming system. Look at the 8000 series Nvidia cards as they offer best graphics rendering at this time, and there is a pretty good selection - price range to choose from. Of course you can spend as much as half your budget on the top graphics card alone, but if eye-candy is the things you desire, then you have to shell out the bucks. Serious gamers will spend almost your whole budget on graphics cards alone! Next, SoundBlaster X-Fi ExtremeGamer, should do good for you, unless you are expecting to setup a home recording studio, which you would then consider their, Fatal1ty model card, but you'll pay $100 more for it. And as some of the other posters have said, make sure you have enjoy juice for all your hardware. A 750 watt power supply is the minimum you should look at, and I would favor 800 - 900 watt power supplies (it is always better to have more power than need then not enough!) Surround-Sound Speakers are a must as well. I prefer the 5.1,6.1 or even 7.1 setups Creative Labs Gigaworks and Klipsch are great choices, but maybe out of your price range. Logitech and Altec Lansing make decent speakers, at pretty affordable prices. However you have to decide if you are going for visual or audio, with your budget, as you will likely have to settle for budget offering on one or the other. However on important thing to remember: Minimum Requirements of almost all the PC Games look at Processor, Memory, Graphics capability. The best way to find out what you need to concentrate on is go look at the Minimum Requirements and the "Recommended System" on the game(s) you intend to play on your computer. If you can pull it off, go recommended system, but again, you $1500 budget is ham-stringing you a bit, but you should be able to put together a system that can get you by for a couple of years. Most serious gamers will spend $3000+ on their systems, with top end Gaming PC from Alienware reaching almost $8000. For $1500, you are going to have to do some serious studying on the which Processor/Memory/Graphics/Sound combination will get you the most bang for your buck, but remember, research and study is the key to success here! Don't get in a hurry to spend that money... take a month or so, to check out the Game(s)you want to play's requirements then work towards matching your system configuration to that.

    Good Luck and Happy Gaming!

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    jw_dev

    I have owned a Dell XPS 400 since they released them back in October 2005. I just built a new machine to replace it, and I did so for the following reasons:

    1) Lack of space for better graphics cards (most high end cards for gaming run close to 10 inches in length nowadays)

    2) Lack of a good stock PSU (only 375 watts in the XPS 400), and difficulty upgradeing (check forums, lots of people have issues upgrading PSU's when it comes to Dell because they tend to use BTX instead of ATX). If you want a gaming machine that is going to run a good graphics card, you will need a bigger power supply. You don't sound like you're going to run SLI (2 cards at once), so if you're going to maintain just 1 card then a 500 or 550 watt PSU would probably suit you just fine.

    3) Cooling. If you're buying an XPS machine it's closer to a gaming rig than other Dell lineups, however, if you really want to have a "gaming" machine that plays all the latest and greatest stuff, you WILL need a better graphics card and if we're talking Geforce 8800 whether it be the cheaper GTS version or the GTX, cooling is something Dell doesn't offer many options on. Those cards run very hot (GTX will get up to around 70 degrees celcius at least without 3rd party cooling)

    Also, you have to look at what resolutions you want to play your games at. If you want higher resolutions than 1280x1024, new games coming out are going to slow you down with a 512 MB card. The Geforce 8800 GTS 640MB card is a great buy for the money. Higher res = need more video ram. Games are also leaning more towards using heavy use of shaders and moving away from high polygon counts as in the past, so video ram is becoming more of a necessity.

    As far as graphics cards go in general, I would wait a few months - ATI is going to release a new line of high end cards that will force Nvidia to roll out something better than the Geforce 8800 GTX, which will drive prices down on those cards. I would pick up a GTX once prices drop because the card is a monster and it isn't going to remain in the 500-600 dollar arena for much longer.

    I would personally re-evaluate your decision to not build your own machine because once again, Dell uses BTX cases and motherboards, which are NOT standard. Also, Dell tends to use chipsets that are pretty much junk for their motherboards. If you ever wanted to upgrade your processor and keep using your Dell, you are forced to keep using the motherboard.

    Also, now is a great time to build on your own because Intel just slashed prices big time on their Core2Duo chips that pretty much have put them right on par with prices of AMD and Core2Duo simply outperforms AMD right now.

    I'm sure I have more rambling thoughts in my head but hopefully some of this was useful.

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    georgeou

    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877_11-6161342.html

    Using a quality low-noise 330W PSU. 430W PSU is plenty overkill for the biggest single PCI-E Video Card rig you can buy.

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    JamesRL

    Basically many modern games demand one of two video chipsets - ATI or nVidia. Many won't install with an Intel or SiS or other video chipset.

    You don't have to spend $500 on a video card. The price performance ratio really isn't there.

    If you are buying now, I would recommend a card that supports Vista's HDCP; Midrange cards that support this include the Radeon 1600 Pro, 1650 XT , or nVidia 7900/8500/8600 cards - check the individual manufacturer's specs though.

    James

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    carlsf

    I would say the following needed....
    MEMORY for gaming 4GB if you can afford it VISTA very hungry before you start your game.
    Video CARD min of 512Mb PCI-E Card otherwise VISTS starts hogging your RAM, forget low end or onboard video turn that off if have PCI-E card
    LAST but not least VISTA Ultimate if your requirement are for online, otherwise you will spend hours trying to connect.

    Personally I would stick to XP PRO SR2

    Regards Carl

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    Gis Bun

    Most will probably agree that the NVIDIA based cards are the one to use. For the majority of games out there [and I test gaming for Stereo-3D - see www.mtbs3d.com], you are better off with a NVIDIA based card because they are always listed in the requirements. Not all ATI cards are [listed but it doesn't mean they can or can't be used].

    Of course only NVIDIA cards have Stereo-3D!

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    JamesRL

    And I would say it goes back and forth which is the best bang for the buck.

    Many people who review cards for a living will tell you the image quality in most ATI cards is better. Often nVidias are faster for the same money, but it is a see saw battle.

    Most video cards will work in Vista with DX10, BUT DX10 provides the games developer with the ability to do alot more and only a few nVidia cards (8800/8600) do hardware acceleration for this. Another Vista feature HDCP, the ability to play HD/Blue Ray DVDs is supported by most recent new cards by ATI/nVidia.

    James

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    DaFrog

    I recently got a Velocity Micro ProMagix e2025... From Best Buy. Instant gratification (no waiting for delivery, pick it up and install!), Velocity Micro-quality.
    And very similar to your specs, with a 512Mo VRAM dedicated nVidia graphic card (7600GS - not the top, but good enough to see the offer get steady on Direct-X compatible cards). Vista Premium installed (without any crapware), and I have setup a dual boot with XP that works just fine.
    Highly recommended.
    Go check http://www.velocitymicro.com/ (and your local Best Buy, too... I was surprised to see these machines at BB.
    Cheers.

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    devesh

    Hi

    Your above config may suffice for basic games, but if you are consider Quake4, F.E.A.R., Flight Simulator X, etc., it will not suffice.

    Building a gaming PC is not easy nor is it cheap. Most of all, a gaming PC is NOT a business PC that has a more powerful processor and more memory. Dell does have some gaming PC, but I do not know your budget, and these babies will cost upwards of $3000. A good compromise is TigerDirect, or a mom-and-pop shop near by. You may want to look at this configurable machine at Tiger. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3049087&CatId=1886

    The heart of the gaming PC is not the processor, it is the Video card and therein will lie your problem. The good video card that is ruling the gaming market is the NVidia 88xx series. This supports SLI so you can add additional video processing power as required later, but each video card will require abut 400W of power if not more, and will produce heat like some thermal reactor, so you will need a specialised motherboard that is designed for heat, and a gaming case/cabinet which has at least 3 or 4 fans, one of which should be 120mm or greater.

    The E6400 will suffice, but if you can afford it, go for an E6600 2.4Ghz Core2Duo.

    Motherboard, I would recommend something other than Asus. They are having problems with many of their motherboards, especially the lower cost ones.

    The DRAM you will need gaming memory that will run at 800Mhz GUARANTEED. Something like the Corsair XPS RAM. 2GB minimum, 4GB preferred. For example Quake4 in high res mode sucks up 1.5GB+ of memory. FSX sucks up 1.4GB. You sure don't want a memory swapping involving disk-writes in the middle of the game.

    I have already explained about the video card. Get one with at least 512MB Video memory. If you find the 88xx too expensive, then the 7950XT will be the next step down. Another option is ATI's Crossfire.

    Finally the power supply. You will need a 600W-700W dual rail power supply if you are with one high-end Video card, and a 1000W power supply if you are with 2 video cards.

    In a Flat Panel, look for detailed specs. The regular panels that Dell offers, have too slow refresh rates and may not work for a fast paced game.

    Other things are relatively minor.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards

    Devesh

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    philtbc

    As indicated by others, get the highest DuoCore that you can afford along with memory, and definitely a good to great VC, 256 min up to 512, and don't forget you need to keep your box cool as well...
    cheers

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    va6h

    if im not mistaken you have an integrated video card. That doesnt make this a gaming pc. and you want to use windows vista and the vista rating depends mainly on the video card. You badly need a better graphics card to play some games. i would also advise you to upgrade yor processor to an e6600 which has twice the amount of cache and outerperforms the top AMD processors in most benchmarks.

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    rservicer

    Alienware was once good it seams
    but now under Dell
    enough said, Just Google Alienware
    your eyes will be open

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    rkuhn

    I'd get a better video card first.

    Then, if budget allows, I'd either get a 10,000 RPM drive or two drives (don't have to be 320 GB each) and RAID 0 them (striping) for performance.

    Also, very important, pay attention to the monitor. Get one with DMI input and very low response times. My LCD right now is a 2 ms response time and is nice. If you really play a lot of games, not sure you'd be happy with 6-8 ms response times.

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    troy1268

    I read your request and in my opinion I think you will have a slight slow down when you play games because of the Intel graphics installed. The sound card will probaly be better if you installed one from creative labs. You will definitely do better by installing at least a 512 mb card then you should not have any problems. But like I said it is my opinion, someone else may suggest something different

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    CG IT

    and a mainboard that supports gobs of memory [some will support up to 16 GB] Get a Direct X 10 capable graphics card with as much onboard memory as you can afford [think 512MB]. Get the 320 to 380 bit memory interface [think $600 USD for just the graphics card].

    Most mainboards have 3 or more SATA interfaces. don't settle for just 1 SATA drive. Find a mainboard that supports RAID 5 with SATA and get more than 2 drives. Newer games that will be coming out will take up far more HDD space than todays games.

    Don't skimp on your display. Many DirectX 10 graphics cards support HDTV as well as DVI. A 19" LCD display today is just standard fare. 32" displays or even Quad displays are better than just a skimpy 19" LCD. [see digitaltigers.com zenview powertrio display].

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    rbardy

    Read this... spot on!!

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    jasocher

    This is an awesome 19" monitor. I've got a 17" version as well and it's also a kick *** gaming monitor.

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    aptechme

    Don't forget that unless you are going to purchase the 64bit version of Windows, don't bother getting more than 3 gig of RAM. 32bit versions won't support much more.

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    ifitz

    Actually 32 bit Windows will run up to 4 GB of RAM, There are documented registry changes on the Microsoft site to optimize your system. As for purchasing 64 bit Windows, you will need to verify that there are drivers for all of your hardware before taking that leap.

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    JamesRL

    The OS will take it. My computer has 6 memeory slots and will handle 16 GB of RAM.

    But if you are running XP, the max is 3.5 - if you put in 4GB it will only see 3.5. Your computer may be different.

    James

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    Evil Never Dies

    Vista HP will handle 4GB with no problems.

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    mjd420nova

    Get yourself a nice 750 watt power supply to keep that all running, otherwise it'll get toasted with not enough juice and the voltages will start to drop off and roast things good. A good PCI-E Nvidia video card with loads (512MB) of memory should handle just about all the games out there.

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    $$$

    Petersnoboard93

    I really only have like $1,500 to spend can you make any recomendations for hardware w/ in that price range, also do you know of any online guides that help you build a pc and can help me reasurch?

    Also can you make a list like
    Hardware-Minimum
    Harddrive-At least 320 gb
    or
    memory-at least 4gb

    or w/e

    Thanks

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    0 Votes
    CG IT

    overclocker cafe is a good site for gaming.

    http://www.overclockercafe.com/

    gamespot has articles on next generation games that use DirectX 10.

    Thats really what you want to research, the game developers and what's in store in the future, then plan accordingly.

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    mark

    You will never get the best Motherboard or graphics card or fastest memory from a DELL.
    I might be Bias because I build these systems for a living Buut you will not be able to tweak alot of things on the MB let allone get the full power of what it is capable of from DELL. The sell average systems for the AVERAGE user. The are usually not as upgradable down the road when you need just alittle more power for that New game you just have to have!!
    If you whant some more advise write mark@tek-plus.org.

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    0 Votes
    george.hickey

    Hi,

    I built myself a decent gaming rig last year for around the money you're talking about - it is the most cost effective way to go, especially given that component costs are about 25-33% less than what you get them for over here in Europe.

    If you want to build yourself one, there are other posts here with good guidelines- personally, I would go for at least 2GB of branded RAM, Athlon64 2.4GHz or above, Nvidia 7950GT with 256MB onboard VRAM or better, 2 SATA disks in a stripe (RAID-0) with a third storage disk if you can afford it, a sound card (Soundblaster) and a flat panel with a 5ms response time or less.

    On the other hand, you have a whole load of specialist builders who start at below your price range:
    http://www.ibuypower.com/
    http://www.vigorgamingpc.com/
    http://www.abs.com/app/ult_compare.asp
    http://www.aeoncraft.com/
    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/
    http://www.buyxg.com/
    http://www.widowpc.com/

    ..to well over your price range:
    http://www.alienware.com/
    http://www.falcon-nw.com/
    http://www.voodoopc.com/

    I have not bought anything from any of them except Alienware (cracking pieces of kit - just a bit expensive) so I can't vouch for them but all of them look good on paper. I'd do a bit of research into them - see what kind of support they offer and see if you can customise a machine the way you want it.

    Good luck with it and happy gaming!
    G.

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    dreux.grever

    Honestly, $1500 isn't really enough money to build what most people consider to be a strong gaming pc. So it all depends on your gaming habits (do you play Vanguard, which needs a Cray to run well) or something a little less graphic intensive. Also, do you mind running games at lower graphic settings.

    If your budget is really that limited, get 2 gb of memory (4 is better if any money is left over at the end), some sort of Nvidia 7900 or 7950 video card with 256 mb of memory, I'd go with smaller, but faster hard drives if I could (10,000 rpms) but if you plan on burning lots of video or music the drive you've selected is a good choice.

    I this this sort of rig can be bought or built for about your price range and will give you acceptable performance for most of todays games.

    Most of the advice I'm seeing in this thread is from the really hard core machine builders..and you'd need 4-5k to build the machine, let alone buy it.

    Might as well buy a water-cooled Dell in that case. (OK, those are 6500)

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    devesh

    Very well put Dreux. $1500 is most definitely not enough, and compromising on the video will be the downfall of any gaming PC

    I personally use an overclock 7950GT, the 8800 is still not value for money. However, I would disagree with you on the 256 Video memory. Even a basic game like Flight Simulator X, sucks up all 512MB of video RAM.

    On the Hard Disk front, I find, with 2GB DRAM and the 512 VRAM, I can get away with 7200rpm SATA drives. The game takes a minute or so extra to load, but I can live with that. I have just a puny 200GB drive, and I am happy as a clam, even though I have Quake4, FSX, Call of Duty, Hitman, .... god only knows how many games loaded, along with about 40GB of Music, and another 10GB of photos. No video though.

    I saw some good gaming systems at Tiger that can be brought up to spec for about $2000 - $2250.

    No point spending $1500 and have yourself wishing for a new computer in 6 months. :))

    Regards

    Devesh

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    rbardy

    Take a look at that link under 'Guide'. It has some really good info and some excellent informtion. It's not always as easy as recommending one part over another. Sometimes you need to understand the 'why' before you can spend the extra money on something. Some people love 10,000 rpm HDDs... others can't justify the price... so it comes down to what you really can afford. That guide does a good job of explaining and pricing for you.

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    support

    Having built my last system, and doing the research for building my next one (with gaming in mind), your budget is going to put some serious kinks in your "Gaming PC". The guys telling you max memory, are not exactly looking towards the right thing. As one posted, 3GB is about all you are going to be able to utilize, the rest is wasted memory and money. Look more towards the best processor you can afford... Intel seems to have the best processor on the market, even in light of the latest AMD attempt to even things up a bit. Think about a pair of 200 GB HD's, instead of one monster size drive. Don't be afraid to remove games once you finish playing them... no need to leave them on your HD, taking up space! Graphics, Sound Cards and Speakers, are essential to having a great gaming system. Look at the 8000 series Nvidia cards as they offer best graphics rendering at this time, and there is a pretty good selection - price range to choose from. Of course you can spend as much as half your budget on the top graphics card alone, but if eye-candy is the things you desire, then you have to shell out the bucks. Serious gamers will spend almost your whole budget on graphics cards alone! Next, SoundBlaster X-Fi ExtremeGamer, should do good for you, unless you are expecting to setup a home recording studio, which you would then consider their, Fatal1ty model card, but you'll pay $100 more for it. And as some of the other posters have said, make sure you have enjoy juice for all your hardware. A 750 watt power supply is the minimum you should look at, and I would favor 800 - 900 watt power supplies (it is always better to have more power than need then not enough!) Surround-Sound Speakers are a must as well. I prefer the 5.1,6.1 or even 7.1 setups Creative Labs Gigaworks and Klipsch are great choices, but maybe out of your price range. Logitech and Altec Lansing make decent speakers, at pretty affordable prices. However you have to decide if you are going for visual or audio, with your budget, as you will likely have to settle for budget offering on one or the other. However on important thing to remember: Minimum Requirements of almost all the PC Games look at Processor, Memory, Graphics capability. The best way to find out what you need to concentrate on is go look at the Minimum Requirements and the "Recommended System" on the game(s) you intend to play on your computer. If you can pull it off, go recommended system, but again, you $1500 budget is ham-stringing you a bit, but you should be able to put together a system that can get you by for a couple of years. Most serious gamers will spend $3000+ on their systems, with top end Gaming PC from Alienware reaching almost $8000. For $1500, you are going to have to do some serious studying on the which Processor/Memory/Graphics/Sound combination will get you the most bang for your buck, but remember, research and study is the key to success here! Don't get in a hurry to spend that money... take a month or so, to check out the Game(s)you want to play's requirements then work towards matching your system configuration to that.

    Good Luck and Happy Gaming!

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    jw_dev

    I have owned a Dell XPS 400 since they released them back in October 2005. I just built a new machine to replace it, and I did so for the following reasons:

    1) Lack of space for better graphics cards (most high end cards for gaming run close to 10 inches in length nowadays)

    2) Lack of a good stock PSU (only 375 watts in the XPS 400), and difficulty upgradeing (check forums, lots of people have issues upgrading PSU's when it comes to Dell because they tend to use BTX instead of ATX). If you want a gaming machine that is going to run a good graphics card, you will need a bigger power supply. You don't sound like you're going to run SLI (2 cards at once), so if you're going to maintain just 1 card then a 500 or 550 watt PSU would probably suit you just fine.

    3) Cooling. If you're buying an XPS machine it's closer to a gaming rig than other Dell lineups, however, if you really want to have a "gaming" machine that plays all the latest and greatest stuff, you WILL need a better graphics card and if we're talking Geforce 8800 whether it be the cheaper GTS version or the GTX, cooling is something Dell doesn't offer many options on. Those cards run very hot (GTX will get up to around 70 degrees celcius at least without 3rd party cooling)

    Also, you have to look at what resolutions you want to play your games at. If you want higher resolutions than 1280x1024, new games coming out are going to slow you down with a 512 MB card. The Geforce 8800 GTS 640MB card is a great buy for the money. Higher res = need more video ram. Games are also leaning more towards using heavy use of shaders and moving away from high polygon counts as in the past, so video ram is becoming more of a necessity.

    As far as graphics cards go in general, I would wait a few months - ATI is going to release a new line of high end cards that will force Nvidia to roll out something better than the Geforce 8800 GTX, which will drive prices down on those cards. I would pick up a GTX once prices drop because the card is a monster and it isn't going to remain in the 500-600 dollar arena for much longer.

    I would personally re-evaluate your decision to not build your own machine because once again, Dell uses BTX cases and motherboards, which are NOT standard. Also, Dell tends to use chipsets that are pretty much junk for their motherboards. If you ever wanted to upgrade your processor and keep using your Dell, you are forced to keep using the motherboard.

    Also, now is a great time to build on your own because Intel just slashed prices big time on their Core2Duo chips that pretty much have put them right on par with prices of AMD and Core2Duo simply outperforms AMD right now.

    I'm sure I have more rambling thoughts in my head but hopefully some of this was useful.

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    georgeou

    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877_11-6161342.html

    Using a quality low-noise 330W PSU. 430W PSU is plenty overkill for the biggest single PCI-E Video Card rig you can buy.

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    JamesRL

    Basically many modern games demand one of two video chipsets - ATI or nVidia. Many won't install with an Intel or SiS or other video chipset.

    You don't have to spend $500 on a video card. The price performance ratio really isn't there.

    If you are buying now, I would recommend a card that supports Vista's HDCP; Midrange cards that support this include the Radeon 1600 Pro, 1650 XT , or nVidia 7900/8500/8600 cards - check the individual manufacturer's specs though.

    James

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    carlsf

    I would say the following needed....
    MEMORY for gaming 4GB if you can afford it VISTA very hungry before you start your game.
    Video CARD min of 512Mb PCI-E Card otherwise VISTS starts hogging your RAM, forget low end or onboard video turn that off if have PCI-E card
    LAST but not least VISTA Ultimate if your requirement are for online, otherwise you will spend hours trying to connect.

    Personally I would stick to XP PRO SR2

    Regards Carl

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    Gis Bun

    Most will probably agree that the NVIDIA based cards are the one to use. For the majority of games out there [and I test gaming for Stereo-3D - see www.mtbs3d.com], you are better off with a NVIDIA based card because they are always listed in the requirements. Not all ATI cards are [listed but it doesn't mean they can or can't be used].

    Of course only NVIDIA cards have Stereo-3D!

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    JamesRL

    And I would say it goes back and forth which is the best bang for the buck.

    Many people who review cards for a living will tell you the image quality in most ATI cards is better. Often nVidias are faster for the same money, but it is a see saw battle.

    Most video cards will work in Vista with DX10, BUT DX10 provides the games developer with the ability to do alot more and only a few nVidia cards (8800/8600) do hardware acceleration for this. Another Vista feature HDCP, the ability to play HD/Blue Ray DVDs is supported by most recent new cards by ATI/nVidia.

    James

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    DaFrog

    I recently got a Velocity Micro ProMagix e2025... From Best Buy. Instant gratification (no waiting for delivery, pick it up and install!), Velocity Micro-quality.
    And very similar to your specs, with a 512Mo VRAM dedicated nVidia graphic card (7600GS - not the top, but good enough to see the offer get steady on Direct-X compatible cards). Vista Premium installed (without any crapware), and I have setup a dual boot with XP that works just fine.
    Highly recommended.
    Go check http://www.velocitymicro.com/ (and your local Best Buy, too... I was surprised to see these machines at BB.
    Cheers.

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    devesh

    Hi

    Your above config may suffice for basic games, but if you are consider Quake4, F.E.A.R., Flight Simulator X, etc., it will not suffice.

    Building a gaming PC is not easy nor is it cheap. Most of all, a gaming PC is NOT a business PC that has a more powerful processor and more memory. Dell does have some gaming PC, but I do not know your budget, and these babies will cost upwards of $3000. A good compromise is TigerDirect, or a mom-and-pop shop near by. You may want to look at this configurable machine at Tiger. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3049087&CatId=1886

    The heart of the gaming PC is not the processor, it is the Video card and therein will lie your problem. The good video card that is ruling the gaming market is the NVidia 88xx series. This supports SLI so you can add additional video processing power as required later, but each video card will require abut 400W of power if not more, and will produce heat like some thermal reactor, so you will need a specialised motherboard that is designed for heat, and a gaming case/cabinet which has at least 3 or 4 fans, one of which should be 120mm or greater.

    The E6400 will suffice, but if you can afford it, go for an E6600 2.4Ghz Core2Duo.

    Motherboard, I would recommend something other than Asus. They are having problems with many of their motherboards, especially the lower cost ones.

    The DRAM you will need gaming memory that will run at 800Mhz GUARANTEED. Something like the Corsair XPS RAM. 2GB minimum, 4GB preferred. For example Quake4 in high res mode sucks up 1.5GB+ of memory. FSX sucks up 1.4GB. You sure don't want a memory swapping involving disk-writes in the middle of the game.

    I have already explained about the video card. Get one with at least 512MB Video memory. If you find the 88xx too expensive, then the 7950XT will be the next step down. Another option is ATI's Crossfire.

    Finally the power supply. You will need a 600W-700W dual rail power supply if you are with one high-end Video card, and a 1000W power supply if you are with 2 video cards.

    In a Flat Panel, look for detailed specs. The regular panels that Dell offers, have too slow refresh rates and may not work for a fast paced game.

    Other things are relatively minor.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards

    Devesh

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    philtbc

    As indicated by others, get the highest DuoCore that you can afford along with memory, and definitely a good to great VC, 256 min up to 512, and don't forget you need to keep your box cool as well...
    cheers

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    va6h

    if im not mistaken you have an integrated video card. That doesnt make this a gaming pc. and you want to use windows vista and the vista rating depends mainly on the video card. You badly need a better graphics card to play some games. i would also advise you to upgrade yor processor to an e6600 which has twice the amount of cache and outerperforms the top AMD processors in most benchmarks.

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    rservicer

    Alienware was once good it seams
    but now under Dell
    enough said, Just Google Alienware
    your eyes will be open

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    rkuhn

    I'd get a better video card first.

    Then, if budget allows, I'd either get a 10,000 RPM drive or two drives (don't have to be 320 GB each) and RAID 0 them (striping) for performance.

    Also, very important, pay attention to the monitor. Get one with DMI input and very low response times. My LCD right now is a 2 ms response time and is nice. If you really play a lot of games, not sure you'd be happy with 6-8 ms response times.

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    troy1268

    I read your request and in my opinion I think you will have a slight slow down when you play games because of the Intel graphics installed. The sound card will probaly be better if you installed one from creative labs. You will definitely do better by installing at least a 512 mb card then you should not have any problems. But like I said it is my opinion, someone else may suggest something different