PC Upgrade Question

I know a few of you out there are pretty savvy when it comes to computers and upgrades and whatnot, so I'm going to ask for your help.

I have a 2 year old Dell XPS 600 that runs pretty well, but is starting to chug a bit at times. I want to give it a boost and try to make it "new again" but not sure where to start. Essentially, I want to extend the life of the machine so I don't end up spending another $3k to replace it next year. Between games, video editing and batch-processing hundreds and sometimes thousands of screenshots at a time, I need something on the beefier end of the spectrum, especially now that I'm working a lot with HD-quality images.

Here's the nuts & bolts of the current machine:

- Windows XP Media Center S.P. 2
- Intel Pentium D 840 (3.20 GHz) w/Dual-Core Technology
- 2.00 GB DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
- Nvidia 256MB Geforce 6800 videocard
- 250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
- 160GB NCQ Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
- 18X DVD-RW

The system came with twin Geforce 6800 cards with SLI support but one of the cards died recently and since I typically run two monitors simultaneously (not supported with SLI) I usually had to turn SLI off and only use one card anyway. Also, the originaly DVD-RW died a few months ago and I replaced it with the 18X one shown in the list. I also have a 250GB Maxtor external hard-drive.

What I'm thinking of doing is this: replace the video card with something a bit more current, perhaps with DirectX 10 support, and to also replace the RAM with 4GB of something better. Maybe replace the Hard-drives with faster hard drives as well.


Also, while I'm at it, should I wipe the discs and reformat the entire machine and use the OEM discs Dell provided and re-install the OS and everything else Dell sent along or should I make the jump to Vista? My laptop is Vista and while I definitely *HATE* the new version of Office 2007, I might grow to hate it less if I was forced to use it regularly.

Any specific suggestions or product advice you can provide would be appreciated. Espeially when it comes to choosing RAM and Hard-Drives and going about reformatting the machine and making it new again.

Edit: I should also add that if anyone is local and would like to help me complete the upgrade, I'll happily buy you lunch and beer at the Snoqualmie Taproom.


Criscipline said...

My organization may have been the first nonprofit in the country to have switched to Office 2007 a few months ago. Just yesterday and today we finally made the migration from our shitty e-mail software to Outlook. I must say, I really like 2007 Office. I find all the programs pretty intuitive and after the immediate shock and cursing as it took me ten minutes to figure out how to change my font, I totally got used to it. I expect I'll get used to Outlook too.

So give Office '07 a chance, man.

Doug Walsh said...

It's all about the Word style templates for me and just the fact that the features I use most often have been completely buried and the only way to unbury them is to assign them to that microscopic bar at the top of the screen. I've had Office 2007 for several months on my laptop.

Michael said...

Personally? I would get a new system just to have everything under a warranty. Go to Dell and get their XPS 420 system, because either way you're going to spend about that much. You're going to want a quad core with 2 - 3 gigs of ram. That's what I have and it does really nicely. I play Crysis, not on highest, but pretty up there. No lag. Multitasking is good stuff as well.

Anonymous said...

There is still life in that PC. I'd recommend a wipe and reinstall, but just the OS and your Applications. Don't install the Bloat Software Dell supplies. They are what causes the system to be unstable and slow. 2nd item is disable the services you don't need to free of Memory and Performance. I am no longer running XP, but can look up that list for you.
3rd don't have a huge Photo as your background. If you look at going new look at the Business units from Dell. You'll find the bus speed and related are faster on those models then the Home units.
I can give you a hand with it, I know a tiny bit about Windows. ;)


Anonymous said...

I do like the new Office....but.... The stuff I could not find before I can find very easily. The stuff I used all the time I can no longer find.


NobbyNick said...

I'm not a Dell fan so I don't know much about their PC cases. However if their cases support standard ATX motherboards, I'd just head over to Newegg.com and grab a new motherboard, video card, memory and procs and build up a replacement system. I'm also a Luddite when it comes to OS selection. If you have a windows XP license key for your current machine, I'd just use that to build up a new one.

If you don't want to do that right away there are some things you could try.

1. You already mentioned it, but wipe the drive with your OS and Apps and rebuild. I don't know if Media Center is any slower, but I'm sure it's not faster. If you have access to vanilla XP that might be worth a try.

2. If it's not baggage in the OS that's slowing you down, it's probably the video. Upgrading this will probably have the biggest results on your performance.

Give me a ring sometime if you want to discuss it. I'm not as good with the written word as you are.

Good luck,

Nick V.

Ricardo said...

doubling the memory I think it would be more cost effective upgrade. Do it first and I'm sure you will notice a huge improvement.
One word of advise: check the specs of the computer to see what is the max memory limit (probably 4gb) and also what is the adressable limit (some computers even supporting 4GB will adress less than that so you may end-up with 3.5 ~ 3.7GB - in this case, upgrade to 3 GBs).