I never thought the day would come. I've been a Dell man for probably a good 6 or 7 years. I've only bought Dells for me, for work, for my wife, and for my family. I laughed at the lousy Gateways and too-expensive Sonys. And excepting my Crusoe-powered Fujitsu P2110 notebook and a brief, poorly-performing flirtation with the cheapie Cyrix 486SLC, I've always been an Intel guy.
My ancient Dell Precision 330 is dying. Its Pentium-4 1.5 GHz processor is obsolete beyond words. So I went to the trusty Dell Outlet site to hook myself up with a new computer.
First off, I couldn't find a single machine under $1500 that I could slide my 4 160GB ATA-133 hard drives in...they build them way too small these days. When I asked on the Dell forum what I should do, I was told it was going to cost me.
Second, anything with a reasonably good graphics card, reasonably fast processor, and a gig of RAM was over $1000 too. All I wanted was a value-priced system that could run Doom 3, play DIVX movies without a hitch, and that would last me a few years without having to upgrade. I figured if I wanted one of the not-quite-cutting-edge 3.2 GHz Intel Extreme Edition Pentium IVs, I'd have to shelve my plans for six months or so before their prices dropped.
So I started doing a little field research. A trip to CompUSA showed me that if I wanted an Intel, I was going to pay for it, and these folks were all claiming how good the AMDs were. I've been hearing about the AMD revolution forever, but I never thought they were a serious competitor, like Linux vs Microsoft.
Turns out, the latest AMD 64-bit line kicks some serious ass. I did some comparisons at the best benchmark site I could find, Tom's Hardware Guide, and the AMD 64 line is right in step with Intel's latest and greatest, and even better in some categories. But Dell doesn't sell AMDs. So goodbye Dell. Hello HP!
I also looked at Compaq (yes, same company, I know, but different product lines), but the HPs offered the faster AMD64 3700+ in their cheaper, off-the-shelf HP Pavilion a1230n. And where's the cheapest place to find such an item? Amazon, of course. They've got an extra $50 rebate until 11/8, which more than counteracts their $29 shipping charge. $650 after rebates.
As for the graphics card, instead of ponying up $300 for a machine with a $100 better card, I just went out and got the eVGA nVidia GeForce 6600 (not the substandard 6600 LE) at IchibanPC. $100, free FedEx shipping.
And what about those four hard drives, you ask? Well all my precious data will now be comfortably housed in a LexusBay DK-7 Quad Bay firewire system. And why pay $300 at the LexusBay site when it's only $189 plus shipping at CoolDrives.com.
So for an even $950, I'm getting me a top-of-the line performer with all the bells and whistles.
Suck on that, Dell.