I'm thinking of getting a dual-core pentium machine, and I constantly see these deals from Dell and some of them look appealing, especially because some of the deals include their 24" monitor that I'd love to have. I know how to put together machines, done it for years, so I could buy a new MB and processor and use an existing case etc., but what exactly would I be missing if I got a Dell? How big a performance hit, if any, would I be taking by getting a Dell instead of one of these particular motherboards/chipsets that folks are always recommending? Is it just features, like onboard video or firewire, etc? Or is it actuall performance of the motherboard? That's what I'm most concerned with.
Dell changes their hardware often, managing inventory, going for price, going for the current buzzwords. I bought two Gateways years ago. They were delivered a couple of days apart and had subtlely different hardware.
You'd have to look closely at a specific Dell and compare it to a specific motherboard to know if it would make a good DAW.
On some pre-builts you find that there's no more room for RAM, or a hard drive. Or maybe the video card is using system RAM.
The problem isn't that pre-builts are bad. The problem is the unknowns.
Why not a Dell? Read how many people regret having purchased one...just about anyone I've ever known who bought one regretted it. It is very difficult to upgrade them in some cases, in others, even the form factor of the components is skewed to prevent you from easily upgrading the machine.
Yes, they're OK machines for the average home user who will use it for a few years and then get a new one. Horrible choice for a DAW. You'd be lucky to squeeze an extra hard drive in. They do not want to field customer service calls for people who open the case...ever...
Also, as a side note you'd likely have to reinstall the OS to rid yourself of the Dell-installed special offers and such. It's a little like paying $10 for a movie ticket and sitting through all the cell phone ads between the coming attractions.
Their laptops may be as good as any for a mobile solution, but I can't say really.
rid yourself of the Dell-installed special offers and such. It's a little like paying $10 for a movie ticket and sitting through all the cell phone ads between the coming attractions.
Yes, Dell completely and totally hoses the OS with its support/marketing materials. It's a mess.
I have yet to find one producer of music/media that was happy with a Dell purchase. But I have sure heard the disaster stories.
The basic problem is this: Dell boxes are unworkable as delivered. The moment you do what it takes to make the box workable, you are own your own, support wise, with a box that only Dell can support (due to its proprietary nature).
I've got (2) Dell machines, right out of the box - Precision 3000's I think. I upgraded RAM and added a hard drive,installed a Hammerfall card - took all of 10 minutes and they work great. One runs Giga, one runs Quantum Leap. I've had absolutely zero problems, and I use them day in day out 7 days a week. I even kept the stock XP installation. I know everyone will talk your ear off about optimize this, registry that, blah blah, but I didn't do any of it and couldn't be happier. Granted my main rig is on a Mac, so these are really used strictly as samplers. I turn them on and don't look at them the rest of the day. If you're considering a Dell, make sure you check how much Ram you can add - on the cheaper machines it's usually 2GB, but that's plenty.
I'm sure others have differing opinions but I just don't drink the Koolaid that you need a super custom built PC to run VI's. I think that they're just commodities now, don't really need to overthink it.
I second Bruce and Other's opinion on staying away from consumer grade prebuilds. There is just too much propriatary parts attached to these machines and too much junk running in them for to be good for a streamlined DAW. Dell and compaq are good for multimedia type applications, like sending e-mails, wordprocessing, games, etc. But not for a DAW.
My recommendation would be to either build your own using the best components or buy a DAW.