New Workstation and Dell Experience

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Maximum, Feb 29, 2004.

  1. Maximum


    I write this to help others who are considering a workstation purchase in the near future. I just bought a Dell Dimension 4600 and three 19” UltraSharp Digital Flat Panel Displays. (P4 2.6 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB 7200 RPM hard drive, 4X DVD+RW/CD Burner, one ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 Mb AGP and one ATI Radeon 7500 64 Mb PCI, Windows XP Pro. I also cobbled together an old set of Altec speakers, with sub-woofer to play jazz at night.
    The GOOD:
    The visual display of the three monitors in an arc surrounding me as I sit at my desk is phenomenal and more than enough to satisfy my trading needs. The 1280x1024 displays are crisp, if not “ultrasharp,” and easy enough for my far-sighted 55 year-old eyes to watch all morning without glasses. The left screen easily displays two windows of streaming quotes, 3 charts of the major indices, and 3 charts for stocks watched each morning. I have 1-4 browsers open on the right screen – for stock research. I reserve the middle for my broker screens (I monitor 4 accounts), some web-browsing, and e-mail.
    I do not day-trade, but do incur 250-400 trades/year. I rarely look at Level II screens, but if I did, I think I could arrange to view about 3 stocks easily with this setup.
    I checked very carefully for dead pixels and the displays look perfect.
    I opted for the two ATI video cards because they were a little cheaper than a multi-display card and offered more memory per screen. The middle screen is connected to the DVI output of the 9800 Pro, and the two outer screens connect to the DVI and analog outputs of the 7500 card. I can’t see a difference between digital and analog connected to the slower card. They both look very good. I still have one extra analog output from the 9800 Pro in case I might want to hook up a 4th display or TV (I already have a separate TV next to my workstation).
    I’ve played a few games, looked at some high resolution photos, and watched a DVD - these new screens are amazingly good. I am comparing these to my existing 19” and 17” CRT monitors set at 1024x768.
    I have one PCI slot still open, and could free up another by removing the modem card which I do not use. There are more than enough (5) USB ports for hooking up printers, scanners and card readers. I doubt whether I will use the extra PCI ports.
    The BAD:
    It took seven+ weeks to receive everything from Dell, since I placed my order in the first week of January. At first Dell screwed up setting up my business account and cancelled the order. Then they delayed shipment of the three monitors after the orders were reinstated. They now say the 19” and 17” UltraSharp monitors are the most backlogged items in their inventory. I was willing to wait a couple of weeks but seven was exasperating. Now that they have arrived, everything is fine but I would have appreciated a little more candor about shipping and delivery dates from the outset. Do not trust their web-site Order Status.

    Like others here, I went through their trans-Pacific outsourcing hell while placing and confirming my order. I must have spoke to at least seven sales people and supervisors, confirming price and delivery. I repeatedly got conflicting statements from the various salespeople. For example, I wanted to make sure that the monitors came with both analog and DVI cables. I was first told that they didn’t, then they did, etc. Finally I crossed my fingers and was relieved when all three came with both sets of cables. The multi-monitor setup was fine after I installed the drivers that came with the 7500 card. The second ATI card was not plug ‘n play with XP. By the way, since Dell didn’t have an ATI Radeon PCI card, I ordered the 7500 card from CompUSA and it arrived faster than either the CPU or displays from Dell.

    I think I got a good price. I find Dell’s web-site confusing and more than a little deceptive. I like Costco’s site for HP and Compaq custom-ordered computers for navigation and ease of mix and matching. Without the mention of any coupons, I got a price which beat a comparable HP or Compaq/Costco systems. I think that's pretty good. It did involve a little “new car buying strategy.” They’d quote a price and I’d ask them to do better. They would lower the price and I would mention Costco and comparable system prices. Finally, after talking with their “manager” ala some new car sales tactic, they gave me a price I couldn’t refuse. The 19” monitors for example were $550 each, which is 23% off their list price of $679. I’m sure others may have gotten a little better price and that prices for those monitors will come down in the future – but I’m satisfied. I also got no interest for 90 days (bought for a business not personal use), and I have a CITI card which will knock off another 5%. Getting my Section 179 deduction will be nice too.

    The only other problem I had was connecting to my existing network, which can't be blamed on Dell. I was trying to connect to a peer-to-peer network (another desktop and a laptop - connected wirelessly). I knew about the conflicts with the Windows firewall and a peer to peer network, but I also had to uninstall ZoneLab’s firewall on all 3 computers to make everything work and transfer old files to the new computer. I will reinstall the firewall once everything is working ok for a few days.

    In sum, I would do it again - but I wish Dell would drop the outsourcing sales and service support, clean up their web-site ordering, and provide accurate ship and delivery dates. The Dimension 4600+(3) 19" flat panels are rad.
  2. I have purchased 2 Dell Dimension desktops in the past 4 years off their refurbished site and have always been very pleased with my units.

    My last purchase was a Dell Dimension 8300 with a P4 at 2.60 and 512MB of RAM and Windows XP for $775.00

    I have since added another 512MB of RAM, a PCI slot graphics card for my third monitor, a 400 watt power supply, and a Western Digital "Raptor" Serial ATA drive at 10,000RPM.
  3. mktman


    So after adding in those parts what was your final cost?

    Built my own.

    Seems cheaper this way.

  4. Additional 512mb of PC3200 RAM: $118.00
    PC Power & Cooling "Silence-400" Power Supply: $150.00
    Mad-Dog "Prowler" 64mb GeForce Nvidia PCI card: $50.00
    Western Digital "Raptor" Serial ATA 36.7 Gig 10k Drive: $120.00

    I will admit that the 10,000RPM Serial ATA "Raptor" Drive was overkill for my trading needs, but even with this purchase my entire system ( which comes with the same Dell Warranty as a new unit ) was:

  5. With all of the RAM that you are running and the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro AGP card, I would most definetly purchase a larger power supply for your rig. It isn't the most "glamorous" of components, but it certainly is very important to the health and well being of your system.

    Just the RAM alone will draw 64 watts during peak periods, and your AGP card will draw up to 70 watts during peak period. These are all supported by the +3.3V rail and I am afraid that the +3.3V rail on the stock Dell Dimensions is pathetically weak, only able to support about 46 watts.


    They are the only ones that provide replacement power supplies for Dells and the "Silencer-400" that I purchased was well worth the money! See the other thread in the Hardware Forum regarding power supplies for more info on the various rails that support the various components of your PC.
  6. nkhoi

    nkhoi Moderator

    wow! that's a steal.
  7. waggie your all over every thread with your "story" you got ADDD ??? :-/
  8. I made so much money in Riskarb/Maverick's SEPR idea that I had plenty of time to spend on ET today.


  9. how much did you pay for the whole sytem incl. monitors ?
  10. Maximum


    $2820 before tax (including the ATI card from CompUSA)
    Shipping was free
    #10     Mar 2, 2004