#1
Old 06-05-2015, 09:38 AM
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New desktop PC - Dell or HP?

I am looking for a new desktop PC for work. I am looking at a Dell XPS 8700 and an HP Envy 700xt. I can configure both pretty similarly, with an Intel i7-4790 processor, 16 GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 Graphics card, and Windows 8. Pricing comes out pretty close, though my second question is about this.

1. Does anyone have any reasons to choose one over the other, in terms of quality, durability, support, etc?

2. I can buy either directly from Dell/HP or from Amazon or Costco. Pricing is better from Amazon and Costco. Would buying from them make it harder to get warranty support if I need it? I had a guy from Dell tell me that if I buy from Amazon, I don't get Dell's warranty. I think he lied to me.

3. What about Dell's ProSupport (3 years for $200) or HP's HP Care Service (3 years for $250)? Both have on-site service, if needed after diagnosing over the phone. If I buy from Amazon or Costco, can I add these on-site warranties?

I've owned both Dell and HP computers before, and they have been decent in the past. Just not sure with this purchase.

Thanks.
#2
Old 06-05-2015, 09:54 AM
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My experience may be selective and dated, but the only 'box" computers I've bought in 20 years were a pair of HP workstations. They were adequate in most ways but had two grievous flaws:

1) Like all box/brand-name computers, they used proprietary components that were not generally available on the generic market, and everything had every dime squeezed out. I actually bent the cases when moving them from one office to another.

2) They had embedded HP gritware that I was never able to remove, including things like a desktop icon for an HP "drop to print" utility. I am good at modifying Windows and chasing down apps and stuff in hidden corners... but I was never able to find the app, module, registry entry, anything that controlled these useless and annoying "features."

I don't like cheaply built stuff. I don't like stuff that uses proprietary physical formats for no good reason. I don't like an OS modified to suit the OEM. HP takes all three to the max.

Dell is better. Not perfect, but better. You may have other criteria, but those are mine.

(Actually, mine is simple: "Never buy a box computer, ever.")
#3
Old 06-05-2015, 10:57 AM
Just Lovely and Delicious
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I bought a HP desktop for work like 3 or 4 years ago. I've had no complaints. It's an i7 with I think 16GB of ram. The only "low" spot for it is that it's got the default graphics, which I think Windows rates as a 5.

I run stuff like SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio, Photoshop, Office, Quickbooks, Firefox and my email app. It runs Windows 7 64-bit. I run it 24/7, only rebooting for Windows updates.

I never get bothered by HP software. I deleted what I could and disabled the rest. I have an HP printer/scan/copy/fax.

Haven't used a Dell in many years. I got tired of them.
#4
Old 06-05-2015, 10:07 PM
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I'm typing on a pretty new Dell. It sucks massively. I've had Dells for years, but I'm going back to HP on the next one.
#5
Old 06-06-2015, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
My experience may be selective and dated, but the only 'box" computers I've bought in 20 years were a pair of HP workstations. They were adequate in most ways but had two grievous flaws:

1) Like all box/brand-name computers, they used proprietary components that were not generally available on the generic market, and everything had every dime squeezed out. I actually bent the cases when moving them from one office to another.

2) They had embedded HP gritware that I was never able to remove, including things like a desktop icon for an HP "drop to print" utility. I am good at modifying Windows and chasing down apps and stuff in hidden corners... but I was never able to find the app, module, registry entry, anything that controlled these useless and annoying "features."

I don't like cheaply built stuff. I don't like stuff that uses proprietary physical formats for no good reason. I don't like an OS modified to suit the OEM. HP takes all three to the max.
Interesting - I've always asdociated Dell with those attributes - especially proprietary hardware and drivers, but it's been years since I bought a Dell machine. Have they eased up on it?
#6
Old 06-06-2015, 05:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
Interesting - I've always asdociated Dell with those attributes - especially proprietary hardware and drivers, but it's been years since I bought a Dell machine. Have they eased up on it?
Dell got a lot better for a time, mostly because they were buying enough components that they became pretty much the standard - for example, if you bought a retail Turtle Beach Montego Bay audio card, it would have a Dell part number sticker on it even though it was never sold to Dell.

The biggest problem in the "old days" (Pentium II/III era) was their use of a non-standard power supply. Some years after that, they went back to a standard supply. Lately they are getting a little funny again - they have been using a 12V only power supply in their ultra small form factor systems for some time, but that was OK because everything in that chassis was special anyway. However, 12V only supplies have been used in more and more of the product line - the Optiplex 9020 mini-tower (which is actually the largest case) is now 12V only. For some background on this type of supply, read this PDF.

Regardless of which major brand you purchase, you will likely find that things like the front panel cables are peculiar to that brand / model. If you want to be able to do things like replace the motherboard with a different model later on, look for niche companies or do the parts selection and assembly yourself. Another issue is that major brand systems are likely to have less expandability - if you want to put a better graphics card into a Dell, you will find that the system only supports a single half-length graphics card with a thin fan, and that there is no auxiliary power connector which is needed for many higher-end cards.

If you buy a Dell system directly from them, there may be a difference in the quality of support if you purchase from the medium business or enterprise side vs. the home or home office side. In the past, business customers got US-based technical support and fewer questions asked before they'd send you a technician or a replacement part, while the home systems got offshore support and the "did you try turning it off and back on?" type of "20 questions" before they'd decide your system really needed service. I'm not sure if this is still the case (I haven't needed to speak to Dell support for over 6 years).

If you're comfortable with re-installing Windows and possibly changing the hard drive, you could do what I do when I purchase a Dell system - I pull the hard drive out before I even power the system on for the first time, and then I install a SSD as a replacement. I then install Windows from scratch, which gets me a system just as I want it, without all of the preinstalled bloatware that most manufacturers seem to include.

I would not purchase a HP system because of several bad experiences with their business practices - you couldn't replace the WiFi card in their notebooks because the BIOS "whitelisted" only the few cards that they sold with that system, and recently they changed their free software updates policy to demanding a current service contract before providing the update. That may only be on their business systems - I'm not sure.

If you purchase a Dell system from an authorized reseller, you should have a full warranty starting from your date of purchase. At least on modern Dell systems, the BIOS records both the system ship date and the "in-service date" which is the date it was first turned on after it left the factory. If buying from Amazon, make sure Amazon is the actual seller ("Ships from and sold by Amazon") as opposed to just the fulfillment agent ("Sold by Foo and Fulfilled by Amazon") or the order processing agent ("Ships from and sold by Foo"). Systems where Amazon is not the actual seller may not be from an authorized reseller and that's where warranty issues can crop up.

There are a number of authorized resellers operating on eBay - for example, Newegg sells there. So you can get a Dell system with a warranty from eBay as well, as long as you buy from an authorized reseller.
#7
Old 06-06-2015, 01:24 PM
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If you buy Dell, pray you never have to ask them a question. Prepare to enter voice-mail hell. My info is 14 years old, so maybe they have improved in the meantime. My last two computers were Lenovo and I am reasonably happy with them.
#8
Old 06-06-2015, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orwell View Post
I am looking for a new desktop PC for work. I am looking at a Dell XPS 8700 and an HP Envy 700xt. I can configure both pretty similarly, with an Intel i7-4790 processor, 16 GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 Graphics card, and Windows 8. Pricing comes out pretty close, though my second question is about this.

1. Does anyone have any reasons to choose one over the other, in terms of quality, durability, support, etc?

2. I can buy either directly from Dell/HP or from Amazon or Costco. Pricing is better from Amazon and Costco. Would buying from them make it harder to get warranty support if I need it? I had a guy from Dell tell me that if I buy from Amazon, I don't get Dell's warranty. I think he lied to me.

3. What about Dell's ProSupport (3 years for $200) or HP's HP Care Service (3 years for $250)? Both have on-site service, if needed after diagnosing over the phone. If I buy from Amazon or Costco, can I add these on-site warranties?

I've owned both Dell and HP computers before, and they have been decent in the past. Just not sure with this purchase.

Thanks.
Costco extends 1 year warranties to 2 years if you buy from them:
http://costco.com/concierge.html. They also provide free tech support and a 90-day return window if you're unhappy with the computer.

I know Dell lets you add on other warranties within a certain timeframe of purchase. Not sure about HP. Since you're buying a desktop, it's probably cheaper to just save the money you'd spend on an extended warranty and just replace/upgrade whatever component breaks three years later. A longer warranty's much more important with laptops because they're essentially impossible to home repair; with most normal form-factor desktops, this isn't as big a concern. The manual for the Dell makes it seem pretty standard inside. Not sure about the HP one.

Whichever brand you choose, if I were you, I'd get an i5 and a better graphics card instead of the i7 if you're gaming. If you're not gaming, still save money on an i5, skip the graphics card altogether, and get a small SSD to complement the 1TB hard drive and put your OS and most commonly used apps on it. It'll be much faster than the i7 that way.

Overall, though, computers are such commodities these days that there's virtually no difference who you buy them from unless it's an Apple or some gaming company. Otherwise they're pretty much indistinguishable.

Last edited by Reply; 06-06-2015 at 02:03 PM.
#9
Old 06-06-2015, 02:32 PM
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Lenovo makes very good laptops so I assume their desktops are good too.
#10
Old 06-06-2015, 02:48 PM
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I bought a new Dell in 2005, and it lasted for about four and a half years before it got too far behind the curve in terms of performance. But over that time, it was pretty reliable, except that the main fan died, requiring a replacement.

After that, i picked up a used (but almost new) HP on Craigslist, and it has been going strong for five and a half years. It has a Core 2 Quad Q8300 2.5GHz processor and 6Gb of RAM, which is still pretty good for almost everything i do. I'm not a gamer, and the graphics card on my computer is a low-end card. The only reason i got a separate card at all is that i needed to run two monitors.

Of the Dell and the HP, i think i'd prefer the HP, although that could simply be because it was a newer, more powerful computer. When i bought it, i immediately reinstalled Windows. There was basically no HP bloatware on the computer at all, and the few little things i didn't want were easily removed with Revo Uninstaller. The only major hardware change i've performed, apart from the graphics card, was to replace the original HDD with a solid state drive a couple of years back.

I recently bought a newer digital camera, and my computer is starting to show its age a little bit in terms of dealing with the large NEF (Nikon RAW) files in Photoshop. At the very least, it could probably do with a little more RAM. And video encoding, which i do a little bit of, is also slower on this older processor than it would be on a new i5 or i7. I'm probably going to get a new computer sometime around the end of the summer, and i'm still debating whether to buy a prebuilt machine from HP or Dell or Lenovo, or to build by own.

For basic specs, in terms of bang for your buck, it's very hard to beat the box brands. I can get a Lenovo K450e with i7-4790, 16Gb RAM, a 2Tb hybrid drive, and Windows, for about $650. Building my own computer using those specs would definitely cost more, including the need to purchase my own copy of Windows. Also, as a follow-up to Reply's post, many computer buyers end with processors that are far more powerful than they need. I'd love to have an i7-4790, but 99 percent of what i do could be done just was well and just as quickly with a mid- to high-range i5 processor.

As others have pointed out, if you build your own, you can avoid the proprietary parts bullshit that comes with the big manufacturers. You can buy a sturdier, roomier, quieter case, a more reliable power supply, and you can use some of your old components. If i decide to build my own, i can use a SSD and hard drive/s that i already have, as well as the DVD drive, and peripherals like keyboard and mouse.
#11
Old 06-06-2015, 04:18 PM
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I've had both an HP and several Dells. I vowed never to buy an HP again after their customer support was unbelievably atrocious. TL; DR: After failing to fix my computer several times (sending it in again and again), they refused any support when my still-broken laptop's monitor went black on the day the warranty expired.

Dell's customer service has been great for me. Techs were sent to my house or contracted locally, and I was never without my laptop. We have three very old Dells at home, two of which are still going strong.

On the other hand, I really wanted a hybrid machine for my classroom, and I'm typing this on a Surface Pro 3 that I love. I don't think there's a brand I wouldn't consider among the most common computer manufacturers.
#12
Old 06-06-2015, 04:32 PM
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I've always hated Dells for a variety of reasons I won't go into again, as they echo others' experiences. Right now I have an HP Envy dv7, i5, 8GB RAM, 800GB HD, running Windows 8.1 64 bit. 17" screen. Works great for how I use it, which is primarily surfing, streaming video and storage of guitar lesson videos. The only problem I've had was with some optional update from Windows, which caused all manner of trouble until I reset things to an earlier date. My last laptop was a Lenovo, which gave good service, but the screen was too small, as was the hard drive.
#13
Old 06-06-2015, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply View Post
Since you're buying a desktop, it's probably cheaper to just save the money you'd spend on an extended warranty and just replace/upgrade whatever component breaks three years later. A longer warranty's much more important with laptops because they're essentially impossible to home repair; with most normal form-factor desktops, this isn't as big a concern. The manual for the Dell makes it seem pretty standard inside.
I believe all Dells have motherboards that are at least somewhat non-standard. However, there is a huge selection of replacement parts on eBay, many of which are new, sealed components. This applies to Dell laptops as well. You'll note that many of the sellers are in Texas - some are service centers that dispose of inventory when they no longer support a model, and I suspect some are "dumpster diving" - you can often find a "barebones" system which includes case, motherboard and power supply. They are missing the CPU, heatsink and related items, memory and drives. I think this is the way the manufacturer ships them to Dell, and if there is a scratch or dent in the case, they just throw the whole thing out.
#14
Old 06-06-2015, 06:31 PM
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Dell's commercial-grade (Optiplex) systems are excellent, as is their commercial tech support. HP's commercial-grade equipment is fine, but their tech support blows big time.
#15
Old 06-08-2015, 04:27 PM
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Thank you for all of the comments and suggestions. As an update, I ended up ordering a Dell XPS 8700 from Costco. $999.99 plus tax and S&H. Seems like good specs. I looked on several custom build sites and couldn't match that price, and Dell wants a lot more on their website. After several days of looking at all sorts of websites and stores, and suffering through the frustrating HP and Dell "customize yours" BS, I got an email from Costco with this deal and decided to pull the trigger. Perhaps it isn't perfect, but it looks like a good computer at a good price, and I am tired of trying to decide.

Processor & Memory:

Intel® Core i7-4790 Processor 3.6GHz
32GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM

Drives:

1TB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
DVD-RW (Writes to DVD/CD)

Operating System:

Microsoft® Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

Graphics & Video:

4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 Graphics
Monitor Not Included

Communications:

Dell Wireless-N 1704 + Bluetooth® 4.0
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet

Last edited by Orwell; 06-08-2015 at 04:29 PM.
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