Looking for a new Dell tower

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mangurian Contributing Member • Posts: 864
Looking for a new Dell tower

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500.  I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future).  I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much.  I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  • Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  • Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  • Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  • How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  • I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data).  My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs.  Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

BillyBobSenna
BillyBobSenna Senior Member • Posts: 2,877
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

mangurian wrote:

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500. I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future). I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much. I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  1. Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  2. Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  3. Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  4. How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  5. I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data). My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs. Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

  1. No
  2. No
  3. For most things no
  4. RTX 1060
  5. Depends how much you plan to store
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CAcreeks
CAcreeks Forum Pro • Posts: 17,343
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

BillyBobSenna wrote:

mangurian wrote:

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500. I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future). I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much. I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  1. Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  2. Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  3. Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  4. How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  5. I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data). My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs. Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

  1. No
  2. No
  3. For most things no
  4. RTX 1060
  5. Depends how much you plan to store

K is for overclocking. For #1, it's hard to generalize. Some i9s are slower than some i7s. You'll need to check benchmarks for specific CPUs.

GTX 1060, probably discontinued. Most of the current RTX models would be fine for DxO Deep PRIME and Topaz AI. I'm not familiar with Luminar.

If I were you, I would put both existing internal HDDs in your new tower, if it can hold them, or better yet, buy a larger HDD and consolidate them onto a single HDD. Power requirements for two SSDs and one HDD should be modest compared to certain GPUs.

I did not find that having data (D: drive) on an HDD was noticeably slow. Photo and video editing is done in memory, and write-back to HDD seems instantaneous. You can save money by purchasing and installing your own >= 4TB HDD. For the C: drive, definitely SSD. 128GB is too small for Windows, but 512GB is fine.

SantaFeBill Veteran Member • Posts: 3,152
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower - No Simple Answers

There is really no general answer to your questions.

To determine your requirements for a new system, you need to answer 4 questions:

1. What do you plan to do with the system?

2. What software do you plan to use to do what you want to do?

3. What are the hw requirements (CPU, GPU, RAM) for the sw that you plan to use, given what you want to do? SW vendors seem generally good at making these clear.

4. How fast do you want the tasks to finish? And can you find tests to show whether a faster CPU or more capable GPU will make a significant difference in speed for what you want to do?

A system that is used for basic editing of RAW files from an older digital camera (smaller files) might well be fine with an i3, Intel on-board graphics, and 8GB of RAM.

One used for high-end virtual reality or scientific visualization tasks would probably need 64GB or even 128GB and a $xxxx nVidia RTX GPU.

Remember that you can add RAM, change the video card, and upgrade the CPU (as long as the new one works with the mobo). I'm not clear as to the limitations on after-purchase upgrades under the Dell U.S. warranties. Do you have to purchase from Dell? Can you install yourself? The only times I've upgraded Dell systems was after the warranties had expired, so didn't have to consider these issues.

The Point and Shoot Pro
The Point and Shoot Pro Senior Member • Posts: 1,840
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

I purchased the Dell XPS 8940 Special edition about 2 months ago.

It came with the 10700 i7, 8gb of ram, a 512gb SSD and a 1tb HDD.  The video card is a 2070 RTX with 8GB of ram on it.  I think the total for that machine including a second 24" ultrasharp monitor was 2200 bucks Canadian.  I recommend that.  Then, as you can,  upgrade the rest as needed.

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Austinian
MOD Austinian Forum Pro • Posts: 11,729
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower
1

mangurian wrote:

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500. I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future). I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much. I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  • Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  • Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  • Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  • How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  • I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data). My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs. Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

Just a few thoughts to add to what others have said:

I didn't need 32GB until I started stitching large panoramas with multiple editing programs open; I'd start with 16GB, making sure I had two open memory slots for possible expansion later.

Photolab 4's excellent DeepPRIME and Topaz Sharpen AI appear to make good use of graphics cards; they both run nicely on my old GTX 1080Ti. Whatever recent GPU has similar performance should serve you well.

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The Point and Shoot Pro
The Point and Shoot Pro Senior Member • Posts: 1,840
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

I have to correct one of my specs.  The original system had 2x8 gb of ram...not 1.  it now has 128gb of ram. 

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Annie Ng
Annie Ng Regular Member • Posts: 152
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower
1

mangurian wrote:

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500. I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future). I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much. I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  • Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  • Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  • Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  • How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  • I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data). My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs. Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

I am similar with you in that I use PhotoLab, Topaz Sharpen AI, Luminar AI and Lightroom. I would suggest you invest on a powerful graphics card instead of i9.

While i9 is superior to i7 in quite a lot of benchmark tests, the differences are marginal at best, and not worth the extra premium. Instead, a more powerful graphics card, such as those Nvidia RTX or AMD, would be better utilized for graphics usage.

Btw, 32GB should be MUCH better than 16GB if you plan to run those apps simultaneously. I have 10gen i7 + 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, and sometimes my machine is just slow like hell (usually with Luminar AI running).

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OP mangurian Contributing Member • Posts: 864
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

The Point and Shoot Pro wrote:

I purchased the Dell XPS 8940 Special edition about 2 months ago.

It came with the 10700 i7, 8gb of ram, a 512gb SSD and a 1tb HDD. The video card is a 2070 RTX with 8GB of ram on it. I think the total for that machine including a second 24" ultrasharp monitor was 2200 bucks Canadian. I recommend that. Then, as you can, upgrade the rest as needed.

Very interesting.  What software do you run and does it run well.  Thank you.

The Point and Shoot Pro
The Point and Shoot Pro Senior Member • Posts: 1,840
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

mangurian wrote:

The Point and Shoot Pro wrote:

I purchased the Dell XPS 8940 Special edition about 2 months ago.

It came with the 10700 i7, 8gb of ram, a 512gb SSD and a 1tb HDD. The video card is a 2070 RTX with 8GB of ram on it. I think the total for that machine including a second 24" ultrasharp monitor was 2200 bucks Canadian. I recommend that. Then, as you can, upgrade the rest as needed.

Very interesting. What software do you run and does it run well. Thank you.

I run affinity suite, resolve, sketchup pro, and more and it all runs great.  I have 2 1tb kingston SSD from my old systems for resolve cache and project drives.  Makes a huge difference.  Super fast drives do not matter really.  As long as you are using SSDs, it wont be noticeable if you have a cheaper one vs. a fast one.  Huge files will transfer 2 seconds or so faster on the super expensive drives.

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CBR1100XX Senior Member • Posts: 1,155
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower

mangurian wrote:

I need to stay under $3K and hopefully $2500. I use Photolab, the NIK collection, Topaz AI products, Luminar products (I might add photoshop in the future). I do some video processing (VideoStudio) -not too much. I want to stay with DELL and INTEL simply because I have had a string of them with zero compatibility problems, (almost) never a crash, and I like to be able to configure them myself.

  • Will an INTEL I9 be much better than an I7
  • Will an I9K be much better than an I9
  • Is 32G ram much better than 16G
  • How powerful a graphics card do I need for accelerating applications that can use them (I don't play games)
  • I plan on two SSDs (512G system and 1T data). My current machine has a 1T SSD and two internal HDDs. Should I put some of those in the tower or just buy external cases?

Many thanks for constructive advice,

Is it 10th gen or 11th gen? I'd look into the programs you're using to see if 11th gen offers an increase in performance or not since the new architecture's improvements can really differ from one thing to the next.

10th gen i9's have 2 extra cores and a big bump in performance so there it's worth it, 11th gen just have slightly higher clocks than the i7 but the same core count so unless there's something else like a better cooler I'd skip it.

Non-k's aren't overclockable but that's not really an issue for Dell's, with their systems the big change is they use a lot less power. They are set for slightly lower single core speeds but all core will be a good bit slower. Also Dell uses basically the stock cooler on them in a lot of models which causes them to throttle with even moderate all core workloads. The K sku's should get a tower cooler with heat pipes which would do a better job overall and give them a bigger performance advantage than normal against the non-K's. I'd double check about which ones get what cooler though.

I like having at least 1 drive external just so it's easier to move data around if needed, but in this case I might do both since you'll reduce the power/heat generated inside the case and the Dell ones already can get hot.

With RAM I agree with the earlier poster, get the 16GB. 150 for an upgrade doesn't make sense since if you end up needing it that's about the price of a 32GB kit so you really have nothing to lose starting with 16GB.

For a GPU you're really going to need to dig into forums/benchmarks/reviews of those programs to see. It can really change both in terms of the speed of the GPU and how much they like VRAM. But just from my quick look through the GTX 1650 Super sits nicely in the recommended range for Topaz and it puts out a little less heat which again is a good thing for these systems, but the 1660 Ti shouldn't be a very hot card either and 100 dollars seems like a fair price for the upgrade. Oh and Photoshop will be fine with either, I used a 1050 Ti with it until last year.

And for the data drive is there any reason that you need them on 2 separate ones? With an M.2 NVME drive you shouldn't hit any bottlenecks having em both on one drive and the XPS recommended only has 1 slot.

So on one of those XPS's I'd go with:

i7-11700K processor

GTX 1650 SUPER GPU

16GB, 8Gx2, DDR4, 2933MHz

2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive

500W Power Supply

And this all comes to 1729, move up the the 1660 Ti and you're at 1829.

(They force you to get the optical drive with the 500w power supply, I'd go for the bigger one both for more options in case of an upgrade but also since they are proprietary if one fails it will be a pain and/or expensive to replace so not running one close to the limits should help with longevity everything else being equal)

Oh and they do offer some models with better GPU's under the creators edition white ones.

There it's 2250 for the one with a 3060, and 2350 for the 3060 Ti. I'm a bit torn on all of this. The big thing is that you are paying a good bit more than you should for these (likely due to the limited availability and that they start with 32GB of RAM in these models)

OP mangurian Contributing Member • Posts: 864
Re: Looking for a new Dell tower
1

thanks all........

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