For the hardcore gaming crowd, thereís nothing like building your own PC. Not only can you mix and match the best system components, you can also tweak your custom built PC to your heartís content for maximum performance: if you want to overclock your CPU you can do that, or you can fine tune fan settings for just the right acoustics with some motherboards. The skyís the limit with what you can do with a home built PC.
But there are drawbacks to going the do-it-yourself (DIY) route. Most notable among them is the amount of time and effort it takes to research all the components, then put them all together to make a fully functional box. Along the way, you may spend additional time troubleshooting odd behavior and other problems that may crop up from your build. For instance, a lot of the early Core 2-ready motherboards were quirky when it came to RAM support. Certain memory modules just didnít run well in these boards. Alan ran into this most recently in his Core 2 build.
This brings us to another downside of DIY: warranty/tech support. Quite simply, if you buy a completely assembled PC from Dell, HP, or Gateway, you know who to call if you run into problems Ė your systemís manufacturer. But who do you call if you built the system yourself? The issue(s) you may be running into could be caused by the motherboard, or perhaps the chipset driver thatís running on your motherboard, or maybe youíve got a bad memory module or graphics card? Then again, it could be a bug with the graphics driver thatís causing the artifacts and other anomalies youíre seeing in games, or **gasp** perhaps itís Microsoftís fault and/or you configured something in Windows incorrectly. Perhaps itís all of the above?
The problem is, if you arenít an experienced system builder, you may have a hard time determining the culprit of your problems. And even if youíve got 5+ years worth of system builds under your belt, you may still have a hard time diagnosing the cause of your problem. You may be ready to blame your motherboard, when the fault could lie elsewhere. And even if you do have the correct guilty party, often times getting in touch with the manufacturer can be difficult; with the exception of a handful of graphics card manufacturers (BFG, EVGA, and XFX being the most prominent), most component manufacturers donít provide a 24/7 toll-free tech support hotline to call. Email is often one of the best ways to contact these companies, and you may not get a response for several days.
To service this market, system builders like Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and VoodooPC, have been delivering high-end systems with aplomb for years, but these systems are prohibitively expensive. Now larger system manufacturers have entered the fray with their own high-end systems at competitive price points. Today weíre taking a look at one such system, Dellís quad-core, quad-SLI, XPS 710. But is it good enough to meet the needs of an enthusiast? Read on to find out!