Critique my new Dell System for Vegas!

Nezza wrote on 7/24/2004, 4:54 AM

I'm a seasoned Vegas user and I'm buying a new PC to be used (amongst other things) for editing with Vegas 5.

I'm considering a new Dell Dimension 8400 has anyone used one of these for Vegas? If so how does it stack up.

It uses the new Intel 925X Express chipset, I'll be getting the 3Ghz, 1GB Ram and lot's of SATA drives!

Also I'm thinking of specing it with their own firewire card (as I want to keep my old one for another system) Has anyone
used a Dell firewire card successfully with Vegas?

Thanks a lot!



stormstereo wrote on 7/24/2004, 6:15 AM
I use a Dell Iinspiron 8200 laptop and have had no problems with the firewire (4-pin) connection. Overall performance with Vegas has always been good and I've felt sorry for people on this forum who have had different problems with their systems.

However, after two years I'm experiencing random system freeze. Only way to get out of it is to power down. I've tried EVERYTHING to resolve this with no luck. After searching the forums att Dells website it shows I'm not alone. Some even have this problem fresh out of the box. Go read.

RalphM wrote on 7/24/2004, 6:30 AM
Been using a Dell 8100 for about 3 years for video editing running Win2K. Vegas runs trouble free, but I should note that I'm a beginner with Vegas and do not yet employ a lot of compositing or effects.

Has been very stable except when I made the mistake of loding one of Mr Gates security updates.... I'll risk hacker damage before going thru that again.
John McCully wrote on 7/24/2004, 6:45 AM
I have a Dell 8250, 3.06 hyperthreading, 1 gig ram, 200 gig hard drive and a 200 gig Lacie external drive, and Vegas 5 works like a charm. Hardly ever drop frames on capture, often render two files concurrently; overall I'm happy as a lark with this setup. Dell are the biggest because they are the best!

Opampman wrote on 7/24/2004, 7:37 AM
I've been using a Dell 8200 for 2 years with Vegas. I have an additional 120 gig HD for video capture and editing and never had a glitch nor a dropped frame - sometimes capturing an hour or more at a time. Started with Vegas 3 LE and now on Vegas 5 +DVD Arch. I do a lot of custom intros and graphics work with many, many layers and 3D effects and Vegas just keeps cranking them out. Once in a while preview gets a little flaky with so many effects and moves going on at the same time, but that's probably due to this old 2 gig processor.
efiebke wrote on 7/24/2004, 8:38 AM
Several years ago, I started out with a Dell Precision Workstation 420 with Pentium 3 733 mhz. It worked just fine with the Vegas 3 and 4. I've had problems with getting MOTU stuff to work properly with this machine. But that's another story for another thread for another time. I know use that particular computer as a WONDERFUL networked archiving machine. And I'm using this as the audio & video recording/editing machine: Dell Precision Workstation 650 2.8 ghz with 1 GB ram, two internal SATA drives and one external firewire-based HD.

SO FAR. . . no problems! No dropped frames, etc. I use Firewire or USB based MOTU products for the "sound card" and midi stuff (MOTU 828 MKII and MOTU MTPAV). Handles all audio/midi/video software without any hassles. So far, no significant problems with the Vegas 5 software.


Chanimal wrote on 7/24/2004, 12:28 PM
Living here in Austin, TX, having many friends who work at Dell, and knowing Kevin Rollins (the newly appointed CEO), I am a Dell fan. However, as a "mass producer" of competitive priced PC's, their machines are fairly basic. It comes pre-configured, but I still found over 10 windows fixes and 2 driver fixes when I ran the Windows Update. Plus, it has a lot of pre-installed "junk" software and drivers that you will want to get rid of (including their own autoupdate stuff that comes up automatically--you don't want any autoupdate software to kick in during a video capture).

I have a friend who I had built a PC for 2 years ago for Vegas editing with a 2200 AMD who wanted to give it to the kids and build a new one with a 3+GIG processor. Since I didn't have the time to build one up for her (using top name parts from Fry's), I instead helped her purchase a 3 gig system from Dell.

When it came I opened it up to install a second hard drive and was disappointed. It was engineered for fast assembly and had a custom built motherboard with nominal expandability. The firewire was an add-on card (I expected it to be build into the motherboard like all my other motherboards), it had a very basic CMOS, really only had room for one extra harddrive, but with no room to put an extra HD cooling fan. It was quiet since it also didn't even have a processor fan but used a vent system to pull the air out through the large single fan. The powersupply was only 230 watts and, after using one slot for the firewire card (they used a generic cheapy card), there were only 2 slots left (and one would be taken up with an off-board sound card).

For the price, I could have built one from scratch that used faster and better components and had much more expandability (especially for more harddrives --space and powersupply (my current system has four internal and one within a removable bay), plus it didn't have the hookups (or power) if we ever wanted to install a more powerful video card (such as an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 - 9800).

If you don't know much about PC's and don't expect to expand the system much (except for external USB devices (it had several of those)) then it will work just fine (they do ship with a 7200 rpm SDA hd so you shouldn't be dropping frames). Otherwise, I would build one or have one built (lot's of discount independent resellers will build one with the parts you spec (lot's of specs on this forum).

By the way, Dell only offered a +R DVD burner, and their second harddrive was not priced competiively ($199-$225 instead of $139 for a 250 gig)--plus their site would not allow me to set up a second harddrive. A lof of their other options were competitive.

Oh, and their firewire worked just fine with Vegas--but then again, it is often the issue of whether or not your firewire will work with your camera--not just Vega (i.e., my Canon GL2 does not work well with the Creative Labs built-in firewire card--so I use the one on my motherboard with the TI chipset that works fine).

As a tip at the Dell site (from a friend of mine who is a product manager formerly with their laptops and now with their consumer desktops), go in through the consumer side--not the corporate side. The corporate side has higher prices (since they discount off these prices for large corporate discount contracts (such as those I go at $130 billion GE)--but you won't get these discounts. Also, when you are all through with the order, before you purchase--call them up. The reps often have authority to provide additional incentives (we had our shipping price dropped). They can also suggest a few alternatives to reduce the price and they can expedite the order (ours arrived in 3 days--which is rare).

I hope this helps.

busterkeaton wrote on 7/24/2004, 1:09 PM
If you are looking to buy a Dell, you should sign up for the Dell emails. They often have deals in them. They often have good deals on the weekends too.

Dells are good and will work with Vegas, but they are not so upgradeable. If you are knowledgeable, you can build a better PC cheaper yourself. But if you aren't buying a computer with a warranty will save you a lot of hassles.

Also just as a tip, I would wait for a little bit just to see if the new 8400's or new Intel chips have any problems. In general, I would wait to jump on the newest hardware.

If you dont' need the latest, greatest, you can find good deals on the 8300's at the Dell Outlet.
efiebke wrote on 7/24/2004, 7:26 PM
I can only speak for Dell's Precision Workstations. I was able to add lots of peripherals to the Precision 420 Workstion (mentioned in my previous post) as well as easily upgrade the RAM and add a second processor (which, due to software compatability problems at that time, I took out of the machine). I've also added and subtracted all sorts of audio and midi cards too.

My newer Precision 650 Workstation promises to be equally if not more upgradeable. I've already added a third internal SATA hardrive and one card with 4 Firewire ports. All other external devices (audio, midi, and HD's) are either firewire or USB 2 based. It runs wonderfully.

With that said, I need to make this one proclaimation: I'm building my next machine!!! I've tinkered around with both computers enough to feel confident that building a computer dedicated to the audio/video world is not as frightening as I once thought it was. SOOOO. . . if even the slightest interest exists, build your own computer! There are many web sites out there that offer all sorts of support for the person who wants to build a "screaming" audio/video recording and editing machine. Heck, this one bulletin board alone has a wealth of information regarding this one subject.

But, for now, I like my Dell Workstations. Both of them. And my newest one should give me at least a few years of hard work and expandability. Next time, though. . . . I'm building my own!! :)

Chanimal wrote on 7/24/2004, 8:11 PM
Workstations are very nice and MUCH more upgradable--we have one within our graphics department.

But...for the price--you can build one cheaper (and have it even more customized).
MyST wrote on 7/24/2004, 8:13 PM
Or, if you're not confident enough to build your own, you could do like me.
Handpick all the parts you want and have a knowledgeable technician put it together.
The tech that put mine together did a great job of keeping the inside of the case very clean. Tiewrapped the wires and gave the internals alot of breathing room. It helped that I went with 2 SATA drives, the cables are smaller.
He saw that I'd taken time to select the best components (for the money), so he told me he took extra time to give a nice install.
It helps if you can find a technician that you know is reliable. Mine is the same one we use at work.
I'm very glad I did it this way.
Try this...go to and select all the parts you'd like, add them to your basket. Then add another +/- $75 for assembly. Now, compare that to the Dell price. Don't forget to factor in the quality of the components you've selected. It isn't the first time someone complains about Dell components "missing" parts that should be there. Eg: no midi input on a SB sound card, even though the retail version of that card has one.
So, try shopping around first. You might be surprised.

filmy wrote on 7/24/2004, 8:42 PM
This is too funny. I had emailed Dell about more of a "Custom" option because they offer all these "free" things that really have no place on a least not what I am looking at. And while things like the "printer" have a "none" option others, such as the photo or anti-virus software, don't come with any "None" get a choice of what you want, but you have to have one of them.

Anyway - I emailed specs of what I want based on their Dimension 8400 or the XPS-Gen 3. I used their options as they list them but I sort oaf added my own "none" - leaving out everything but the OS and whatever bios/motherboard type install disks that come with it as far as software goes. I said "The hard drive should be empty except for the OS." And than, rather than a price quote that I had asked for, the email I got back from sales said they had forwarded my specs to the "marketing department to incorporate your suggestion." ??? Incorporate it into what? The next "Dude, Get a Dell!" tv spot? I asked for a simple price quote, I wasn't offering marketing advice!

Than in a backwards answer they tell me "However, please understand that once you have customized the system and have received it you can add parts to your system at any point of time." I don't think the sales person who "helped" me fully got the concept that I wanted to leave out stuff. As for adding later - for example I don't need a keyboard, I have a Vegas keyboard I will use but I didn;t say that to them. All that and no price quote.

If I had the time I would build my own, but I don't have the time so I am checking out prices for sort of pre-built systems. My daughters godfather just got a Dell - with all the extras. It is a pretty nice system, but I kept asking him "Why do you have this running? What do you need that for?" and he was "Because they gave it to me for free. Because it was already installed" and so on. Sort of reminded me of my cousin who, maybe 7 years ago, got a top of the line Sony Vaio and paid full price for it, something like 3 grand at that time, simply because it was a "name brand". I can't tell you how slow that thing ran when I was using a 486DX2 that ran faster. There was kinds of crap installed on that thing that she didn't know what it did, and it even had the ability to capture video...something she has never once used. Oh, yeah a big selling point to her, aside from it being a 'name brand', was the sales pitch that it came with over $500 worth of 'free' software. And it was the usual stuff like AOL , Winzip and whatever other freeware/shareware was out there. And yeah, it came with the standard "MS Office Suite" that OEM's bundle. Oh, And they even 'threw in' a free repair disk. Anyhow - Dell is sort of doing the same thing with music match Jukebox and Paint Shop Pro and the other 'free' things that they install.
JohnnyRoy wrote on 7/24/2004, 10:25 PM
I only bought a Dell once. Let me warn you about what Dell does. First read this article on Dell proprietary (non-standard) ATX design. That's right, they have their motherboards and power supplies specially designed to be non-standard and thus not upgradeable so that you have to buy replacement parts from Dell! I had a power supply fail and you can't just buy a new one from anywhere. You have to go back to Dell and pay their outragious prices for parts. Then they were quite happy to advertise that their computer comes with an Creative Audigy 2 sound card but they don't advertise too loudly that some features have been disabled to make it cheaper. They removed the MIDI support! That might not be a big deal for you but my primary reason for buying the card was because I'm a musician who plays MIDI keyboards so that was quite a showstopper for me at the time. Then they sold me an nVidia GeForce 2 GTS graphics card with only half the memory of the retail version. Another Dell cost cutting measure.

Dell has name brand peripheral makers like nVidia and Creative make special cards with disabled features just for Dell and they sell them as if they are the equivalent of the retail version. Beware. This is very deceptive marketing and I would never buy from Dell again.

Finally, I followed the instructions on the Dell web site on how to upgrade my Dell 8100 from Windows Me to Windows XP. They provided programs and drivers and BIOS upgrades and everything. Then when I called Dell for support, the first question they asked was, "Did you buy Windows XP from us?". When I told them I had bought it locally, they informed me that they could not help me since they did not sell me the operating system. End of conversation.

So if you buy a PC from Dell, you must like this type of deception and abuse. You can build your own cheaper and have better quality parts. Like I said, I would never buy a Dell computer again.

Nezza wrote on 7/25/2004, 2:43 AM
Thanks for all the replies, I have built a couple of systems before, but it would cost me £150 more ($200) to build it myself! And trust me, it's a like for like comparision on the pricing!

Dell have got a great offer with free double memory at the moment which is why the saving is so large.

I've also heard that Dell do remove certain things on their cards, but I've looked into each component and none of this affects me.

Also I'd be getting a warrenty on the whole system rather than individual components.

I'd normally go down the DIY route, but I just don't see the point with such a big price difference.