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If I were going to buy a computer and did not feel comfortable putting one together on my own I would find a local computer store and select all the components from them and have them put it together.
While there is nothing particularly wrong with HP, Dell or Gateway you need someone local to take it to if you have problems. Each of these manufactures (particularly HP) use properitary components that make it hard for non-computer people to repair or add components to them.
I agree- you want a generic PC so that you can easily upgrade in the future without being locked in to a particular manufacturer's components. It will be less expensive in the long run, easier to find parts, and you can put exactly what you want in it.
HP definitely isn't the best (shudder!) - Dang I tried to talk my brother into ordering a Dell a while back.. but he HAD to have one that day. Went to Best Buy, brought home an HP, now it's being shipped to HP for service since they actually have realized something is wrong that can't be fixed by running the restore process. Duh!
If you want the best bet in a name brand PC, go with Dell. Parts are common enough to not be a major problem.
If you have a good computer shop in your area, give them a try at it first. You are going to get 2 basic answers here in this group - buy a Dell/IBM/Compaq Deskpro or buy a custom built unit. Indeed many local shops can do a really good job at a very fair price - my area has 3 major local shops and a Gateway store (ROFL!). The latter is a total joke, and the former are all overpriced for inferior junk - oh what competition can do for price/quality. So I buy Dell.
What is wrong with you guys? Buy a dell? Buy a compaq? Are you mental? Dell has JUST released a good system. It takes up to 4 gigs of DDR. (only comes with 1 gig) But it costs $2500!! Get one from a computer store. Preferably one with an Asus or Gigabyte board. You can get one with everything the Dell has and more for less that $1500. And the processor is upgradeable.
In the "for what's it's worth" department - heh heh
I'm absolutely tickled pink with my two year old Dell 4100, (I think), which has been upgraded to the max; good support whatever little was needed.
My youngest son (a self-professed Computer Guru) has the newer - what? 8100? 8200? and he'd tell you how tickled he is with his --
Of course, I could go way back to my aged Gateway 200MMX on another desk behind me; that dude just don't know about quitting time!! Day in and day out, he just runs and runs and runs.
Against my wishes, our Pastor of our church, bought an HP something or other a year or so ago, and is he ever miffed with HIS decision!! Never again, he sez!! And, no, I'm really not one to give it the ole "I TOLE YOU SO!!" even because he remembers me telling him that!! hawr!!
Check with Dell and you can be reasonably sure they'll NOT lead you astray. Can you tell I'm a bit biased?? NAW, not me - hehheh...
fallsburgky, Dell had good systems before they released their gamer system... not everyone is a gamer by ANY means. And yes, most Dells can have their processor upgraded. And that Dell XPS system can be had for much less than $2500!
Now for the rest of the world, the Dell Dimension 2350 can be had with a 2.0GHz Celeron for just a hair over $400 complete with a 17" monitor - and free shipping. Yes that is with the 5% student discount, but still I can't see a local shop complete with that.
I can see a local shop compete with that by offering a decent computer with real parts for a smallish sum over $400.That $400 Dell with have the Sound, video,network,probably modem and anything else they can scrimp on already attached on-chip to motherboard.Local shop will make real computer with real parts.I may open one myself.It is clear that the big names put out inferior product.I grab a piece of the richs for myself and my bride.
Does it include brand parts? Or off-brand, ATM graphics card and Soundbuster sound cards?
As a 3.0 P4 alone will soak the amature 4 bills, I don't see how the smallish company can compete with the big boys who buy their P4 in huge bulk and on cross contracts like providing the primary tech support for their supplier's product.
Depends on the monitor and what you use your computer for mostly. If you have to have the latest, the answer is simple...a new one. If you're content with the picture and screen size you have, it will most likely work just fine.
I warn you, tho, that when you sit down at a 19" flat crt you will never want anything smaller. Just ask lilrob...you'd have to pry her monster 22" monitor from her cold, dead hands.
I have no problem with folks who want to build THEIR OWN 'puter from the ground up; but at the same time, for me personally, I will never, ever, again trust an individual builder to create one for me; been there; done that; NEVER AGAIN!
Had problems with that dude from the first day onward; had it back to THEIR shop countless number of times; each time it was something different.
Did he use first rate integral parts?? Don Theen so!! Was Junk!! AND, in the end, it cost me far more outta pocket than if I woulda gone to Gateway or Dell or heck, anybody else.
So, you can poof all the stuff Dell uses; Gateway uses; what Compaq uses, I'll still rely on THEIR expertise, thank you...
general_tech makes the best point IMO...buy the very best, and (per lil_rob...well, and me) biggest monitor you can afford. If you buy right, that monitor will outlast the remaining computer parts (unless they're SCSI drives) and *still* provide value with future systems.
Case in point: the monitor I use today (21" Iiyama) has seen three different systems. The same SCSI drives I bought with the 21" monitor are still in use today...if memory serves, that's *at least* four to five years (components that last longer than my memory have added value in my book!)
Upgrades are the best way to make a descent part-time income if you just have to get inside the box, imho. I know 2 guys who do quite well for themselves doing that because they under-cut the local repair shops which have to make enough money to cover overhead costs. They also go in-home, which people who are afraid to mess with the wire in the back are much more happy about.
Back to monitors. Whatever size you go with, you can never go smaller...you won't want to. I hate to sit down at the wifes computer (17") or the kids (15"). In fact, I would like to get a 21 or 22" because the 19" is beginning to seem too small to me now.
"My youngest son (a self-professed Computer Guru) has the newer - what? 8100? 8200? and he'd tell you how tickled he is with his...."
I thought that a TRUE guru would assemble his own systems (since this IS a hardware discussion)! He wouldn't rely on Dell, HP, Compaq, etc...