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Trying to build a multimedia desktop system and need advice on companies

We are trying to configure a system that is to be used for pictures and internet only but will be useful in 4-5 years so we want it powerful.  We put together a system on Dell for $1100 but I am unhappy and confused with what they are offering.  It seems like the configuring of the same system in different categories lists a different price.  Also I would like more flexibility in having a more powerful processor without being forced to pick higher end video cards and such.  It also seems to me the the bigger companies are kind of bloated in what they offer.  

Any suggestion on a company/s that would allow me to truly custom build a computer would be appreciated.


2 Solutions
If it's just for pictures and internet, and not 3D or rendering, you can get by with a middle-of-the-road machine with a 2GHz cpu, 1GB RAM, 120GB hard drive and a low end nVidia 6xxx series video card.  Do you need video capture capability or DVD creation capability?  If so, you will need more RAM and a faster cpu.  For vendor, I would recommend Directron or MonarchComputerSystems.
My suggestion would be to visit a local computer shop that does custom builds. Ask to talk to a tech and not a sales guy. One of the most annoying things about going with prebuilt machines is the copmanies customizing for the way they want things done and not thinking of the best interest of the consumer.

To make sure that the computer you have meets industry standards where you can replace parts easily if small upgrades or repairs are needed over the next 4-5 years, your best bet is to pick up something from a local shop. Yes, you get better warrenty from places like Dell but the standard lasts 1 year and you have to pay extra for 3 or more years coverage. Most local shops will provide 1 year parts warrenty and the parts they use come off the shelf with out being specially made of any certain models.

Just my opinion about the subject.
I agree with mandude0.  I run one of those shops he describes.  My philosophy is to only build PC's using components I have personal experience with and, in fact, use in my own machines.  If a customer insists that I use components that I know are inferior or unreliable despite a lower price, I send them to someone else as it is not worth my time and aggravation when those components start failing in 2-3 months.

I feel that almost all my customers value reliability above all else and I build with that in mind.

Of the 60+  PC's I have built in the last 12 months I have not had a single callback or warranty claim due to component failure.  Beat that, Mr. Dell
bd1saulAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the help.  We have decided to go to our local shop for a custom build.

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