Cheap prices, but High Quality...

Thanks to Callandor's expertise and vast knowledge, I have decided to build an army of PCs for my LAN Gaming Center. But, rather than continuing to ask questions in a thread he already supplied an answer for, I have opened this new question. So, here goes. Does anybody know of any PC part Manufacturers that have excellent quality, but lower prices than the top Manufacturers (ie- Asus, Seasonic, etc.). I've found numerous Companies (Echo Star, Aspire, etc.) out there with products with excellent specs, matching the top dogs, but at a lower price. I know that generally, you get what you pay for, but that isn't always the case. So basically, if anyone can provide me with the names of some awesome companies that have awesome products, but just don't have the huge name and fanbase, it'd be appreciated very much. Thanks in advance!
MandEMfgAsked:
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Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
Well ... cheap doesn't have to mean low quality;  it can also simply mean not-quite-state-of-the-art components.   You could build a very nice gaming rig with the following:

Motherboard:  Asrock Dual-VSTA    This is not only very inexpensive (~ $75), but allows you to use DDR instead of DDR2 memory (much less expensive ... and remarkably little impact on performance) and can also accept either an AGP or PCIe video card.   There is a bit of a performance hit on the video end; but with a good video card I think this would be very minor.   Asrock is the low-cost lineup from Asus ... I've not been a fan of their boards; but this particular board seems to be very well done.   You might want to read this series of articles about the board (I posted these some time ago ... and I believe that's why Callandor bought one of these boards --> which he's quite happy with for a low end motherboard):
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2810
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2813
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2814

CPU:  Up to you.   An E6300 is probably fine for what you're planning. (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115005 )

Video card:   This is the single most important element ... I'd buy a PCIe card -> and for gaming, this is the component that will have the most influence on your system's performance (given that you have enough CPU "horsepower" ... which you will with any Core 2 Duo).   Get a Sapphire card (if you want an ATI chipset) or eVGA (for nVidia).   This would be an excellent card:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814102064

Memory:  2GB of PC3200 is plenty ... in fact 1GB is probably fine.

Note there's really no compromise on quality in the list above except perhaps the motherboard;  and the Asrock board is very well reviewed [and Callandor's experience with it has, I believe, been excellent -- I suspect he'll comment on that when he reads this :-) ].

A case/power supply combo from a quality manufacturer (e.g. Antec) can be a good value ... something like this has a good power supply (not a Seasonic or PCP&C, but still a nice unit):  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811129155   (too bad you can't get the current rebate on a bunch of them :-) ... but it's still a nice package at $100 each)

Add a hard drive, optical drive, floppy drive (these are < $10 and still handy, so I always include them), keyboard, mouse, and display ... and you can still build a nice rig for you $1,000 target price.

A note on warranty (I read you comments in the previous question):   Depending on your "comfort level" at providing your own labor, the warranty on a self-built system can be as good or better than the warranty on a packaged system.   Note that CPU's typically have 3 year warranties;  memory "lifetime"; hard drives 3 to 5 years; and most of the other components 1 year.   And many of the pre-built systems require calling their tech support line (with associated hold times, etc.) and they still just send you a replacement part for you to install.   If you build a bunch of virtually identical systems, it's not hard to diagnose problems ... since you can simply keep a few spares of every part and do a simply parts swap to confirm/eliminate what a problem is.   ... just something to consider :-)
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zephyr_hex (Megan)DeveloperCommented:
i believe Aspire is an Acer line, and Acer, in my experience, sucks.  when i worked retail, the display models that broke the most often were the Acers.  we were constantly sending them back to the manufacturer.  this is in reference to LCD monitors and laptops.

you are right about getting what you pay for.  invariably, the cheaper the price, the lesser the quality.

we are coming up on the holidays... it is possible you can find some good deals on high quality stuff...  from manufacturers who don't usually have the lowest price but their stuff is on sale...  you might consider this approach.
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nobusCommented:
i would NOT buy cheaper hardware, i only use Asus, and intel.
From the time we started doing that , our repair work dropped to less than a twentieth
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derek4017Commented:
I just do all my shopping at www.newegg.com  they have everything youll need.
along with detailed specs and reviews from customers .
Everything is reallly priced good and cheap or free shipping.
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baconyiCommented:
www.pricegrabber.com is a good resource for finding cheapest parts.  beware of the rating though... if you see a site with a 4 or 5 star rating but only had 20 users, then i would not buy from them... someone with more than 2000 users that have rated and their avg is still 4 or higher then i would trust more....

for instance, zipzoomfly.com has over 15000 rates and i think the avg is 4.5 stars.

but i agree with some other people that cheap isnt the way to go, i would go with a descent brand, then find the cheapest that particular item sells for. NOT the other way around (find cheap price, then see what brand it is to compare...)

Billy
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baconyiCommented:
also, if you're looking for local stores that carry items for just a few parts (not buying in bulk), then www.salescircular.com is a good too, it lists major stores and what they have advertised in their flyers.

Billy
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Awesome! Thanks, Gary! That cleared a lot of things up for me. Just one more question, though. What about going with a Micro ATX board that's a little cheaper, but has good specs? Is that a bad idea?
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Oh, and 2 more quick things. What would be the lowest in wattage I should go on the power supply? I was thinking no less than 500W, but I noticed that case you sent ha da 450W psu. And what about memory standards on mobos? If it supposrt ddr2 800, does that mean it supports 800 only, or can it support 533/667 as well? Thanks!
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A microATX board is fine ... and also lets you use a smaller case if you want to.   I think any GOOD power supply of at least 450 watts is fine => the Core 2 Duo's aren't as power-hungry as the Pentium-D's were; and you're not going to be installing dual video cards.   More is, of course, better, since it gives you additional headroom; but the case/power supply combos don't often have the larger supplies.   I plan to use a 700w unit with my next build (a Core 2 E6600) ... but that's serious "overkill" ==> I'm just doing it because I want Seasonic's top-of-the-line :-)
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Ok, cool. Once again, you've been a huge help. Thanks!
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... also, a motherboard that suppors DDR2-800 will also support 533/667 modules => in fact, the lower speed modules are less likely to cause compatibility issues (800MHz memory can be very "picky" to get working right).
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Look at this guy, still helping after I gave him the points.....What a true Expert! :p
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