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Who makes the best CUSTOM PCs? Would like to hear your experiences while I share mine


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#1 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 04:19 AM

I decided long ago to stop buying name-brand computers
like Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.

There are certainly many "plus" factors as far as buying
computers from these manufacturers in that you get the
best "bang" for the buck.

What drove me away from these companies was the fact
that the innards of these computers are mostly proprietary,
often have "shared" memory, and hard-drives that are shipped
with all sorts of "junk" shareware that companies pay to have
included on your PC. Furthermore, instead of giving you a
copy of Windows XP on CD, they put a backup on the hard drive.

The worst part of owning a PC from many of these companies
(though I can't vouch for all) is the outsourced Customer
Support. Nothing aggravates me more than calling Customer
Support and wasting valuable time working with the language
barrier.

I decided that from now on I'd spend more money and hopefully
get better support in the end.

Thus far it has worked out rather well. This year I bought a
Lenovo laptop. I had a few minor initial problems that were
immediately addressed by Customer Support in Atlanta. I had
replacement parts shipped to me next day, and spoke with
people that were easy to communicate with.

Now I am possibly looking at a new desktop for 2007

My last desktop I purchased through Velocity Micro.
It cost me a pretty penny, including the $200 or so I paid for
2-year additional on-site and in-home support, but it was well
worth it. I lost two hard drives in my 18 months of use, but the
company overnighted me replacements and had someone come
to my home to install the drives.

Whenever I have a problem, I just call the toll-free support
and I am connected with a very friendly and knowledgeable
support department located in (I believe) North Carolina.

So, naturally, I am looking at Velocity Micro once
again to build my next computer. Only problem is, though they
are always highly rated by the various PC magazines, they are
also rated as the most expensive company to purchase from.

Anyone have other suggestions as to other companies that
I can do a custom build from their website and be assured that
I am dealing with someone that will put together a quality
computer for me and supply me with domestic support should
anything happen to it?

PS: Please don't respond that I would be better building a
computer myself. My response is that I can't, nor do I have
the time to do it myself.

PSS: I would also consider a Mac Pro at this point.

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 46 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted November 20 2006 - 05:02 AM

www.monarchcomputer.com is supposed to be good

ps- your avvy kicks ass Posted Image

#3 of 46 ONLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 20 2006 - 05:12 AM

Ron, can you share w/ us what you want to use the computer for? You say you're willing to think about a Mac Pro, but even though I myself own a Mac (new Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo) I wouldn't point you in that direction unless I know what you want to do, and that the Mac is the best platform for those uses.

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#4 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 09:31 AM

Carlo,

Right now, I own a Dual-Core 3.20GHz PC with 2gb Ram, 256
video memory and 10,000 rpm raptor drives.

I want a computer that's super fast. I don't want to wait
on programs to load.

I want a computer that allows me to freely multitask, even
when running memory-intensive programs or burning a DVD.

I want enough memory where I can run up to a dozen programs
at startup with no slowdown.

My current PC does that with flying colors. The problem is,
the computer is having a lot of issues as of late including
"blue screen" crashes. I have just shipped the desktop back
to Velocity Micro at their expense. They are going to try to
fix it.

The reason I am thinking of a Mac is that I'm tired of Windows.
It's an awful operating system that's vulnerable to viruses and
hacks. I'm also very tired of "blue screen" crashes where the OS
tells you nothing about WHY it's suddenly dumping memory.

The only thing I have against the Mac is that it still seems quite
foreign to me since I have used a PC for more than 20 years. I
have tons of Windows software that will never run on a Mac
unless I plan to run Windows on it, which in that case, sort of
defeats the purpose of buying a Mac.

Look forward to your observations.

Ronald J Epstein
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#5 of 46 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted November 20 2006 - 10:01 AM

youre experiencing windows troubles. you dont need another computer, yours is plenty fast. if you buy another one, you'll just have more windows problems unless you go to mac or linux.

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#6 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 10:03 AM

Christ,

That's exactly what I'm thinking, that is, unless the Windows
problems are related to hardware issues with my current PC
which I will find out soon.

Again, owning a MAC is an interesting idea, but I would be
using it to basically run Windows just because of all the software
that won't run on it otherwise.

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#7 of 46 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted November 20 2006 - 09:29 AM

Exactly what software is it that you'd need to run on the Mac? There's also Linux as an obvious alternative as well...or perhaps Vista though that remains to be seen. IMO the hardware you have now is still current and very capable so I wouldn't look at buying a new PC so that means either.
1) getting XP to run properly on your existing hardware and upgrade to Vista
2) install Linux on your current box
or 3) sell it and buy a mac pro.

With options 2 or 3 you're obviously going to have a learning curve and either OS may or may not do what you want...esp. if you're into gaming.

#8 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 10:03 AM

Andrew,

Software I am running?

Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Nero, Trillian, Paltalk,
Poco Email, Flash FXP (FTP), MIRC, SnagIt (screen capture),
Pinnacle Studio 10.

I am not a gamer.

Ronald J Epstein
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#9 of 46 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted November 20 2006 - 10:23 AM

There is a place here in KC that does some of that. I bought a liquid-cooled 8800GTS rig from them recently. They have a storefront down on Merriam, but they seem to do mostly Ebay stuff.

KC TechHeads

Anyway, very happy with mine. I got a 8800GTS / X6800..

Just pedal to the metal. Cool people too. I like buying local.

The best advice I have for anyone is to try and find some local shop, because they will try and do you well plus if you run into anything, you can normally go down the street to them. I've found good shops in a lot of the areas of the country, from the south/north/east/west. You can find good people in your hometown, and they are basically dealing with the same parts as anyone else. May be a little more or less since you'll pay sales tax, but support is infinitely better.

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#10 of 46 OFFLINE   Mike Fassler

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Posted November 20 2006 - 10:44 AM

http://www.cyberpowe...com/Default.asp
http://www.abs.com/index.asp
also www.ibuypower.com

these are some of the better built systems out you can get and they allow you to select
what you want too use, I know you know this but make sure to get a good PSU.



these guys do reviews on companies that build pc's all of the time, I highly suggest you take a gander before you purchase from anyone, because they will tell you a ton of pro's and con's of each company.

http://consumer.hardocp.com/

#11 of 46 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted November 20 2006 - 01:16 PM

Frankly, blue screens on Windows should be a fairly rare thing on XP.

I haven't seen one in... I can't remember when last a machine actually bluescreened. No wait, I had installed the wrong driver and that caused bluescreening, but that was totally due to operator error. It went away when I removed the bad driver and installed the proper one.

If your machine is bluescreening and doing so more than once every few months on the outside then there is something wrong. Either the windows install has gotten damaged, or you have installed rotten drivers, or your hardware is flaky. Insufficient cooling, a marginal memory chip, even bad CPU...

A normal PC, with productivity software only, should not be exhibiting such problems.
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#12 of 46 ONLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 20 2006 - 02:49 PM

Ron,

If you're primarily going to do Windows, I wouldn't recommend a Mac. A lot of the programs you run do have Mac counterparts (and in the case of Adobe, a lot of the programs run better on Macs), and if you were getting into a lot of A/V, digital editing or music work I would say to switch to a Mac, but it sounds like you should stick to a Windows machine.

A blue screen on a Windows machine is just as likely to happen as a blue screen on a Mac running Windows. Windows problems will most likely follow that OS over to a Mac machine running it. I had my Mac bootcamped, but eventually migrated away from Windows (I still use it at work) and reclaimed that HD space by deleting the Win partition.

I just started using Garageband and now ProTools and I don't know if I'll ever boot into Windows again for personal use. I have Office for Mac, iWork 06, iLife 06, Toast for my burning needs, and when the new version of Adobe Creative Suite comes out (that is Universal Binary) I will buy that and then call it a day.

But if you're going to keep using the Win programs, then I'd say just stick with Windows.

The Mac Pro is intriguing, especially with rumors that in early 2007 they'll be announcing the quad core processors on it (meaning 4 cores per processor, 2 processors per Mac Pro). 8 freaking cores! 8 RAM slots (hopefully they'll move away from FB DIMMS which have higher latency) for 16GB of RAM. I bet that thing wouldn't bog down with all of your apps running! Posted Image

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#13 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 09:11 PM

What is PSU?

Is that Power Supply?

Tell me more as to why I need a good PSU and what
I should specifically look for when considering a PC?

Carlo, thanks for the rundown on Mac vs. PC.
I think you are right -- it might just be a better idea to
stick to a (ugh!) PC.

Ronald J Epstein
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#14 of 46 OFFLINE   Tekara

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Posted November 20 2006 - 09:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Fassler

I can never recommend cyberpowerpc; I purchased a laptop from them and they attempted to screw me over pretty bad on it.

Short story is that when I first got it, it was damage; fine, I rma'd it back to them. After calling them after several weeks of not hearing anything they basically told me that I broke the laptop and then ignored me, of course without returning either the laptop or my money. I had the credit card company step in, after 30days of them trying to ignore my credit card company, I won the dispute by default and was given my money back.

Their customer service and return ratings at reseller ratings pretty much back me up on them being a scam: http://www.resellerr...seller6897.html
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#15 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 20 2006 - 09:41 PM

Tekara,

I have heard awful things about Cyberpower.

I'm not surprised at the problems you reported nor the
fact that I just customized a PC on line and it comes in
at almost $1500 cheaper than other vendors. You get
what you pay for.

Ronald J Epstein
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#16 of 46 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted November 21 2006 - 01:37 AM

PSU is a powersupply. Basically, you want to get a power supply with these features:

SLI Support - even if you aren't going to do SLI, SLI support power supplies offer you the option should you later require a card with multi-inputs, like an 8800GTX, or the upcoming AMD/ATI DX10 card.

Dual Rail-12V - higher quality Power Supplies have dual rail on the 12V line, as a way to make sure your board gets good power with fewer issues.

550W or better. Don't get anythiing with less then a 550W PSU. A 600W or better is commonly recommended at the moment.

Name brands - don't go for junk that you've never heard of. Good brands like Antec, ThermalTake, PC Power & Cooling, Ultra, OCZ and others are out there with solid reviews and a good track record plus warranties. Don't find yourself with some red box PSU from Tiawan (oh, it's a Deer PSU! Great! ugh) A no-name PSU has basically no warranty and you can tell it's low quality by the fact it has very little weight. Or has terrible cabling to it.
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#17 of 46 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted November 21 2006 - 01:42 AM

Ron:

Yes the PSU is the power supply and a beefy power supply is needed to power up your dual core CPU, video cards, etc. What is the size of you power supply now?

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#18 of 46 ONLINE   Gregg Loewen

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Posted November 21 2006 - 02:53 AM

My PC is a HTPC from a HTF sponsor called 2partsfusion. It has 2 gigs of memory and a 500 gig HD. It is super quite and came with gyrating mouse and wireless keyboard. Also built in HDTV tuner card etc.

I think about adding memory and HD space, saying I have a terabite of HD would sound pretty cool :-)

I am very happy with it.

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#19 of 46 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 21 2006 - 03:06 AM

My PSU is a 550 Watt Antec w/dual smart fans

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#20 of 46 ONLINE   Al.Anderson

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Posted November 21 2006 - 03:29 AM

I've purchased ABS before, and while the PC was decent, I wouldn't call the quality of the materials or construction top of the line. (This was about 6 yrs ago though.) I was also displeased that they sold me a Win modem while advertising a h/w modem and that the "flat screen" monitor was not. (I realized it after the 30 day period and was too lazy to take any 3rd party action.)

I now have a Falcon-Northwest. And while the materials and construction are top-shelf; I had to wait 12 weeks for a PC to be returned to me for motherboard warranty work. (Their excuse was they were shorthanded over Christmas.) I have dealt with them by phone 2 or 3 times for minor issues and they were very good in that regard.

I have to agree with others though that your problems seem more to do with Windows than the need for a new PC. You may want to have someone do a fresh install of Windows. That should buy you a year; and in the meantime Vista's SP-1 will be out. (Don't be tempted to let Vista v0 try and solve your problems!)