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by hbmark15 / March 7, 2005 2:51 AM PST

I'm looking at buying a desktop pc who makes the best most reliable for under 1,000?

thanks for any help.

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Re Computer under 1,000
by michael_b_c / March 7, 2005 4:27 AM PST

Personally I wouldn't buy a big company computer. They are always headaches and most of the time unrealiable. For about 700-800 dollars you could build a very nice computer. has about the lowest prices I have seen.
But if pre-made is the way you want to go... probably dell. The problem with dell is, they may advertise $500 systems but if you change anything in the computer all of the sudden the computer costs 1,000+.

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Build one your self
by jedisolo / March 9, 2005 2:38 PM PST

If you want a perfect computer build one yourself.

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Build or buy? Both!
by Gsteele / March 24, 2005 10:17 PM PST

Over the years, I've owned many computers from many manufacturers, and worked on far more. I've probably owned or bought and set up for friends and family about 120 at this point. I still don't consider that my personal opinion can match the opinions at places like, because the statistical base is much higher there (but skewed - see below).

Yes, I've owned Dells, eMachines, Gateways, Compaqs, IBMs, Acers, no-names, etc. (the s's are intentional - several to many of each). I've also built around 20 machines from scratch, sourcing mobos, memory, drives, video, etc. Some years ago, it became obvious that owing to the enormous economies of scale of these companies, it was impossible to duplicate their package by buying parts and assembling them at the same price, unless you bought parts at a local vendor's loss-leader giveaway sale. I used to like to build them, too.

What I found was that you could buy a machine (look at the Dell specials in Sunday flyers and in the Wall St. Journal, etc. or the discounts on eMachines at Best Buy, or the Compaq deals occasionally seen at Staples, etc.) and if you didn't quite match your dream machine, you could always open it up and add that video card or that fire sale bigger hard drive and bring it up to what you wanted. Have you seen how low Best Buy's prices get on AMD 64 eMachines?

That way, you get a perfectly good bundle and a warranty (Dell, Gateway, Compaq, and eMachines have been fine in that regard, with a few minor glitches here and there) at a bargain, usually with a donatable inkjet printer and now with LCD displays, at less than you could build it for, and if you want to add in something special, you can.

Regarding my comment about skew, I think there is another subtle reality about reading too literally. How many times do you think that people who are perfectly happy with their machines and the OEM's service and support actually take the time to say so? We only hear the bad things at the complaint sites, but the reality is that you may be reading a report from a dyed-in-the-wool complainer, or a fluke problem (tech support people are people (you know, like Mother Teresa and Adolph Hitler and everyone in between), not perfect, and they get fired, too, when they foul up a customer). As they say, your mileage may vary.

I really wouldn't obsess too much. Just get a name brand machine, upgrade it when you get restless, and the odds, given the quality of today's boxes, are in your favor. If things go bad, it might be a minor short-term pain, but probably not much more - like getting a filling at a dentist's. Hardly a reason to go nuts.

And, by the way, the overwhelming majority of problems I've run into over the years were SOFTWARE-related, not hardware.

Just a thought.

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Very good comments Gsteele.
by John Robie / March 25, 2005 5:40 AM PST
In reply to: Build or buy? Both!

I like what you say, and also these fine posts among many sensible posts:

Dell is the largest producer of computers in the US and Worldwide. Every third computer shipped to consumers in the US were a Dell. They made over 31.7 million computers last year. There are bound to be some defects/and or complaints like with every big company, but what percent. If it could even approach one percent that would be 371,500 complaints (then lets call up the National Guard back from Iraq ;-).

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Very Nice Posting...
by ihop4no1 / August 3, 2005 6:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Build or buy? Both!

...I thoroughly enjoyed reading that. It sounds like sage advice and I would recommend anyone follow it.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.


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Nope, Emachines are good for inexpensive PC's
by John Robie / March 7, 2005 5:59 AM PST

where you do not desire higher end gaming since most, including low cost Dell, HP, Compaq, and Gateway usually do not have an AGP or PCI-Express x16 chipset for good gaming. The modern Emachine is not considered crap. It is that some kids think it is 'crap' if it can't play their high end games without an extra expense install of a PCI video card

My pick right now is the Dell 8400 with the new Intel 6xx chipset that supports 64-bit (EM64T)

This Dell 8400 can be customized for $1010 ($10 over your ceiling):

Pent 4, 640 (EM64T) 3.2GHz, w/HT Tech, 800 FSB, 2MB L2 Cache
WinXP Media Center 2005 Edition (OS)or subtract $29 for WinXP Home OS.

1GB of RAM, dual channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (note not400MHz).
160GB ATA 7200RPM Hard Drive.
Dual Drive:
(1) 16x DVD-ROM
(2) 16x DVD+/-RW burner w/dble layer write capabilites
3.5 Floppy Drive
17" CRT Monitor (can swap for LED for $'s)
128 PCI-Express x16 Video Card
IEEE 1394 Adapter
Dell A215 Speakers
Free Shipping
Plus other stuff as indicated there ..modum..etc.....

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In the trenches...
by Willy / March 9, 2005 11:17 PM PST

I find the eMachines a decent system to have. I don't find it any more troublsome than other OEMs out there. I don't see the flashpoint that some OEMs have like Dell when it comes to support at least for now. For the money, you're getting your money's worth. The only cavet I have with eMachine, if replacement parts if brought elsewhere like CD drive while they'll fit, may not have the frt. panel skin in order to seamlessly fit, just a quirk I think. At least eMachine has a direct replacement supplychain via thier support website for true replacments, but expensive,IMHO. As for Dell, man was support a PITA. For HP, great website info and links, etc., but verbal support, HUH? gets confusing at times. As for system deals, well they all supply them, just read the fine print. If you have refund/rebate troubles, keep notes/track of it in order to follow through. YES, being nice on the phone helps, no rants, just be nice, dang it give it time too. If a rebate takes 6-8 weeks, etc, give it an extra 1 week, then call/query or write, etc.. Don't ever change anything once an order is done other than to cancel, thus get exactly what you want when ordering -OR- if website ordering, review it and edit any changes then submit, take your time.

ciao Happy -----Willy

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by dagger906 / March 11, 2005 2:23 PM PST
In reply to: In the trenches...

I'd say Dell, despite how bad it is. It's just the cheapest machine out there. That is, unless you build one yourself.

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It is not cheaper..but you will have a very fast computer...
by bigbill52a / November 5, 2005 2:52 PM PST
In reply to: Dell...

It is cheaper than if you built one yourself. For one thing you wouldnt use a slow celeron processor, a power supply that it is barely able to handle the power needs of the unit, a motherboard that you can not upgrade with a video card, and 256 megs of ram. You get what you pay for....

Medium priced computer...
Amd-64 939 3000 $146
Biostar M7 939 motherboard with the new nvidia onboard video (upgradable with SLI video card slot)(10000+ Aquamarks with built in video) $64
Samsung 200 GB Hd 8 mb cache Sata $83
Lite on CD/RW $25
2-256 3200 (512MB) ram $40
Modem $12
Floppy (required for Sata drive install) $12
Power supply should handle 20 amps on the +12 $50 (24 pin required)
Case $50
Total: $482

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NOT - Dell Home PC
by Driftwood / March 13, 2005 9:58 PM PST

I will be glad to share my personal & professional experiences. The business model for Dell?s Home (or consumer) PC customer, technical, financial & etc. support is broken and a nightmare. The home PC?s are basically good machines at a good price until you have problem or a question. Dell?s Business PC div. has greatly improved in the last year or so, support was returned to the USA after business customers complained about service. If you purchase a Dell, either call the Dell Business division or order via Business portion of the web site. HP?s Business support is adequate (not great but gets the job done). No personal experience with HP home PC purchase and support but have been told by friends and clients that home support is similar to Dell?s (outsourced and not good). IBM?s personal (consumer) and business support seems to be pretty good but the machines are a little more expensive but remember IBM recently sold its personal PC division. I have no experience with eMachines. If you have the technical skills and the time, I would recommend building your own PC if not research the web for prices, configurations & etc. then visit several local computer stores. Then make your decision based on cost, quality and support. Please remember cheapest is not always the least expensive. I hope this helps and good luck.

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My experience with Dell...
by slurugger / March 14, 2005 12:32 AM PST

has been very good. I have had a dimension desktop for almost 4 years now. Girlfriend, roomate, dad, and brother all have one and I also have a Dell C400 laptop that I love! Their service people can be hard to understand at times but they work to resolve the problem. I have also modified my desktop with more RAM and had no problems.

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Dell, etc.
by culture_of_one / March 14, 2005 12:51 PM PST

I have friends who've had terrible experiences with Dell. It seems that, while Dell takes good care of their large (i.e. corporate) clients, they treat their individual and small-business clients pretty badly. Furthermore, they're being sued in California for failing to deliver what they promised. Caveat emptor!

If you want to know about any company in particular, you should go to and type in the company name. If their name shows up in a lot of complaints (as Dell's most certainly does), you might want to steer clear. Remember, just the fact that a company's name doesn't appear on that site doesn't mean it's a good company...however, it can be a good sign. Don't forget to run a Google search as well, and keep asking around.

Hope this helps you! Wink

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by culture_of_one / March 14, 2005 1:07 PM PST

Just to save you a step, I checked out emachines (on and they have a slew of complaints lodged against them. I don't know what percentage of buyers those people represent, but they all seem to have valid complaints.

I would also like to add (just to be fair) that I have read good things (online) about Dell from individual consumers--so it seems as if Dell is a "hit or miss" deal. Some people are lucky, and some aren't. Still, it seems like a lot of money to spend on a lottery.

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My oh my......
by John Robie / March 14, 2005 2:05 PM PST
In reply to: emachines

Gee, clicking on to your name reveals you have made 6 post since coming to these CNet forums, one last night and 5 today, being critical of Dell. I take it you are a unhappy person with Dell or work for a competitor spreading spam.

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Sure, don't they all
by Willy / March 14, 2005 11:01 PM PST
In reply to: emachines

When you sell x-number of systems, I guarntee you they'll be problems. People will complain about a "brick" it you sold them enough. So, reading complaints isn't new its the resolved issues that spark me. Clearly, eMachines has done alot to do this and that wasn't always the case, yes they did do bad, very bad. However, I don't know of any computer co. that doesn't have some complaints loged against them, so take those complaints though real with a grain of salt. I've fixed too many systems and realized more often that not, people ashrewed thier system by their own hands. Sure, they're lemons out there and warranty aside, all too often a hollering customer doesn't resolve thier problems. Clearly, these companies address thier problems, but again when you sell zillions of them and then outsource the support it only adds to it, Dell come to mind. Anyways, just my 2-cents -----Willy

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The *complaints* are not techie-related!
by hfguide / March 17, 2005 10:08 PM PST
In reply to: Sure, don't they all

You got caught into culture_of_one's little trap. He's misrepresented the types of complaints lodged against eMachines at

If you do a search on, you'll see that most of the complaints (about 20 over a 3-4 year period) are about rebates, or are lodged against electronic stores and repair shops in which the person mentions the "eMachine" that they bought in passing.

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Emachine failure...
by bigbill52a / November 5, 2005 2:27 PM PST
In reply to: Sure, don't they all

I just repaired a three year old emachine. The customer reported that it had stopped working. After checking the power supply, I discovered that it was the motherboard/cpu that had failed. It was a fic board with an AMD Athlon 2000 cpu and 256 megs ram. I replaced it with a biostar m7 board and sempron-64 2600 and 512 megs of ram since the customer preferred upgrading rather than just replacing. I feel that a motherboard should not fail in 3 years, and I was surprised that a name brand like Fic would fail so quickly.

I do recommend that you enter the Bios and activate the over temperature shut down if it is available. I feel that a number of failures may result from the amd processor overheating (when the fan becomes loaded down with dust, smoking makes this problem worse)

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Nice Try!
by culture_of_one / March 15, 2005 12:36 AM PST
In reply to: emachines

You guys are trying to justify a company's screw-ups by how many units it makes. I'm trying to tell people that how/when/if the company handles those screw-ups is the more important thing in this case. What is the company going to do to improve their systems so that this never happens again, or at least happens much less frequently?

I'm just trying to save someone the kind of headaches that I was spared by telling them what happened to people around me, and by recommending a very helpful consumer site.

FYI, I'm a management and marketing consultant. I specialize in turning around companies that have gotten themselves into deep ****, so I should rejoice at all the screw-ups. It only means more potential business for me, right? However, my true love is "fixing broken companies" because I'd like to see them "all" do well. I just wish all the companies in question would do much, much better.

Honestly, I derive no joy from watching consumers getting treated badly. And there's a big difference between, "Yes, we'll fix it right away!" and "That's your problem! Tough luck! And if you tell anyone, we'll sue you!"

Just being a big producer doesn't give you the right to walk all over the little guy. And the best way to make big companies behave is to "hurt their numbers" by letting people know. To those companies, it's the difference between one single flea bite and a few hundred-thousand flea bites.

Also, show me the hospital that dropped a baby on it's head and then tried to justify it with, "Do you have any idea how many babies we handle in a day?" I think the parents of that particular kid wouldn't feel particularly receptive to that line of reasoning.

Some people get it; some don't. Which are you?

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Sorry I personally don't believe you.
by John Robie / March 15, 2005 1:45 AM PST
In reply to: Nice Try!

You come across as a young immature person who doesn't understand manufacturing,the business world, or even economics, and is either a person who has been hurt by Dell, or a competitor, or just out to bad mouth a company out of pure joy as a personal trait. Start reading the CNet SpeakEasy forum, especially the past, and you will come across some people with your type of vendetta and character.

You are expounding 589 complaints out of 31.7 millions computers made. At one percent that would be 371,000 complaints vs 589. Ford, GM, and Chrysler would love those percentages. Why don't you bad mouth the other computer companies, or are you afraid their percentage of complaints may be similar or worse.

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Perhaps a letter to Dell or HP, Sony, Gateway, etc...
by John Robie / March 15, 2005 1:57 AM PST
In reply to: Nice Try!
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by culture_of_one / March 15, 2005 4:13 AM PST

Thank you for the link. It's nice to see that Dell is taking consumer complaints more seriously. And I do understand how the various parts of a large company can lose touch with each other.

Once again, I promise you that I'll watch, wait, and be as fair as I can.

BTW, where the heck would we be without lively discussions like this one? Wink

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by John Robie / March 15, 2005 6:42 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks!
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Who works for Dell?
by culture_of_one / March 15, 2005 4:08 AM PST
In reply to: Nice Try!


If you were listening, which you obviously weren't, you'd have noticed that I haven't been talking about HOW MANY COMPLAINTS--I've been talking about HOW/WHEN/WHETHER THOSE COMPLAINTS GET RESOLVED. I'm almost convinced that you work for Dell.

Or maybe you bought a Dell and are very happy with it. Got a nice Dell, did you? No problems? Smooth sailing all the way? Well, good for you. Hurray! I'm happy for you--but you were still one of the "lucky majority" if you didn't have any problems with it. And I did say majority. (Happy now?) What about the other people?

I'm not saying that other companies don't have issues. It's just that I don't know anything about those companies. Personally, I have a kit computer that I'm very happy with. I've upgraded and expanded it to the point where it suits my needs perfectly. However, I'm not going to recommend that to the average user. Building your own system is not as easy as some people say it is. (So much for your "working-for-a-competitor theory, huh?")

As for my friends, they learned to live with the parallel port that never worked properly, the board that got replaced four times, and the system that was declared "beyond repair"...and therefore must've been abused. Were my friends the majority? Apparently not. Were they poorly treated? Most definitely. Would I ever consider buying a Dell? No, because I wouldn't want to go through what my friends went through. Would I ever use a Dell? Sure, if I got it for free. I'd even repair it myself.

I don't think that anyone should have to put up with that kind of crap from a company like Dell. A company that started out so well, and then seemingly stopped caring about the individual consumer. Dell has the money and the means to make any complaint right (a la Nordstrom), but they frequently choose not to.

If you know anything about economics, then you know exactly what happens when a company grows too quickly. The orders start coming in faster than they can handle them, so they just start throwing things together (and some of their systems fall apart). Then some whiz kid accountant comes in and says, "You know something? We could really make a lot more money if we started using parts that just barely passed inspection. I mean, technically speaking, they're not really defective or anything..." Then the company says, "Well, we can't send stuff like that to our big clients, so let's dump it on the little guys." I've seen it far too many times, to consider it a blip.

Contrary to what you might think, I sincerely hope that heartfelt consumer complaints will help Dell to become a better company. However, I still believe that they'll respond better to what my Chinese friends call "a pain in the pocket". I will, however, promise you this: If I see the right kind of changes made at that firm, I'll take back everything I've said and start recommending it to my friends. Let's just wait for the complaints about Dell at to start aging (say six months to a year old). Then I'll re-assess my position.

Now let's get back to the real point of helping this guy decide what he should do with his money. Or have you stopped caring about that?

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Oh hum......
by John Robie / March 15, 2005 6:36 AM PST
In reply to: Who works for Dell?

You come into CNet in the last day or so and the first 6 posts you make are bad mouthing Dell like they are in competition with you or your affiliation with another factory.

As for me, I have stated before, even way back some years ago, that I do not have any association or stock with any computer company of any type. As far as Dell, I once owned one 6 years ago for overnight. It arrived with a video card that I ordered, but it was the OEM version that did not have the features that I wanted. A simple phone call to them, they gave a return number and sent a truck out to pick up the computer and monitor from my residence the very next day. My credit card was adjusted with a credit and there were not problems. I bought a computer from another company the next day that could give me the exact video card I wanted. Since then I have purchase two other non Dell computers. I have however, purchased a Dell for my Brother last year using his credit card, and for two other relatives of mine. They are extremely happy with Dell, and no problems with the quality of computers I picked for them.

IMO, you just have a vendetta against Dell since their computers have no more problems percentage wise than any other company and probably less. We can agree only on the off-shore tech support for Dell and other companies. So, I agree to disagree with you on what you are attempting to do in your belittlement of Dell or any computer company that comes under your tirade.

Huh, "get back to helping this guy decide", where have you been reading in this thread...try my 1st post here Happy

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Yeah, well...
by culture_of_one / March 15, 2005 8:50 AM PST
In reply to: Oh hum......

Those posts telling people to avoid Dell were in response to other people recommending Dell up the Wazoo! Silly I think people should get all the info, don't you?

Haven't got time for a I think you'll see in my other posts. BTW, I would never dis a company about which I don't have any real information. That's the only reason you haven't heard me trash anyone else. I only know what happened to my of Dell. I can understand that your experience was different, and I'm honestly glad that it was.

I don't make a habit of spreading info that I'm not too sure about. For example, I read a thread by a guy who said Voodoo PC treated him really badly. However, according to him, he bought three separate systems from after the other. Does that sound right to you? I haven't passed it on. I don't understand why that guy would keep buying from the same company if they really treated him as badly as he says.


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(NT) (NT) Nice try
by jcd / August 5, 2005 1:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Nice Try!
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My Emachine history?
by Rudy6098 / April 11, 2007 12:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Nice Try!

My EMachine (bought Jan 2006) died and service guy says the power supply is bad and took the main board with it. So looking at a big bill, he is putting it back together with new parts and says the system is really messed up because of kids downloading music brought all kinds of stuff in because of no protection. Repair and cleanup is at least $500 so is recommending buying one of his own built machines with Intel core 2 duo E6300; 512mb ddr2 mem; 160 gb sata2 7200rpm hd; dvd +/-R/RW dr; Visa Home; keyboard; mouse; 3 yr ltd warr. My Emachine had 200GB hd; AMD processor, any advise?

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is the service guy reputable?
by bklynrickel / April 11, 2007 7:28 AM PDT
In reply to: My Emachine history?

is the price right?

if you need 200 gigs can you ask him to put one in the machine?

core 2 duo sounds great but i don't know there are so many dual cores out there. i think core 2 duo is one of the best right now.

1 meg of ram would be a good idea.

to me it would be a question of price, support, and mostly trusting the guy who put it together.

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Re: "slew of complaints against eMachines- NOT TRUE"
by hfguide / March 17, 2005 10:03 PM PST
In reply to: emachines

I checked out There aren't a "slew of complaints" against eMachines (20 posts spanning a period of 4 years); and of the ones posted, only 2 are technically related. The other ones are complaints about rebates or against electronic stores in which they happened to have bought an eMachine.

Just wanted everyone to know.

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A slew by any other name...
by culture_of_one / March 18, 2005 1:58 AM PST

Well, I consider 20 customer complaints to more than "a couple" and less than "a ton". So maybe we're just getting hooked up on semantics here.

The company in question in still obligated to take the best possible care of their customers, and I've found that a company doesn't usually end up on if they resolve individual issues quickly and fairly. The fact that most consumers don't take the trouble to make a formal written complaint must also be taken into account. Also, as my favorite sparring partner Mr. John Robbie has frequently pointed out, the ratio of "units produced" to "complaints lodged" has to be given some thought as well.

To be fair, Emachines does seem to be doing "better than most" in the customer-service department (based on other more recent posts). My point is simply that a person should first get all the information they can, and then make their own best purchasing decision.

What about you, HF? Do you own an Emachine or know anyone who does? Let us hear about your/their experience. Also, are you or have you ever been affiliated with that company in any way?

My opinions are not fixed either way (especially when it comes to Emachines), so I'd like to hear more from people who've had first-hand experience. This is an open invitation. Your fellow Netizens need to know! Wink

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