Wow, I stayed out of this thread because I knew I'd have to run off at the mouth if I got in here. But now I'm here, so here I go.
I'm really dismayed to see so many people recommending Dell, quite frankly. I dunno, maybe you all have good personal experience with them - that counts for something. But from my own experience as a computer consultant having worked with at least 20 customer's Dells systems, as well as reading many articles, forums, reviews, and other opinions online I have to say I think Dell is crap
. Their prices are decent *if* you're not building your own system, but that's about where the advantages end. They bundle a ridiculous amount of awful, awful software on their machines, which is near impossible to totally get rid of without reformatting. If you do reformat most of the time you're given an OS disk or restore partition that includes the software installed by default and no option to not install it on restore. If you format and install with your own OS disk *it will not be supported*. They may still support the hardware, but if they ever get wind you're using a non-factory OS forget about software support. All this is not to mention their attrocious reputation for support. There are stories littered all around the 'net on how bad it is, and sites like ResellerRatings.com (Dell ratings link)
also paint a fairly dismal picture. Here's some articles and other links for ya:http://www.computerw...10801,103959,00.htmlhttp://www.short-med...endednews.php?n=5280
So, shame on you people.
Fortunately it looks like your options are limited anyway, lol.
I'd also like to speak up on CRT vs. LCD. LCD's are good for most people, but they're not for everyone. I am really surprised serious gamers can deal with them, even now at 2-5ms. I have seen 2ms in person and *there is still ghosting*. I compared a 21" 5ms LCD alongside a 21" CRT and the difference was definitely noticeable. My roommate bought the 21" LCD and used it for a week full time with game playing and although it was a lot better than we'd seen before, he ultimately had to take it back because the ghosting was still too much. It's close to being *ok*, but it's still far from great.
And that's not the only problem. Excessive brightness is another, to where many people actually turn down the brightness on their LCD's to near 0 just so they're not blinded (manufacturers use really high brightness numbers to seem impressive, but really it's *not* a good thing). Also LCD's *can't* reproduce true black, so if you're a graphics person they can really be crappy and throw off your perception of dark images and scenes. And despite big advances in this area LCD's still have viewing angle problems too. They look ok from non-ideal angles, not all color distorted like they used to be, but they still have a noticeable loss in brightness and contrast. Finally there is the resolution issue. They are just not good at non-native resolutions, not compared to CRT anyway. So unless you like the native resolution of the panel you get, you might not be happy with the overall experience. They do try to aim the native resolution at fairly average levels, but if you like particularly high or low you're out of luck unless you can find a really high-end (or low-end) LCD. Good luck finding a reasonably priced 19" that does 1600x1200!
That being said the space and power advantages are great. So if none of that stuff really matters to you, if it's just a PC to surf the 'net, edit documents, watch movies, etc. then no worries. Go for LCD for sure because the slimmer size alone will be worth it.
Now, Miles I do think you arrived at a pretty good system and good budget after all that. I agree that the bigger power supplies are not necessarily better, but given an assumption of equal quality/brand, the higher wattage one is probably better (just gives you more headroom). It also looks like you fixed all the previous problems, including adding a DVD writer and getting rid of the separate DVD and CD-ROM (this drive will take care of all your optical disc needs), going for PCI-E, and getting a decent low-end card. So bravo! The price is even decent. I think you've found a good deal and you will surely be happy with that machine. And you'll be saved from all the nasty software Dell "gives" you.