Does anyone have opinions or advice about buying pre-built computers? My mother's computer broke and I don't have time to go up there and build one. I know Newegg is good for parts, but are they any good for pre-built PC's? Should I buy straight from the manufacturer? This will be for word processing, web browsing, and general use only.
I like my compaq presario. It came with card readers and a case fan, which you may not get with dell. I would check the sunday ads, especially Best Buy. Be sure to get a free windows 7 upgrade with your purchase. It will be out in October.
An alternative approach would be to go with a custom builder such as AVA Direct (www.avadirect.com). The advantage of this is that you know exactly what components are going into the computer.
In contrast, Dell frequently contracts with manufacturers to provide alternative versions of their parts exclusively to Dell, which makes it hard to know exactly what you are getting with a Dell computer. For example, the Dell Dimension 8200 uses a non-standard power connector on the motherboard, so if you want to replace either the motherboard or the power supply, your options are to (1) replace both at once, (2) buy a replacement from Dell (no idea how much that would cost, but probably more than Newegg), or (3) build your own power connector. An earlier PC I bought from Dell used an Intel motherboard which included bios code to operate an inexpensive SCSI controller card. (Part of the reason that this controller card was inexpensive was that it didn't include its own bios.) This SCSI controller wouldn't work with the Dell machine because Dell replaced the Intel bios with its own version that didn't include code to support the SCSI controller. If you are used to building your own systems, you should consider whether issues like these could be a problem for you.
Dell generally provides good value for the money, so I don't mean to discourage you from buying from Dell. I bought my most recent system from AVA Direct rather than buying another Dell because I concluded it was worth spending a few dollars more to get standard components and to know exactly what I was getting. I would suggest a Dell if the idea is that your mother will just use the system as is until she decides to replace it. Dell used to have better prices than Compaq, but that may have changed, so I'd follow the previous poster's suggestion and take a look at Compaq as well.
Since it'll be shipped straight to my mother, things like bloatware and ease of install are things to consider. Her previous computer was a Emachines with a Celeron 2.0, 256MB of RAM, and a 40GB PATA hard drive. She only needs a new computer because the old one finally broke. This means that she doesn't need more than an 80GB hard drive, GMA graphics or even an E8400. It is also very important that it has the option for Windows XP.
Since she doesn't need that much for a computer, I'd be fine with the limited upgradability of a Dell. I thought Compaq was the low end of HP's line? I'd be fine with a slower computer if it were cheaper, but it needs to be decent quality.
I'm also afraid to buy straight from Dell's website, because it took them over a month to ship my laptop. I don't have that kind of time. Does anyone know if Newegg's return policies on pre-built PC's is any good? Is there any reason Newegg would be a poor choice?
Other than the small hard drive, does the Vostro 220S have any problems? I know it's made for small businesses, but I'm not sure if that matters.
One fry's electronics has a compaq presario with athlon dual core 4450, 3 gigs of memory, 250 gig hardrive, and vista premium for $299 in today's ad. It doesn't mention a windows 7 upgrade, but your mother may not need it. I like windows 7 ultimate as it works with xp files when you load the xp virtualization program off microsoft's website. It's a shame that microsoft is pricing the ultimate version so high. I've already removed it from my hardrive and am using xp pro.
Dell generally ships quickly, but (as your experience shows) things can go wrong. Personally, I would figure that the odds of Dell taking a month to ship a system are too small to be worth worrying about, but if they did that once, they could do it again.
Compaq and HP merged in 2001 and the Compaq brand is now used only for computers targeted at the consumer market. I wouldn't assume that means that the Compaq branded computers are lower quality than the HP branded desktops targeted at businesses. Dell has separate lines of computers for the business and consumer market, but as far as I have been able to determine the only difference between the two lines is the choice of configurations offered.
The system you link to includes both Windows XP (installed) and Windows Vista Business (on optical media). Too bad your mother's computer didn't break a few months ago; you would have had the option of saving $120 bucks or so by not buying Vista.