Hoping people can recommend some pre-built or even DIY systems. The budget is 0<b<=1000 (shipped). I built a few configs on cyberpower and ibuypower, but with shipping they were over $1000 and they won't arrive until after Xmas.
My current system is mentioned below, along with the problems it's experiencing.
4 year old system:
ASUS P5K SE Motherboard
500 HB HD
PNY 9800 GTX Video Card
8 G RAM
Rosewill 600W Power
I'm a low-mid end gamer PC person, who also does some video editing and hobby 3D rendering - book covers, some animation. This system runs the games I play (NBA 2K13, SC2, Empire Earth II) and the applications I run (various video editors, sound editors, poser pro.)
Recently the video card failed. The system locked while playing a game, then on reboot there were white dots all over the screen. I replaced the card with a Radeon HD 6750 from Best Buy, but because it was overpriced there I purchased a Sapphire HD 7770 (for less online.) The system worked fine for a day with that card, but on day two the system kept rebooting before it began loading windows. Finally it booted, but then froze in the middle of SC 2 play.
I opened the case, found some dust near the bottom, cleaned it, re-seeded the video card, re-sealed the system. It hasn't crashed since then. Disk checks show the HD is OK. AIDA64 and memtest86 found no problems - no mem problems and the system remained stable and the temperatures within acceptable ranges for all the components. However even before the big crash (even when the 9800 GTX was in the system) sometimes it wouldn't boot - it would freeze on the windows screen.
I'm worried the system is close to failure. Not sure what is the problem since the tests show no problems. In 2008 the system was a mid range $1250 system from an eBay builder.
I highly suggest you to build one yourself, because you can save money on deals and you can get the performance you want. Get a friend/family member with technology experience to help you. There are guides and videos on how to build one yourself.
If you are concerned or have questions about anything just post a thread on tom's hardware. I'm sure there are members that are happy to assist you.
The combination of ah HD7770 and a Q9450 seems perfect for low-mid end gamer. The HD7770 should be comparable to the old but mightly-in-it's-time 9800 GTX at 60w less power draw.
One problem: going from nvida drivers to amd drivers (and visa versa) can cause issues. Uninstalling the old driver before installing the card helps that. But you should be past that now.
Suggestion: You have years of installed/mostly uninstalled software bloating your windows install. If you got a new PC you'd start over with a fresh PC. Consider doing a full factory restore (loses all your data). That will get your old Q9450 system back to a clean software load. (Then apply all the millions of win fixes and then apply the latest AMD driver then get an antivirus installed like microsoft security essentials).
I don't want to replace the old system. It was sufficient before the 9800GTX failed, and it is sufficient with the 7770.
I'm still not sure why it wouldn't boot on Thursday, or why it kept crashing. I removed some dust, re-seeded the 7770 - it hasn't crashed or had boot problems since then. Memtest86 showed no memory errors, and AIDA64 hasn't shown any errors or caused a crash.
Maybe the system was getting too hot.
I did get the blue screen after installing the 7770 but cleared it by removing the old drivers.
re crashing: Could be hardware, could be software.
Temps are a good thing to monitor. I like HWMONITOR by cpuid (free, google it) or REALTEMP. Temps can cause random errors, but usually cause very slow performance (throttling) or a hard system stop. Guessing they will not be the cause of random windows fails to boot.
If it was my system I'd make recovery media (or find your copy of windows). Find a spare hard drive. Remove the signal and power from your current hard drive and install them on the spare hard drive. Then build a new copy of windows on the spare hard drive. If the system is stable I'd assume a software glitch on the current system build. If the system still had random crashes I'd reinstall the old drive and try running with only one memory dimm for a while, etc.