If you're looking for an OEM computer (where you go to a computer company and they build you a machine), Dell has a very good reputation. You might pay a little more, but they don't cut any corners in terms of part quality. Their support is also supposed to be great.
I would personally avoid Gateway, and I have no experience with Compaq.
Do you have a friend who knows how to build computers? If you do, why not ask him or her for advice? A lot of computer builders really relish the opportunity to build a quality computer for a friend, and make sure that the friend doesn't get screwed over by some OEM. I know I do.
I'd definitly be willing to help, except I dunno what is your price range, and if there are some components already not needed to buy again. Also where ar you from? This might help in quoting prices, or such.
Tell me those, and we'll get you a good PC depending on your price range. Right now AthlonXPs are the best damn value for the buck, as they have the best performance. But stay away from any ass salesman who tells you to buy a P4 with SDRAM!!! Not even 1g of SDRAM would help an already badly performing processor to compare!
OEM computers almost always come with very poor performing standard graphics. But many companies allow upgrade options.
Dell has moved to SDRAM in it's low end P4 desktops, and SDRAM doesn't work well with the P4.
My advice is, if you want to buy from a major manufacturer, Dell is still OK as long as you know what your getting. I would get a P3 system from them, as P4 systems with appropriate RDRAM are very expensive.
Gateway is a reasonable choice, but still, if your getting a P4 make sure it comes with RDRAM.
Compaq has recently moved to standard parts. This is a good thing. Same warnings apply.
Now about the graphics, integrated graphics (IE Intel AGP graphics, etc) are all bad for performance. So you want to order one with a graphics card.
The worst is the TNT2M64.
The next worst is the MX200
The next worse is the Radeon VE
The next worse is the Radeon SDR, even the 64MB versions are slow.
Adequate solutions are:
MX400 is good
Radeon DDR is better
GeForce2 GTS is better yet
GeForce2 Pro is even better.
Anything above that is usually out of the price range for OEM buyers.
Oh, and there's a better solution-custom built. A high end Athlon system cost about the same as a low end P4 system and is probably about 50% faster. Almost anything with one of the recommended video cards and 256MB or more of DDR SDRAM is good for a basic user who plays games. There are better video cards, but they'll cost you!
What are you trying to do, make your forum rank go up faster by adding new posts? There's an Edit button ya know!
As for his case, IMO even though OEM PCs are often really beautiful, and boast quality service and all that, they're prebuilt, and often have one disadvantage, which makes it all not worth it. Plus from what I see, is that those prebuilt are integrated components so if something fails, all else must go and pay more. I'd get a clone over an OEM anyday man.
BTW for those who didn't know... Clone= Standard custom built PC from local shop, although I dunno why they call it this way.
You can still get an OEM with a video card, all you have to do is order it that way. Some people will only buy OEM, especially if they have dishonest shops locally.
Clone comes from the days when PC meant IBM. When other companies started making computers based on the IBM XT platform, they called them "Clones".
Yes, but you can still get some of the parts you want. I think HP is better. I remember when HP had a PIII 1000 with an i815 chipset and an TNT2 Ultra card. The card was outdated, but it was still impressive for HP in that it actually had an AGP slot! Most used the i810 chipset.
They are indeed dishonest, however anyone of us smarties here, can whip there knowledge so they can't buy us off! I can easily manage a new upgrade to the seller, without him opening his mouth, even with my father with me, so they know they are dealing with a smart kid.
Now I hope kukuio could hurry so we can help.