questionscan someone help me choose a new desktop computer?

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Was going to suggest something similar to what @nedreck posted here, but I think you want more personalized suggestions from our learned members.

You could try the google routine w/some of the parameters you do know. It might give you a good start.

Sorry, I can't help you. I'm limping along w/a refurb HP. :-/

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If you were able to get the parts individually, would you be able to have somebody assemble it or do you want it pre-assembled?
Advantages of the build-your-own:
Tend to be cheaper
More bang for the buck
Disadvantage
You need to be good at putting it together (also means installing Windows)
There were a ton of black-Friday/Cyber-Monday sales that could've really gotten you a great pc for your budget.

Advantages of the pre-assembled:
No hassle of collecting parts and building
Disadvantage
Tend to be slightly more expensive

Places to check
pcpartpicker.com
newegg.com
http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapcforme

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For under the stated $800 you can just walk into any computer store and get one that matches your listed wants.

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Depending on where you're at geographically, MicroCenter's always been very helpful to those I've sent there, and is the only place I ever bought refurbs from.
The only brand I can't recommend due to the percentage of failures at work(YMMV, of course), is Dell. When you order 5 identically spec'd machines and all have something different, it's not a good thing. Having a long warranty that you have to use again and again is also a bad thing.
Hopefully, you understand that you're going to get Windows 8 on a new machine, but downgrading to 7 if needed is not impossible as long as you buy a better than Basic or Home version of 8.

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Thank you to everyone who has replied thus far.

We live relatively remotely in NE Tennessee and the only computer store within driving distance is Walmart. And their selection was abysmal. When I tried to customize a system on Dell.com it came to over $1400.

What am I doing wrong?

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@leslie14: I'm so tempted to say what you're doing wrong is spelled d.e.l.l. I, too, built my own via Dell. 9 or 10 years ago. Wish I had not done that. Though, I must say that baby lasted until about 4 or 5 months ago. It was a good machine...just over-priced, IMO. Not going to go into Dell CS & where it is/was located. And how the CS reps are very gracious & kind. It's unfortunate that we don't understand each other.

Best of luck to you! I would keep looking at woot's offerings. Oh, and buy a Square Trade warranty, if available

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@leslie14: What parts did you pick/system did you configure? That is quite a bit for a pre-built desktop computer. I just test built several systems at Lenovo.com (I like Lenovo products) for around $800 with a 3 year on site warranty.

One tip is if you are comfortable inside a desktop, get the bare minimum parts/specs for memory/hard drive and replace yourself. Many manufacturer's charge more than retail for upgrades.

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@leslie14: I also didn't know anything about computers but I managed to build one myself just by doing some research on youtube. If you have the time and a little bit of interest, it's a lot easier than you think. There are only about 7 main components that you need to shop for basically: case, power supply, motherboard, processor, harddrive, graphics card(somewhat optional), and cd/dvd rom drive.

I basically just used Newegg's "How to build a computer" guide which consists of about 2 hours worth of information plus you just watch the guy build a computer so you know what to do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPIXAtNGGCw&list=PLB029F381E29C6002&index=35

I also built my computer around this time of year so I got great deals on a bunch of parts from amazon, newegg, and microcenter. Built it for under $500 or so which is not bad considering I built it with gaming in mind (which it does fine)!

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Why not a refurb? I bought a top of the line gaming machine($700) from WOOT at about 1/2 price. I have never had a problem with a refurb.

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Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond!

I definitely don't feel comfortable building my own system, but the Newegg site recommendation was terrific!

I feel confident I'll find exactly what I need!! :)

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Do NOT buy a Dell! They use inferior parts, have a poor service record, possess no longevity or ability to upgrade at all, and in all other respects are the very definition of a P.O.S. Your best solution is to consult your local geek friend (you know, the guy you call when something goes wrong with your computer), and build a computer with their assistance. You'll get better parts, an easier way to upgrade your system in the future, more flexibility in building your system and more opportunities to learn about computers, by building your own.

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I also second using the Newegg configuration tool.

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Just a few more thoughts, as you configure your new system, consider buying a computer with a dedicated video card with its own video memory for gaming and graphic design. Also, add a read-write DVD drive so you can back-up and transfer or store your photos, Of course, these suggestions are beyond the usual buy as much processor and memory as your budget permits.

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If you are working with photos, I'd also suggest having some sort of backup. Photos are probably the least replaceable type of file regular people store. You could use a formal backup, an external drive, a photo storage service or cloud storage, but backing them up is important.

How about this one:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=8395957&Sku=H24-2592

Toger Direct has a bunch of Dells on sale but I hesitate to suggest them give the lack of love for Dell here. We use Dells at work (I work for local government in Texas, Dell is de rigueur) and they are fine, I haven't ever had a problem with one. But I have never owned one personally.

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$1400 for a Dell?!

first of all, dont buy a Dell. they are garbage.

Secondly, i got a very high end liquid cooled gaming rig filled to the brim with ram and a good i7 processor for around $900. the video card is only "adequate" for my needs (GTX 650ti) but it's the only weak link in what is otherwise a blazing fast machine, of course it's more than enough to run the Sims at max settings. I'll be getting a better card for christmas, so when all is said and done and i get my new card i'll have a really nice gaming rig that can handle any game on full settings still for under $1400. I can't imagine what you must have selected to make a Dell desktop so expensive.

Thirdly, dont buy Dell, they would have gone bankrupt long ago if they didn't have so many contracts with business's and schools (who are notorious for buying cheap hardware then demanding their IT department make them not suck)

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here's a great little PC that fits in your budget, has all the space you need and a pretty decent graphics card as well
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883229495

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@neo2000: I saw those and they look sexy but I wasn't familiar with the brand name.

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@neo2000: thats a nice PC. the graphics card is only ok, but can be easily upgraded at your leisure and should be more than enough for the Sims. if you decide you want to play stuff like BF4 on max settings you can upgrade the graphics card for $200-300 and have a pretty beastly machine.