Buying a new desktop computer for gaming, programming and photography, in Canada.
My old (2001) computer isn't cutting it anymore; it only has USB 1.1, so transferring photos to it is a pain, and RAW processing is almost right out. It only has integrated graphics, so modern gaming is right out. It does okay for programming, but even simple IDEs (e.g.: DrScheme) are slow.
I need a new Desktop computer that will, ideally, allow me to run Fallout 3 at moderate detail, allow me to do some RAW processing on my photos, and allow me to run DrScheme relatively fast.
I'm live in Gatineau, right next to Ottawa, in Canada.
My options, as I see them:
1) Get a "name brand" computer, such as this Dell
. Pros: I get a lot of computer for little money, and a warranty (no DOA parts, I hope). Problem: the affordable Dells (<1000$) have utterly basic graphic cards; I would have to get a new card or run games in low detail & resolution. I'm not completely sure putting a new card in one of those cheap computers is a good idea (heat, power supply). Other brands: I have a prejudice against Compaq/HP (bad experiences of friends). Are Acers any good?
2) Buy parts online (tigerdirect, ncix, newegg), build something myself from one of the online guides (djb, ars technica, techreport). Pros: I can get all the parts I want. Cons: it seems that I would get slightly less performance for my money; I have to assemble it myself, and may have to deal with some problems (DOA parts, incompabilities), which I'd rather not.
3) Buy a custom computer from a local shop. Pros: as with 2), I get to choose exactly what I want. The shop deals with assembly. Cons: probably more expensive than either 1) or 2). I don't know which local shops are reputable.
4) Go all out and buy a Mac (Fuck everything, we're doing 5 blades). Pros: Hell yeah, a Mac. Cons: the Mini seems to not have the power I need, so that's out. The desktops in my price range have integrated screens; I want something large, to that's going to cost me.
My budget: strictly online (credit card limit): $1400, taxes included, max, for the box. Brick and mortar: add $600 (it has to be worth it). I will be buying a screen, possibly separately.
Laptops are right out. If I'm building, I'm probably looking at the better price/performance ratio possible, which seems to mean AMD or maybe the new "mainstream Intel i5/i7". If you know of a good shop in Ottawa or Gatineau, please tell me!