I need to buy a good custom-built PC
July 26, 2007 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy a good custom-built PC

I need a nice new PC for gaming and software development. (So it needs to be a rather beefy machine) I'd like to be able to have the PC built to order (I don't need a huge amount of customization, but I need to be able to specify all of the things I want), and it's important that it have very good on-site warranty service if it breaks down (I hate fixing that kind of thing myself). I had a local company that I really liked with great service, but it went out of business. I've had bad experiences with Dell's lousy repair service and cut-rate parts, so I'm nervous about picking a company that can build me a good machine, and maintain it if need be. Can anyone give me some recommendations?
posted by unreason to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
i love the box i had built at ava direct. friendly customer service when i purchased, although i can't speak for their tech support.
posted by gnutron at 5:35 PM on July 26, 2007


Second box I bought from them. Good service. Nothing I can say bad about them. They have allways been very responsive to my problems, but I don't imagine they are onsite. I could be wrong.

You're next best bet is to ask locally for a reputable computer store with some high class geeks. Go in and talk shop with them. I know I can go to my local store and get about anything I want, more so than the average customer, because I have worked hard at buiding a relationship with them.. Just like someone who likes to cook would do with their meat/fish/cheesemonger
posted by JonnyRotten at 6:21 PM on July 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

You could go with someone like Alienware or Falcon....

Or as 'JonnyRotten' says.. you could find a good local shop and talk up the techs, befriend them and have them help you

Or you could build it yourself.

In my opinion.. all of the points you list are perfectly good arguments to build it yourself. You get ultimate control over the type and quality of parts and (after having built it) you know your system intimately and that helps tremendously during troubleshooting if anything goes wrong. If you want to be 110% satisfied... build it yourself.
posted by jmnugent at 6:27 PM on July 26, 2007

Or you could build it yourself.

Thanks, but I really don't want to do that. I really hate doing that kind of troubleshooting, I'd rather someone else do it. I'm not that picky about parts, either, I just don't want a place that won't use crappy stuff like Dell or some of the others.
posted by unreason at 6:31 PM on July 26, 2007

Anyone can custom build machines so it seems like good onsite support is your deciding factor. In that realm while Dell isn't ideal, they're still the best choice in terms of actual onsite support for non-corporate consumers.

I know Dell usually maintains a separate support line for their high-end XPS and Alienware customers and I would hope it's better than the "economy class" support. If your previous experiences with Dell was through their regular support, I think you should reconsider and look into their XPS and Alienware lines with the premium tech support.
posted by junesix at 6:59 PM on July 26, 2007

Directron was chosen as the best answer the last time this was asked.
posted by jaimev at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2007

Are you friends with anybody who shares your gaming habits? Lots of people keep up on this stuff and would be happy to make suggestions. Alternatively, you can check out the Buyer's Guides at arstechnica.com and pick one of those.
posted by rhizome at 8:09 PM on July 26, 2007

I know you don't like Dell, but I'll second junesix's comments and suggest you go with one of their XPS systems. I work for a large state university IT department and we've started rolling with all new Dell systems, some new XPS systems for chem labs and places like that and we've all been blown away by the quality and service. Dell has gotten really nice in ways that it wasn't three or four years ago.
posted by wfrgms at 10:35 PM on July 26, 2007

I'm guessing you're US based? It's a shame, because I review high-end PCs a lot as part of my work, but we're in the UK, so a lot of companies won't be applicable to your situation.

Dell's XPS machines are OK but they can be a real nightmare to upgrade. That said, I agree they're a lot better than they were a couple of years ago.

Depending on how much cash you've got, you could try Voodoo PC - we've covered their stuff in the past and I think the build quality is just amazing. If I had the money, they'd definitely be on my shortlist.
posted by Sifter at 4:32 AM on July 27, 2007

I've heard really, really terrible things about Alienware, really. Blech. If you don't want to do this yourself (which is really not as difficult as you might expect) than you just have to find a local company, I suspect.
posted by dagnyscott at 10:10 AM on July 27, 2007

I've always heard Falcon tossed around as 'serious' gaming machines. The PCs I run Windows on are mostly self-built, though, so I don't have first hand experience with any specifically-for-gaming computers. You can do software dev on the old i386 in the garage ;)
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2007

We just bought a Sager laptop for a little over 3000 dollars for some Catia(cad) applications, and its utter shit. Sager used to be Alienware. Now Alienware is Dell, we buy mostly Dells for our PCs here, and I am exchanging this Sager, so we can buy a high end Dell laptop. They have come a loooooong way from "dude your getting a dell"
posted by JonnyRotten at 10:44 AM on July 27, 2007

Check out Puget Custom Computers. I heard of them through a consumersearch.com article which stated:

As we researched computer reviews, we found recommendations for Puget Custom Computers in many places. The seven-year-old Seattle-area company receives great ratings for customer service and satisfaction, and shows how smaller computer companies can outperform the major manufacturers when it comes to customer satisfaction.

We found many favorable reviews for Velocity Micro computers. CNet.com consistently rates the company's products among the best. Although still viewed as a boutique brand, Velocity Micro is moving into the mainstream; several models are sold through Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics chain. Velocity Micro has a higher rating at ResellerRatings.com than CyberPower. Both brands have higher satisfaction than Apple and the major PC brands, but Puget Custom Computers rates highest with customers.

I'm currently having a computer built through Puget and I'm totally impressed with their knowledge and their customer service.
posted by keith0718 at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2007

Forgot to mention their warranty: 1yr parts. Lifetime on labor (which includes upgrades).
posted by keith0718 at 8:06 AM on July 28, 2007

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