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I don't understand why a lot of people say you end up spending more money on a machine you build yourself. Unless you build a machine that is just a basic web surfing box, you will definately save money if you shop smart.
Ex. Box I built last year
ABit AT7 motherboard(on board sound, firewire, usb, raid)
AMD XP 1800+
512MB PC2100 DDR(2 sticks of 256MB)
2 30Gig 7500 RPM Hard disks
Keyboard, mouse, floppy, 1024x768 max monitor
all for under $600, and I'm sure I could build a better box for even cheaper now.
Also, a lot of people put way too much weight on processor and graphics card. If you don't play firstperson shooters you don't need a card that uses 8x AGP or anything close to that. For processors, what's the point of getting a 10Ghz dual Opteron board if you have a single 5400 RPM harddrive and 128MB of ram? Be smart and make sure all you're parts are at equal levels, get RAID + get LOTS of RAM, don't play the fastest frequency game.