You can normally get a just as good machine for less than a 'brand name' or an even better one for the same price if you shop around a bit.
The best way really is to built it yourself, and if you're not confident enough to do that, then find a store/retailer that will build a custom machine to your specs.
There are some advantages to buying brand-name PC bundles:
> You get the OS and all drivers
> You get a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, printer, etc
> Everything (usually ) works "out of the box"
> Warranty and tech support for your system as a whole.
Then, once various parts become obsolete (or you want bigger/better/faster), you can buy those parts individually. The cost for bundles like this is usually less than if you were to buy all the parts seperately.
The big advantage to buying the individual parts is that you can get the exact brand item with the exact specs you are looking for. Plus, you get the experience and the satisfaction of putting together a system... and even more satisfaction if it works the first time you push the power button.
I originally bought a gateway system that had pretty much everything I was looking for. The only thing I am personally using now is the DVD player, speakers, and the monitor. Everything else has been upgraded. The old parts usually get recycled into my other family members boxes. The original system was like a "starter kit".
Lately, some companies bundle OS disks or restore disks that only work on the system you bought. So, if you plan on using the same OS disk for future upgrades, you might want to verify that the OS disk you get is a real OS disk rather than just a restore disk, or one that only works on that system.
If you are going to go with brand it would have to be dell or systemax ... either that or build your own , and stay away from propreitary crap .. The thing with alot of brand names is they have everything integrated into the mobo, you don't want that because it makes it a nightmare to upgrade - and in some cases you can't upgrade, That is why they are so cheap .. With building your own you can have it dedicated and upgrade to your hearts content ..
Personally The only advantage to getting a complete system is the software bundle. Lets face it Brand name companies sell their products to make money and if they make it so u cant upgrade it with whatever u wish then its more money for them With that said i would build my own system to my own specs and only get a laptop from dell.