Sorry for posting this here, but I didn't know where else to put it. This site could really use a Technology forum.

Anyway, I'm graduating from college in the spring and my Dell laptop (4 years old) is starting to putter like an old man and I have to keep it on a cooling pad all the time to have it run semi-normally. It's a decent computer (Inspiron 6000, 2 gigs of RAM, 128 Radeon X300 GPU, 1.86 GHz, WSXGA +1 screen: 1680 x 1050) and I've used it as my main computer for years. I've had a few things replaced because my warranty covered them but it expires in December and I think it would be smarter to think about a new computer than to spend another $100 to extend the warranty.

I recently bought an Asus Eeepc 900 which I love and have been using for school and on the go browsing/email. I am extremely comfortable with using it on the go. (Netbook + Ubuntu Karmic NBR = :-D)

Enough with the introduction. I've decided that my next computer could either be a desktop or a laptop. I don't want to want to take a step backwards in computing power unless the value is just unbeatable (i.e. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883103228&...) What I'd like from you all is a bit of help finding a new computer. I consider myself knowledgeable, but am always open to advice.

What I use my computer for:
I don't game that much anymore, but I do watch videos on Hulu and sometimes HDMI video files. When I do game the most taxing game is probably counter-strike source, but I mostly play RTS games like Starcraft or Civ 4. Naturally, I also do a lot of web browsing and basic word processing/powerpoints for school/work. Also, there is a good chance that my new computer would run Ubuntu or at least dual boot it with Windows.

Summary:
1. I want a new computer that's as good or better than my old one unless the value is incredibly good. Old specs: Inspiron 6000, 2 gigs of RAM, 128 Radeon X300 GPU, 1.86 GHz, WSXGA +1 screen: 1680 x 1050
2. It can be a laptop or a desktop. (Do not already own a monitor)
3. Price is a big consideration. I'm a stereotypical college student who is always looking for disgustingly good deals because my funds are limited.

Thanks for any help you all can provide. I usually receive helpful responses from this site.

Edit: Deanna made a good point about me not listing a price. I didn't list one intentionally because I wanted to see what people would generally suggest and because I really don't know what I want to spend. I could say 500 dollars but if there was a great value for more I would probably look in to it. I'm not looking for a particular price as much as I'm looking for a really good value to dollar ratio... so mac people, even though your hearts are in the right place, I highly doubt I'll get a mac unless I pick one up off of Craigslist.

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My own main interest is money. In the interest of saving you some, have you considered reformatting?

Also, if it helps, there is a "Geeks" group here.
I change operating systems almost as frequently as I change my socks so reformatting would do me little good. I really think that my motherboard is going bad (I'm currently trying to get dell to replace it). Although that is sound advice, for me it's not all that helpful because I'm pretty sure that most of my problems are symptomatic of my deteriorating hardware.
Have you thought about a Toshiba? I've had one for the last three years and haven't had any major problems. It got me through grad school, where I was online for at least four hours per day (an online program).

I would suggest an Apple, but you said that price is a consideration - they're great but pricey. I got an iPhone in July and am so impressed with how it works that I'm getting an iMac.
It was tempting... and I'm only talking 1998. :D
Although I love linux and run it 99.9% of the time, it is nice to have the option of running some more demanding programs in windows. (:cough: games :cough:)

I'm seriously considering the little nettop linked in my post. I think for the value it's fantastic. I've read that it can't handle hulu though and that's a deal breaker for me. I'd like my computer to be at least that good.
I would most likely use the computer as an "economy" edition computer. I know it's not that powerful but for surfing and mobile web it's not that bad, not to mention that it can be used in conjunction with an HDTV, but that aside I have taken a look at craigslist and see promise in a Toshiba that's listed there. Though I do have to say that Newegg has some extremely good deals sometimes. I bought my netbook from there for a great price.
I've always liked HP laptops... I'm a serial re-formatter myself and am constantly switching up OSes and re-partitioning, and my 3 year-old HP is holding up fine. I'm not sure about prices where you are, but I'm sure you could get a decent core 2 duo for under $1500.

One thing I always check for in a laptop is an exhaust vent that's on the side or back of the computer, not underneath. I never figured out why manufacturers thing you want a blast of hot air in the crotch while you're surfing the net!
If I bought a mac I would HAVE to run linux on it.
Case: Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341016
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-G31M-ES2L LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128357
Processor: Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116072
Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102854
RAM: OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227248
Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181
Optical Drive: LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 22X DVD-R 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136167

Total: $475 minus shipping and a monitor. To recommend a monitor I need to know what resolution or size you would prefer, and your budget. This machine will easily play the games you listed and more, and will be a significant upgrade in every way compared to your old computer [minus the monitor if you go for a 22" or less] while still leaving yourself a bit of room for upgrades down the line if you get into gaming or need serious processing power for some work or schooling related project. If you've never built yourself a computer before I suggest you give it a shot, it's really a rewarding experience, and it isn't all that difficult either.
I second the Apple nomination. They are simply the best, easiest to use, most reliable computers I've ever used.
Apple has a program called BootCamp that allows you to run Windows OS on it. BootCamp comes for free with every Apple computer.
Also, Apple offers a small educational discount for college students- usually around $200 off a computer. You can also get small discounts on iPods, printers, and software. All you have to do is prove that you're enrolled or work for an educational institution.
Why would he buy a Mac if he would be running Linux on it anyway? Normal PCs can also boot either Windows or Linux. I don't know how steep the Mac discount is for students though.
100 dollars off as long as your school is on the list

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