I didn't know this forum existed, but Gwenorgan sent me here, so:
First, I must admit to a gaming blasphemy: I'm playing WoW and other games on a Mac laptop. This is because my PC desktop is from 2006, but I can't afford to update it right now (and haven't, for the past 5 1/2 years). The laptop was a gift from 2010, and I value it highly, but it's obviously not ideal for gaming.
I'm somehow, despite our economy, feeling pretty optimistic about finding a job after I get my teaching certificate this coming August, since I know a lot of frustrated teachers who want to quit and quite a few others who are ready to retire -- and with all the new changes in our district, might do it sooner rather than later. I have a few exciting pluses to add to my resume, too.
So, this is probably premature (I don't have a full-time teaching job yet), but I've been looking into computer updates. I just threw $2,600 at tuition for the student teaching, and I figure if I can afford that (eventually) without any reasonable income, I should be able to afford around the same amount on a new computer when I do have a living income. The last time I bought one, I went mid-range and didn't really know what to look for. I'm not feeling particularly more confident now.
1. Budget: around $2,500 -- but I don't want to pay for things that won't actually be useful. Please let me know where I can skimp (appearance is a non-issue, for example).
2. I care more about longevity than competitiveness: I want the best, but not so I can beat everyone, but so that 3 years from now it will be average rather than completely obsolete. I want to be able to pick up new games, too. Right now, there are a lot of games I'd love to buy, but I can't play them on either of my computers.
3. I want to continue having one of each computer (and eventually also use Linux), to stay on top of different operating systems and to try to avoid monopolies. I want my gaming computer to be a PC and a desktop, not a Mac, since there are more games for PC than Mac (and yes, I know you can run Windows on Mac -- I might consider that option if it's really best, but I want to look into all options).
4. I know the top items in looking for a new computer for gaming are: processor, video card, and RAM. What I don't know is how to prioritize those items in a new system, for example when comparing different computers or when customizing one.
5. I have no idea what companies are reliable. I currently have a Hewlett-Packard, but I did a search on "gaming computers" and came up with several companies I've never even heard of. Since longevity is an issue, I want to go with a company that is known for reliability.
6. I haven't figured out entirely what I'm doing with TV: I know I want Netflix instead of cable/satellite, because I rarely watch TV shows when they're on, and instead watch whole seasons from start to finish. I do want access to local news. I haven't figured out if I want a TV and have it set up for streaming from Netflix or if I want a second monitor, in which case I would watch the local news from their website. In any case, the computer might be used for watching TV shows.
7. Anything else you think I should know.
I did do some research, reading reviews on different systems, etc., but I realize that I might be too optimistic. What if I don't get a steady job this fall? I'd like less of information on specific computers to buy, and more of a general idea on how to do research . . . in case this is more like 2-3 years from now (although, sticking with a 2006 computer for that long will likely drive me batty and I might end up having to buy a cheap, non-gaming computer just to get some kind of update).