You might be interested to know that I was just able to spec out a machine practically identical to Dell's cheapest desktop ($249) on Newegg for almost exactly $249. And once you start talking about higher-end components, building yourself starts to pay
off (as Dell and friends tend to overcharge for outdated or underpowered components). It's hard to find a system without integrated graphics from Dell now, even.
Really? I supposed NewEgg was able to supply hardware cost near the price of Dell's raw hardware cost cuz Dell has to include the cost of someone putting it together.
I will have to see if I can spec a Dell's system close to the one I just built. But I optimized for low-noise, so I don't know if Dell would have a similar set of components. Plus it's been a couple of years, so the price should be halfed by now haha