I must respectfully disagree with your comment about "there aren't many pre-builts better than Apple in terms of hardware." I have had an Apple MacBook for just over a year now and while I love the OS (and upgraded to Leopard a few days ago--the improvements to file management, particularly Stacks and Quicklook are phenomenal), but their hardware (at least the low-end stuff) is some of the crappiest hardware I've ever owned. After just over a year, the plastic on my MacBook has cracked twice (once repaired under warranty--known design flaw--and now once after warranty; I've never bought an extended warranty for any product as I've never NEEDED it for any product). The plastic I'm referring to is the plastic around the keyboard and surround the monitor--slivers of it will fall off (so it's not something that seems natural--e.g. something you would expect from abuse) near the edges of the case. In addition, after just over a year the MagSafe power adapter frayed and became unusable (also a known issue that Apple should have issued a recall for but did not do so--the official line is that its the result of abuse--but I have never had a power adapter from any device fray and if you read online some people had theirs fray after just a couple of months). Of course a replacement MagSafe power adapter is $79 ($75--which included tax, for me as I'm a student and the book store had them for a bit less than Apple sold them for), pretty steep if you ask me. And it's not just the physical components of the hardware that are lacking, the sound chip on the MacBook doesn't even have OpenAL support (note: this is the original Core Duo--I can't speak for the Core 2 Duo), which is pretty basic sound hardware support--and the speakers are of course pretty weak, but that doesn't bother me as much.