Friend of mine is looking at a new gaming rig, and has no desire to build one. Alienware and Falcon seem to price well above cost, but other sites have come up like CyberPower, IBuyPower, and Digital Storm that don't seem to price at that same markup level. Are any of these something to avoid, or well thought of, etc? Google returns some reviews, many of which are really old, and it seems like Cyberpower's pretty trustworthy (Tom's Hardware seems to like it?). Any feedback in general on those?
Could you build one for him in exchange for something (money, pastries, etc.)? All those sites are kind of a scam price-wise.
It really depends on what he's looking for, is he just looking for the power or the 'stylish' case? The best looking case is Alienware's, and if thats what he expects from a gaming computer then thats really his only option (although I wouldn't trust Alienware's component quality since I have a feeling dell would have pushed for cuts.)
The only way to really be sure his computer is built properly and with good components is either to build it himself or to use one of the builders that let him select every component (motherboard, etc) since otherwise you'll likely end up with a cheap versions of the components most people don't think about (8gb ram, but what kind of ram? 1tb hard drive, but what speed?)
Out of interest, why does he want to buy online?
If he can it may be worth going to one of the local computer stores (not a bestbuy or chain) and seeing what they can do. Typically they'll let you pick whatever you want, order it in, and build it for you. It may be the best way to go.
I say make it a learning experience and just grab a do it yourself kit from newegg or tigerdirect and go for it, though.