If I were choosing a new machine right now:
Processor - one of the Intel 'i' series. Unfortunately, from a marketing viewpoint, these are bloody confusing. It starts fairly easy, in that in general i3 < i5 < i7. However, you need to look at number of cores as well as clock speed - you might find a 2.3 Ghz Dual Core and a 2.0 Ghz Quad Core. There are also now three generations of these chips, but unless the manufacturer points it out you're only going to spot it if you read the specs closely. Me? I'd choose an i5 or i7, and grab a quad core. If I was feeling flush, I'd pick the third generation (Ivy Bridge), but I'd keep a good look out for bargains on the second gen (Sandy Bridge).
Something like this ?
http://www.overclock.co.uk/product/Inte ... 43377.html
RAM - 4 Gb. Unless one of your software providers suggests otherwise, I doubt you'll benefit from more whilst playing poker. It's also an easy upgrade in future.
4Gb seems enough, is 8Gb just a waste of money ?
Graphics - in theory, you really shouldn't need anything special here for playing poker. Again, unless anyone suggests otherwise, you can pretty much keep what you get in the stock build. I tend to prefer a dedicated card as that way it won't try to share any resource, but reality is that if you pick an i5 or i7 you'll probably get that by default. Possibly the bigger deciding factor for you is if you want to run multiple monitors, in which case you need a card that supports the amount you require.
I get the impression a i7 means buying a specific graphics card is not required .. agreed ?
Hard disk - A SSD for OS and your poker apps. I'd assume 120Gb should be enough, unless you have stupidly large poker databases. Keep a regular hard disk for everything else. Note that I would buy this separately, as they tend to be horribly over-priced as an option from the manufacturer.
Im thinking of adding a Samsung 830 or 840 series SSD, which one is preferable to you ?, thinking of going upto 250GB
Other - make sure it has USB3. It's backwards compatible, so will work with any USB2 devices you already have.
Im not even sure what these are ! .. i have to buy a USB3 card ?
FWIW, the laptop I bought last year has an i7 quad core processor (Sandy Bridge), 4 Gb RAM, 1Gb Radeon graphics card and 120GB SSD. It's shit-off-a-shovel quick.
If you buy from a manufacturer, you'll get Windows 7 as standard. You won't be able to share this licence with your lad's PC. If you end up getting a machine built and want him to have Windows 7 too, tell your man as you can get a 'family' edition which has 3 licences and may cost less than 2 individual ones. As a machine builder, you'd also qualify for the OEM version. However, if his PC is quite old, do ask yourself if it's worth upgrading the OS. As a note, a fresh install of XP is about 3Gb, whereas 7 is 20Gb. Unless you have a reason to change, if his machine is running ok then I'd leave it alone.