I have previously used a spyder compact 2000 (no comparison), tippman m98, tippman m98 custom, nova 700, rebel, and an alleycat. compacts are good beginner guns, but are a bit on the loud side, and I have no use for a double trigger. tippmans are pretty good, but are a bit tricky to field strip without loosing parts because of the way they are put together. my friend's nova is essentially worthless, other than having pretty good accuracy (might as well be a pump). rebels are alot like spyders, and finally, i like how simple alleycats are, and how well built they are (my best friend has had his for about 5 years now and it works almost flawlessly) but he still envies my f-4.
I have an f-4 TP, stock at the moment (i'm planning on getting a boomstick soon). i have a 12 oz, and 32 oz tank, and a 200 rd hopper w/o revy.
only get the basics (tank, hopper, etc.) unless you have money to burn, in which case get a nice barrel, maybe a reg.
the first thing that comes to mind is the accuracy of the stock barrel, it drops a bit after about 20 yd. but it doesn't curve with good paint (unless you break a ball, which will usually be the paint, or dirt in the barrel). the only time i've really had a problem with paint was when it got too hot and expanded/ softened. i've even run out of paint before, and i just started scavenging paint off the ground, cleaned it off and stuck it in my hopper (as long as it was still reasonably hard, and hadn't expanded) and the gun didn't break any paint at all. a couple guys i war with have boomsticks, and i can still outshoot them, one of them has a titanium and is a sniper, so he's good at sneaking around, and hiding everything, only leaving his gun out while it's pointing at your head (which is what i have to shoot at). he got me pinned, and all i could see was the tip of his barrel. i just popped out from behind my tree, and we fired at about the same time, his shot just missed my head, but mine actually went down his barrel and into the chamber.
if you want to rapid fire go out and buy an angel, this is the weapon for a steady shot who isn't going to just go around wasting paint. if you're breaking paint, it's probably either your velocity being too high, something in the barrel, or the ball retaining spring is tweaked. the only rival for durability that i've come across for this gun is the alleycat. i've never had to open this gun up, other than taking out the bolt a couple times to clean it. if you remember to lube the gun, and clean the barrel after breaks or if dirt gets into it. There is a lack of upgrades for this gun, but it doesn't need them (a heavier barrel is a good upgrade, the stock is about 2oz)
this gun is well worth the price, around $160, but beginners may prefer to have a gun that has a higher rof (rate of fire). i compete with this gun against higher end markers including agd's and autocockers, dont blame things on your equipment, unless it's brass eagle, but then again.... blame yourself for buying it in the first place. overall, if you want an affordable semi with good accuracy, get this gun.