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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Introduction To The PC Buyer's Guide ]

Top Ten Tips For Successful PC Buying

I am going to list here, in no particular order, my personal "top ten list" of tips for smart PC buying. Obviously this entire Buyer's Guide is filled with hundreds of important tips, but these ones "boil down" the rest of the Guide the best. I'd say that if you remember only one page of this Guide, this should be the one.

Note: I exclude from this list "TANSTAAFL"; I consider that the "Golden Rule of PC Buying" and above and beyond what's below. :^)

Without further ado, here they are:

  • Do Not Shop On the Basis Of Price Alone: The #1 key to avoid getting burned on PC purchases is not to select vendors and components solely (or even chiefly) on the basis of price.
  • Know Your Requirements: Few people would walk into a car dealership and say to the salesperson "I need some kind of vehicle". Yet people walk into computer stores and say "I need some kind of computer". Doing this puts you at the mercy of the salesperson. You should spend some time carefully considering your needs and wants before you proceed to specifying and buying your system. If you don't, you have no basis for making a good decision.
  • Take Your Time: Don't rush your decisions or your purchase. Explore your options and make the commitment when you are ready.
  • Spend Where It Makes Sense: Decide how to allocate your limited funds according to what your needs are. Don't buy a system based on what the manufacturer thinks is important, but rather on the basis of what you want. Allocate funds between components based on how you will use the machine.
  • Focus More On Quality, Less On Performance: Performance is overemphasized in the PC world; most PCs today offer very good performance, even relatively inexpensive ones, and performance improves every year. Quality, on the other hand, is usually not even talked about, and if anything gets worse every year. Be skeptical about performance "magic numbers" and assess the quality of the system. Also look at warranty considerations very carefully.
  • Choose Vendors Wisely: Invest some time and effort in choosing a good vendor. Use personal referrals and research resources for companies you have not heard of before. Establish a trusting relationship with a vendor that offers good service, even if the hardware costs a few dollars more. This will help you avoid getting "burned".
  • Use A Credit Card--And Pay It Off: Your best protection against vendor and order problems, especially when ordering online, is to use a credit card for your order. Be sure to only buy what you can afford, and pay the credit card bill promptly to avoid high interest charges.
  • If Necessary, Shop In Person: If you aren't sure of what you're buying, shop in person so you can check out the hardware and be absolutely certain that you are getting what you need.
  • Get All The Details: Regardless of what you are ordering or buying, get all the details up front: cost, stock status, delivery method and date, and specifications for all components. Be 100% clear about your order to avoid mix-ups. Read the vendor's policies and other "fine print" before you finalize any order.
  • Fight For Your Rights: If you have a bad experience with a vendor, fight back. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of. Ask for help if you need it.

Next: Step-By-Step Summary Guide To Buying A PC

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