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Worst Ways To Economize on a New PC

Here are some of the mistakes that some people make when trying to save money on a new PC. The really unfortunate thing about them is that many of them are not very cost-effective at all; for a few dollars' savings the user's PC can have its performance effectively crippled, or the user's computing experience made much worse.

Here are some things you should do to avoid making a bad economizing move:

  • Don't Buy Whatever Is On Sale: Some larger computer stores and retail chains are constantly running "sales" on PCs. In many cases these "sales" are no bargain at all. Often the "sale price" is based on an inflated manufacturer's suggested retail price, and the units are often older so their value has dropped anyway. Don't get excited over sales in the PC world; only look at the bottom line cost and what you get for what you are spending.
  • Don't Get A Cheap Monitor: The monitor is the component that most influences the usability of the PC. You have to look at it for hours at a time, and if it is hard on your eyes you will regret it. Monitors are also relatively expensive, and are also the one component you are most likely to be able to move from one PC to the next. Some people use the same monitors successfully for a decade, so they are the closest thing to an "investment" that exists in the PC world.
    If you do have to save money on your monitor, go for quality over size. You are almost certain to be happier with a high-quality 17" monitor than a dirt-cheap 19" unit.
  • Don't Get Too Little Memory: There's a real "sweet spot" issue regarding how much memory your system should have. Going below 64 MiB for most systems is not recommended; you won't save very much money and it will degrade your system's performance. Going below 32 MiB is a definite mistake unless you need a low-end PC running Windows 3.1, DOS or Linux for specialized, low-demand tasks (such as running WordPerfect, or using the machine as a print server.)
  • Don't Be Fooled By Auctions: A lot of people pay more than the cost of a new item by getting wrapped up in an online auction, assuming that an auction must be cheaper than buying a comparable product new.
  • Don't Get An Imbalanced, Low-Quality PC: Some companies try to keep the cost of their systems down, while making it seem that you are getting a lot for the money, by including a high-speed CPU (big MHz numbers attract buyers) and a big but low-performance hard drive (big GB numbers attract buyers). Everything else, however, is cut to the bone, crippling the system's overall quality and performance. These systems are usually a waste of your money regardless of what they cost.
  • Don't Go Too Cheap on the Case and Power Supply: The case and power supply are very important to the overall quality and reliability of a PC system. Using cheap power supplies and cases can result in overheating, system errors and other problems. If you are buying a pre-made system you will rely on the engineers who created that system to worry about this. However, if you are building your own PC, or specifying components for an assemble-to-order PC, be sure to keep this in mind: you may regret trying to save $10 or $20 here.

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