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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Understanding PC Sources, Vendors and Prices | The PC Industry, Vendors and The Market ]

Multiple vs. Single Vendors

If you go shopping for a number of different components--usually, to make your own PC or upgrade an existing machine--you won't find the best price for every component at the same vendor. One vendor will have the lowest price for component "A" but higher prices for parts "B" and "C"; a second vendor will have a higher price for component "A" but lower for part "B", and so on.

One option in this case is to place multiple orders from different vendors. You'll get the lowest "base" prices for the components if you do this. The alternative is to add up the prices of all the items at each of several vendors and buy from whichever has the lowest package price (including taxes shipping). There are several potential advantages to doing this instead of placing many orders:

  • Time Savings: You save the time of putting together, placing, paying for and tracking multiple orders.
  • "Bottom Line" Cost Savings: In some cases the savings in not having to pay for shipping and handling on multiple orders will make up for most of the extra cost you incur for certain components at the single source.
  • Potential Discounts: Some vendors will provide a discount if you place a large order with them for a number of different components.
  • Less Chance of Order Problems: The fewer companies you order from, the less likely you are to encounter the typical problems that can arise with shipping items, such as lost orders, items sent to the wrong address, etc.
  • No "Finger Pointing": This is an important one for homebuilders. If you are putting together a system and order one or two components from each of a half-dozen vendors, you will have a mess on your hands if you are having problems with the system. When there is a problem, vendors often want to blame anything other than what they sold you. So if you bought the CPU at vendor A and the motherboard at vendor B, to vendor A the motherboard is an "unknown quantity" and something they can cast doubt on--correctly or incorrectly--and the same for the CPU to vendor B. They will be suspicious of the components they didn't sell you and tend to imply that the ones they didn't supply are the source of the problem. If you buy everything at one place the opportunities for finger-pointing are greatly reduced.

If buying everything from one source isn't practical, consider at least reducing the number of vendors. Two vendors is a lot better than six.

Next: Sources For PC Systems and Components

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