How to Buy a Computer

How to Buy

Here are proven methods for finding the best items and vendors and how to buy a computer and parts the cheapest way possible

There are 3 basic choices for buying a computer;

  • Buying from a national vendor, generally on the Internet
  • Purchase from a computer store
  • Search and select on the Internet

Buying from a national vendor

You may want to the comfort of buying from a leader in the computer marketplace. There is some level of reassurance going with the big guy.

This company will have the sales and support team in place to cover your needs. However, you will probably pay some premium for this value.

If you're going to buy a name brand, I would suggest buy direct and buy Dell. Dell will generally have better prices than the other major dealers such as HP and Gateway because they can't undercut their own retailers. Additionally, my own experience and input from other experts has convinced me that they make a solid product that is basically well supported.

However, the other major brands have good products also and you won't really go wrong purchasing from them.

Purchase from a computer store

Best Buy, Staples, CompUSA, or most other major retailers - even Walmart - generally charge a good bit more than what's available on the internet. Additionally, since their major interest is in pushing hardware out the door, they don't put much emphasis on support. If you have a problem you will likely encounter some aggravation.

A dedicated local dealer can be a real find. If the shop has been in business for a while, seems to be busy and its customers give it high ratings, this would be your best way to buy a computer locally. You will get a computer that will make you happy and you will have strong support but you may pay a premium for this.

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Search and select on the Internet

If you want to get virtually unlimited information and find the cheapest vendor, take advantage of the Internet shopping mega marketplace.

First, research the item that you are interested in. For example, go to your favorite search engine and enter computer system reviews or computer system ratings and look over the results. Be sure that the information is fresh by setting the date of the search to something like the last 3 months.

If they offer user ratings, check the trend. Read a couple of the negative ratings to see if they show a pattern or seem to be a unique problem. If there are less than 10 ratings then the information isn't really too reliable. However, if it's a new item not too many people may have seen it yet.

The same approach can be used for any particular item that you are interested in whether it is software or hardware.

Once you have settled on a particular item, look for the place that sells it for the lowest price and is a reliable vendor. Use one of the shopping sites for this such as froogle, Yahoo shopping or CNET shopper .

The following example uses the Froogle shopping site but the concept is applicable to the other sites as well. We will go through the process for purchasing a high quality 19 inch monitor for a great price.

Research the monitor by looking for reviews and selecting up to date reviews. The example will use Google.

Select Google advanced search

Search for 19 inch monitor review and limit the search to items with information from the last 3 months.

Select the review site

Find an item with a good review and a low price

Verify a significant number of reviews mostly positive

Now search the shopping site for this item

Sort the results by price, low to high, to find the best price

Bingo! Low price and highly rated store

Sometimes the low price items will not be that actual item that you are looking for and the shopping site will show you accessories that are a fraction of the cost of the real item. In this case you want to set the price range so that the search only returns the actual item of interest.

Adjust the price to a price an amount below the price of the item so that it knocks out cheap junk and returns the item that you are looking for

If you are open to refurbished or recertified computers, there are real bargains to be found. Dell refurbished and Tiger Direct recertified are 2 good sources.

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