If your PC groans every time it launches Microsoft Office, it might be time for an upgrade or outright replacement. Here’s how to save money with a careful order.
Decide between an upgrade and new system; if budgets are tight, you might be able to make current PCs last with a few improvements. Bolster an old PC with the right parts: RAM, CPU, hard drive, and video card, roughly in that order.
Even if you need an off-the-shelf or online-configured system, you can still save money by shopping around for extras. Scrutinize the cost of parts. Computer companies often gouge on RAM and disk space, charging significantly more for those than you’d pay for parts. Budget about $.10/gigabyte of disk space, especially for drives of 500GB and more. (Drive prices generally drop with size.)
RAM prices can vary more with your specific PC’s needs, but they’ll also usually be cheaper elsewhere. Check directly with third-party RAM merchants or an aggregate site, such as DealRAM or RAMseeker.
Save more on computing extras by tracking other deal websites. Displays and memory cards are also often heavily discounted. And in all of these examples, you’ll usually save with an online purchase versus buying in a physical store. Just keep an eye on shipping costs--and potential sales tax savings.
If you can wait a couple weeks to buy any of these upgrades, set up an e-mail or RSS alert at Dealnews or Techbargains.com. Browse recent price lows for context, even if those sales are no longer active. Then, when you get notice of a sale, you can tell whether to pass or pounce. Act quickly; most online deals end within a few hours or days.