As a web designer, I buy a lot of computer equipment, along with being constantly asked by friends to help them find “deals”. Of course, when I purchase a new computer or laptop, I have to pay out of my own pocket, I am always looking for a “deal”. Over the years, I’ve mastered how to get good prices on computer equipment. Here’s a few things I’ve learned.
1: Stay away from retail stores
If you want to get a good deal on a laptop, stay away from big box retailers. I won’t name names, (and even tho my son works for one such big box unit), I have noticed that their prices are always the same as the MSRP listed on the Internet. Even the store’s sale prices are more expensive than what you would pay if you were to buy the same laptop online.
Price isn’t the only reason I recommend avoiding major electronics stores. Things like high pressure sales tactics and upcharges for things I don’t want (such as extended warranties, setup, software suites, and “optimizing my machine”) are enough to drive me nuts (short trip). Unless I need a computer immediately I avoid the electronics stores at all costs.
2: Decide what’s important to you
If you have to have the latest and greatest laptop, you’re going to end up paying a premium price for it. However, if you don’t absolutely have to have the best, you can save big bucks by compromising on a few features. You may also find that it is cheaper to upgrade a laptop than to buy one with everything you need.
For example, a few years ago, I needed a laptop for a project I was working on. The only real requirement was that I had to have 4 GB of RAM. At the time, laptops with that much memory were really expensive. I was able to save a fortune by buying a 1 GB laptop and then buying the memory for it separately.
Here are some other ways you can save money:
- Buy last year’s model.
- Buy a comparable system from a less expensive manufacturer.
3: Shop online outlets
Most of the major electronics stores have online outlet stores where you can purchase open box items at a discount. A lot of PC manufacturers have similar online outlets that sell refurbished computers.
Even though some people may look down on those who buy refurbished systems, I have saved a fortune by purchasing refurbished computer equipment. Not every computer I buy is refurbished. But if I plan to use a computer only as a lab machine, I have no problem with buying refurbished hardware.
4: Comparison shop
Several Web sites, such as My Simon and Price Grabber, will do the comparison shopping for you. Such sites query numerous online stores and show you which store has the best price on the laptop you want. Although I whole-heartedly encourage comparison shopping, there are two things to watch out for.
First, price comparison sites examine a finite number of stores. If you know of some stores that often have good prices on laptops, it may be worthwhile to manually check their prices in case they are not included in the price query on the comparison site.
The second thing to watch out for is that some online stores will charge an obscene amount of money for shipping, just so that they can claim to have the lowest price.
Incidentally, if you do decide to purchase a laptop from an online reseller, take the time to check out the store’s reputation. The Internet is filled with charlatans.
5: Beware of buying used laptops
Although I sometimes buy refurbished laptops, I tend not to buy used laptops. The reason for this is that laptops just take too much abuse. A refurbished laptop is fully compliant with the manufacturer’s original standards and it comes with a warranty. A used laptop has no such guarantees.
If you know someone locally who was selling a used laptop, I might consider buying it if I could test drive it first. However, I would never even consider purchasing a used laptop off the Internet. You never know if it has been dropped, coke spilled into it, etc….