My wife and I have two old laptop computers, and we recently decided to replace one of them with a new desktop computer. We’re not the kind of people to throw around money, so we did a few frugal things to improve our old computer’s performance before deciding to buy a new computer. In the end we were able to upgrade one computer, but decided to buy a new computer to replace the other one. Based on our new computer’s specs, I think we got a nice deal.
We bought a Dell because we have both used Dell computers for several years, we are familiar with their products, and we found a great deal on Dell’s website. We are also comfortable with Microsoft products because that is what we know. The computer we bought has a 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo chip, 2 GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, DVD burner, XP Professional, and a 22 in flat screen monitor. The total price including tax and shipping was $708. However, it would have been a lot higher if we didn’t remove a few items from the standard setup (mostly software). Here are more tips on how to get the best deal on a new dell computer.
We also followed a few of the tips outlined below.
How to save money when buying a new computer
These tips can help you save a lot of money on your next computer:
- Understand your needs
- Don’t buy too much computer
- Don’t buy unnecessary software
- Reuse software if possible
- Shop around
- Skip the extras
- Consider an open box or refurbished computer
- Build your own computer (if you have the time and knowledge)
- Skip the extended warranty unless you really need it
Understand your needs
Do you need a desktop or a laptop? Laptop performance nowadays is almost as good as desktops, although you may spend a little more money on them. But if you know you won’t need the portability, then you might be able to get a little more computer for the same amount of money by purchasing a desktop. It’s important to know your needs so you don’t make the mistake of buying the wrong computer.
Don’t buy too much computer
Today’s computers are incredibly powerful compared to those made just a few years ago. But that doesn’t mean you need to buy the best computer on the market. Determine your needs and buy only those features. It doesn’t make sense to purchase a several hundred dollar graphics card designed for high end video games when all you do is surf the web.
Don’t buy too much software, and shop around for the software you need
When we bought our computer, the only thing we purchased with it was the operating system – Windows XP Professional (I don’t want Vista, and I read Windows will stop supporting Windows XP for home use).
We didn’t add Microsoft Office because it was a $150 upgrade through Dell. We often use the MS Office software, but we could easily get it for less than $150 (A quick Amazon search has Microsoft Office for $120). Both of our employers offer an employee purchase plan for MS Office (we can get it for less than $50). You may also be able to find a cheaper version for students or teachers.
If you need software similar to Microsoft Office there is free option, Open Office, which is an open source business suite designed to work with MS Office and several other productivity suites. We downloaded Open Office when our new computer arrived, and we haven’t even purchased MS Office yet. We may or may not depending on how well we like Open Office (so far so good).
My company also provides us with a free copy of Norton AntiVirus. Many companies will do this because they know you will bring files back and forth from work. If you look around, you should be able to find many alternative means of finding software either cheaper than from the retailer, or possibly even free.
Reuse software from your old computer
If you are replacing an old computer, you may be able to transfer the software from your old computer to your new one. Beware of licensing issues though – some software programs can only be used on one computer at a time.
Shop around for the best deal
Sometimes a big box retailer will have the best deals, sometimes it is best to buy it from an outlet such as TigerDirect.com, and sometimes it is best to buy a computer direct from the manufacturer (like Dell). Some people even find great deals on Ebay. I’ve never bought a computer there, but I have purchased computer accessories. Just be careful when making purchases on Ebay. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Skip the extras
Many computer bundles are convenient because everything is ready to go right out of the box. But if you buy extras such as software, speakers, printers, and other goodies, you may end up spending more than you need to spend. It is often true that retailers will often give you a discount for buying a “bundle,” but you can often do much better than that by shopping around and buying each piece individually. You also aren’t saving money if you are buying something you already have and don’t need to replace, such as speakers, printer, software, etc.
Consider an open box or a refurbished computer
Open box computers: Many stores such as Best Buy or CompUSA will sell the floor models to customers at a reduced price. It is possible to receive discounts of 10-30% off the current sale price. The best part is that these computers come with the full manufacturer’s warranty.
Refurbished computers: Many times refurbished computers also come with the full manufacturer’s warranty, and you can often find them at substantial discounts as well. (Many times the deals are so good, the stores are not allowed to advertise them). One of the best places I have found that sells refurbished computers is TigerDirect.com. I haven’t purchased a computer through their site before, but I have purchased things like RAM and other accessories.
Build your own computer
Admittedly, this takes a little bit of knowledge, and isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have the knowledge to build your own system, you can probably do it for anywhere from 50-70% of the cost of a new system. You can often reuse your old computer parts when building a new computer, so you are only spending money where it is needed the most – upgrades such as RAM, a better hard drive, or enhanced graphics cards.
Here is a quick example of how building a new computer to the same specs as one of Dell’s top of the line gaming computers can save you about 1/3 of the price. (If you are reading through a feedreader, please click through to watch the video):
Think twice about the extended warranty
The extended warranty is not always a good deal and you should consider whether you need it or not before purchasing it. If you have good knowledge of computers, you may be able to repair and problems that arise after the initial warranty period expires.
You may want to consider an extended warranty for a laptop, particularly if you anticipate traveling often. I purchased the extended warranty on my laptop when I bought it 6 years ago. I was in the USAF at the time, and knew I would take it with me wherever I went. I ended up taking it with me to around the world, and even though I never had a problem with it, I felt reassured knowing I had the extended warranty. Since I don’t travel nearly as often anymore, I doubt I would purchase the extended warranty for a laptop (we didn’t purchase it for our desktop either).
Good luck saving money on your next computer purchase
Remember these tips, and you should save a lot of money on your next computer. Good luck!