7 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Computer

Woman in Retail Computer Store

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For many people, computers are a fairly major purchase. They are like most consumer appliances, and we expect them to last for several years at least. The price ranges for laptops and desktop PCs can vary greatly, though. There are ways to save money on computer purchases. Below is a list of some of the different methods for getting a PC for less than standard retail pricing.

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Use a Coupon

Many people don't realize that it is possible to get some good discounts on computers and computer-related gear by using a coupon. Sure, they tend to be electronic coupon codes rather than physical, but they have the same result. If you are looking to order a computer directly from a manufacturer or even via some online retailers, the coupon codes may just be given to you when you view the site. The main reason that companies like coupons are that people tend to forget about them and buy the items at full price. So it is always a good idea to see if there is some sort of discount code available to get that product for less.

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Buy a Slightly Older Model Computer

Computer product cycles run from roughly one year to every three months. In general, new products add some improvements to the overall performance, capacity, and features of a laptop or desktop system but for the past few years, the improvements have been relatively minimal. Most manufacturers make their highest margins by selling these new systems. But what about their previous models? The manufacturers and retailers tend to discount them heavily to clear up inventory space for new models. These savings can be dramatic allowing consumers to buy computers with roughly an equivalent performance of a newer model for sometimes as little as half as much.

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Buy a Refurbished Laptop or Desktop PC

Refurbished products are either returns or units that failed quality control checks and were rebuilt to the same level as a brand new unit. Because they didn't pass that initial quality control process, manufacturers tend to sell them at discounted rates. A typical refurbished laptop or desktop computer can be found for anywhere between 5 and 25% off the standard retail price. There are things to be aware of when purchasing a refurbished system, though. This includes warranties, who rebuilt it and if the discount is less than what the equivalent new comparable system costs. Still, they can be a great way to get a computer for less than retail.

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Purchase a System With Less RAM and Upgrade It

Computer memory is considered a commodity item. As a result, the prices of memory modules can fluctuate dramatically. As a new memory technology is released, the costs tend to be extremely high then gradually decrease. Manufacturers buy up memory in bulk meaning that they may be stuck with large inventories of expensive memory compared to the retail market. Consumers can use these market forces to help them buy a laptop or desktop computer with a minimum memory configuration that they can upgrade the RAM on and still pay less than the original retail system price with the same level of upgraded memory at purchase. This is an especially good tip for premium brands or performance class systems. Note that many of the new ultrabook and ultrathin laptops have fixed memory that can not be upgraded, so this will not work with all types of computers.

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Build Your Own PC Rather Than Buy One

Computer systems can be costly. This is especially true if you are looking at purchasing a high-performance system for things such as desktop video or PC gaming. Manufacturers use these as high margin items. They may offer more support than a traditional computer, but the cost for the support is much less than the markup on the computers. Building a similarly configured computer from parts can general save a consumer hundreds of dollars over buying one. This method only works for those looking at getting a desktop computer system rather than a laptop computer and a higher performance rather than a budget model.

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Upgrade an Existing PC Rather Than Buying New

If you happen to have a desktop or laptop computer system already, sometimes it may make more sense to do some upgrades on it rather than buying an entirely new system. The feasibility of upgrading rather than replacing depends upon a variety of factors such as the age of the computer, how much access the user has to install upgrades and the overall costs to make the upgrades compared to a new purchase. In general, desktop computers are better suited towards upgrades than laptops. Solid state drives are an excellent example of how to make an older computer feel a lot faster.

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Use Rebates to Get the Best Deal

Rebate offers were extremely popular with technology companies. This is because the majority of consumers don't like to be bothered with the hassle of filling out paperwork to get cash back on a laptop, desktop, software or computer peripheral purchase. Of course, if there are rebates available, they can be a great way to saving some significant money on the purchase of a system. Using rebates requires more knowledge than average. One has to be able to judge the value of the rebate purchase compared to a non-rebate purchase to determine if the savings make up for the time required to post and receive a rebate.