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How to Save Money When Buying a Computer

How to Save Money When Buying a Computer

Because of back to school sales and electronics retailers rolling out new models, August is a great time to buy a new computer. Here is a guide to saving money when buying a computer.

How to Find the Right Computer for You

Computers vary not only by manufacturer, but by technical specifications like memory and hard drive capacity. Finding the right computer model for you requires a little bit of research.

First, decide what the primary use will be. If you’re looking for a portable computer that is lightweight and small, a netbook is your best bet. If you want a computer to edit videos and watch TV shows, get a computer built for media.

Hard Drive

Almost all desktops come with a hard drive of 300-500 GB or more of space, which is plenty for the average person. A 500 GB hard drive can store over 250,000 photos and songs and up to 40 hours of video. You can always purchase additional hard drive space if you need to store more media.

Memory (RAM)

Your computer uses memory to store data for the processor. In most cases, the more RAM you have, the faster your computer will run. Most new computers come with 3 GB of memory or more. This is plenty of memory for basic uses, like web surfing, checking your email and viewing/editing photos.

If you are going to be doing processor-intensive projects like video editing, you will need more memory. Most new computers can max out at 8 GB of RAM. You can either buy computers with higher RAM installed or you can buy a cheaper computer and add more memory. Installing memory is a pretty simple process and directions can be found online.


The computer’s processor is one of the most important parts of the machine and is essentially, the brain. There are two main manufacturers, Intel and AMD. Intel’s line of processors includes Celeron, Pentium and Core. You may have heard these terms before when describing computers, like Dell Pentium 4 or Intel Core i5.

You measure a processor’s speed in gigahertz (GHz) and the higher the GHz, the faster the clock speed. So a computer with a 2.2 GHz processor is slower than a computer with a 2.5 GHz. Intel’s best line of processors is Core, followed by Pentium and then Celeron. AMD’s best line of processors is Phenom, followed by Turion, Athlon and lastly, Sempron. Here is a comparison of Intel and AMD processors.

Shop Around

Once you have determined what kind of computer will fit your needs, the next step is to shop around. If you narrowed your selection to specific models, do a Google search for the model and compare prices. You can use browser plugins to further streamline your search for the lowest price.

Price Match

Your local retailers are hurting for your business more than ever before. Managers are willing to price match online competitors if it means closing a sale, even if the store policy isn’t in line. Be sure to bring printouts of other prices to get the best deal.

Negotiate for Accessories

Sometimes a price negotiation isn’t the best way to save money. Large electronics retailers like Best Buy may not be able to lower the price, but they can throw in free accessories. Use this buying power to get a free printer, software and/or other accessories.

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