Buying a new computer for some is like buying a pack of chewing gum. For others, it’s not. If you want to make sure you’re getting the best deals and the best hardware, you need to do a little research to learn how to shop for a new computer. This doesn’t mean you have to become a computer expert, but you do need to make sure you know what everything means when you walk in the store and you see the salesman’s grin slowly widen to display teeth–way too many teeth for a geek. But there’s no need to be terrified, because you’ll be armed with information to send him cowering behind the counter.
Know What You Want
You should know before you get there what type of computer you want. Will it be a laptop, a desktop, a tablet PC? Knowing what type of computer you want will help prevent any buyer’s remorse when you get home. The decision is really between a desktop model or a laptop. To avoid being coaxed into buying something you’ll regret, ask yourself these questions:
- Will the whole family be using it?
- Will I want to eventually upgrade it?
- Do I need a lot of processing power?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, you’ll want a desktop computer. Laptops can be great, but they are not the fastest computers, nor are they easy to upgrade. And if the whole family is using it, something on it will eventually break. If it’s just for you and you need the mobility a laptop provides, then a laptop is a great choice for you.
Should I Buy Online Or At A Store
You should buy online, if possible. Major manufacturers like Dell and HP have a vast selection of computers for you to choose from. They also allow you to customize them before purchase. This gives you the opportunity to add more RAM, upgrade the CPU or add any additional software you need–such as Microsoft Office.
With that said, you should spend time in the stores and physically look at these models. Look at the case, list to it run, make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing to you. Once you find a model you like, go back online and purchase it if the deal is better. Otherwise, go back to the store and buy directly from them. If you do not care about customization, you might get a great financing deals from the store. Remember, if you buy from a brick and mortar store, you’ll need to buy what they have on the shelf and customize the PC later, if you so choose.
Beware Of The Up sell
Whether you buy online or at your local electronics store, you’re going to get some type of sales pitch. Stay focused and sternly deny any offers. Otherwise, you’ll walk out of there with larger monitors, extended warranties you’ll never need, antivirus programs, external hard drives, a printer, and possibly a big screen TV.
The Dell or HP website will do the same thing. You’ll need to click through a dozen screens filled with laptop cases, printers and other items you had no intention of buying before finally getting to the checkout page. Be strong.
Rebates Can Backfire
Rebates are great if you use them. Look for Instant Rebates if you can. Otherwise, expect at least a two month turn around to get your money back. You also need to make sure you sit down with your rebate receipt and spend the time to carefully fill it out and send it away immediately. If you do not do it right away, you risk losing something–such as the proof of purchase on the box or the rebate receipt. You also risk the offer expiring. So while a rebate can help you save a lot of money, you must be disciplined enough to do the paperwork right away.
How Fast Should My Computer Be
This is a difficult question because it all depends on the type of computing you do. If you just surf the web or check email, you do not need to spend a lot on a high-end computer. If you run multiple programs or do CPU intensive tasks such as video or photo editing, or streaming video and music, then you’ll want to spend more money on a better CPU (processor), more memory and a better video card. In general, 2GBs of RAM is fine for a light-use computer and 4GBs is standard for higher end models. You’ll see the most performance boosts in CPU and RAM. It’s easy to upgrade the memory. So if money is a concern, get the faster CPU initially, then upgrade the RAM later.
You can expect to spend around $500 for a light-use computer and closer to $1000 for a high-performance PC.
Know what you want, buy online after you play with one in the store, avoid the up sell, look for instant rebates, and know how you plan on using the computer. If you can do those things, you’ll have no problem when it’s time to shop for a computer.