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Best time to buy a new computer

by Wolverine1492 / March 17, 2008 5:32 AM PDT

When is the best time to buy a computer? I've been under the impression that back-to-school time was the best, because that's when there are usually a bunch of sales and stuff, but is there anything else to consider?

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When you need one
by Jimmy Greystone / March 17, 2008 5:45 AM PDT

When you need one is the best time to buy. Honestly, there's so little profit margin on computer systems, that prices are always generally the "best" prices.

Dell has a habit of running all kinds of crazy coupon deals practically every week, but most of them really aren't anything particularly noteworthy.

Basically, if you buy a system retail, at a place like Best Buy or Office Max, you're going to pay a little extra, and have them try to shove a bunch of worthless warranty programs on you. All those back to school promotions really just get rid of the retail markup as a ploy to get you into the store to buy other stuff.

My advice would be to build your own system. Do it right, and you'll have a rock solid system that you can upgrade in a very modular fashion that will save you huge amounts of money in the long term. However, if you're not interested in that, then don't wait for a particular time of the year or anything like that. Just buy one when you need it, and avoid those $500 or less systems unless you enjoy having your computer crashing due to poor quality hardware, among other problems associated with the corners cut to make that price point.

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Is a homebuilt really better?
by Wolverine1492 / March 20, 2008 3:27 AM PDT
In reply to: When you need one

Thanks for the help! That's good to know. I've been wanting to build my own computer for awhile, but have had some doubts. A friend told me that even if you build them right, they normally don't run as efficiently as a retail computer. Is that true?

Also, does anyone have any good resources on how to build a good homebuilt? I've never done one, but think it would be a great. I've seen the cnet class, but are there any other resources or suggestions on building your first homebuilt?

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I'll say no
by Jimmy Greystone / March 20, 2008 8:44 AM PDT

I'll say no, home built systems can run every bit as efficiently as factory assembled ones. However, you don't really do it because they'll run faster or anything like that, you do it because they will be much more stable, and you save money in the long run.

The main problem people have with computers, is related to how Windows doesn't handle poor quality hardware with what you would call grace or elegance. It just trips and falls. Give it quality parts, and it will run quite well.

You also can design the thing to be modular, so if the local electronics store has a good deal on RAM or video cards some week, you can easily swap out/replace your existing card/RAM for a new one.

As for guides... No, not really, but it's not that difficult. Just read articles on sites like Tom's Hardware to get a good understanding of everything. Then start piecing things together. If you can use a screwdriver and have the spacial skills to match pretty basic geometric shapes and their negatives (i.e. which plug will fit into what socket) then you've got pretty much everything you need to build a computer.

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One thing to keep in mind!
by cbunting99 / March 21, 2008 2:07 PM PDT

While I first thought a built online pc was a great deal two years ago, Spent $1800 on a Dell XPS 400 with a 19" monitor, all custom configured with the best parts in 2005. While this has been a great pc, and can play most of today's top games such as crysis, the biggest downfall to manufactured pc's such as mine is that there is no upgrade path. So in order to upgrade, I need to purchase a new case, motherboard, power supply and processor. Aside from that I would also have to replace most of the existing hardware to be current.

So I would take some time to ask questions on popular forums or check out some of the more gaming related custom pc builders such as since gaming / media systems built in this manner support all of today's technology but also allow you to upgrade a year or two down the road. That way, you won't be stuck with having to replace half of your PC just because you want a new processor because the Pentium D 820 is getting outdated as in my case.

While you may not need a custom gaming rig, a home built pc can be built on a smaller budget. If I had to do it all over again, I would have built my pc as well.


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I would say the best time is ....
by Watzman / March 21, 2008 1:23 PM PDT

I would say that there are two best times.

The first is "back to school", but that's misleading. MANY of the computers that graduating HS seniors get to take to college are bought as graduation presents in May and June. So the "back to school" season is really May to about August. Memorial Day sales have been some of the best deals.

The other good time, of course, is the Holiday season from Thanksgiving to about December 15-20th.

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First, long term:
by Dango517 / March 21, 2008 3:01 PM PDT

I'd say to buy one at the release of an Operating System to get possibly two of them. I did this. I have XP SP2 and Vista or after the release of the first SP so that some of the bugs have been worked out of the OS.

Short term or on an annual basis:

After New Years, maybe February. When there are many "last years" computers that there trying to get ride of to clear the way for the new models.

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Buy now!!
by evileddy / March 21, 2008 3:32 PM PDT

The dollar is in free fall. 2/3rds of computor equitment is made overseas. As the dollar falls the price will go up. I used to build my own but with the prices of prebuilt systems on pricewatch, I can't build for that. But thats only for basic system As soon as you start adding ram, upgrading hds, or better video cards the price goes up. Check the prices on the same items bought separately are a lot less. Use the original 300 gig drive as a bachup and get tig for $230 as your main. One cavet is the power supply, always get the biggest they have.
Is it just me or does anyone remember when the IT ppl wanted to use separate squirrel cage blowers on the outside of the case for power supplys. This sure would of saved me a lot of time since the bloody fans are always going wonky.

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Is there a best time to buy a computer
by Jo Lynne Lockley / March 21, 2008 4:27 PM PDT

Yes. There are a couple of options.
1) In the pre Christmas season.
2) Black Friday (after Thanksgiving) or the day after Christmas or New Years. This may mean standing in line for along time.
3) Comp USA had some considerable deals as they went out of business. is handling their on line sales. There may be something of use there.
4) When a new component comes out. If you aren't in the market for a specific machine or don;t have high demands on over clocking to the current high, then a new chip or OS will put the inventory of older chips. Look for core2Duo when quatro debuts, for xp machines when Vista is released.
5) Follow Dealnews and pricewatch for specials on Dell or other computers. Preconfigured Lenovos are occasionally on sale for very good prices at sites like Caution is due when looking at customizable models, as the prices rise quickly as you add a bit here and a tad there. Better to go with a preconfigured model. It's n ot uncommon to find a Dell on sale for about 350 with a monitor thrown in. The monitor is worth about 150, so do the math.

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The Best Time to Buy a New Computer
by Dr. Planarian / March 21, 2008 10:27 PM PDT

That would be "tomorrow," but if you wait for it to come, then you will wait forever.

There's always something faster, better, cheaper in the pipeline. By the time it becomes available to you, you will see something faster, better, cheaper than that on the horizon. It never ends.

When your present machine no longer suits your needs, that is the time to buy a new one.

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The best time?
by RunRagged2 / March 21, 2008 11:11 PM PDT

The best time is at least a month before you need it.

This gives time to hunt around for the best deal, configure it and get all your applications running and data transfered.

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Some Things To Consider if you DIY
by RandiS / March 23, 2008 9:32 PM PDT

I've built my last 2 PCs, and I can give you a few hints if you decide to go that way (which would be my recommendation -- spend the time, and you get a really stable system.)

First, buy a really good case -- one that has lots of room, although a tower will take up space in your office, but I'm assuming you have the room. It doesn't have to be super expensive, but you might want to have lots of 5.25 drive bays (I put my RAID in two for ease of changing when a disk goes bad). Look for nicely finished edges so that you don't end up cutting yourself OR your cables. I've also found that slide-in disk trays for internal drives are great. I purchased an Antec, and it's been a joy to work with.

Second, decide on your general requirements (single, dual, quad-core CPU, how much RAM, type of video requirements), then start looking at motherboards that will accomodate what you want to build. Look carefully at the layout -- will the use of one slot end up covering up another? Do you need to have any legacy equipment (PCI, SCSI??) -- if so, make sure you have the connections that will work (in this case, you may need to use adapters -- I have a SCSI scanner that I plug into a PCI card. My next build, I'll have to update to PCI-e perhaps.)

When you get to the buying part, not all internal components come with cables, and if you got a large case, you may need longer ones anyway. I'd suggest buying round cables where you can (I believe SATA cables are round anyway, but if you're using any IDE, then a round IDE cable will be helpful to keep it out of the way.)

There are reviews of equipment here and in lots of magazines. Also, I think there's a Build Your Own PC tutorial on this site -- take a look at that. Some of the hardware sellers also offer tutorials, and of course, Google is your friend <g>.

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buy one - when?
by maynardo7 / March 24, 2008 11:51 PM PDT

RunRagged2 I believe had GOOD advice; buy it few weeks or a month before you need it to get new one setup properly and data moved, etc.

Wrong info was given about Office Max. They have TRUE sales and IF they offer extra warranty, etc - JUST SAY NO.

Recently customer needed a laptop ASAP. Office Max had this SUPER 17 in HP for $950! This is true sale as customer ended up buying SAME unit from the Egg people for $150 or so more!!

Very NICE laptop. 3 GB mem, AMD DC processor, 250 GB HD, wireless N (!), camera, DVD burner, etc, etc.

BTW this wireless N connected at my home about 45-50 ft (2 walls) away at 104, 117 and finally 130 mbps - FASTER THAN A WIRE!!!! Well not gigabit, of course. EXCITED? I'd love to have one!!!!!!

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To buy or not to buy... computer warranties?
by Wolverine1492 / March 26, 2008 5:49 AM PDT
In reply to: buy one - when?

So this all brings up a good question. Many of you have mentioned (as well as a few other people I've talked to) to not get any warranty package that they try to sell you! In the case of a desktop, I can understand. It seems like they'd be fairly easy to repair. (Although I must say, I did have a good experience with Dell; they replaced the optical drive on my old computer when it went out, even after the parts warranty had expired and I only had phone support left.)

But on the subject of laptops, things seem to change. In my opinion, it could be very nice to have a warranty, especially an accidental damage warranty, though since I've never owned one, is it worth it to buy an extra warranty? Are they usually honored? Or do retailers use the catch-all, "you did it, now pay for it" mentality (even with a warranty)? Any experience with that? I know when I was looking at laptops down at Best Buy, they wanted to sell me one, and it sounded pretty good. It almost begged the question, so if someone "accidentally" destroys their laptop before the warranty is up, you'll really replace it?

Now from a homebuilt standpoint, I've heard that many parts come with their own warranties from the manufacturer. Is this true, or is there an extra charge as well? If not, it would seem this is probably the way to go...

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