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Don’t Overspend When Buying a Computer

Computer partsThe following is a guest post from Johann Carpio.

Choosing a computer can be a pretty tough choice. Any dubious salesman would offer any computer just for the sake of making a sale. In a few months you could find out that the machine you bought has cost you tons of cash for repairs and part replacements. This article provides a few tips on how to not overspend when buying a computer.

First off, know what type of machine you need or want. Laptops are for people who are always on the go. Most people prefer laptops for their portability. Desktops, on the other hand, are intended to be used for stable locations. They are widely popular for daily use in households and workplaces. Netbooks are the inexpensive and small version of laptops and are mostly used for basic tasks. Finally, Tablet PCs are hand held computers that make use of touch screen technology, allowing users to draw directly on the screen with the use of a stylus or their bare fingers.

You also have to determine what you’ll be doing with that contraption. Simple tasks like browsing and email don’t really require that much memory and would cost less. For gaming and other heavy applications like video editing, you will have to dish out more bucks for better performance. Here are some tips that can help when choosing your hardware.

Memory (RAM)

Having more memory or RAM (random access memory) means more computer speed (not internet speed). Having at least 512mb of RAM is good for simple tasks like browsing and e-mail. For gaming, you should get a minimum of 2GB because games these days require more RAM to run smoothly.

Graphics Card

There are two types of graphics card: integrated graphics cards or on-board graphics are built as part of the motherboard, while dedicated video cards are separate components that are plugged to an expansion slot in the mother board.

In terms of affordability, integrated graphics cards are cheaper than dedicated ones since they are directly in the motherboard and make use of RAM for computing graphic processes. Dedicated cards are cost more since they have their own memory, making the computer more efficient. If you do plan on buying a dedicated one, go for one with at least 1GB of memory.


The hard drive determines how much stuff you can shove into your computer. At least 160GB hard drive memory is advisable if you’re planning to store small files. If you have a very extensive collection of music and movies, you will need a HUGE space (320GB minimum).


The processor is what you can call the “mind” of your computer, as it controls the machine’s performance and speed. When choosing a processor, it’s basically a choice between AMD and Intel. Both of them are reliable and powerful but Intel core processors are now the most common in the market.

Branded vs. Generic parts

This question has sparked a lot of debate on whether it’s better to go for branded ones or generic. Since this topic is about not overspending, it would be best to go for generic parts as generic customizable machines are upgradeable in the future. Branded ones do offer better quality, but their upgradability is only limited to a few parts and peripherals.

Custom-built vs. Pre-made Computers

In the choice of having a pre-made or custom-built, many would choose to build their own for many reasons. For one, you can get the parts you really need. Also, you can get better and cheaper parts if you build your own PC. Ask a computer expert for help. He/she will most likely ask you what you intend to do with your machine and suggest good parts that are cheap but awesome enough to fit your needs. Building your own computer takes time, but the effort would be worthwhile when you finally pushed the ON switch.

Software installations

Installing software to your PC is one of the easiest yet most tedious things to do. Some retail stores have pre-installed software when you purchase computers. Go for the one that only comes with an OS and install the other software yourself. You can find s lot of freeware on the web like Open Office which is pretty much like Microsoft Office. The difference is that it’s free.

Avoid purchasing software that you don’t really need, as it may cost more money, and also take up more disk space.

Research before you buy

Now that you know what you need, do some research on where to get the best deals on computers. Ask your friends and family or even that computer geek that you never talk to. Also, watch out for retail stores that offer a holiday sale as you may get major discounts. Having the knowledge on where and when to buy can save you lots of money.

About the Author: Johann is a Marketing Consultant for Business Aid Centre, a company that helps business grow by providing information about government and small business grants.  Follow him at twitter @johannrcarpio.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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