Brain Clutter

June 15, 2007

10 Steps: Buy-Order for a Piecemeal PC

Filed under: computers, tech, tutorials — brainclutter @ 12:26 pm

While some people may not have cash problems, they may have cash-flow problems, which can lead to difficulty when building a computer. They really have two options in this situation: save up until they can afford the entire system (taking advantage of price drops) or buy new components as they can afford them (taking advantage of sales and rebates).

Both options have pros and cons, so I really suggest taking advantage of what each has to offer by mixing it up.

Useful price insurance tips:

  • Hold onto receipts because some vendors offer price-protection policies, allowing you to get a refund on the difference in price if it drops within a certain amount of time.
  • Some mail-in-rebates extend coverage for purchases made prior to the release date of the actual rebate (read the fine print).
  • Some businesses will even allow you to return your items outright (e.g., within 30-days) if you change your mind or want to take advantage of a better item at a lower price.
  • Do your research before committing your hard-earned dough!

The order I suggest when purchasing computer parts over time is this:

  1. Monitor – Monitors aren’t really improving at a fast rate (compared to other components), nor are they dropping in price that frequently. If you choose one you can use in your current system as an upgrade, at least you’ll be able to take advantage of it while you wait for your next paycheck!
  2. Keyboard/mouse – The reasons for buying these sooner are the same as the reasons for buying a monitor first. They’re also cheaper that the rest of your build (a decent keyboard/mouse combo will only run you $30-50).
  3. Case/PSU – These are components that have a long shelf-life and don’t often drop in price. They’re also cheaper items (depending on model-type) that won’t hurt as bad if you do miss out on a rebate, sale, or price-drop (hold onto those receipts just in case!). You can find these items as a pre-built combo or sold separately, which may give you something to work on until you can afford the next parts.
  4. Hard drives/optical drives – Again, these aren’t usually very pricey, so you won’t get burned if they drop in price, and they’ll also install much easier with less items in your case.
  5. Motherboard – Getting this component now will allow you to connect the main guts of your system (power, cables, etc.) and plan for the memory, CPU and video card.
  6. Memory – While memory price does change often, you’ll need it before the CPU to make your system usable. One idea is to buy half the amount of RAM you want in your final build and buy the remaining half afterwards to take advantage of the ever-dropping prices.
  7. Processor (CPU) – The CPU can be fairly pricey depending on your performance needs and the prices fluctuate often. Installing this now will get your computer functional, and if your motherboard has onboard video, usable for basic tasks. At this point I’d start installing any software and operating systems (OS) you’ll require. If you don’t have an OS yet, I’d buy it with the CPU or immediately afterwards when you can afford it).
  8. Video card – These can also be very pricey if your focus is gaming and/or graphics intensive tasks (3d modeling, animation, etc.). Video cards are released, go on sale, and receive rebates very often, so holding off until the last possible moment will definitely save you cash. Also, new games and benchmarks are released all the time, so you’ll be able to get the best bang-for-your-buck by waiting and making an informed decision.
  9. Sound card/speakers – These aren’t integral components as most motherboards come with onboard audio and you can find a cheap set of speakers/headphones almost anywhere. If you’re into gaming or music though, this is when I’d buy the upgrades.
  10. Remaining memory/additional hard & optical drives/media connectors/etc. – Now is when I’d buy the extra parts that will finish off your system. They aren’t integral in getting your system off the ground, so you might as well wait until the end to buy them.

Alternatively, you could push the monitor to the very last step of this process if you have an older monitor you don’t mind using on the new system. This will allow you get the machine up-and-running a bit quicker (maybe by 2-4 weeks depending on your income versus the monitor you buy). Also, if you can catch a really good deal (e.g., an awesomely priced video card on eBay before your motherboard is in place) go for it! The goal is get the best system you can for your buck, so slight variations of this process may be beneficial.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with this order by posting your own!

1 Comment »

  1. Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

    Comment by Olivia — February 1, 2014 @ 2:07 am

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