Buying the Best Computer You Need for Cheap

Buying a new computer isn’t a quick and easy process. There are several factors you have to consider. Do you want a Mac or PC? Desktop or laptop? What kind of performance will you need? When you’re shopping on a budget, your choices are more limited, but there are still quite a few low-end computers to choose from.

Video: What Should You Look for when Buying a Computer?

Mac or PC

buying a computerThe first choice you have to make is whether you’d like a Mac or PC. A Mac computer is manufactured by Apple Computers while PCs, or personal computers, are manufactured by several different companies including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Gateway. Though many experts prefer Mac over PC, most of the Mac selection is out of reach for someone whose budget is only $500 or $1000.

Both Macs and PCs allow you to do create documents, check email, surf the internet, and play games. Most software manufacturers have software available for both types of computers. So, for normal, everyday use, either computer is an option. But, when you’re looking for the most affordable computer, a PC is the best option.

Laptop or Desktop

The choice between a laptop or desktop computer comes down to whether you need your computer to be portable. A laptop computer allows you move around and keep all your essential documents with you. If your laptop has wireless capability, you can access the internet wherever a wireless signal is available. The drawback to laptop computers is that they are slightly more expensive than desktop computers and are easier to steal. If you’ll be using your laptop in a fixed location, you can save the money and purchase a desktop. On the other hand, if you need to carry your hard drive with you, a laptop is the better option.

Processor Speed

computerThe processor speed is one of the technical features of choosing a computer that’s based on how you plan to use your computer. If you’ll be playing a lot of games or multitasking, you need a more powerful processor. A slower processor simply means that your computer will take more time to respond when you have several windows open at a time.

System Memory

The amount of system memory or RAM on your computer affects the amount of software you can download and files you can store on your computer. Your operating system will have an effect on the amount of memory you need. If you plan to purchase a computer with Windows XP, you’ll need less memory (about 2GB) than if your computer has the latest version - Windows Vista (about 3 GB).

Screen Size

Laptop screens have gotten bigger and wider as time as passed. Again, the size of your laptop screen depends on how you plan to use your laptop. Wider screens are better for viewing movies or even large spreadsheets.

Computer Warranties

laptop computerMany computers come with a one year warranty. The manufacturer will gladly extend your warranty, for a fee of course. Extended warranties, or service contracts, are one of the ways computer manufacturers make money. Whether you purchase additional warranty depends on the likelihood that something will go wrong with your computer that you can’t fix. You should also think about the total cost of an extended warranty. Is it more than the computer is worth? If so, think twice about purchasing them. Then, consider that technology changes and new computers come out every year. If you plan on purchasing a new computer around the time your warranty runs out, then you won’t need the extended warranty.

Don’t Overbuy

All the features of computers influence their price. Computers with more features and extra bells and whistles will cost more than a computer that’s stripped down to its most basic functions. Many people end up paying more for a laptop because it includes nice-to-have features that they may never even use. Sales representatives in electronic stores will try to convince you to buy a higher-priced computer because they often gain commissions on sales. That’s why it’s important for you to do some online research on computers before going to a retailer. Decide how you plan to use your laptop and what extra software you’ll need to avoid overpaying for a computer.

Video: How to Buy a Laptop Computer

Watch Out for Scams

The computer buying process isn’t safe from scams. The Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau warn about free and low-cost computer scams that require you to sign a contract for high-speed internet service. Before you sign up for one of these low-cost bundles, make sure you shop around using the techniques described above.

Top Computer Manufacturers

Here is a list of the top computer manufactures with * indicating the quality of the computers. Five * is highest quality, while one * is lowest.

Acer *
Apple (Mac) *****
Dell ****
eMachines **
Everex *
Gateway ***
Fujitsu ***
Hitachi ***
HP ****
Samsung ****
Sony *****
Toshiba ****