Cheap is not a word that can often be used in the same sentence as computers. Unless, of course, the computer itself is cheaply made – and that’s not something anyone would want.
However, there are actually some options for cheap desktop computers that are out there. You just need to know how to find them.
Buying a Used Desktop Computer
The first thing to address is the option of buying used. This is sometimes a great way to save money on what you’re buying computer; or almost anything for that matter. In the case of a desktop computer, you will probably spend around the same as you would on a cheap model at retail price. The difference? A much higher quality machine.
All you have to do is check your local classifieds websites to see what’s available in your area within your budget price range. There are national classifieds ad companies, there are local classifieds. Make sure you factor in the cost of picking up the computer. Lots of people fall into the trap of getting a deal, then spending £30 on a round trip to pick it up; negating the saving they got. It may be worth checking classifieds in your local paper. Most papers have a section like this.
When you look on the used market there will likely be options that you can afford which you wouldn’t be able to if you bought new. Some of these may even be no more than 6 months to a year old. Some will even still have their warranties, so you shouldn’t be too concerned when buying used.
Buying a New Desktop Computer
This is where “cheap” really doesn’t make sense, because there aren’t many cheap desktop computers in retail outlets. Plus, most of them are just cheap because they have poor quality hardware, with poor build quality, and poor specifications; a recipe for a frustrating user experience.
However, there are definitely still some options out there.
It’s all a matter of shopping by brand. If you’re looking for cheap desktop computers, you can easily narrow down your options by eliminating a few popular (but pricey) brands, such as Apple and HP.
In fact, you can even eliminate every single gaming computer that exists. Your options will pretty much be limited to the most basic of computers. At best, you will be able to bargain yourself into a computer that has at least 4GB of RAM and 500GB of hard drive space.
What about a Mini-PC?
Many don’t consider the option of a mini-PC, even though they are very cost effective. You can get almost the same specs as a larger desktop; in fact, in the low to medium price bracket the difference won’t be noticeable. The machine also takes up a lot less space and it can fit conveniently on even a cluttered computer desk.
While the mini-PC option is generally great if you’re on a tight budget, you will still want to make sure that you understand everything about mini-PCs before buying. After analysing all the downfalls, you also have to consider that the one you buy is going to perform at a lesser level than the pricier, more desirable mini-PCs that are on the market.
You don’t have to just look at ‘mini-PCs’ though, as many of these are specially designed for media use. You can look for ‘slim’, ‘ultra-slim’, ‘compact’, and various other cheap desktop computers that incorporate this build style.
Buying an Older Model
Sometimes the only option you really have when buying a new cheap desktop computer is to buy an older model. This doesn’t mean one that’s 10 years old, but rather it could just be a model from two years ago that the store is trying to get out the door fast.
Of course, this will involve a bit of legwork and flyer hunting in order to find something that’s actually a worthwhile deal. The main problem with going this route, though, is that there is usually a much smaller amount of hard drive space. You could always swap the hard drive if the computer is cheap enough, but then you have to make sure that you have an operating system for your new hard drive. If you are going to be using a cloud provider then limited space may be less of an issue than it was in the past.
Shopping for cheap desktop computers is no easy task. In most cases you will be better off buying used or holding off until a good deal comes around. A good time of year to pick up a cheap computer would be on Black Friday. While this has long been more of a North American event (for shopping purposes), it is being picked up by many international chain retail stores and quite a few local businesses as well.
Alternatively, you could hold off until you have enough money to buy a computer that is both new and spec-heavy. It may take a while, but it could be worth the wait if the other road leaves you at a computer repair shop. If you are impatient then finance may be your only route to a top spec, all singing, all dancing model.