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Shopping For Cheap Computers

On the hunt for cheap computers ? Elsewhere I talk about how refurbished PCs can do what you want and save a ton of money. But even if you prefer brand new equipment, as long as you are willing to leave out the latest add-ons and technology, there are some truly cheap PCs among the new models.

We all want the most for the least money. But people also ask if bargain computers are reliable, and whether they'll get stuck with poor performance. Are budget laptops and desktops worth it ? Let's look at the big picture.

Why Cheap Computers ?

Reliability in low cost PCs is usually the first concern. But experienced users have no reservations about reliability, as long as they're buying a well-known model from a reputable dealer. All of the dealers I recommend provide a warranty, have a return policy, and have a well-established presence with a reputation to protect.

And what about performance ?

The fact is that, for many of us, the high performance of a new $1000 desktop or laptop is simply net needed. I run multiple applications like Word and Excel on Windows XP very easily with only 521 MB of RAM.

So unless you have a real need for high-performance computing, consider technology thats a year or two older. And spend the savings on some good software.

Finding Value In Cheap Computers

Yes, "cheap computer" has a stigma attached to it. Likewise "used laptops", "used desktops", etc. It's another way of saying "old", or "poor quality", - terms that help us justify buying more technology than we actually need. And yes, it's fun having the latest whiz-bang.

But it's well-known that processing power is way ahead of what most of us really need, especially when 95% of out activities are e-mail, browsing, and using basic applications. In fact, almost any system, even refurbished computing equipment, can more than adequately handle such standard duties

Shopping for a cheap computer is not just about price. Like most people, you'll want "value", and that means the highest quality within your low (or very low) budget. How do you find it ? The best way is to focus on only what you need and want to do with your system now, and in the next year or two.

So take a lookaround. The cheap desktops will be a little older, and the laptops a little slower than others on the market. But you'll still have the satisfaction that comes from buying a great PC that does everything you need (and probably more) and, at the same time, getting a really good deal.

How much can you expect to pay ? There are excellent buys on Pentium 4 systems for less than $600. And many for as low as $300. The cheapest laptop will go for about $300-400. But expect to pay $500 for resonable speed and features.

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