Here's our Hardware Tip for.. April 20, 2007
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Top Tips for Buying PC Parts
Shopping for just the right gear you need to build your own PC takes time and care. The trick is to figure out the best sources for parts—whether local or mail-order. You also have to decide whether to buy all equipment from the same dealer. Here are a few pointers on this important phase of the project.
Use the Web. You can almost always find lower prices through careful Web shopping.
Develop a relationship with the "white-box" computer shops in your area. Sometimes you can get a discount that comes close to the better prices you find on the Web, and it's much more convenient.
Use price-searching Web sites. Note that some prices are artificially low, but you should still get a good idea as to the best prices. Sites like PriceGrabber (www.pricegrabber.com) and PriceWatch (www .pricewatch.com) let you sort by price, reseller, or product.
Check the satisfaction ratings of the Web outlets through services like ResellerRatings (www .resellerratings.com) before you place your order. Cheapest isn't always best if the service isn't up to par.
Try to aggregate your buying to minimize total shipping costs. Some sites will even offer free shipping for large orders.
Take advantage of software discounts. Part vendors will often sell you discounted copies of Windows and other key software when you buy a major part such as a CPU.
Understand shipping and handling costs. Some lowball resellers use high shipping costs to recoup profits.
Buy OEM versions of hardware. These are the same as the retail version—usually without the accessories or software—but they can save you money. Beware: OEM processors often have substantially reduced warranties, and they often don't ship with CPU coolers.
Watch out for restocking fees! If you have to return a defective part, the shipping charges will usually be your responsibility. Some stores charge as much as 15 percent to restock a returned item that's not defective. Unscrupulous outlets even charge a restocking fee for exchanging a defective unit.