With the volatility of the current PC part market, it can be difficult to tell what components are being sold at reasonable prices and which ones are being marked up due to shortages or high demand. This fact is especially true if you’ve never built a PC on your own before. The task can seem more daunting than ever. This guide will help give you 5 steps to take and resources for saving money throughout your build.
Research & Resources
To find hardware at reasonable prices, you first have to know what you’re looking for. Once you know what your budget is and what you’ll be using your PC for, you can look into guides and reviews written by enthusiasts and experts. You’re already on the right track if you’re reading this review here! It’s best to check forum posts, guides, and user reviews. It’s also good to read up about how specific components compare to others in the same price bracket.
Using resources like our full PC build guide that breaks down builds by budget and use case can help give you an idea of which components you will need. It’s also worth asking around on forums or chatting with a knowledgeable friend who has built a PC before. PC building gets easier the more you do it. Getting that first build assembled can be made much easier with a helping hand or two. Reddit has quite a few subreddits dedicated to helping you build your first rig such as r/buildapcforme.
It’s also worth watching some Youtube videos that use or benchmark the components you will be purchasing. Essentially, be patient and do your due diligence. It may feel time-consuming to spend hours researching a PC. However, you will thank yourself down the line. There are few things as frustrating as finding out your components were over-priced or, worse, incompatible with each other.
Salvage Parts from Your Old PC
Just because you’re doing a full upgrade of your PC doesn’t mean that you can’t find a use for some of your old components. Hard drives, SSDs, CPU coolers, fans, and the case are components that can easily be swapped between builds. Those small costs add up quickly. You can save a good chunk of money right there that can be put towards a higher quality CPU or GPU.
It may be worth taking a look to see if you can flash the BIOS of your motherboard to support whatever new components you are getting. Many builders don’t realize that older motherboards can work with newer CPUs as long as the socket design matches up. Of course, make sure that everything will be compatible. If you’re unsure, I recommend using a site like Pcpartpicker.com to plug your components into. The site will let you know if there are any compatibility or clearance issues.
Buy Second Hand or Used Components
The biggest money-saving factor when building a new computer is going to be buying used components. Now, doing so comes with a fair share of risk. Most parts will be out of warranty. You may not be able to return parts for a refund as easily. If you do buy used parts, make sure to go through safe and secure sites. Use sites like PayPal or eBay where the buyer is protected from scams and other ploys. It’s also worth checking your local PC store. Sometimes they will have open box, refurbished, or returned parts available at a discount.
Look into hubs where enthusiasts and builders trade with each other. These forums and pages will often have buyer/seller protections in place and verify traders. r/mechmarket and r/hardwareswap are two excellent communities where you can often find great deals on used components. You can also check Craigslist and your local Facebook Marketplace for deals in your area.
Just know that there is an element of risk with any used component. The lifespan of the part may be worse if it was heavily overclocked or used for intensive tasks like cryptocurrency mining. Ask questions. Get plenty of pictures. But, at the end of it, you’ll have to use your best judgment.
Look for Deals & Specials
If you’re able to wait, purchasing components during yearly deals can save a lot of money. Days like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Amazon’s Prime day often feature computer components at huge discounts. You can find deals on brand-new hardware that can cut costs down by upwards of 50%.
Newegg will sometimes offer rebates on components. Basically, you pay full price and then fill out a form for anywhere from $10-$100 off your purchase. If you can front the initial cost then those rebates are great ways to save some money. Rebates are fantastic deals as long as you can wait the few weeks it may take for that money to come your way.
Keep it Simple
If you’re building on a budget then you can skip the aesthetic features. A simple mid-tower case without RGB will save you anywhere from $50-$100 compared to other options. Cutting out RBG on other components will also be a big money saver. RAM, coolers, GPUs, and motherboards with RGB are sold at higher prices compared to their more modest counterparts.
Don’t waste money on a massive full-tower case. Going micro-ATX can open up your budget while still leaving room for upgrades in the future. Most games are downloadable, so you won’t need the space for an optical drive for most use cases. You can also port over your existing operating system with a USB drive most of the time. That alone can save upwards of $100 depending on what you have.
Saving money on a PC build will take a good deal of time and patience. However, the more time you spend hunting down deals means the more you can save on your PC. Following the steps above can help you to save hundreds on your components. Just remember to shop smart and purchase hardware through buyer-protected sites if you’re shopping used.