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Points to consider when buying a PC

Even with prices falling almost daily buying a new PC is still expensive.  It's a big investment and it should be a happy time for all.  However, it's all too easy for it to become a tense, stressful time.  Here are my tips for getting the most for your money.

  1. Ultimately, most things are a trade-off against price.  The cheaper the PC the less you can expect.  This isn't a hard-and-fast rule but it does tend to hold true.
  2. Remember that you might (probably will at some point) need tech support.  Try to choose a PC by a company that isn't going to charge the earth for support.  Be wary of makers that force you to call premium lines for support.
  3. Know what you are getting.  Make sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money.  By this I mean monitor, peripherals, software and any free gifts promised.  Most people stop thinking after choosing the PC and forget about everything else.  If you are buying on the basis on an ad that you saw, make sure that you keep a copy of that ad.
  4. Factor in delivery costs.  You might find a cheap PC system but when you add the 50 (sometimes more) delivery it can quickly turn into a pricey system.
  5. Get delivery guarantees.  It is irritating to have to stay in for something that doesn't appear.  Make sure that you get assurances as to delivery dates.
  6. Make sure you get what you paid for!  Check the CPU, RAM, hard drive, optical drives and peripherals are as specified.  If unsure check with an application like AIDA32 (from http://www.sofotex.com/AIDA32-download_L9326.html) to verify what you have installed.
  7. Keep all boxes!  The box is unlikely to develop a problem but you will need it if you need to send the PC back.
  8. Keep all paperwork, including receipts, books and instructions.
  9. When the system is delivered, check everything before getting too caught up.  If you find anything missing or not working, let the vendor know immediately.
  10. Burn-in the system for 24 hours before installing your applications and data.  The system should have been tested before shipping but an extra run-in is always a good idea. 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Last updated: Sept 4th 2004
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