7 ways to save money when building a PC
BUILDING A PC DOESN’T HAVE TO BREAK THE BANK. BRAD CHACOS REPORTS
For many enthusiasts, part of the fun of building a PC lies in not spending a penny more than necessary. Whether you’re building a basic everyday computer or trying to eke out a £500 gaming rig, shopping smart lets you do more with your money or, well, just plain save some cash on a purchase that’s already pricey enough.
Thankfully, costs savings abound, especially if you’re not in a rush. You just have to know where – and how – to look. These tips and tricks will help you save money on your next PC build.
Plan it out
Measure twice, cut once. That timeless advice applies to PC building, too. Think through every aspect of your build before picking up even a single component to ensure that you’re not buying too much, or too little, power for your needs – and that everything you buy works together. Planning is the most important part.
Pcadvisor.co.uk’s regularly updated component reviews can help you identify the best parts for your particular workload, no matter what your budget is. Once you’ve identified the processor you need, you can choose a compatible motherboard with the connectivity features you need, and once you’ve identified a motherboard, you can choose what type of memory and storage to slot into it, and so forth.
If you want further guidance on your build, head over to either PCPartPicker’s Build Guides section (tinyurl.com/Ldfhg8w) or the Build a PC subreddit (tinyurl. com/8udd8va). PCPartPicker is loaded with builds of other users, with all sorts of filtering options, user rankings, and discussions to help you home in on a computer configuration that’s right for you. Meanwhile, Build a PC’s a tremendously active and helpful forum where thousands of computing enthusiasts can help answer any questions you have or help you plan out a PC build step by step. (Be sure to check out the Resources section pinned to the right rail of the subreddit for helpful guides.)
Reuse what you already have
If you already have a computer, you can save a lot of money by reusing its parts
Think through every aspect of your build before picking up even a single component to ensure that you’re not buying too much, or too little, power for your needs
inside your new PC. Building a new system usually revolves around a new processor and motherboard, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to drag your older graphics card, storage, memory,or case over, especially if you’re replacing a PC that you purchased in the past decade or so. Our personal rig packs some hard drives and case fans that have survived several builds at this point.
Of course, be sure your old components are compatible with your new ones first. Older hard drives might rely on an interface
price. As an example, you’ll find Overclockers UK’s bundles at tinyurl.com/Lj5k293. You can see them all on the site, or navigate to the page of one of the individual components on your list, where any available bundle offers should be on display.
Take your time
Did you notice the subtle subtext running through the previous tips? It’s this: if you don’t need a new PC right now, there’s no rush to buy your parts after you’ve planned out your build. Waiting gives your target hardware an opportunity to drop in price, and gives you more time to hunt around for better deals at various storefronts. Patience is a virtue.
Just don’t wait so long that the warranty expires on the parts you’re slowly stockpiling. If a component is dead on arrival, you want to know before the window to return it closes.
Consider used parts
Unless you’re lucky enough to be shopping right when a fresh generation of gear hits the streets and retailers are trying to clear stock, buying last-generation PC hardware won’t save you much money. If you have a limited budget, you could potentially save big money buying used parts. You have to be careful though, since used hardware doesn’t come with warranties and there’s always the chance a part was ridden hard before it wound up in your hands.
As a general rule of thumb, processors, memory and cases can usually be bought used without much concern, since they don’t have moving parts. (Ask if the processor was overclocked at a high voltage before buying, though, and avoid it if so.) Graphics cards are trickier, but they can be okay if you can confirm that it’s working, is not caked with dust, and hasn’t been running at a high overclock for an extended time.
Opinions vary about used motherboards, but since they’re the core of your PC and have lots of parts that can fail, we avoid them. Also avoid buying used storage drives, as they have finite life spans and in the case of hard drives, moving parts. We’re also wary of picking up a used power supply, as it’s both an important backbone of your system and has moving parts. ‘Air’ CPU coolers with heat sinks and fans typically should be fine, but avoid used closed-loop liquid coolers as those wear out eventually.
It’s best if you can see used PC hardware working before you buy it, which means that local sales are ideal. You can sometimes find good deals on Amazon and eBay too, and those sites offer consumer protections that can often get you a refund if you’re sent a dud. Make sure those shipping charges aren’t eating too deeply into the savings. And always check an online seller’s reputation before you shell out hundreds of pounds for a used part.
Save on software too
Hardware isn’t the only cost when you’re building a new computer. Software can add up quickly,but it doesn’t have to.
For a lot of people, the biggest software cost is Windows, at £100 or more. There are compelling reasons to try a no-cost Linux OS, but if you want to stick with Windows, you can often find people selling Windows licenses for under £25 on Kinguin (tinyurl.com/zpp3wzm), which is like an eBay for software.
As for all the other must-have software that makes a PC actually useful, check out our guide to the essential free programs your new computer needs (tinyurl.com/obvLnxb).
Bring it all together
And that’s it. Hopefully these tips help you save some cash as you’re building a PC. If you need help actually putting all those parts together, we’ve got you covered. There’s a comprehensive guide to building a PC at (tinyurl.com/m7th35s), a series of articles that covers every aspect of the process, from installing processors and case fans to avoiding common PC building mistakes (tinyurl.com/h4a8as2). If this is your virgin foray into the wonderful world of PC building, be sure to read the seven things our colleagues at PCWorld learned once they built their first PC (tinyurl.com/jmx7Law).
And finally, once more before this ends: Use PCPartPicker. It really is great.
You can sometimes find good deals on Amazon and eBay too, and those sites offer consumer protections that can often get you a refund if you’re sent a dud
Reuse those case fans if you can
Sites such as PCPartPicker are a great place to start