7 ways to save money when build­ing a PC

BUILD­ING A PC DOESN’T HAVE TO BREAK THE BANK. BRAD CHA­COS RE­PORTS

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS -

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

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