3 Simple Ways to Save Money When Building a New Computer

Joel Lee 20-10-2015

Even now, it’s still cheaper to build your own PC Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? How much does it cost to build your own PC these days? Compared to pre-built models, are the savings worth the effort? We investigate. Read More than it is to buy a pre-built machine from a manufacturer like Dell or HP. Not only do you save money, but the resulting machine is often more capable, too.


If you’re shopping for a new computer, then you should really consider building one from parts. It sounds scary, but it really isn’t — especially if you follow our easy guide to building your own PC How To Build Your Own PC It's very gratifying to build your own PC; as well as intimidating. But the process itself is actually quite simple. We'll walk you through everything you need to know. Read More . It’s like LEGO: you mix and match pieces that already fit together.

But even though building a PC from parts is already the more affordable option, there are a few tips and tricks you should know to shave off even more money from the final cost.

1. Pick Only the Parts You Need

One of the best ways to save hundreds of dollars on a PC is to build it to meet your requirements and not more. There’s no sense in shelling out $1,000 for a gaming PC if you only play browser games, read email, and watch Netflix. It’s nice to have a powerful PC, but if you need to save money you should be really selective about the components to include.


And no, don’t try to “buy for the future” when it comes to PC parts, also known as future-proofing.

Thanks to Moore’s Law What Is Moore's Law, And What Does It Have To Do With You? [MakeUseOf Explains] Bad luck has nothing to do with Moore's Law. If that is the association you had, you are confusing it with Murphy's Law. However, you were not far off because Moore's Law and Murphy's Law... Read More and other related phenomena, hardware prices constantly drop from year to year. A $100 hard drive today will be $50 in a few years, and the same will hold true for CPUs, GPUs, monitors, and even peripherals like keyboards and mice.

New models and upgrades are pushed out every year, and each time that happens, the price of older hardware always get slashed. As such, buying for the future might be a convenient move, but not exactly an economical one.

Buy what you need to suffice for the present. Three years down the road, if you need a better PC, then upgrade the individual component that you need improved. That’s the beauty of a PC — you can upgrade individual parts instead of buying an entirely new system every few years.

Pro Tip: Future-proofing your PC build will only cost you more money in the long run.


So how can you determine the capabilities of the PC you’re aiming to build? Answer: By using a website like Logical Increments, which lays out dozens of different PC component combinations to create the exact PC that you need.

On the site, “Destitute” tier PCs can be built for as little as $191 while “Monstrous” tier PCs are as expensive as $3,666. The key is to hover over each tier’s name for a description of how powerful each tier is. Using this guide, you can build a relatively powerful gaming PC for under $600.

And there’s a bonus: for each tier, all listed components are compatible so you don’t have to worry about that.

2. Use Price Comparison Tools

Once you know which parts you need, it’s time to practice a bit of patience. You could hop on a site like DealExtreme or, fill up your shopping cart, and instantly check out — but then you wouldn’t be saving a lot of money.

In fact, one of the most effortless ways to get a good deal on PC parts Building A PC? How To Get The Best Deals On Parts Building your own computer and want to get the best deals? You need a strategy that can score red-hot sales before they sell out. My preferred method uses a multi-spectrum approach. Read More is to use a price comparison website. There are dozens of these websites to choose from, though, so focus your attention on a PC-specific price comparer like PCPartPicker.


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Let’s say I’m looking to purchase a Samsung 850 Pro 512 GB SSD. If I were to buy it from Adorama without second thought, I’d end up paying $258. But by using PCPartPicker, I see that it’s available on Amazon for $219. A bit of an extreme example, but you can see how convenient this is.

Note: Amazon usually has great prices, so this tool is more useful if you want to actively avoid Amazon 5 Reliable Online Shopping Alternatives to Amazon Amazon is the biggest player in the game of online retailers, but that doesn't mean you have to use them. Read More .

On top of price comparisons, one neat feature of PCPartPicker is that it will store and track your PC parts wishlist. This list shows you every component that you’ll need, let’s you fill each slot with what you want, and calculates the final build price based on the best price comparisons it can find.

And you should know that PCPartPicker has a section where you can view completed PC builds that others have submitted. These tell you all of the components included in the build and the final price. If anything, these are great to use as a basis for further customization according to your personal needs.

3. Wait for Price Drops, Promos, Coupons

If you do decide that you want to buy everything from Amazon — e.g. maybe you want to take advantage of Amazon Prime 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You've Probably Overlooked Free two-day shipping is just the beginning. Here are some notable Amazon Prime subscription benefits you may not know about. Read More and free shipping — then price comparisons won’t help you much. However, there’s is another class of tools that could prove useful: price history trackers.

The truth is, not every Amazon product is a deal. When a listing tells you that you’ll “save $200 (17%)” on a purchase, it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is actually on sale for 17% off — it just means that the product’s current price is less than its price when it first launched.


Amazon price history trackers, like CamelCamelCamel, make it easy to see the price trend of a given product so you can decide whether it would be a good idea to buy now or wait a while.

If CamelCamelCamel doesn’t suit you, there are other Amazon price trackers The 5 Best Amazon Price Watch Trackers for Bargain Hunters Want to find the best deals when shopping online? Run a check on an Amazon item's price history before you hit the buy button. Read More that you can use. For example, TheTracktor isn’t as detailed but can be more accurate in some cases. The Keepa extension for Chrome is nifty as well.


Another way to chop up big price tags: wait for promos and coupons.

Sites like FatWallet and SlickDeals are invaluable if you aren’t in a rush to purchase. As long as you catch their deals in time A Simple Tip That Will Save Money With FatWallet and SlickDeals After the expensive holidays, and global recession has thinned our wallets, spotting a good deal can really boost your morale. Fortunately, some money-saving websites cater to your needs. Two of the best online communities for... Read More , you could save up to 50% or more on flash deals and limited time promotions. Slim chance you’ll be able to get the exact items on your wishlist, but it’s still worth checking.

If you prefer a more passive way to check on deals, consider using an automatic coupon finder Automatic Coupon Finders - Do They Really Help You Save Money? Like many good things in life, coupons and promo codes are elusive. Saving money is never an easy thing, after all, and when you’re trying to find valid codes for something specific, you usually end... Read More . They aren’t as accurate or as specific, but they do cut out a lot of the work for you.

If you shop online a lot, then you should consider installing these 10 money-saving browser extensions 10 Money-Saving Browser Extensions That You Should Install Now There are plenty of browser extensions that will compare prices, find coupons, and save you money. Install these 10 extensions now and watch the savings roll in! Read More .

And don’t forget about mail-in rebates. It’s easy to be lazy once the computer parts are delivered to your home and you’re looking at a mail-in slip for $10. “Is it worth it to drive down to the post office?” Yes! $10 might not seem like a lot, but $10 off of a $100 video card is a hefty chunk of change. Don’t let laziness prevail.

Have Any Tips of Your Own?

If you’re still in the beginning phases of PC part shopping, check out these PC-building helper sites Save Time & Money! The 4 Best Sites For Automatically Building a PC WARNING! Building a PC can cause the following symptoms - despair, rage, violence against inanimate objects, poverty, feelings of regret and worthlessness, depression and suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, websites exist that take the pain out of... Read More for some of the best tips and advice regarding your builds.

And if you want to throw in a bit of flair to make sure your PC is unique, consider these ways to spice up a boring computer 4 Creative Ideas To Use When You Build A Computer Building a computer is no longer a particularly unusual task, nor even the reserve of hardcore geeks. It’s actually a rather simple process that tasks patience more than knowledge. PCI slots, SATA ports and motherboard... Read More .

Do you build your own PCs or buy them pre-built? What kind of tricks do you use to shave dollars off of the final price? Share with us in the comments!

Image Credits: computer hardware by Nomad_Soul via Shutterstock, Solid State Drive by Hadrian via Shutterstock, Hourglass by sergign via Shutterstock

Explore more about: Buying Tips, PC, Save Money.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    There is a question that I hope to be answered in the future. Could we able to build a Desktop with a battery. For home use, I think that battery is cheaper than UPS and it ensures that steady and suitable power supplied to the computer in areas or countries that has problems in its electrical networks.

    • Jackson Chung
      December 8, 2015 at 1:48 am

      I'm not an expert in electronics but as far as I know, a battery provides DC current. Your computer requires a pure sine wave to operate, and that can only be provided by specialised gear like a UPS. Even a gas generator only outputs modified sine waves, which isn't ideal for running sensitive electronics.

  2. Anonymous
    October 20, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    "Pro Tip: Future-proofing your PC build will only cost you more money in the long run."

    PRO Pro tip: Buy parts that will give you a decent PC that will last a few years (2-3 or more). It costs more in time to replace a PC (in labor) than it does having decent parts from the start. My goal is usually to reuse a case, keyboard, trackball (mouse), CD/DVD/BluRay burner, and display, and possibly an HD or two (occasionally I'll buy a new case, for example my next case will have front USB 3.0 ports), then the remainder can be upgraded at my leisure; everything but the internals can be easily replaced.
    I usually budget $500-600 for the parts, and assemble in whatever ATX case I have handy.

  3. Anonymous
    October 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I've been building my own PCs since the early 1990s, and I have to disagree to a point with the last point. In general, if you wait for prices to drop, you'll never build your PC. By the time prices drop to a point that you want, something better will come along. "Oh, I'll wait until the price for that drops." By the time THAT price drops to a point that you want, something better will come along. Repeat ad nauseum.

    Some points that I've discovered in the past 30 years...

    If you're building a gamer rig, buy the video card right where the price/performance curve starts to sharply turn. Generally, the card will be better than average while not bleeding edge and should last for a few years longer than a middle-of-the-road graphics card.

    Don't get caught up in CPU benchmarks. Yes, Intel CPUs generally are faster than AMD. That doesn't mean anything if you'll never utilize all of the power that a CPU will provide. If the CPU does what you need it to do, then why worry about what you'll never do?

    AMD CPUs run hot and use a lot of electricity compared to their Intel counterparts; however, Intel CPUs can be really expensive in comparison and motherboards for Intel CPUs are almost always more expensive. Depending on your use, the electrical costs of AMD could take years to catch up to the extra purchase price of Intel CPUs and compatible motherboards.

    For gaming rigs, the video cards - NOT the CPU - are where most of the work is done. You are doing yourself no favors by getting a top-of-the-line CPU but a "meh" video card. Always splurge on the video card instead. Always.

    More expensive motherboards != better motherboards. I haven't purchased a $100+ motherboard in decades, and my gaming rigs are running just fine.

    Don't get caught up in the minutiae of memory speeds. You will never notice the difference. Just focus on getting the best bang for the buck and get as much memory as you can.

    • Anonymous
      October 20, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      I've been a fan of AMD since their 486DX4 days, but AMD seems to be shooting itself in the foot repeatedly over the past few years. (Not so much a fan of ATI's video cards, especially since I had major problems with a Radeon (not HD) 9000's VESA support.

      • Anonymous
        October 20, 2015 at 6:40 pm

        Yeah, the benchmarks between Intel and AMD are making it *really* difficult to continue to support AMD. I don't know what they're doing, but it's almost like they're going strictly on price. Based on the benchmarks, even the 8-core FX line can't keep up with the Core i7 in price/performance.

        • Anonymous
          October 21, 2015 at 11:49 pm

          Since the Core 2 series Intel has really pushed AMD.
          Until Sandy Bridge AMD was able to compete somewhat decent, but since then their market share goes alon with the performance.
          I really hope their next (Zen) Chips will be able to go atleast on par with Intel, atleast to prevent Intels current monopoly.