When Is the Best Time to Buy a Computer? 5 Things to Keep in Mind
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It can be expensive buying a new computer, so it makes sense to time your purchase for when you can secure a bargain. We’re going to round up some of the most important things to keep in mind when parting with your cash. But is there a best time to buy a new computer?

While prices are always subject to change without warning, annual sales or new hardware launches can be the perfect time to get a new system for a discounted rate.

However, you could always be waiting for a price drop that never comes. You’ll need to weigh up the opportunity cost; if you need the computer sooner rather than later, it’s better to buy it while you can.

1. Seasonal Sales

The Christmas season is one of the biggest periods for every retailer. While computers are usually too expensive to be a common holiday gift, retailers will be looking to take advantage of the flowing holiday money. They will apply discounts to systems in order to attract shoppers and sell off stock before the year end.

Santa Claus using a laptop
Image Credit: GeneGlavitsky/Depositphotos

These discounts can also come in various forms, like traditional discounts, cashback offers, and voucher codes Top 10 Sites for Online Coupons & Promotional Codes Top 10 Sites for Online Coupons & Promotional Codes It can be difficult to find the coupon codes you want when you need them most. Here are some quality websites dedicated to finding discounts and collecting coupons. Read More . Retailers will often engage in one day only deals near the holiday season, especially around key dates like New Years Day, so be sure to constantly check their websites around the time and keep your eyes peeled for any sudden discounting.

2. Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sales days that originated in America, but they’ve become a more worldwide phenomenon. With prices often slashed across the board, usually only for a limited amount of time or on a set quantity of stock, real bargains can be snapped up on these two days providing you’re quick off the mark.

Black Friday

A word of caution, however: retailers will often use the fever around these days to flog outdated systems at not-so-great prices. Make sure you always do your research before buying and don’t get drawn in by a seemingly appealing price tag—you might end up overpaying for something you would have got cheaper outside of the sale.

3. Back to School

Typically run during the summer period of August to September (although it can begin earlier), the Back to School period is a perfect time for retailers to target parents and students who are in the market for a new system to deal with their educational needs. Deals on laptops are especially prevalent during this period as they make for great college and university purchases.

back-to-school-movies

Many retailers, like Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, will also give exclusive discounts to actual students. These deals are usually available on presentation of a student ID or a valid academic email address. Apple even extends their educational pricing to teachers and parents buying for their children.

4. New Hardware Releases

If retailers are expecting to get fresh hardware then you’ll usually find that they begin discounting their current stock in order to make way for the new. There’s no set date for when this will be since different manufacturers will operate on different cycles, but keep your eye on the upcoming big hardware releases and you’ll likely find retailers discounting accordingly.

Dell Inspiron laptops

If you’re not after the latest flashy piece of kit then this will be a perfect time for you to jump in. While the system may be classed as old, simply because technology moves so quickly and there’s always new things being pushed to market, it might be great for you if you’re just needing a computer for general tasks rather than high fidelity gaming.

5. Flash Sales and Price Tracking

Nowadays, you can probably get a good deal at any time of the year thanks to the popularity of flash sales and daily deals. Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg have new discounts all the time, and the tech that you want might be included in that. Manufacturers also do similar things—in the past, Dell have hosted a ‘Black Friday in July’ event, for example.

Price graph on camelcamelcamel

Of course, it’s cumbersome to check these deals every day, which is why price tracking websites like camelcamelcamel.com come in so handy. These let you track specific product price history, and receive notifications when something drops to your desired price point.

To Buy or Not to Buy a New PC?

Hopefully, these tips have provided useful in offering periods that might be the best time for you to buy your new computer. If you’re in the market for a purchase, the best thing you can do is always keep your eye out for deals because you never know when a retailer might begin discounting.

Just remember not to wait too long. If you see a good deal and wait in hope of a better one turning up, then you may end up disappointed and losing out on the original offer.

Still haven’t found the deal you want? You might be better off reading our advice on why buying a used computer can be better than a new one 6 Reasons to Start Buying Used Computers Instead of New Ones 6 Reasons to Start Buying Used Computers Instead of New Ones Thinking about buying a new computer? Here's why a used, refurbished, or pre-owned PC might be a better option for you. Read More .

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  1. Anon
    March 27, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    re: prices - holiday season always tends to have the best deals, but you'll find discounts on systems with older OS's on newegg and tigerdirect after systems with 10 are shipped to retailers.

    re: Linux, specificly to ryan and cg: This site has gone out of its way to demystify finding the right flavors, desktop environments, etc. the best primer I've ever been able to find on this subject was published on March 12th, called "9 questions new linux users always ask" and can be found here:
    //www.makeuseof.com/tag/9-questions-new-linux-users-always-ask/

    it also briefly goes into the fact that for windows 10, Micro$oft has decided that a linux-style package manager is a good idea. Well worth the read, and full of links that can greatly expand one's knowledge base.

  2. Bill H.
    March 27, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I find the prices in this area are influenced by the two local universities and community (tech) college. This applies more so to used / refurbished gear.
    As the academic year wraps up a lot of good used stuff shows up at pretty good prices - but the new stuff doesn't sell well so prices tend to drop.
    When it's back to school time - there are some deals but prices do tend to rise a bit.

  3. Paul
    March 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    @ryan
    Exactly! What do we use our computers for, if not fun, eh?
    Otherwise, why even waste time with a site like makeuseof ... Hmmmm
    Just march dutifully along like all the other Microsheep...

  4. danny6114
    March 27, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Some states have tax free days during back to school time so not only might you find a deal, you won't pay taxes on it either!

    • Joe
      March 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      Awesome! I didn't know that. Thanks for that handy tip, Danny.

  5. Millar
    March 27, 2015 at 2:33 am

    I remember last summer that Intel had a promo for $100.00 off any Intel based computers

  6. Paul
    March 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    @cg
    Wrong!
    Windows could take lessons from Linux for the desktop. I've been running Linux for many years (desktop, laptop, and netbook) and would not dream of going back to Microsoft products.
    The special beauty of Linux is all the flavors and desktop environments -- there is bound to be at least one distribution that could make even you happy.

    • ryan
      March 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Yeah, and i'm sure finding that ONE distribution that's going to make me happy is going to be fun..

  7. Zhong
    March 25, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Isn't it a good idea to buy a laptop that caters to the casual user and pick specs that doesn't produce as much heat? Because all these powerful laptops running high end processor made for either gaming or huge projects will die much early than its counterparts.

    • Joe
      March 26, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      I think it just depends on what you want out the system, Zhong. But yes, if intense gaming is the aim then then I would recommend getting a desktop instead of a laptop, if possible.

  8. Saikat
    March 24, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Nice one Joe. With the faster release cycles (even from Microsoft), this question needs consideration. Microsoft has moved to a rapid release cycle which also changes their support policy.

    Also, the other question -- how quickly do you upgrade? Some do it every year. I do it once every three years.

    • Joe
      March 26, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks, Saikat! I tend to upgrade as and when my computer needs it. For example, I recently found that some of my RAM had failed and I was running low on drive space, so I've now kitted my system out with some more memory and a bigger hard drive. It was a long time ago when I got the computer originally, but the insides have changed a lot since then.

  9. David Whitmyre
    March 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Gavin, what is your experience with Windows 10, vs. Win 7 and Win 8? I hated 8. but I heard that 10 will incorporate more features that emulate 7 and even XP in functionality. Not sure exactly what, but I would be interested in your opinion.

    Thanks,
    David

    • Gavin
      March 24, 2015 at 6:46 am

      David, I was relaxed with Win 8 (the first 8.0) where as most people found it frustrating and confusing to use, like yourself. I adjust quickly to the new OSes. I am running Win 10 on a 8 year old Core 2 Duo PC, so performance-wise can't give much feedback. The new added Cortana feature is useless on a Desktop PCs and the Start Menu can be switched between the Win 8 style (full screen) or Windows 7 style, I use the full screen start menu. Much of the rest is from Windows 8.1

    • likefunbutnot
      March 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Just to start off, I too like Windows 8.x and prefer it to Windows 7.

      Based on the current build, running Windows 10 on top-end hardware (i7 machines with SSDs), the experience is very similar to both Windows 8 in most respects other than the current build of Start and Modern applications.

      Search is glacially slow and mis-prioritized (based on how results are displayed: Windows searches the internet with Bing first, THEN your files, THEN programs and settings, even if you're searching an exact command name like winword.exe). Modern Apps, if you use them, take forever to load and are still missing basic customizations and interaction with desktop style programs, such as the ability to properly respect the directory structure of your Pictures and Music libraries.

      Based on the pause for display and the start of search, I think the current Start interface is basically a Modern-Style Windows application. On machines where I should not have to wait for anything, I have a pause that's long enough for me to miss three or four characters as I try to use the search box.

      There's also a continued disjoint state between Control Panel and the Settings app; there are still things that have to be configured in Control Panel and some things that have moved entirely to Settings.

      Absent the change in the Start application (whether it's fullscreen or a menu), Windows 10 is indistinct from Windows 8. cmd.exe is a little nicer to use and built-in virtual desktops are handy, but I've gotten less excited since it's clear that many of the issues that bother me aren't going to be fixed before it is released.

  10. Edward
    March 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    My old computer is 7 years old and he's running Linux Ubuntu with no problem at all, why spend money to run Windows 10

    • cg
      March 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      Linux is bad as a desktop OS. Windows is widely supported and better for desktop.

    • timo
      March 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Sorry, cg, but you're dead wrong--and you obviously haven't used a Linux in a while.

    • Ninja250
      March 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

      I agree with Timo. Linux works great on my 8 year old laptop and blindingly fast (15 second cold boots) on my HP desktop with Samsung SSD. I still keep a Windows 7 desktop to run DxO Optics Pro 8. If that one program was ported to Linux (there's a Mac version) I wouldn't have a Windows box at all. Maintaining Linux to it's most current release and security updates takes only a few minutes per month versus hours for Windows (providing their updates don't crash and burn requiring a full Windows re-install). If anything, buy a nice SSD and install any flavor of Linux - you'll never go back to Windows.

  11. Gavin
    March 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I am still running the preview of Windows 10. When that expires, I will look into buying a new laptop with it pre-installed.