Page 1:Part 1: Component Selection
Page 2:Processor And Graphics Selection
Page 3:Motherboard Options
Page 4:Remember The Memory!
Page 5:Hard Drive Selection
Page 6:Power Supplies And Other Components
Page 7:Part 2: Choosing The Right Vendor
Page 8:Purchase Price
Page 10:Part 3: Putting It All Together
Page 11:Installing The CPU
Page 12:Installing The CPU Cooler
Page 13:Installing The Power Supply And Motherboard
Page 14:Installing Other Components
Page 15:Motherboard Cable Installation
Page 16:Device Cable Installation
Page 17:Final Words
Considerably lower operating expenses allow online merchants to price products far below those needed to keep the doors open at local showrooms, but shipping costs can kill any hopes for big savings. Per-item shipping often gets better as more items are added to the order, so the savings attributed to buying online are maximized by purchasing from the fewest possible sources.
A difficult cascade of questions may consume a buyer as he or she considers many sellers, many parts at various prices, and several different shipping rates. The easy path is to pick the single vendor who provides the best deal for the complete list, but this is not always possible. Keep in mind that single-item shipping rates listed through shopping engines should drop significantly as order size increases, and if this doesn't happen it's time to check the next vendor on your list!
Local stores must increase prices to cover their higher operating expenses, but they usually receive items in large enough quantities to reduce per-item shipping charges, savings they pass on to you. Consider the example of a single stack of DVD-R media: online pricing might be $6 plus $8 shipping, totaling $14. If a local store bought 100 stacks at a 10% discount, squandered that 10% savings on bulk shipping, and added a huge 50% markup, they'd still be able to sell them for $12...saving you $2 and several days' wait.
"Loss leaders" are another way for buyers to save when purchasing locally. These are items that larger stores such as Best Buy or Fry's Electronics sell at a slight loss in order to lure buyers in, hoping sales staff or glamorous displays will convince the purchaser to "pick up a few more things on the way out." Relying on one-time deals often requires substituting a lesser part to get a better value, however.
It's often said that "you get what you pay for" and service is one area where local stores are able to outperform online rivals. Because small shops are constantly trying to build their reputations, and because they deal in lower volume, they're usually willing to go the "extra mile" to please each customer. Larger electronics chains focus on volume rather than service, and would rather sell you another part than figure out why the one you have isn't working. Online merchants expect you to have enough knowledge to figure things out on your own.
Consider the situation of dealing with an incompatible part:
- Smaller, locally-owned shops will usually offer free advice, inspect the item for free if you believe it's defective, or diagnose it in your system for a reasonable fee (that's not to say all of them will). On the other hand, they may not be willing to provide a 100% refund if you try to return a "new" part in "used" condition.
- Most online merchants don't provide adequate tech support, instead going directly to the return process while charging a 15% "restocking fee" for any returned item that they've deemed non-defective. You'll have paid shipping both on the delivery and the return, and your 15% fee will go towards someone else's "open box" price reduction.
- Favoring irresponsible buyers, "big box" retailers might give you all your money back if you come up with a good enough reason (or plausible excuse) for the return.
- Part 1: Component Selection
- Processor And Graphics Selection
- Motherboard Options
- Remember The Memory!
- Hard Drive Selection
- Power Supplies And Other Components
- Part 2: Choosing The Right Vendor
- Purchase Price
- Part 3: Putting It All Together
- Installing The CPU
- Installing The CPU Cooler
- Installing The Power Supply And Motherboard
- Installing Other Components
- Motherboard Cable Installation
- Device Cable Installation
- Final Words