Shopping for Cheap Computers

Computer monitor and tower

As technology continues to evolve, cheap computers are more readily available. Many computer manufacturers would rather consumers invest in the latest and greatest technology, meaning that they are willing to reduce the prices on their older models. Nevertheless, it's wise to determine your priorities and do some comparison shopping before making a final decision.

Where to Find Cheap Computers

You might be surprised at where to find cheap computers. Some deals may require more technical skills, while others are simply the result of being in the right place at the right time.

Prison Industries and State Liquidation Centers

Many companies and government entities send overstocked goods or used items to public liquidation centers. Many of these centers operate in conjunction with prison industry stores, featuring items repaired or manufactured by inmates.

When a state office or school makes upgrades, the outdated goods are resold at a liquidation center or auction. Here, you will find computer components, including towers, monitors, keyboards, glare screens and other accessories. Often, computer units are refurbished by inmates and outfitted with software, while others are sold "as is" and are blank slates from which you can build a personalized computer.

The purchase and return policies for these items varies in each state. Contact your state administration department and ask where excess supplies are sent, or search online for a prison industry center near you. Note that most of these places do not take credit cards.

Factory Refurbished or Rebuilt Computer Stores

Although not as prevalent as they once were, retail rebuilt-computer stores are a great resource for cheap computers. Outlets such as Computer Renaissance specialize in factory refurbished units as well as brand-new models sent to them as overstock by quality manufactures such as Dell, Compaq and HP.

Tech For Less is an online outlet specializing in closeout models, excess, demo or open box computer models and peripheral items. The company's stock changes constantly, and you may have to learn a little bit about computers to really understand the offered deals. However, all name brands are usually available, meaning that you'll have a wide selection from which to choose.

Independent Builders

In your hometown there's probably a helpful computer whiz who runs a business setting up networks for companies. Often, many of these business owners will build computers from scratch based on customer need and request. They take your order and then put a cheap computer together with parts they purchase at wholesale prices. Some welcome new customers while others may direct you to other options. Because their overhead isn't nearly that of a big box store, you can often save a couple hundred dollars.

Dare to Compare

If you don't subscribe to a newspaper, invest in a Sunday edition to access sales circulars and uncover great deals on cheap computers. Many manufacturers promote new models in January, August, November and December, and so are eager to clear out old stock around those times. If you have a particular computer unit in mind, jump on to Bizrate or Pricegrabber for model-to-model and store-to-store comparisons.

Shopping for Cheap Computers