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Building PC series: Where to get stuff?
  • Second post in the series where we'll focus on where to get proper, high quality and cheap stuff.

    You always pay for any time saved.

    If you want to save your time you'll pay more or get less optimal parts. So, unfortunately, perfection requires some of your time.

    Main terms used:

    • Local store - mean local specialized computer store, usually not very big.
    • Big offline store - some network store that sometimes have something useful, rare thing, but happens.
    • Big online store - something like Amazon or Newegg.
    • Online seller - ebay sellers or small online store.
    • Manufacturer store - some manufacturers have their own online store, can be savior for specialized items.

    • Tightly regulated - items that have their price closely watched by manufacturer.
    • Regulated - items that have their price watched by manufacturer, but with some discounters and periodic sales.
    • Not regulated - price of this items can vary significantly, sales happen with small pauses.
    • Competitive - big price changes can happen, usually common for marked with fast progress and big competition (like SSDs now).

    Let's focus on all main parts described in first post.

    General parts:

    • Keyboard. As you'll be up to high end keyboards you usually are best to look for them online, including manufacturers store. Some of them are available in local or big offline stores, bit it is not common. Kind - regulated.
    • Mouse. If you want to save and get good mouse usually best way is some online seller offering officially refurbished items. Check ebay and such. Kind - from regulated to non regulated.
    • Case. Very rarely good case suitable for our task is available offline (only if you have really good local seller), first determinate suitable models (check upcoming part on cases) and later just scan online offers. Note that good case is big and weight a ton, so remember about delivery costs. Kind - from tightly regulated to non regulated (depends on manufacturer).
    • Fans. Check local store, just note that fans are the items where they can have big margins. Otherwise order online. Kind - from tightly regulated to non regulated (depends on manufacturer).
    • CPU Cooler. Good coolers are not very hard to get. You can start at local store in parallel checking online prices. Can be high marginal item, so always check prices of competition. Kind - from tightly regulated to non regulated (depends on manufacturer).

    Power stuff:

    • Power supply. Remember that good PSU can also have significant weight, so remember to account for delivery. Usually online prices are best, but good local shops are competitive. Kind - regulated.

    Storage:

    • SSD. Only best local shops can compete with online here as progress is slightly too fast for them, frequently they have old overpriced stuff. Kind - competitive.
    • HDD. Progress is very slow lately. Competition is down to two companies who seems to have some kind of price agreement. Prices in your local shop can be even lower than online, also note that badly packed HDD can be damaged during shipping. Check sales in big offline and online stores. Kind - from tightly regulated to regulated.

    PC components itself:

    • Motherboard. Usually your local shop can be good option here (except for newest stuff). As sometimes compatibility or initial BIOS issues can happen it can save your time for getting exchange. Some of local shops can be full of outdated stuff. If you fully aware of that you need you can use any of online sellers (usually big ones have lower prices). Kind - regulated.
    • Memory. Memory prices are quite volatile and it seems that big manufacturers constantly make some agreements to keep margins. Due to volatility offline local stores or big stores can sometimes have best offers. Also some online sellers can have good offers. Kind - regulated.
    • Graphics card - GPU. Both main GPU chips manufacturers do everything to keep their margins, especially for top cards. Usually best prices happen in big online stores or in online sellers specializing on refurbished items. Kind - from tightly regulated (newest top cards) to regulated (older or cheaper things).
    • CPU. Intel do everything to keep margins. For top processors they try not to allow any sales (one of the methods used - minimizing sellers margin). Also price drops rarely happen even on old top CPUs. Check local shops and big online sellers. Usually difference will be very small. Kind - from tightly regulated (top CPUs) to regulated (lower end stuff).

    Next part will be about cases, setting priorities and building principles.

    Provide you input, if you agree/ do not agree with something.

  • 3 Replies sorted by
  • Thanks. Really useful info.

  • I really like pcpartpicker.com, it compiles the best prices online and also checks compatability.

  • My usual approach to self build hardware is buy a couple of levels below the top end. Top end usually comes at a huge premium. Buy cheap, buy twice, or at least earlier.

    in the UK there are plenty of suppliers offering good value online. I've yet to find any local retailers that can compete on price, except the online retailers that have a shop front (Scan for instance). Avoid the big boys (PC World, Dixons Group, etc) at mostly all costs, unless it's an emergency - although now again can have some ok deals.