Computer Lover: Dedicated to all things computers

Dirt Cheap Computers

When times are tough, it's easy to see the advertised prices of brand new computers at $700 or more and think that you can't afford to get a computer. However this thankfully isn't true.

Getting a really cheap new desktop computer is possible if you know the following tips. In short, you don't need to purchase a brand new, fairly expensive computer because there are plently of ways of finding either cheap barebones computers (ones with just the bare essentials) or simply dirt cheap computers.

The four tips below give suggestions on how you can go about finding a really cheap system.

Tip 1 - Local Community

A flea market showing antique furniture in the foreground, and people and other stalls in the background

(Go to top of page)

There might be many opportunities for you to get a bargain in your local community. For example the following sources might lead to you getting a dirt cheap computer:

  • Neighborhood techie/geek - If you know someone who is the local neighborhood techie/geek, consider asking them whether they have any spare hardware parts lying around. If they do, see whether they'd be willing to build you a system out of these parts on the cheap. You might need to pay for a few extra hardware parts - and possibly pay this person a small fee as a 'thank you' - but this is an option which could yield good results.
  • Pawn shops - Pawn shops in your area will probably have at least a few systems available for sale. And (as discussed in tip 2 below), many people don't know the exact value of the computer systems they are selling meaning that pawn shops might be selling their systems at a fairly cheap price.
  • Swap meets/flea markets - Swap meets are usually where people try and get rid of their unwanted items. Sometimes people will have a computer sitting around unused for months or years, hence when it comes to a swap meet they might be happy to sell it for any amount of money since they just want to free up space.
  • Newspaper adverts - Check the classifieds section of your local newspaper. As with swap meets, sometimes people will simply want to get rid of their unwanted desktop and as a result will sell it for a very cheap price.

In short, sometimes knowing people in your local community - or simply checking local shops and flea markets (wherein computers may be sold for cheaper than they are actually worth due to lower demand) - can see you getting a good deal.

Tip 2 - Check eBay

(Go to top of page)

Sometimes people won't know the full value of an old computer - especially one that hasn't been used for months or years. As a result, you can sometimes get slightly older systems on eBay for a very good price. Also if you have built computers before, consider looking at listings which are selling slightly damaged computers - sometimes they'll break and their owner will simply put them on eBay for a very low price (even if it'd only cost a small amount to fix).

Naturally though, be sure to check that the seller has very good feedback before buying or placing a bid. And if possible, pay through PayPal since this will offer you some protection if there is any problem with the transaction.

Tip 3 - Build your own computer

(Go to top of page)

If you have experience with building computers or know someone who can help you, consider building your own computer. You can usually buy components which are a few years old for a low price (especially from a shop which is looking to sell them as they are surplus stock).

Then to save $100 on buying Windows, you could install the free operating system Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a good OS and comes with Open Office (which can open Microsoft Office files with no problems) and a range of other good, free software pre-installed.

Tip 4 - Ask local companies/schools

(Go to top of page)

Some companies and (many!) schools have rooms full of old computers that they haven't got around to discarding yet. If you know someone who works at a local school or large company, consider asking them whether there are any old, unused computers which are due to be discarded. If there is, see whether it'd be possible to have one and if so what (if anything) they'd charge for it.