Purchasing an Inexpensive PC

On-Line Retailers

There are many excellent on-line retailers such as TigerDirect (www.TigerDirect.com) and TechDepot (www.TechDepot.com) who can provide substantial savings on PCs, peripherals, and accessories. On-line retailers also typically have huge inventories including components, and consumer electronic items such as digital cameras, PDAs, and MP3 players. The lowest cost PCs may be factory close-outs (PCs being replaced by more current technology) or reconditioned/refurbished (good as new, but not new). They will work fine and be more than adequate for most average home-computing needs.

On-Line Refurbished Equipment and Outlet Stores

Many computer vendors and retailers also have factory outlet stores and/or refurbished equipment outlets. Again, although not the latest technology, or even brand new, these PCs will meet most computing needs and will be much less expensive. Refurbished equipment/outlet retailers include:

  • Amazon.com – Amazon.com has an “Outlet, Used & Refurbished” store that can be found under the “Computers” category. Here they offer both clearance items and refurbished items at substantial savings.
  • Dell Outlet – Dell has an outlet store that offers savings on Dell desktop and laptop computers, as well as other Dell accessories and electronics, including monitors, printers, handhelds, and TVs. Select “Home & Office” on the main page of the Dell Site (www.Dell.com) and then scroll down to find “Dell Outlet”.
  • Gateway Remanufactured Products – Gateway offers outlet prices on remanufactured Gateway desktops and laptops. Select “Remanufactured” on the Gateway site (www.gateway.com).
  • HP Outlet Store – Hewlett-Packard offers outlet pricing on HP desktops, laptops/notebooks, monitors, printers, cameras, and televisions. Select “Outlet” on the main page of the HPShopping site (www.shopping.hp.com) to find their offering of products.
  • IBM – IBM offers IBM Certified Used Equipment that has been refurbished and tested to IBM specifications. Offered items include desktop PCs, notebooks, printers, monitors, and parts and accessories. Enter “refurbished PC” into the search bar of the IBM site (www.IBM.com) to find what they have to offer.
  • Iomega – The Iomega factory outlet offers excellent prices on Iomega removable disk drives, portable disk drives, internal and external disk drives, flash drives, DVD, and CDRW drives. Select “Outlet” off of the main page on the Iomega site (www.iomega.com).
  • TechDepot – TechDepot offers both clearance items and refurbished items off of their site (www.TechDepot.com). Select either the “Clearance” or the “Refurbished” tabs on their home page to find what they have to offer.

On-Line Auctions

Perhaps requiring the most patience and persistence are the on-line auction sites. For those with the right temperament, good deals on PCs and related products can be found at eBay and at CompUSA Auctions.

How to Build a Quiet PC

  1. Power Supply – This is the device that produces the power for your computer. Unfortunately, this is almost always the noisiest part your computer includes. It usually contains one or two fans which are used to cool the device down. Fortunately, with today’s technology, you can now buy power supplies which only use their fans when the temperature reaches a set point. This will both reduce noise, and save energy.
  2. Case Fans – The reasons for having case fans are obvious, to create proper airflow. Unfortunately, for some computers, they’re only there to create obnoxious noise. If your computer is mainly used for documents, internet, and e-mail, chances are you don’t need more than one case fan. A system used for the latest computer games on the other hand, will need proper airflow to bring internal temperatures down to a safe operating level.
  3. Disk Drives – If this is your noise issue, there isn’t too much you can do, except invest in a CD or DVD drive known for being a quieter model, or insert acoustic padding around them. If you’re having issues with floppy drive noises, I’ll just tell you now, you’re way behind in technology. A memory card reader is far faster, and is completely silent.
  4. Hard Drives – Hard drive noises are often difficult to suppress as well. The common hard drive noises are heard when the device is in use, opening a program, installing software, etc. Often the noises are the vibrations between your hard drive, and your hard drives mount. Cushioning your device with padding like silica gel can often reduce some of the noise. If you’re hard drive is making unusual and highly noticeable noises while not in use, there’s a chance it could be failing. Please consult a service technician if this is the case.
  5. Computer Case – This is often forgotten about. There are many types of cases engineered in all sorts of ways. You can even purchase a case with sound padding materials included in it. Consider the material of the case itself. An aluminum case can by flimsy, and can increase noise levels from its vibrations. A steel case however, is more solid, and is less prone to creating vibrations. The down side of a steel case would be its weight. Whichever case you decide to use, adding acoustic sound padding, silica gel, and foam blocks, will significantly reduce vibrations.

Building a quiet pc isn’t for everyone. If you own a brand name computer, you’ll likely have a hard time following the tips shown above. Modifications to a brand name computer could potentially void a warranty. I would suggest researching this first before using my tips. You must also remember that your computer must run at safe operating temperature to avoid any device malfunctions, or even failure. Testing and research is always recommended.