Best Things to Know About Cheap Computers

Best Things to Know About Cheap Computers

JUNE 29, 2016

by Andrew Schneider Technology Specialist

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to find the right computer for your needs. Thanks to plenty of competition and tons of options in the market, you can find several inexpensive computers that have enough features, software, and hardware to make your purchase worthwhile and cost effective. Here's how to get the best deal on a cheap computer that fits your lifestyle.


Man using laptop computer and taking notes

Purpose of the Computer

Figure out what you want your computer to do for you. Are you trying to be more productive in your home office? Do you need it to play the latest online game? Does your computer travel with you on the road as part of your job? The computer price starts with the types of features you want -- faster computers heavy on graphics generally cost more. However, basic computing power is relatively inexpensive, and you have many choices if you just need a model that lets you type, calculate, and surf the Web.

A desktop computer, laptop, and tablet

Desktop vs. Laptop vs. Tablet

For a longer-term investment, consider a desktop computer for your home. Desktop computers have more room to pack better features into them, they are easily upgradable, and they last longer than laptops. You also get more for the same price with desktop computers, meaning if you have a desktop and laptop for the same price, you get more features in the desktop.

If you need to bring your computing power with you everywhere you go, a decent laptop or notebook is still fairly inexpensive, with some of the cheapest notebooks costing only a few hundred dollars. For working adults who simply want to connect to the Internet, check social media and shop for the latest deals, a tablet works just fine as an inexpensive option that costs less than a laptop.

Close-up of a stick of RAM

RAM

RAM stands for random access memory, and it refers to the working memory a computer needs to run programs that you open. Generally, a computer with more RAM is slightly more expensive, and more RAM usually means the device runs faster. Basic computers that just need office-based software and an internet connection would need less RAM than devices that run more complicated programs.

Refurbished Computers

Refurbished computers are a great choice if you don't want to pay for something new. These computers are as good as new in some cases because the manufacturer's trained technicians have replaced any broken parts. Look for refurbished computers that have a warranty, guarantee of workmanship, and the tools you need to get the job done. Keep in mind that you can always upgrade it later with a newer processor or motherboard.

The inside of a computer's hard drive

Hard Drives

Faster hard drives and hard drives with more memory raise the price of a computer. Memory is measured in gigabytes (GB) and the more you need, the more you will spend on your laptop.

Your memory needs depend on the types of files you save on your computer. If you just need to save word processing documents and Internet bookmarks, you won't need nearly as much memory as someone who saves a lot of graphic design, music, or video files.

To help keep your initial costs down, you could use consider buying a computer with less memory and using removable memory, such as external hard drives or flash drives, to store vital documents, photos, and videos.

Close-up of a computer's motherboard

Motherboards

Motherboards house the components that keep the computer running smoothly. A motherboard contains the processors, video card, and sound card that enable the computer to function properly. Cheap computers have a simple motherboard with two processors, a basic video card, and a simple sound card. These motherboards also allow for upgrades in the future. If you just need a standard computer without a lot of nifty features for gamers, you probably can do without a fancy motherboard because most videos play just fine on a basic computer.