If you’re looking to build a new gaming computer and you’re working with a tight budget, you’re likely looking for ways that you can cut back on costs. So, in this guide, we’re going to give you seven different things you can do to help you save money on your upcoming build.
1. Use the Right Resources
Unless you’ve built several PCs in the past, odds are you’re going to need some help to prevent you from making mistakes that could cost money or hold up the building process. Whether it’s a friend, an employee at a nearby store, a website (this website), or a forum, you’ll need somewhere to go for good advice or just to double check that you’re doing everything the right way.
You can also read through our guide on the 31 Common Mistakes First-Time PC Builders Make to help you avoid making costly mistakes either when choosing components, or assembling your system. And, if you’re unsure of what parts will work in your system, check out our Affordable Builds Guide (if you’re working with a budget) or our High-End Builds Guide (if you have over $1,000 to spend).
Of course, if you have a friend or know of a forum who can provide some guidance along the way, that’s also an invaluable tool to have. Building your own PC is like anything else: if you’ve never done it before, you’ll probably need someone to help you along the first time, so make sure you’ve got plenty of help and support.
2. Use Old Parts from Existing Computers
If you’re building a new PC, it’s likely that you’re ready to part ways with your old computer. So, why not use some of those parts to make the new PC? There’s no better way to save money than to get parts for free from a machine you already own. Even if you’re not ready to scavenge for parts from your existing computer, you or your friends may still have an old PC that’s just sitting around collecting dust.
Obviously, there’s some level of risk when using used parts because if they break down, you end up having to replace them later and pay more. This is particularly true with your PC’s hardware and other big parts, as not all of them are guaranteed to last a lifetime. You also should make sure the older parts will be compatible with any newer parts.
These may seem like small expenses, but they’re bound to add up. If you’re able to re-use some of these items in your new PC, you can save money and dedicate more of your budget to the core parts of the PC.
However, parts like optical drives, hard drives, and cases, can still be viable options even if they are from an older system. However, if you are pulling from an older system, you’ll likely want to avoid reusing the processor, motherboard, graphics card, power supply, and memory, as they are likely outdated now.
3. Buy Used Parts
If you don’t have extra computer parts lying around, the next best thing is to buy used parts rather than pay the extra money for parts that are brand new. Much like using parts from your old computer, you should be careful when it comes to what parts you get used. But if you go about things the right way, you can save a bundle.
For example, used processors can work just fine as long it was never overclocked at a high voltage. Buying memory that’s used instead of new can also help you put together a new PC without overspending. The same is true for cases, which is an area where first-time builders can overspend on because they get lured in by an expensive option with a cool design and RGB lights.
When it comes to motherboards, graphics cards, and other core parts of the PC, you may be less inclined to buy used parts, which is perfectly fine. This doesn’t mean they can’t work if you need to save money in these areas to stay under budget; it just means that you should be more careful about buying these parts used.
To buy parts used, you can either check your local Craigslist or Facebook Marketplaces or go online and use eBay. I’ve had pretty good success purchasing used components on eBay—however, there is a bit more risk there involved.
4. Know Where and How to Find the Best Deals
Finding the best deals is more of an art than a science; it’ll be an imperfect process. Nevertheless, it helps to know what you’re doing when it comes to finding the best deals. There are specific routes you can go for finding the best deals and saving money.
The best way to find the best deals on PC parts is to wait to buy components until one of the big sales days. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the Holiday shopping season in general, and Amazon’s Prime Day typically have great deals on a lot of components that you can use in your build.
Rebates are another great opportunity to save money if you understand how they work. Many of the parts you need to build your PC may come with a rebate attached form the manufacturer, it’s just up to you to follow through on it. There are usually specific stipulations to follow when submitting a rebate, and it usually takes a while to get your money back, but when done properly, rebates can help you save a ton of money.
Combo deals are another opportunity that won’t just jump out at you. Bundling different parts together can lead to some amazing discounts. The problem is that it can take a lot of time and effort to find the right combo deal. Once again, patience enters the equation.
For a more in-depth look at searching for deals, check out our guide When Is the Best Time to Buy Computer Parts.
5. Don’t Buy Unnecessary Parts
This tip may sound obvious, but knowing how you’re going to use your new PC ahead of time will help you avoid buying unnecessary items. For example, if you aren’t going to be using a lot of memory, there’s no sense in spending extra for 16GB of RAM when 8GB will suffice.
Or, if you are building a budget-friendly system and you are choosing a micro-ATX motherboard, then there is probably no point in overspending on a full tower case (unless you have plans to upgrade in the future.)
Another component that you can ditch altogether is an optical drive. Nowadays, games and programs can all be downloaded online and so there really isn’t very much use for optical drives anymore. And, since you can also install your operating system from a USB drive, you can save ~$20 and forego getting one at all.
Once you’ve planned everything out and before you start buying parts, don’t be afraid to scrutinize every item on your list. Ask yourself if you really need that item and what your alternatives could be. There’s a good chance you’ll find ways to cut out certain items or replace them with other parts that will be cheaper, saving you a considerable amount of money.
6. Skip the Aesthetics
Obviously, this is a personal choice. But ask yourself if you want a PC that functions exactly the way you want or a PC that looks good? Spending a lot of money on a fancy case or other flashy aesthetic features doesn’t make sense if you’re on a tight budget and trying to save money.
The bottom line is that, if you have a strict budget, you want to spend your money on performance, because, ultimately, you’re not going to care what your PC looks like, you’re going to care about what it can do for you.
Ultimately, the more money that you can save by making the right component choices for your system could either mean more money back in your pocket or more money that can go towards the core components of your system, which will give you more performance in the end.
By following the six tips listed above, you’ll be in a good position to minimize excess costs and save as much money on your upcoming build.