How do I chose a good budget desktop computer?

Started Nov 14, 2012 | Questions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,333
refurb Dell 660 at $335 w/6GB RAM, 1TB Drive, Core i3 2120

Dell has 20% off refurbished desktops from Dell Outlet right this minute (48 hour sale):

Checking the current listings (and they change very often), I see listings for the Inspiron 660 with a Core i3 2120, 6GB of DDR3, 1TB 7200rpm, 64 Bit Win 7 Home Premium, and Wireless N for $419

Here's a screen capture I just made showing one like that:

So, after the 20% off coupon code you can enter into your cart at checkout, a box like that would only run you approx. $335

The refurbs have the same warranty as a new machine (1 year warranty with in home service after remote diagnostics in the case of that model). So, from my perspective, there's no downside to buying them that way. I've bought multiple desktops and notebooks from Dell Outlet in refurbished condition, and they've all arrived looking and working just like a brand new machine. So, there's no downside to buying them that way from my perspective.

Or, if you need a new display, you may even want to look at the all in one models like the Inspiron 2320 with a 23" display. I see some of those equipped the same way (Core i3 2120, 1TB 7200rpm drive, Wireless N, 64 Bit Win 7 Home Premium, 6GB of DDR3) starting at around $459 for the "scratch and dent" models, and around $509 for a refurbished machine (before using a 20% off coupon code to bring the price down).

The Scratch and Dent models are listed at a lower price because they have cosmetic blemishes. But, it's my understanding that the blemishes will not impact operation, and they'll be no scratches on the screens or damaged keys on keyboards, etc. I haven't bought one like that. But, I wouldn't hesitate to get one in "Scratch and Dent" condition if the price were better.

Note some of the listings I see right this minute (checking the boxes on the left side to see the listings for the Inspiron 660, 2320 and 2330):

If I click on the listing for boxes equipped like that (Core i3 2120, 1TB Drive, 6GB DDR3, etc.) priced from $459 to $539, I see a number of them for $459 in Scratch and Dent condition, and a number of them for $509 in refurbished condition. So, after the 20% off coupon code, some of those should keep you around the desired budget (and you'd have a 23" display).

But, the desktop models are more expandable if you don't need a new display and wanted to add more internal storage, etc. later.

I also see some listings for them (Inspiron 660 desktop; Inspiron 2320 and 2330 all-in-one machines) with Core i5 CPUs for a bit more (and they have some with Core i7 3770s CPUs in the 2330 lineup, too).

You can find some pretty good deals if you're a good shopper. Just check the listings very often (as they'll often change every other screen refresh when they have coupon codes available, like the one they have right now).

Just wait until you see one like you want, then add it to your cart (which requires entering in a CAPTCHA code) as fast as possible, ignoring the warranty option screens (go directly to the add to cart button on the next screen after you click on one). Otherwise, someone else may grab it (until you use the add to cart button and enter the CAPTCHA, it's not actually in your cart yet, and someone else can get the same machine).

You can change the other options (extended warranty if desired, etc.) *after* you get it in your cart (or remove it and find something else if you decide it's not exactly what you need).

What some buyers do is add multiple machines to their cart real fast, then decide between them (removing the ones they decide against).  So, you see those returned back to inventory (which is one reason the listings tend to change very often).  Also, they're automatically removed from carts after 15 minutes of inactivity if someone adds a machine then doesn't check out within that time window.  So, you have to refresh the listings often to find the best deals when they get busy (as when they have coupon codes for more off, like the 20% off coupon they have right now).

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