[Borrowed from Prentice Hall and added changes to fit my preferences/opinions/newer stuff.]

You might want to print out this Check List to use before, while, and after you do your shopping.

You can buy PC's from hundreds of companies, retail or through the mail, without a standard configuration. The PC has, in effect, become a commodity where the consumer is able to select each component. We suggest you approach the purchase of a PC just as you would the purchase of any big-ticket item... with research and planning.

  1. Be sure you know your hardware requirements before you walk into a computer store, or else you may spend too much money or buy the wrong system. [And to this I need to add... be sure you know your usage requirements. In other words, have in mind what you are going to use this machine for... spreadsheets, graphics, etc]
  2. I want to mention Linux. .. A number of the manufacturers are/were using components that are Windows specific. They can make the machines cheaper by dumping Hardware for Software replacements. Unfortunately, these software replacements only work in Windows. If you have any plans to put Linux on your machine, make sure that your modem for example, is real and not a Win Modem. This will usually also involve the sound card. Also can be a problem with some printers.
  3. Stick to your requirements and DON'T be swayed to purchase a different item if the vendor is out of stock. You've waited this long to buy a computer, so waiting for another week or two won't matter. We have prepared a check list for you to use that lets you list all of the components in your system, then compare the features of one system against another.
  4. Mail order will almost always offer better prices than a retail establishment, but price should NOT be the sole consideration. Local service and support are also important, especially if you are a non-technical new user.

With a little research, however, you can purchase through the mail with confidence, and save yourself money in the process. If you do purchase by mail, confirm the order in WRITING, so to have documentation in the event of a dispute. State exactly what you are expecting to receive and when. Include the specific brands and/or model numbers and the agreed-upon price, including shipping and handling. Our experience has been that the vast majority of dealers, both retail and mail order, are reputable, but as with any purchase, caveat emptor.

GOOD LUCK AND GOOD SHOPPING! Keep the following in mind:

Check List