Selecting the best computer for the lowest price is a balancing act of needs and desires. Finding a computer capable of performing the tasks necessary for daily operations without breaking the bank is a challenge that requires some research and a bit of comparative shopping. The temptation to buy the latest and greatest technology can be overwhelming, but you can avoid wasting money on computer resources you don't need by concentrating on your actual requirements before getting carried away with features you may not need or use.
A state-of-the-art central processing unit can add significantly to the price of a computer. It may be tempting to buy the latest and greatest CPU as a hedge against future obsolescence, but the immediate cost may not be worth it when the processing power may never be used. If your main activities are surfing the net, downloading an occasional music file or preparing files on a word processor or spreadsheet, you will not see an appreciable difference in performance between a quad-core CPU and an older single-processor unit. On the other hand, users working with large spreadsheets, graphics programs or who are used to working with several active applications at once will notice an immediate improvement in computer performance.
Adding random access memory (RAM) can improve a computer's raw speed almost as much as a faster processor. Look at the recommended amount of RAM for the applications you normally run and configure your computer accordingly.
Many motherboards are configured with onboard audio and video adapters suitable for most business applications. Unless you need multiple monitors, 3-D modeling, CAD software or graphics-intensive applications, there is no need to spend the money for an advanced video adapter. Much the same is true for add-in audio capability. Advanced sound cards are usually only necessary for specific audio editing software. Absent a specific need, eliminating additional adapters reduces the overall price of a computer without affecting its performance.
The size and type of drives installed in a computer are reflected in the price as well. High-capacity hard drives with fast access times increase the cost of a computer. Unless you need that kind of storage and performance for large video or data files, choosing a drive with a lower capacity and performance rating reduces the price without a negative impact on the average user's computing experience. DVD player/burner combination drives are standard in many stock configurations; while Blu-Ray players and player/burner combinations are increasingly popular, they can add significantly to the price of a computer.
One of the most efficient ways to configure a number of computers is to contact several vendors directly. Give them a list of requirements and ask for a quote on each system along with warranty information. In many cases, the salesperson is able to reduce the sale price on computers or components to below the published price.