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There's no way around it: PCs are expensive. A good PC system, when you consider all the costs including extra peripherals, software and the like, will usually cost over $1,000. As such, a PC system is one of the most expensive purchases most people make on a regular basis. Few of us can just buy what we want without giving serious thought to cost and budget considerations.
Fortunately, getting a lot of PC for the buck has never been easier than it is today. Competition is a wonderful thing! With so many companies making PCs, and so many component manufacturers under-cutting each other's prices, PC systems cost less today than at any time in the past. Not just "less for a given level of performance"--which is always the case as time goes on--but less period. It used to be that for around $1,000 you couldn't get a decent PC at all. Today you can get a very decent basic PC setup for that amount of money.
This section takes a detailed look at this very important topic. I discuss some factors and methods to help you determine your budget, discuss the matter of "buying for the future", then cover some tips for how to effectively economize when you are on a limited budget.
Note: If your finances are very
tight, you may want to reconsider getting a PC at all; see here for
some ideas on determining if you really need a PC, and this
section on inexpensive alternatives. The remainder of this section assumes that you do
need or want to get a PC.