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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Understanding PC Sources, Vendors and Prices | Sources For PC Systems and Components ]

Summary Comparison of PC Sources

The table below provides a summary comparison of some of the more important attributes of various PC sources, for easy comparison. In all categories, the more stars, the better the source ranks in that attribute. I have not covered every possible attribute here, just some of the more essential ones. Be sure to also see the notes after the table:

Source Type

Source

System Quality

Prices

Selection

Component Choice and Configurability

Total Time to Get Product

Ease of Ordering

"Hands on" Evaluation

Salespeople

Technical Support and Service

"Safety"

Retail

Department Stores

1.5 stars

1.5 stars

1.5 stars

1.0 stars

4.5 stars

4.0 stars

4.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

4.5 stars

Membership Warehouse Stores

2.0 stars

4.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

4.0 stars

4.0 stars

3.5 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

4.0 stars

Office Stores

2.5 stars

3.0 stars

2.5 stars

1.5 stars

4.5 stars

4.0 stars

4.5 stars

2.0 stars

1.5 stars

4.5 stars

Electronics Stores

2.5 stars

3.0 stars

3.0 stars

1.5 stars

4.5 stars

4.0 stars

4.5 stars

2.5 stars

2.0 stars

4.5 stars

Computer Superstores

3.0 stars

3.5 stars

3.5 stars

2.0 stars

4.5 stars

4.0 stars

5.0 stars

3.5 stars

3.0 stars

4.5 stars

Local PC Shops

4.0 stars

3.5 stars

4.5 stars

4.5 stars

3.0 stars

3.0 stars

3.5 stars

4.0 stars

4.5 stars

3.0 stars

Online, Catalog or Mail Order

Direct Channel PC Manufacturers

4.0 stars

3.5 stars

4.0 stars

4.0 stars

1.5 stars

2.5 stars

1.0 stars

3.5 stars

3.5 stars

3.5 stars

Large Vendors

3.0 stars

4.0 stars

4.5 stars

2.0 stars

3.5 stars

2.5 stars

1.0 stars

1.5 stars

1.0 stars

4.0 stars

Small Online PC Shops

4.0 stars

3.5 stars

3.0 stars

4.0 stars

2.5 stars

3.5 stars

1.0 stars

4.5 stars

4.0 stars

3.0 stars

Group Buying Clubs

2.5 stars

4.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

2.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.5 stars

1.0 stars

2.5 stars

Other

Computer Shows

3.0 stars

4.0 stars

3.0 stars

4.0 stars

4.0 stars

3.0 stars

4.0 stars

3.5 stars

2.0 stars

1.5 stars

Online Auctions

2.0 stars

2.5 stars

2.5 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.5 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.5 stars

Individuals

1.5 stars

4.0 stars

1.5 stars

1.0 stars

2.0 stars

1.5 stars

3.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

1.0 stars

Notes on the table:

  • All scores are approximate of course, and there can be huge variances within a given source type. (Even if a source type is generally worse than another on average, better companies in the "worse" category may be far superior to the average company in the "better" category.) So just use this as a guideline.
  • Ease of ordering refers to how "hassle-free" the process of buying the system is, overall.
  • "Hands on" evaluation refers to how able the customer is to see, touch and use the system before buying. The "Hands on" score for direct channel manufacturers is for the typical company, not one that has "showroom" stores; those would score similarly to computer superstores in that factor.
  • Technical support and service is scored on the basis of how much the source provides; where support and service is provided by the manufacturer instead of the vendor, this is not included.
  • "Safety" means how much of a "known quantity" the source generally is. Lower scores mean there is more risk of getting a "bad apple" or having problems with the buying process.

Next: Cross-Reference Between PC Sources and PC Types


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