Ways to Save Money on a New Desktop System

If you are fortunate enough to live near a Micro Center location, you take advantage of that fact in order to get some great deals on PC hardware components. Micro Center often will offer “in-store only” deals on specific, key components such as the processor and motherboard, that are usually significantly lower than what you will find for the same part on Amazon or NewEgg.

Low Prices and Bundle Discounts

Specifically, Micro Center regularly offers very low prices on many popular AMD and Intel processors by themselves. On top of that, they will often add a $20-30 bundle discount when you buy a processor and motherboard together. In addition, there are often $10 bundle discounts for each additional component when you also buy memory kits and flash storage along with your processor and motherboard. They sometimes will even give bundle discounts on other components, such as video cards, cases, and power supplies. You should always check to see what bundle discounts are currently available when you buy any of these parts. You might even want to check with your family and friends to see if they need any parts that could be part of a bundle discount package.

Open Box Specials

Micro Center also has a very liberal return policy that results in many “open box” specials, where there is typically about a 20% additional discount for the component in the open box. I have bought many open box components over the years, and every single one of them has worked just fine. If there ever was a problem with an open box component being defective, you can return it within 30 days. To make this even more attractive, Micro Center has always honored bundle discounts on open box components (at least for me). I always ask the sales rep in advance, and once they agree, they will back you up if the cashier (or cash register) has any problem with it.

Clearance Parts

Depending on when you are buying your parts and whether you are willing to consider previous generation components, you can also save a large amount of money by purposely purchasing compatible previous generation new or open box parts instead of the latest generation components. Depending on the vendor, and the specific parts in question, this can be a great idea or not such a great idea.

For example, AMD (and the actual motherboard vendors) have done a pretty good job of maintaining both backwards and forwards compatibility with their AM4 socket motherboards that support 14nm Zen, 12nm Zen+ and 7nm Zen2 mainstream desktop processors. This gives you a lot of flexibility, both when you initially buy your components, and later, if you want to do something like get a newer, better processor.

This lets you do something like get a compatible previous generation “clearance” processor and put it in a newer generation, compatible motherboard now. Then, sometime in the future, you could pretty easily drop-in a newer generation, compatible processor in your existing system.

Example System

I recently bought a new, but previous generation 8C/16T AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor after Thanksgiving for $129.99. This was the flagship 12nm Zen+ desktop processor that originally sold for $329.00 when it was released in April 2018. I paired it with an MSI B450 Tomahawk Max motherboard that was $94.99 after the $20 bundle discount, and a 500GB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe card that was $79.99.

I was able to reuse an existing case, power supply, discrete video card, and 32GB of DDR4-3000 RAM to build a pretty capable new system for $305.00 (not counting the sunk cost of the reused components). This system has a CPU-Z single-core score of 481.3 and a CPU-Z multi-core score of 5028.5. Those scores are not too far off of my 8C/16T AMD Ryzen 7 3700X budget gaming rig (which does 532.5 single-core and 5633.6 multi-core on CPU-Z 1.90.1).

Perhaps twelve to eighteen months from now, I might pick up a clearance priced AMD Ryzen 9 3900X or 3950X processor, and be able to drop it in that existing B450 motherboard. I have seen reputable YouTube creators already running the Ryzen 9 3900X in that exact motherboard, so I know it will work. The main missing feature from a more expensive X570 motherboard is PCIe 4.0 support.

Conclusion

I have shown several different ways to save a significant amount of money on new or nearly new PC components by taking advantage of the various deals and bundle discounts that you can get at Micro Center, if you happen to live near enough to one that you can physically visit the location. For AMD components, you take advantage of the broad compatibility of the current AM4 socket platform to mix and match different generation and price segment components to meet your budget and performance needs.

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