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J.R.'s Dirt Cheap PC and Killer Deals Page


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This page last updated on or about 3-31-06
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Keep in mind folks that things can change quickly in this realm, and I can't guarantee this page can keep up with them. Remember that my opinions below are based on everything I'm aware of at time of writing-- that's all. This page also assumes you have access to USA vendors and shipping channels, and is written from the perspective of a US citizen.

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What did geeks do before computers and the internet came along?
Some of them built supercars...

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CLICK HERE for an ounce of PC trouble prevention

CLICK HERE for reviews and user logs for certain old/used/refurbished PCs and related wares

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Sources for old/used/refurbished PCs

HP Shopping Village Refurbed PCs are available here-- but often cost close to the same as HP's new ones. And when I say 'close' I mean maybe within $50 or so in many cases(!)

Dell Refurbished Online Outlet Here's another Dell outlet link that might be of some use.

Gateway Remanufactured PCs Try searching for the refurbs from this more generic page if the first link doesn't work.










MicronPC Factory Outlet

Surplus Direct is actually an outlet of Egghead.com. Egghead recently took control of the link so that now you'll have to dig around on Egghead to actually get to the liquidation site. After you do that you may be disapponted to find the prices aren't as low as you might expect. Also be careful buying here as some of the 'refurbs' at SurplusDirect are done NOT by a product's original manufacturer, but by Egghead techs themselves....

Liquidation Station Computer and Peripherals Sales seems to offer some good deals on occasion.


Second Chance PC is based in the United Kingdom (Great Britain)

CompUSA offers surplus/refurb deals-- but be careful as maybe some of the 'refurbs' here are done NOT by a product's original manufacturer, but by CompUSA techs themselves....you can check both their clearance and overstock stores...

• Mike Caplan of Computer Liquidation Center Inc. near Chicago wrote to tell me they often offer way better used computer deals than Computer Renaissance. I don't have an URL for them, but their telephone number was 847-568-0935 and email address Clc3450@aol.com at last check.

The Used Computer Mall(tm)

Electro Rent has both used Macs and PCs-- but their used PC deals may be their best offers (these are typically systems once leased by businesses, but now too obsolete to lease any longer).

LA Computer Center seemed expensive compared to other vendors last time I checked.

Rentex Computer Rentals typically offers systems once leased by businesses, but now too obsolete to lease any longer.



pcliquidator.com may carry both used PCs and Macs at times.

Alltech Electronics & Computer Chopper carried both Mac and PC stuff at last check.

Bob Johnson's Computer Stuff

Good As New Computers

Surplus Discount Close Out Software Hardware Computer wares

PC Factory Outlet

BUY.COM Clearance So far I've seen a few offers here approaching bargain status (but not many).


Hot Deals Club

• I mainly put Used Laptops.Com below all the desktop pages because in my experience laptops come in a far second to desktops in the bargain race, for so many reasons I will not attempt to list them here. Basically, my best advice is to avoid buying either a new or used laptop unless there's simply no reasonable alternative (HINT: Think desktop plus the best PDA you can find. PCWorld.com - Top 10 PDAs might help)

inksell.com - Inkjet cartridge, ink refill kit, laser toner, printer supply

Online auctions

How come I'd recommend auctions more for PC sellers than PC buyers? Because every time I've personally checked out auctions of new or used PC wares, it seemed I could beat the deals I found there at non-auction vendors, such as listed on this page. Auctions in general appeared to be seller's markets. That is, the prices there were often on the high end of a given PC model and specification's market value, thereby making it better for sellers than for buyers. That being said, apparently lots of folks like buying PCs at auction, so I might be missing something. And I do have to admit that if you're looking for a particularly rare sort of PC system, or some component thereof (as some folks who email me are), you may have a better chance at finding it in an online auction than at a regular new or used PC vendor. So in those cases buyers too might derive benefits. In fact, NASA was perusing online auctions in search of replacement parts for space shuttle computers in 2002(!)

-- NASA looking for old parts to keep space shuttles aloft By William J. Broad; New York Times; May. 11, 2002

EBay is the biggest and most popular online auction service in the world, circa early 2003.

Could you use some old and/or cheap software to go with that used PC? Then try Software Clearance Outlet. Want more choices? Then try Pricelessware: the best in Windows Freeware

Netscape browsers for older computers can be downloaded from Netscape Browser Archived Products. Unmaintained Free Software -- Index may offer decent software that'll work well on older hardware which has been converted to Linux or similar wares.

Also keep mind that you may find old software available at some of the used PC vendors listed as well (if not all).


On a related note, maybe you have a bunch of used Macs and/or PCs that you'd like to put to use somewhere, but aren't sure how? Check out ZDNet's What to Do With Your Old PC, PCWorld's What Should You Do With Your Old Computer, and What to Do With That Old, Slow PC for that. Or maybe you're already positive you can't use the machines yourself, and would like to donate them to charity (and maybe get a tax deduction too)? Or you work at a school or other non-profit organization that could use some low cost (or maybe even free) machines? There's charity groups you can contact in either case, I believe. Check out the list below:

Computers 4 Kids, 860-635-5460, fax 860-635-4920, and email C4K@connix.com

The Detwiler Foundation: Computers for Schools, 619-456-9045, fax 619-456-9918, and email diana@detwiler.org

Share The Technology Computer Recycling Project, also known as a National Computer Donation Database

The National Cristina Foundation, 800-CRISTINA and fax 203-622-6270

Still other information and/or enterprises/organizations involved in recycling computer gear include:

| Are there Organizations that Help with Donated Equipment? | Computers and Education / Computer Recycling Corporation (California) | Back Thru The Future Microcomputers (New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, and California) | Hobi Electronics Recycling (Illinois and Texas) | Computer Recycle Center (Texas) | Comp-recycler Catalog (Texas) | Boston Trading Group (Massachusetts) |

More options include IBM's PC Recycling Service, which for about $30 per machine will make sure old PC systems and parts are either recycled materials-wise or turned over to non-profit organizations of some sort. Machines still of practical use and value will get you a receipt you can use for tax deduction purposes. Call 1-888-746-7426 or visit IBM's Web site.

The Green Design Initiative resource list offers information for the safe, healthy, and practical disposal of unwanted electronic equipment.

The Computers for Schools Association also welcomes old PC contributions.

-- After Holiday Gifts, What to Do With the Old Technology? by Anne B. McDonald, PCWorld.com, December 27, 2000

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Sources for NEW PCs

So what's the true TOP BRAND NAMES in PCs today? Sony, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and Gateway come to mind.

Price comparisons, discounts, rebates, and alerts

The Refurb Depot #1 Source For All Things Refurbished
JumpOnDeals.com Free Coupons, Sales, Coupon Codes, Discount Shopping Deals!
Happy Deflationist coupons, bargains, rebates, deals on Amazon.com, eBay, and other online stores
More Stuff 4 Less Bargain Blog
Shopping.com - Find, Compare, and Buy Anything in Seconds
StreetPrices.com Your Low Price Search Engine
Price Watch
FatWallet Forums - Hot Deals
AnandTech Forums - Hot Deals
ZDNet Shopper - Daily Price Drops
CNET Shopper.com

Dealers in new PC wares

CircuitCity Me and my family have bought computers and computer supplies from CircuitCity on a fairly regular basis for years.

Wal-Mart in the past few years has sometimes been one of the best places to get a low end PC bargain (my own Hewlett-Packard PC I used for several years hailed from Wal-mart). It seems you can sometimes get various flavors of Linux PCs from them too. There's much to like about cheaper PCs and any viable alternative to Microsoft Windows-- but Linux PCs for the masses must be termed an experiment at the moment, due to ease-of-use questions (an experiment I hope succeeds, for all our sakes). I personally don't have any experience with Linux yet.

Related links:
| Review LindowsOS computer from Wal-Mart.com | Wal-Mart Lindows Review | Preinstalled Mandrake Linux PCs go live at Walmart |

BUY.COM I bought a Linksys router here in early 2001.




J and R Music World/Computer World. My family and I have occasionally ordered from J and R over many years now. Sometimes you find a decent deal here, or maybe even something that's hard to find elsewhere. My main gripe with them was how long it took them to ship something to me in the past. But that's likely changed by now. My second gripe was how they often wouldn't show a price for zillions of products in their catalog. That's still the same. Unfortunately for J&R, if I'm in the market for say, a new monitor, and they list dozens in their catalog with no prices, I immediately cross J&R OFF my list of possible vendors for my purchase.

outpost.com offers various sales and discounts at times.

BestBuy I mainly list BestBuy here because on extremely rare occasion you might find a deal there. Their physical stores were the best local choices around mainly for DVD and tape selections in mid-2001. BestBuy is really really big on the rebates thing, which I take a dim view of personally (as described earlier on this page). So watch out!

PC Connection was judged to be among the best online/mail order sources in a recent magazine comparison review (but I reckon you'll be paying full retail or only slightly discounted prices here).

ZDNet Where to find super-cheap notebooks

The Best in Rock Bottom Cost NEW PCs

emachines' PCs have pretty much dominated the $400-$600 price range of PCs since 1998 JAN 2005 UPDATE: From what I've read the past several years there may have been some quality and customer service issues from time to time with emachines. But as of late 2004 emachines seemed to be rated pretty highly by many end users, plus the big PC mags were basically saying the products weren't bad either. Based on what I've seen lately I'd definitely consider buying an emachines PC if I were in the market at the moment. They're very hard to beat price-wise for a generic PC hardware platform. Bare-bones software bundle, but 98% of the software bundled on most new PCs is never used anyway. Hard core gamers likely would want to add a better video card, while a DVI card would go well with a big LCD display. I seem to have read somewhere that Gateway bought emachines. END UPDATE.

• Maybe one out of many thousands who enter will win a new PC (or the money for one) from sweepstakes and contests found at the bottom of this other page. Good luck! (But keep in mind that entering sweeps will definitely increase your e-mail spam, win or lose).

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Sources for New NCs/NetPCs (devices which are heavily or wholly net-dependent or TV-dependent, such as Network Computers and set top boxes)

Note that old television, new digital TV, and the internet will likely all merge over the next several years. This may or may not be good. I wonder how it'll affect the PC market?

• MSN TV is basically a renamed WebTV set top box that costs about $100 plus $10 per month for up to five hours of 56k dial up internet access, and uses your TV for display (extra hours beyond the five can cost $3 each). Unlimited time access is $22 per month. If you examine my WebTV log you'll note that I was increasingly unhappy with my WebTV service towards the end. Hopefully that was just a temporary dip in quality for the service, but I'd still advise you seek out more current news and info about these devices/services before committing to them. In theory such Network Computers/set top boxes could be perfect for maybe 80% of web surfers-- but only after the technologies involved have had time to mature, and there's been enough diversity and competition in the market for a while to insure great ease of use, and high quality and reliability, for reasonable prices. I don't think we're there yet, as of 2006.

Some users may need to configure their WebTVs or similar boxes to use an internet service provider other than Microsoft or WebTV HQ itself. I believe this info is available online to WebTV users with currently active accounts. But if your account isn't active, or you can't get local access to set up an account through which to get this info, you may be hurting, and so need another avenue of info. How to Set up WebTV to use Glinx is specific to a particular ISP, but may still offer some general tips about the configuration process applicable to other providers.

-- Microsoft tunes in low-cost Net TV By Margaret Kane; CNET News.com June 4, 2002; http://news.com.com/2100-1040-931669.html

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Looking for used Macs rather than used PCs? Then check out my Old/Used/Refurbished Mac Sources Page.

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Want to install Linux yourself on a PC?

Installing Linux on a Wal-Mart OS-less PC
Linux on a Floppy, an Intro to Mini Linux Distributions Version 1.0
Get Started With Linux
ZDNet: Help & How-To: Getting Help With Linux
Norm Matloff's Beginner's Guide to Installing Linux
Linux pre-installation checklist
Linux Journal
Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO: Introduction and Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO
Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO
ZDNet: Help & How-To: Getting Help With Linux
ZDNet Which GUI To Go With Linux

Want more Linux-related information?

Browsing The Web On Linux
Linux is a great Windows recovery tool

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Want low cost and/or hybrid OS/PCs/NCs?

Related links:
| PlayStation Versus the World | Linux for PlayStation 2 Community Home | Xbox-Linux |

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

CLICK HERE for the best deals in TV content, internet access, and telephone service

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

Looking for the best battery deals, or sources for hard-to-find battery types?

What should your general purpose battery policy be for maximum practicality and cost-effectiveness? Rechargeables wherever feasible. Nickel-metal hydrides (NiMH). Fast 1-2 hour rechargers, preferably of the type which works both in the home and car. Some disposable alkalines in long term storage for emergencies. Note that NiMH batteries lose charge even when not in use, and should be deep discharged at times to optimize power storage capacities.

-- Power trip: How to make the most of your batteries by David Coursey, AnchorDesk; January 23, 2002; ZDNet/CNET

Nickel cadmiums (NiCad) are the second choice for many rechargeables. Though they are more toxic in the environment, hold less power and suffer more from 'memory effect' than NiMH (memory effect can reduce useful life and requires more maintenance effort from users for optimal usage), they may be usefully recharged many more times than NiMH.

General purpose rechargeable battery sources:

Green Batteries

General purpose battery sources:


Emergency battery sources:


Specialized battery sources:

Your neighborhood RadioShack

More info on batteries

Battery capacity improvements may run as high as 10-15% a year circa 1999. The average US household possesses about 18 battery-powered devices in 1999.

Rechargeable alkalines can be recharged up to 20 times, but their real power capacities decline sharply over that time.

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries outdo the other types of batteries listed here in many areas, but tend to be more expensive. They are also more complex, requiring special circuitry to prevent them from going into meltdown (or maybe even starting fires? I mainly mention this because I seem to recall some Apple and Sony laptop PCs having excessive heat problems with Li-Ion batteries a few years back).

-- Battery-makers scrambling to sate growing hunger for juice Henry Norr; October 11, 1999; San Francisco Chronicle Page E1; URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/10/11/BU82885.DTL&type=tech_article

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

CLICK HERE if you want to build your own computer

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

PC-related drivers:

DriverGuide.com (printer drivers, cdrom drivers, modem drivers, sound drivers, mouse drivers, monitor drivers, etc.)
Computer hardware manufacturers and drivers links directory
Drivers Planet - Drivers Planet - links to 25.000 drivers by over 500 manufacturers in 3 clicks.
Driverzone.com--The place to find device drivers
Help Drivers (new drivers, forum drivers, modem drivers, sound drivers, printer drivers, video drivers,etc.)
Totallydrivers.com - device drivers, web tools, technical terms, & more...
Windows95-98-2000-NT-XP Drivers Complete Driver Hardware Search
Bootdisk.Com drivers

Miscellaneous links related to PC security (anti-virus, anti-cracking/hacking, etc.):

PCWorld.com - Internet Tips The Junk Mail Hater's Guide to Opting Out
PCWorld.com - Ultimate Backup Guide
PCWorld.com - How to Evade Data Disaster
PCWorld.com - Internet Tips Stop Those Sneaky E-Mail Viruses in Their Tracks
Tom's Hardware Guide Mysteries Of The CDRW and Back Ups Revealed - Introduction
PCWorld.com - Answer Line Create a Start-Up Floppy for Windows 2000 and XP
PCWorld.com - How to Take Back Your Privacy
ZDNet Story Which backup app do YOU use The readers speak
PCWorld.com - Disasterware
PCWorld.com - How to Revive a Dead PC
Slashdot Do-it-yourself UPS
Create Your Own Emergency Boot Disk
PC911 - Troubleshooting Boot Problems
Boot Disk Creation Procedure
ZDNet Story Never lose data to a virus! Use my simple 5-point protection plan
ZDNet Story Lights out Best bets to protect your PC from power failures
ZDNet Story Be your own security expert Four ways to keep your system safer
ZDNet Step Up Your Internet Security
Finjan Software - Security Testing Center
Home Office Your Second Line of PC Defense
Eliminate Security Risks
How to tell if your Linux box has been cracked - October 16, 2001
Wily Tricks to Thwart E-Thieves

Manuals and tutorials relating to PC wares:

Help-Site Computer Manuals
Photoshop Roadmap Photoshop tutorials, plugins and downloads
FindTutorials.com: The Tutorials Search Engine
Help-Site Computer Manuals - Main Index
PC911 - Friendly Computer Help In Plain English; This is another URL for this outfit.
PCWorld.com - Step-By-Step Set Up a Network in a Snap
Welcome to Low End PC
PCMech Support
PC Hell Computer Hints and Tips to bring you back from the edge
Tom's Hardware Guide
Computer Help and Support from Hardware Hell
Graphics Card Section Index
PC Hell Explanation of IRQ's, DMA's, and Conflicts

PC-related forums/discussion boards and similar resources (sometimes great help can be found in such places):

Trish's Escape from Hardware Hell Help Board

CLICK HERE for Miscellaneous other links possibly helpful to building, configuring, upgrading, using, troubleshooting PC wares

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

CLICK HERE for miscellaneous unorganized links which may be relevant to the topics listed on this page

Dirt Cheap PCs Contents

If you'd like to see more about the sorts of computing and online deals coming your way in the future (as well as other matters), consult my Signposts timeline.

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All text above explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.
Anything you see below this point was put there by a content thief who stole this page and posted it on their own server.