FAQ & Section Info
What desk top computer should I buy?
As with everything concerning computers, the main factor for determining which PC system you should buy is its intended usage. Computers meant for the office will need a moderate amount of hard drive space, at least 2GB of RAM, and a snappy Intel Core i3 processor or better. Computers destined for home usage will need larger hard drives, more RAM, and faster processors to be able to handle the multimedia data commonly encountered at home. The type of operating system installed will also make a difference in the computer you choose, as Windows 7 is optimized for office work, complete with streamlined functionality and security settings, while Windows 8 and 10 are more user-friendly and customizable, to allow more familiarity for a wide range of users. If you want something a little more customized, but don't want spend a lot of time searching for parts, check out our barebones PC's, or our NO OS section, which are computers that do not have operating systems installed.
What is a refurbished computer?
Refurbished PC systems have been brought back to factory specs to work like new. There might be some scuffs, dents or other cosmetic marks on the outer casing, but the system will be in good working order. These systems are refurbished by certified repair centers, so they are held to a very high standard of quality. We have several different refurbished systems which are great for setting up workstations in an office, or would make a great low-cost PC for a student.
What is a used desktop computer?
Used desktops can sometimes be off-lease systems that were bought back from major institutions such as universities, large companies, or government agencies. These systems are similar to refurbished systems in that they are all checked and verified against any issues, defects, or software problems unless otherwise noted. The major different between a used and refurbished computer is who does the checking & repairing. While refurbished systems are sent back to the manufacturer or an authorized refurbisher and can carry longer warranties, a used system may simply have gone through a multi-point inspection or validation check along with a wipe of the operating system. In many cases you won't experience much of a difference buying a used vs. buying a refurbished PC, it simply comes down to personal preference.
What types of computers does OutletPC sell?
We focus mainly on low-cost / budget solutions that are new or refurbished. You'll find the lowest priced computers typically come with a dual-core processor and the more powerful ones are quad-core desktops (or higher). You can usually get a great office or basic level gaming PC for under $500 and we try to get as many options in this range as possible. Many of our desktop computers are custom-built which may or may not come with an operating system (Windows). These desktops are ideal for users looking to reuse an old OS or who want to give Linux a try. If you're in the market for a really cheap computer try our refurbished options that are put on sale and priced to move. These computers are certified by authorized refurbishers to be functional and are a great way to get a basic PC that will get you up and running.
This question really depends on what you will be using the system for. The idea is to identify how much money you need to spend in order to get a computer that will meet your needs, and not a hair more. Sure, grandma could spend $1500 on a Skylake desktop, but it's odds on that she's spending more time sharing recipes on Pinterest than she is trying to maximize FPS on "League of Legends", so a lot of her investment would be going to waste. I find that most users fall into one of four categories and price ranges:
The Internet / Check-Your-Emailer ($200 - $450)
CPU: Anything dual-core or better RAM: 4GB - 8GB Graphics: Not important / Integrated OS: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10
This computer can: Check email, surf the web, run basic office applications (Word/Excel), play very basic games - especially older games.
This computer can't: Play or edit HD video, run Photoshop or other large file programs, perform well in games more complex then solitaire, promise to never let you down
This is the bottom rung of computer requirements, ideal for those users who don't really need anything more than a keyboard, mouse and an internet connection. A lot of computers in this range are refurbished which is nothing to be afraid of.
One thing you should be mindful of when deciding how much computer you need is the operating system (OS). This is be especially true for a refurbished system. While Windows XP was great in it's time and still remains a terrific operating system in many ways, it's no longer supported by Microsoft and its definitely beginning to feel its age. Under XP there are programs that won't run, hardware with no drivers, and so forth.
The Check-your-Emailer tier is one where the users "just want their computer to work" without any fuss or cajoling. Windows 7/8.1/10 is (usually) very good at that. This is also a great computer for a home server used for file serving, network storage, and so forth.
Home-Movies, Facebook, Casual Gaming ($400 - $600)
CPU: Higher end dual-core / Low-end Quad Cores RAM: 8GB - 16GB Graphics: Still not very important OS: Windows 7/8.1/10
This computer can: Do everything a cheaper computer can do, playback HD video, splice together videos for Youtube and such, perform well in basic games (and at least run advanced games), mostly run Photoshop, last you a pretty long time
This computer can't: Edit videos, perform well in modern games.
Most users fall into this tier but don't really realize it. The current reality of computing power is that virtually any processor designed in the last two years can easily handle a good 90% of the activities we undertake on our computers, so, as long as it's modern, you don't really need to spare too much for processor choice in this tier. I listed 8-16GB of RAM above, which is a pretty big gap. This is because, as with a low-end processor, 90% of what you do on your PC can be easily handled by 8GB of RAM, while 16GB of RAM will handle closer to 99% of your activities. So, since RAM is so cheap and you'll get occasional performance gains, the extra expense is usually worth it.
What PCs in this tier lack compared to their more expensive siblings is a capacity for graphics. This puts anything more than casual, take-what-you-get gaming out of reach without a potentially expensive graphics card addition.
Most Gaming, Graphic Design, DVD-Ripping ($600 - $1000)
CPU: Mid to High End Quad-Core or Greater (Intel i5/i7) RAM: 16GB Graphics: A discrete card that costs $125 or more OS: Windows 7/8.1/10
This computer can: Do everything a cheaper computer can do, run modern games with decent frames per second, edit video & 3D animations (albeit slowly), run Photoshop like a beast
This computer can't: Edit videos or do anything 3D at a professional level, squeeze out all the awesome today's games have to offer.
So this is where the computers start getting cool! Desktops in this range can do almost anything, which I think is cool because really, this range isn't too much to pay for a computer. The thing to watch for here is an appropriate ratio between graphics and processing power, which will be determined by its intended use.
If you're looking to game in this price-range, you can squeeze out a little-bit more value by scaling back spending on your CPU and putting more into the graphics card, which is more often the limiting factor in game performance than is the CPU. If gaming isn't your thing, you'll probably benefit from doing the opposite, as many high-level processes, like rendering video for instance, are almost entirely CPU limited. Don't cut the graphics all-together though, you'll still want the discrete card to take on some of the CPU load when it can.
Professional Workstations, Enthusiast Gaming ($1000+)
CPU: Quad-Core or Greater (Intel i7 / Xeon) RAM: 32GB or more Graphics: A discrete card that costs $200 or more OS: Windows 7/8.1/10
This computer can: Do everything a cheaper computer can do, perform very well in any game for the next 3-or-so-years, be used for professional level video editing and design work.
This computer can't: Defeat Chuck Norris in hand-to-hand combat
Unless you want to get REALLY expensive here, it's important to have a really clear idea of what niche you're looking to fill with this computer. For $1000+ you can build or buy a computer that will be really amazing at one thing, and only pretty good at everything else. Of course, you can spend more to make it really amazing at everything, but we're talking about needs here, not wants.
My advice at this level is not to make your processor the most expensive part of your system, or at least, purchase another component that costs as much. This is because today's processors are SO fast and SO capable, that there is really no way you'll stress them out except in really specific applications (like video editing, NOT like gaming). So, rather than spending on the most expensive processor, your money will be better allocated toward something that makes your system especially good a something. Whether you drop extra cash on a huge or multiple solid state drives for amazing load times, or a terrific graphics card for terrific gaming, or you spend big on a nicer case and cooling system for silence.
A Word on Hard Drives: You may have noticed that I didn't make any hard drive recommendations on any of the price tiers up above. Hard drive usage can really vary at any tier of computer. For example, you may only want an SSD if everything you do is in the cloud anyway. That would mean very quick access times, but not much room to store anything. Most people these days in the higher tiers will buy an SSD and a storage drive that fits their needs.
So, moral of the story, no matter what tier of computer fits your needs, your hard drive needs should be evaluated separately.
If you're looking for a new PC, you've come to the right place! To make choosing your new, custom-made, or refurbished PC easy for you, we'd like to know what you have in mind.
Please check out the steps below, and choose the criteria that best fits what's most important to you when choosing your new PC. Once you've decided on them, click on the link that best fits your needs.
1. You know what kind of platform you're looking for.
If you're a PC user who already knows the ins and outs of the various processors in the marketplace, and you've already made up your mind about what CPU you want at the heart of your system, choose an option below:
Choose your software platform:
2. You know what kind of performance you want
OR what kind of money you want to spend.
Our system models are designed to balance price and performance, and let you decide which is most important to you. Whether you're on a budget and need to get the most PC for the least money, or whether money is no object as long as you get the best, we have a model for you. If price and performance are the main factors in your decision, choose an option below:
Choose your price/performance preference:
3. You know what type of machine you need.
You want a machine engineered for a specific purpose, to fill a niche in your life or work. Do you need a computer for your home? Maybe a workstation for your job? Perhaps you need a server to get your business up and running. Perhaps all you want to do is get into online gaming and start racking up the frags. If purpose is your primary concern when choosing a PC, choose an option below:
Choose your system type: