It’s easy to “go cheap” when it comes to technology. The very idea of being a frugal geek involves saving money and/or getting more bang for your buck. There are, however, things you should avoid going cheap on for various reasons. One of the main ones being these things can end up costing you a lot more money in the long run than their more pricey counterparts. Here is a list of a few of them:
Your system’s power supply serves as its life source. It controls the flow of power from the outlet to vital components of your computer. I can tell you from personal experience, that buying the cheapest power supply you can find may hurt you in the long run in several ways.
The most obvious being the link between cost and wattage. If you buy the cheapest power supply you can find without making sure it has the wattage rating necessary to power all of your components, then you’ll quickly run in to problems as you start working with it.
Another problem with cheap power supplies can come in the form of shorts and more dangerous forms of failure. Power supplies don’t always fail by just not turning on. They can fail by popping and letting out sparks and smoke. A failed power supply can lead to failures in several system components that may ultimately lead to having to re-buy some more expensive system components. Some warranties don’t cover damage caused by other parts.
This has happened to me, twice. The first time was when I went cheap with a power supply that was included with a particularly cheap case. The second, with an included power supply on a CyberPower PC gaming system. They put high-end graphics and processor but went cheap on the power supply and motherboard. While a name brand power supply can still fail, it’s always best to keep in mind you get what you pay for with these.
If picture quality is what you’re after, don’t go cheap on a webcam. For some reason, off-brand webcams have an incredibly terrible batting average when it comes with picture quality. Low-cost webcams are too often riddled with hot pixels, dead pixels, poor audio, bad low-light imaging, among other issues. A ten dollar webcam will probably leave you with a bad taste in your mouth despite promising HD video and stereo audio on the packaging. If you see a webcam that costs less than a Logitech advertising more than the more pricey Logitech equivalent, look upon that device with suspicion. Some good brands are Logitech, Microsoft, and Creative which has put out some stinkers but lately is doing better in this market. There are more expensive and higher quality offerings from brands like Axis, but this is a frugal tech blog.
Every tech and audio company in the world seems to be in the headset market with at least one offering. Unfortunately, quality is often sacrificed for competitive pricing. Problems with many of the off-brand and budget headsets out there include poor microphone and speaker audio, fit, fragile design, and general lack of comfort. There are some great budget headsets out there, but in this market especially, stick with brands you know.
There are a lot of gimmick headsets out on the market that have interesting paint jobs and/or skulls on them. These may look better than the standard black or white options, but they also feel and sound terrible. What do you expect for $15?
There are many ways to save money in the world of tech, but sometimes the best deal isn’t really as good as it looks on the price tag.