How To Find The BEST DEALS (Part 1)

1/22/2013 9:11:43 AM

Like anything, good shopping is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. James explains how and where to find the best bargains

Looking for bargains, as with any human endeavour, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In this case, the latter normally occurs when you’re crammed into crowded shops fighting over marked-down goods in the January sales. With the country in the grip of a seemingly endless financial meltdown, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the best bargains on anything you want to buy, whether that’s on your weekly shopping or, more importantly, on the shiny new computer hardware you want to furnish yourself with.

Using Price Comparison Sites

Using Price Comparison Sites

It’s one thing to be in a shop and have a helpful yellow sticker on things you want to buy, but trying to find bargains online is a bit more of a slog, not unlike looking for a needle in a large pile of needles. With so many options available, locating the best price on the internet is actually quite difficult.

You might find this counter inuitive; isn’t the internet supposed to make things easier, after all? Well, unless the thing you’re trying to make easier is ‘ignoring the opinions of people who want to leave idiotic comments on a news stories’, it should do just that. You just have to know where to look.

And that’s our cue. With the knowledge that most of you will be facing January with a fistful of cash to spend, whether it’s leftover Christmas money or your preferred antidote to the post-holiday slump, we’ve put together a simple guide to finding the best hardware bargains online. So read this, then go forth and shop. Just don’t blame us if you find it all a bit too tempting…

Using Price Comparison Sites

Many price comparison websites aren’t quite as useful as they sound and are apparently more concerned with getting listed retailers extra traffic than pointing consumers at good deals. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a useful tool in finding the lowest prices.

 The 15 Best Price Comparison Sites.

 The 15 Best Price Comparison Sites.

The cost of computer components can fluctuate wildly due to the instability of material and wholesale costs. That, combined with fiercely competitive price wars between online retailers means that a metasearch is often your best bet at finding the cheapest place online.

Performing price comparison on computer products is a little trickier than comparing things like books or DVDs. If a price looks too good to be true, it usually is - probably because someone has made an error when sending their prices to be listed. Perhaps a 1GB graphics card has been accidentally listed alongside its 2GB line-mates. Maybe a retailer has mistakenly listed its prices without VAT. Or it could be that the price of an online retailer’s postage and packaging actually bumps the price up past its rivals once you actually visit the website and start to go through the process of buying an item. Even with these potential pitfalls, though, if you look around a price comparison site, you should be able to find who is selling the product you want for the best price.

To check which site offers the best results, we’ve tested a few popular examples looking for the best price on the popular Ivy Bridge CPU the Intel Core i5 3570K. Here are our results: Google Shopping / Product Search ( offers a no-frills service that should let you identify quite quickly who has the cheapest price for any given component. The listings are presented with and without postage, and while it’s not perfect (there are a lot of dodgy-looking retailers on board…), it’s quick to use and easy to read, and that makes it a valuable tool for anyone looking to save a few quid.

The best price for the Intel Core i5 3570K on Google Shopping was $206 (with P+P). Although the site did reflect that price, the listing came from the retailer ‘UniPrice’, which we’d never heard of. A quick search of it name showed that the company appears to be the subject of many recent online complaints about unprocessed refunds and a lack of received items. Indeed, no one has confirmed receipt of anything they ordered, so, er, Google Shopping isn’t much help there. The site did return 168 retailers in total, but most of them were vastly more expensive than Amazon, which is where most people would look by default. Still, at least the variety is there.

Kelkoo has a much smaller range of retailers and a generally higher quality of listing, although the site is much more commercial than Google Shopping, which makes finding the best deals that little bit more difficult. The graphics heavy site also means it takes longer to load and browse pages. On the plus side, the retailers seem a lot more reliable and the products are better organised, so that has to count for something.

The best price for the Intel Core i5-3570K on Kelkoo was quoted as $259 (with P+P) for the retailer WAE+, out of a total of 19 results. Unfortunately, clicking through to the site revealed that the item’s price was actually $259. A minor difference, admittedly, but one which meant that the next cheapest price (Amazon UK’s $259) was cheaper. However, when we clicked through to that, we found that it was for the Core i5-3570 (without the K) which is a different model. The next listing, which is actually for the right CPU, gives a price of $270, so as it turns out, Kelkoo did get us to the cheapest price first time, even though it wasn’t the price it actually quoted on its site. Close enough, we suppose…

Kelkoo has a much smaller range of retailers and a generally higher quality of listing, although the site is much more commercial than Google Shopping, which makes finding the best deals that little bit more difficult.

Kelkoo has a much smaller range of retailers and a generally higher quality of listing, although the site is much more commercial than Google Shopping, which makes finding the best deals that little bit more difficult.

PriceRunner is similar to Kelkoo in being much slicker than Google Shopping, and it has a similarly organised directory of hardware and software for more casual browsers who aren’t entirely sure what they want. We skipped straight to the search box, though, and matched the CPU we were after straight away.

The best price for the Intel Core i5-3570K on PriceRunner was quoted as $259 (with P+P). As you may have noticed, that was the same listing seen at Kelkoo, from the retailer WAE+. Unlike Kelkoo, however, PriceRunner had the right value on its site in the first place. It returned even fewer retailers (only 15) but, on the other hand, it didn’t have any erroneous results like the other sites did.

With that in mind, we can recommend PriceRunner as the clear winner here, based on this product alone. We’d recommend using a combination of all three sites to look for deals, but if you only use one, our experiences suggest it should be PriceRunner.

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