How to save money on computers and hardware

You may find that you’re reasonably near two or three distinct groups, but join up to as many as you like. Then all you have to do is keep an eye on the constantly updated lists of Freecycled goodies, or invite people to relieve you of all that clutter you’d like to make disappear.

How to save money on computers and hardware

Be warned, though, the good stuff goes quickly, and when there’s no money involved, the first-come first-served approach means you’ll have to keep an eagle-eye out if you’re to swipe the best freebies.


Paper isn’t cheap, but research suggests between a fifth and a third of the pages spat out by printers are essentially waste – holding only a line or two, full of email footer gibberish, or nothing but web page formatting.

Research suggests between a fifth and a third of the pages spat out by printers are essentially waste

To save sheets, take a few moments to preview before printing and decide which pages you actually need – how necessary is that report cover page or the entire contents of a three-week-old email thread?

If your content is running just a little bit past the bottom margin, squeeze it onto a single page. Most modern Office software packages have a “shrink to fit” option that will perform the necessary compression automatically.


Several online stores now have “clearance” or “outlet” sections to their websites, where they flog off end-of-line or refurbished kit at knocked-down prices.

If you’re not after the cutting edge, or are prepared to take a risk on reconditioned kit, try stores such as Comet Clearance, which auctions off refurbished or ex-display equipment at a fair discount, or one of the many eBay Outlet stores, such as Canon’s or Tesco’s.

The advantage of these stores over websites such as eBay is that products often come with a warranty.


We frequently hear of people ditching old PCs because they’re too slow. But that old machine could be a useful second system if you bring it back to its original performance by wiping it clean and reinstalling Windows – or, if you prefer, the free Ubuntu Linux operating system.

You may find that older machines struggle with modern web browsers and applications, but you can improve matters by adding a cheap dollop of extra memory: a 1GB DIMM in the older DDR2 format can be bought for less than £20 on eBay and can have a huge effect on system responsiveness.


PC Pro has campaigned in the past to encourage individuals and businesses to turn off computing devices when they’re not needed. However, it literally pays to consider which devices offer the best energy savings.

A typical laptop, for example, draws less than 40W. The cost of that electricity will depend on your supplier and tariff, but you’re probably paying around 15p per kilowatt-hour for that power. Since 40W is 0.04kW, that means you’re paying 0.6p per hour to run your laptop. To knock even a pound off your bill you’d need to reduce your laptop usage by a whopping 167 hours.

Even desktop systems are quite frugal. As the power ratings in PC Pro’s reviews section show, all-in-ones and mainstream desktops now spend most of their time below 100W, meaning you can expect to get at least 65 hours of use for a pound.

Gaming machines are the real energy hogs: when sitting idle, an enthusiast machine can consume as much as 200W, and when you max out the CPU and graphics card, power draw can top 500W – or 7.5p per hour. It’s also worth noting that an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 will consume almost 200W when in use.

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