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How to Buy Hardware Online (Page 2/2)

Posted: July 28, 2001
Written by: xe0n

OEM vs. Retail

OEM and retail: these two words will pop up everywhere when shopping online, especially when looking for a new processor. When a product is OEM, it is a bare package. Nothing extra, just the product itself. You see this most often when dealing with CPUs. OEM CPUs do not come with a heatsink or fancy box, and the warranty is not as long as with retail CPUs. Retail CPUs usually come with 3 years of warranty, while OEM can vary from 30 days to a year. Also, with retail, you get the nice little box from the manufacturer and you get a heatsink. It is probably your best bet to go with an OEM CPU and just pick up a heatsink separately, as it would outperform the manufacturer's heatsink considerably. Besides CPUs, most other computer hardware comes in OEM and retail forms, too. Video cards, sound cards, and modems can be bought OEM. They usually only come with a driver disk, and the product itself, NOTHING extra. No extra software that you get with retail hardware. Probably the biggest difference is the price. OEM products are cheaper than retail; sometimes a lot cheaper. Save yourself some money when you're on a budget and go OEM; the savings can really add up.

Other Advice

If by some chance the store that you wish to buy from is not listed on Reseller Ratings, then there are some other things you can do to prevent yourself from having a bad online shopping experience. First off, what kind of shipping prices does the vendor charge? Many vendors will lead you to their store with extremely inexpensive prices for their products, but will charge you an arm and a leg when it comes to shipping.

Secondly, check out their customer policies. Do they allow you to return merchandise? How long do you have to return it? What about defective products? Do you have to pay for shipping the product back to the company? These are some questions that many people overlook, but it is imperative that you know where you stand when something goes wrong. If the company you want to purchase from does not list these policies, don't even think about buying from them, it will only cause you trouble.

Finally, check out the overall apperance of the store. Is it a clean and neat layout, with the products easy to find? Or, is it cluttered and junky looking, with the products listed all over the place? Most reputable sites care about the appearance of their site, so this is definitely something to look for.


Using a combination of all the tips, advice, and tools I have given you, you should be able to have an easy and pleasent online shopping experience. Sometimes things do go wrong: packages get lost, defective products are shipped, and it is possible for you to recieve an item different from what you ordered, by mistake. However, with a good, solid, reputable company with excellent customer service, any problems that do arise will be quickly taken care of -- thanks for reading.

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