June 20, 2013

Beware the High Markup Memory Upgrade Prices When Buying a PC

I'm shopping around for a new computer.  We're WAY past due for a new computer.   I'll likely build my own again but I figured I'd check Dells offerings to see what they have as far as prices.  When shopping around on Dells site I saw one system that had 8GB and offered an upgrade to 12GB for an additional $100.   Screen clip capture :

The system comes with  8GB originally with 2 DIMMS or 2 x 4GB parts.   To get to 12GB you'd add 2 more DIMMs of 2GB each.

Then Dell is charging you $100 to install 2 x 2GB DIMMs. 

If you're buying a higher end PC for $800 or $1000 or so then it may seem reasonable to spend another $100 to get a lot of extra memory.   But thats assuming $100 is a reasonable price for such an upgrade.  It isn't.

2 x 2GB DIMMS do not cost $100.  

Newegg has 2 x 2GB DDR 1600 memory parts for $35 to $50.   So even if we assume Dell is using the very best top grade memory that retails for $50 then they're still adding $50 above the memory cost.  I would assume that Dell is getting memory cheaper than retail.   I would also assume they are not using the very best blazing fast memory.    I bet Dell gets the memory they use for closer to $25-30 rather than $35-50.   Of course thats just educated guessing on my part, but one would hope Dell isn't paying more than retail for commodity computer parts and Dell makes no mention of their memory being super fast or having the best specs..

It certainly costs Dell some labor to install the extra 2 DIMMs.      I'm guessing it might be a whole 10-20¢ in labor..     Or if the thing is built in China then its more likely 3¢ of labor.  I'm serious about those labor costs.  It probably takes less than 30 seconds for the assembler to pop in 2 more DIMMs.

Between the actual cost of the memory and the marginal labor costs I'd assume Dell is paying no more than $30 for the memory and charging you $100 for it.  

Upgrade the memory yourself - Its actually quite easy

If you buy the very fast memory at $50 retail prices then do the upgrade yourself then you'll save $50.

To upgrade your memory on your own you first need to find and buy the right kind of memory.    Websites that sell memory tools and guides to help you do that.   Newegg has a Memory Finder.
Crucial has a memory advisor tool as well.   I don't have a direct link for Crucials tool but if you go to their front page they advertise it right there.   It took me less than a minute to go to Crucial.com, use their search tool and find a 2 x 2GB upgrade product for $42 with free shipping. 

Side Note :  I recommend Crucial.com and Newegg.com.    I've personally used both to buy computer products over many years and I'm happy with both companies.   Crucial is a brand of Micron memory company and they make quality memory at competitive prices.    Newegg has a wide selection of computer parts at good prices.   Neither company is compensating me in any way and I don't have any commission or affiliate links in this article.   [edited to cross off that last statement since I found the 5% link below which is through an affiliate deal ]

If you use Ebates to make a purchase with either merchant then you can save a bit more.  Crucial has a 6% rebate and Newegg is at 1%.  (I do get a referral bonus if you sign up with Ebates using my links)   Using Ebates would then save you 6% on that $45 or about $2.50   Or if you follow this link to Crucial you can get a discount : Get 5% off at Crucial

Its not hard to upgrade memory on a computer.   Crucial has a Youtube video How to Install Memory on a PC Desktop Computer  or How to Install Memory (RAM) in a Laptop / Notebook   I can usually do it in 5 minutes or less.   On a desktop  the steps are : 1. power down the computer and remove the electric cord.  2. open the case.  3. insert the memory DIMMs into the open sockets.  4. close case. 5. plug it in and power it up.     That may be more intimidating for some people but let me assure you it really isn't that hard or mystical.   You can't even plug the DIMMS in wrong, they're keyed to insert only one direction.   The computer probably has user documentation that walks you through the process.   If its still really not something you want to do then you probably have a family memory or friend who is the 'designated computer expert' that can help you out.

I would not recommend paying a company to do it for you.   3rd parties that do computer upgrades would likely charge you just as much as Dell.  $50 is what one site claims that Geek Squad charges for hardware updates.   I don't see Geek Squad prices online so it may vary and that $50 rate may be dated.  

Desktop versus Laptop

I've been talking about a desktop computer here, but most people tend to buy laptop computers now.   The basic idea here applies to laptops as well as desktops.  Upgrading memory on a laptop can be easier than a desktop since there is typically a user accessible opening.   One area where laptops may run into more trouble is the open number of memory slots.   Usually desktop computers are built with 2-4 memory slots where as laptops usually only have 1-2 slots.   If your laptop only has 1 slot then you'll have to remove the original memory and replace it with a new part.   So for example if your laptop came with 2GB and only has 1 slot then you'll have to set aside that 2GB part and buy a 4GB part to get to 4GB.  

-- This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

1 comment:

  1. Have you considered building your own desktop? You seem knowledgeable enough to so. It's really not as difficult as you would think, the most important part is preventing static electricity. I learned it all from the internet. Newegg has some really really good step-by-step tutorials. I've built my last two desktops by myself, and it's pretty satisfying once you get it done.

    You will most likely save some money overall. Almost all pre-built charge a significant premium and tend to through a ridiculous amount of RAM (like 12GB) that the average user will never ever need. RAM prices are on the rise, but I do agree with your findings here!

    pcpartpicker.com is a great resource to start a build on. If you live anywhere near a Microcenter, they have great bundle deals that will save you even over newegg.


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