Why you need an Amazon price tracker when building a PC

1/5/2019

Introduction

There are a handful of reasons someone may decide to build their own PC. Some genuinely enjoy the experience and the level of customization that's possible by selecting every individual component. For a lot of PC builders, it is about getting the best price to performance ratio possible. Hand selecting components and building a desktop PC with similar specificaitons to big brand gaming machines like Alienware typically costs about half as much.

If you're cost conscious, then you can squeeze out an even better price-to-performance ratio by reviewing the historical prices of your parts and timing your purchases appropriately. In this article, we will look at a typical gaming PC build and review the price data for the parts to show how much could be saved. Consumer PC parts are excellent candidates for price tracking because the prices for these parts can be quite volatile. The parts have a limited useful lifespan before they become outdated so retailers are motivated to move them quickly. That means that small changes in supply or demand can swing prices wildly.

The Parts

We are going to build a select parts for a fairly high-end gaming rig with a single graphics card. Something that you could play most modern games at 4k with some settings turned down at 60fps, or at 1440p with high settings at 144fps.

The list above represents a fairly complete gaming rig. It has everything needed except for either speakers or headphones. I figured most readers would have a strong preference in this area and left it out of the analysis. The CPU cooler selected comes with thermal paste pre-applied so no reason to add any to your cart. I also did not include a Windows 10 license as I assume readers will have one already. The price is also rarely fluctuates. The only other notable selection is the RAM. The water cooler in this case reaches down to the motherboard when installed. RAM with large heatsinks will contact the water cooler, so it is best to select "low" profile RAM.

The Analysis

In order to estimate how much money we can save by using an Amazon price tracker like Amazon, we are going to look at two scenarios. In the first we will look at all of these items today and tally them up, then we will compare that with the lowest price observed in the past seven days. We chose seven days because it represents a reasonable time period to do shopping around before commiting to a $2000 purchase.

If we take a look at the historical prices for the CPU, which happens to be one of the most expensive components, we can see a lot of price volatility.

The historical price for the i7 9700k at the time of writing
The historical Amazon prices of the Intel i7 9700k at the time of writing (1/5/2019)

In the past week, the price has sea-sawed up and down from $399.89 to over $425 several times. From the looks of it, the current price of $425.99 is probably a little too much and we can wait it out to pick it up at a lower price. Lets have a closer look at another component, the SSD:

The historical price for the Samsung EVO 970 1TB at time of writing
The historical Amazon prices of the Samsung EVO 970 1TB at time of writing (1/5/2019)

Here we can see that the Samsung 970 EVO has recently dropped in price from $259.99 on 1/3/2019 to $247.99 on 1/5/2019. We would actually get quite lucky purchasing today as we get to take advantage of a recent price drop. Digging into each one is time consuming so the following table shows the price of each component at the time of writing and the minimum and maximum over the past seven days.

Product Current Price Min (7 days) Max (7 days)
Intel i7 9700k $425.99 $399.89 $429.95
Corsair Hydro h100i $109.99 $99.99 $109.99
Corsair LPX 16GB $129.99 $124.99 $129.99
EVGA RTX 2070 $549.99 $529.99 $549.99
MSI MPG Z390M Motherboard $179.99 $179.99 $196.06
Samsung EVO 970 1TB SSD $247.99 $247.99 $259.99
Fractal Design Define C Case $89.99 $89.99 $96.99
Fractal Design GP-12 Fan $18.49 $18.49 $18.49
Corsair CX750M Power Supply $79.99 $69.99 $79.99
Dell S2417DG Monitor $417.19 $395.00 $417.19
Logitech G502 Gaming Mouse $49.97 $49.00 $49.97
Steelseries Apex Keyboard $119.99 $119.99 $125.99
Total $2,419.56 $2,325.30 $2,464.59

The table above shows that if we purchased all the parts at once on 1/5/2019, we would pay $2,419.56. If we had started shopping 7 days ago (12/29/2018) and bought each part at its minimum price up to 1/5/2019 we would have gotten all parts for $2,325.30, which is $94.26 in savings! That works out to just under a 4% discount from timing your purchases. If we purchased each product through the 7 day window without doing any research, the worst case is that we buy each product at its maximum for a total of $2,464.59 which $139.29 more expensive than if you had timed purchases to hit the minimum.

Conclusion

If you have the ability to wait a while before making a purchase, using an Amazon price tracking tool like Penny Parrot to notify you of price drops will save you money. In this article we explored the idea of building a PC and spending 1 week to wait for the best prices and found that it had a 4% savings over purchasing all the products on the last day. It had an even bigger savings over the worst case scenario of buying products at their max prices during the week. You should use a price tracking tool when making big purchases to make sure you are getting a good deal.