How to make a DIY smartphone stand for under $1

7816754688_487dd75457_hSmartphone stands are a great way to watch content on your phone without having to hold the phone upright, and there are a ton of different DIY methods for making them. A lot of them are made so that they’ll hold your phone horizontally, but some users want stands that prop up their phones vertically, similar to an iPhone dock from Apple.

If you want to make something similar, I’ve discovered an insanely-cheap method for building a smartphone stand that will prop up your phone vertically. It’s cheap, but it does take a little bit of assembly. Here’s how to do it.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • MiniDV tape case or a regular cassette tape case
  • A handful of pennies
  • Hot glue gun w/ glue sticks
  • Rubber tape
  • Dremel power tool

How to Make It

Technically, just the tape case will do the trick if you want a barebones solution; just open up the case all way and stick your phone in the slot. A MiniDV tape case is the perfect size for most phones, but a regular cassette tape case will do the trick.

However, if you want to take the stand to the next level, you can add a few things to make it perfect:

1. Take your pennies and hot glue gun and glue the pennies inside the case. This adds weight to the stand so that it doesn’t slide around. Pennies aren’t the best option, since they’re currency and all, so if you have any other tiny objects that weigh a lot, you can use those instead.

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2. Next, use the rubber tape to line the stand so that the phone won’t slip around when it’s in the stand. Since my iPhone doesn’t fit perfectly in the slot, I cut out small strips of the rubber tape and glued them into the slot to add a little padding so that my phone would fit perfectly.

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3. Lastly, take your Dremel power tool and use a small drill bit to carve out a small hole on the bottom of the tape case slot so that the phone’s sound can exit through the speaker without it being blocked by the stand.

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Conclusion

It’s a pretty janky-looking smartphone stand, but it’s dirt cheap and it does its job. Plus, it still folds up just like cassette tape does so that you can toss it in your bag and take it with you on the go.

Of course, buying a pre-made smartphone stand may be a good investment if you plan on using it all the time. Good smartphone stands can cost as much as $30, but that’s a small price to pay for something that you’ll use every day into the future.

Build it on a budget: A $500 workhorse PC

You may remember well over a year ago when we first introduced a budget build guide for DIY PC builders, and it’s long overdue for a refresh. Computer components have come a long way since then, and Intel recently launched their new 4th-generation Core Haswell chips.

As I mentioned in last year’s guide, not everyone needs an end-all tricked out custom PC with water cooling and all the bells and whistles. You most likely just want a computer that can get work done. This budget system will be great for most everyday tasks, as well as more slightly intensive activities like some gaming, streaming movies and music, and editing photos and home movies.

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This budget build assumes that you already have a mouse, keyboard, and a monitor lying around to use with your new system, and that you’ll only need the basic components to get up and running. I’ll also only be listing off my recommended parts, so if you don’t know how to build a computer but want to learn, Lifehacker has a great guide that’s perfect for the computer-building novice. With that said, let’s get to it.

Case and PSU

Thermaltake V3 Black Edition ATX Mid-Tower with 430W Power Supply – $60

We decided to go a bit more expensive with the case and power supply bundle this time around, and we think the upgrade is worth it. The Thermaltake case is way better looking than the Rosewell that we chose last time, and the 430W power supply should be more than enough to handle anything with this machine.

Motherboard

MSI B85M-P33 Motherboard – $65

It’s a low-cost motherboard, but it has all the bell and whistles that you’d need; SATA III, USB 3.0, six total USB ports, and both DVI and VGA connectors. Plus, MSI is a good brand that we trust.

Intel_i3_SB_2011Processor

Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor – $130

This is Intel’s latest 4th-generation Haswell chip, and with 3.4GHz of dual-coreness, it’ll be speedy enough to breeze through most tasks you throw at it. The 4130 is one of Intel’s slowest Haswell chips, so it certainly won’t be as fast as other options, but for a budget build, this will be pretty solid.

Graphics

Intel HD Graphics 4400

We didn’t include a dedicated graphics card, mostly because we’re trying to keep this build around $500, but the 4400 integrated graphics that come with the Core i3 CPU are actually pretty solid. They won’t be able to play any of the more graphic-intensive AAA titles, but HD video playback will be flawless and casual gamers will still be able to enjoy their selection of games.

RAM

G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 – $72

While we chose 4GB as the sweet spot with the last time we picked out a budget build, we feel that 8GB is now the new norm. Any more than that would be mostly unnecessary unless you plan on rendering a lot of HD video and such.

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD Blue 1TB SATA III Hard Drive – $75

WDC-Caviar-BlueHard drive prices have gone down tremendously since our last budget build, so we decided to go with a 1TB drive this time around. We feel that this is an ample amount of storage for those who have a lot of photos, music, movies, etc., but it’s also not too much storage that you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Of course, you can never really have too much storage, so feel free to bump it up to 2TB if need be. You can usually find some pretty good deals on high-capacity hard drives.

Optical Drive

Asus 24x DVD Burner – $20

This one’s pretty simple and easy; find a 24x DVD burner and buy it. They’re stupidly cheap and there’s no reason not to get one.

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium – $100

Yeah, we know that Windows 8 has been out for almost a year, but we’re still sticklers for Windows 7. However, if you really want Windows 8, it’s the same price as its predecessor. You can also get a copy of Linux for free, allowing to spend that saved $100 on upgrading other components.

Total Cost: $522

That final price doesn’t account for shipping, so you’ll want to make sure you set aside some cash for the guys at UPS or FedEx, but if you can find the parts at an online store with free shipping, then all the more power to you.

Obviously, don’t take my word for everything I suggested here. I know everyone has their own opinions on components. If you have any questions about your own budget build, you can leave a comment below or you can visit the many online resources available to you. Tom’s Hardware Forums is just one place that can provide you with a lot helpful feedback.

Image Credit: kodomut

Thinking about getting a standing desk? Here are some tips

You may have heard of a new trend called standing desks. They’re certainly not new by any means – Winston Churchhill used a standing desk, and so did Leonardo da Vinci and Ernest Hemmingway – but they’ve been gaining in popularity recently. It’s becoming more well known that sitting down all day is bad for your health. So bad, in fact, that exercise can’t even negate the effects of sitting all day.

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With that said, I probably scared you enough that you’re wanting to give standing desks a try, but where do you start? First off, it’s critical to point out that a proper, professionally-built standing desk can cost well over $1,000, with the cheapest models costing at least $500, so if you’re wanting to get one without spending a lot of money, prepare for the DIY method. Plus, you don’t want to go out right away and spend $1,000 on a standing desk when you’re just wanting to give it a try.

Before you begin

The most important things to remember when trying out standing desks is to ease into it and don’t spend a lot of money. In fact, find a countertop or other standing desk-height surface that you can essentially “practice” on to get a feel for what standing while working feels like. You won’t be spending any money at all, but you’ll still get to see what it’s like — sort of like test-driving a car that you might want to buy.

Once you’ve officially decided that you’re all-in with a standing desk, it’s time to find one to build (that is, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money). Personally, I swear by the sawhorses and door desk, which essentially is just two sawhorses with a door laid across them to make a desk. From there, you can sand down the door, stain, and seal it to make it look nice.

However, there are literally tons of other ways to make a standing desk, and you’ll no doubt find a DIY project that fits your budget and your style. You can make a desk out of various Ikea parts, use metal piping with a piece of butcher block, or just put some paper reams under the legs of a regular desk to make it standing height.

Ergonomics are key

drafting-stoolBefore you measure and cut, though, it’s important to build your standing desk so that it’s ergonomic to your body. Most importantly, the height of your standing desk should be elbow height, so that when you type on your keyboard, your arms bend at a 90-degree angle. Your monitor should also be propped up on a second shelf so that it’s at eye level.

However, before you go standing all day long, it’s important to note that standing all day is just as bad as sitting all day (just with different effects). Standing all day can cause things like varicose veins, so it’s all about moderation; stand for a while and then sit for a little bit. I usually like to stand for a couple of hours and then sit for a half hour or so, and then repeat that until the work day is over. This is where something like a drafting stool can come in handy, but if you get one of those fancy electric standing desks, you can adjust the height easily whenever you want.

It’s all about movement

What if you work in an office that doesn’t allow standing desks? That sounds like a silly question, but many companies like their office buildings to be uniform and everything consistent, including the desks; a standing desk would pop out like a sore thumb in an office building. So, if you can’t get a standing desk, don’t sweat it. One of the main reasons for a standing desk is movement, so if you don’t have a standing desk, just make sure you get up out of your chair every half hour or so and walk around for a few minutes. Standing desks simply get you moving, and you’re a lot more likely to start walking around if you’re already standing up.

How to install a SSD in a MacBook Pro

Upgrading your computer with a solid-state hard drive is probably one of the most beneficial upgrades you could make. Boot-up times decrease tremendously and programs launch almost instantly. I finally made the plunge to an SSD recently and haven’t looked back.

However, many of the how-to guides that I needed in order to properly install my SSD turned out to be pretty vague, which left me in a rut halfway through the installation. So, I’ve decided to write a proper how-to on installing an SSD in a MacBook Pro.

Note: This method can be easily translatable to any other laptop or computer, so if you don’t have a MacBook Pro, you can still follow along with your own laptop and successfully install your SSD.

Materials

Disassembling your laptop

First thing’s first: Completely turn off your laptop and make sure it’s unplugged from its power source. Lay down your small towel on your desk, table or any other flat surface and put your laptop on top of it with the bottom side up. The towel will prevent the laptop from getting scratched up while its laying on the hard surface.

Next, remove the screws from the bottom plate. These are the ten screws that are placed on the outer edge (pictured below). The screws are very tiny and can be lost easily, so put them in a small bowl — just make sure you know where they all go (three of the screws are longer, and they go in the top three holes to the right. Other than, it doesn’t matter where the rest of the screws go since they’re all the same).

After you remove all the screws, carefully lift up the bottom plate to reveal the innards of your MacBook Pro — it should pop off pretty easily.

The hard drive is located in the bottom-left corner. There will be a plastic tab that you can pull on to get the hard drive to pop out, but before you do that, you have to remove a small black plastic retaining bar that holds the hard drive in place. It’s located directly north of the hard drive and is held down by only a pair of screws (pictured below).

Remove the bar and pull on the plastic tab to pop out the hard drive. Make sure not to get too greedy, since the hard drive is still attached to the laptop via the SATA cable. In this case, the SATA cable is an extremely thin ribbon cable, so be extra careful here when unplugging it.

A view of the thin ribbon cable. Be extremely careful here!

Once the hard drive is completely out, unscrew the four torx screws on the sides of the hard drive using your T6 screwdriver (below). You’ll need these screws for your SSD, as they’re essential to holding the drive in place while it sits inside your laptop.

Go ahead and put the four screws on your SSD. All there is to do now is to plug in the SATA ribbon cable to your SSD, mount it inside, put the retaining bar back on, reattach the bottom plate with the screws, and the hardware portion is all done!

The last thing to do is insert your OS X install disc (or plug in your OS X boot USB drive), hold down the alt/option key during the boot process, and then install OS X like you would with any other drive.

Congrats! You’re all done and you should now be experiencing blazing fast speeds.

How to make a DIY laptop stand for $8

A laptop stand is a great thing to have if you’re working at a desk. It not only allows your laptop to breath more easily and run cooler (since it’s propped up), but it also makes your setup more ergonomic by having your laptop’s display at eye level.

You can buy laptop stands pretty much anywhere, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. However, they’re pretty expensive — one of my favorite laptop stands is the Griffin Elevator, which rings in at a cost of almost $35 on Amazon.

I wanted to see if I could make my own laptop stand that closely models the Griffin Elevator, but build it for the fraction of the cost, and I believe I have succeeded greatly. Here’s how to do it.

Materials

  • 10-foot length of 1/2-inch PVC pipe – $1.49 (Sometimes you can find 5-foot lengths, but 10 feet is the better deal. Plus, you can use the leftover for other DIY projects!)
  • Six 1/2-inch PVC elbow joints – $2.76
  • Two 1/2-inch PVC end caps – $0.52
  • Kitchen drawer & shelf grip liner – $3.23

Total Cost: $8.00

Assembly

Putting this PVC laptop stand together is straightforward and easy, and there’s no pre-determined measurements that you need to follow, since all laptops are sized differently. All you need to do is cut your PVC pipe into seven different lengths. One of the pipes should be roughly the length of your laptop, four of them should be roughly the width of your laptop, and the other two determine the height of your stand, which is completely up to you.

After you have your seven lengths of PVC pipe, it’s time to start assembly. Simply just attach the pipes to the joints. Refer to the photo above as a guide. If you want to make the stand really sturdy, you can glue the pipes and joints together with some PVC cement.

After you’ve assembled the stand, ideally you want to add some kitchen drawer grip liner to the base and at the top. This stabilizes the stand and keeps it from sliding around. It also prevents the laptop from accidentally sliding off the stand easily. Cut out small squares of grip liner and glue them on (pictured above) using some super glue or any other glue you have lying around.

You’re done! That was all there was to it. It’s arguably the best DIY project that I’ve ever done because it’s quick, simple, useful, and it hardly cost anything.

Game review: Hero Academy

If you know me, you know I’m a picky gamer. I don’t play a lot of games, but that’s not because I don’t like gaming — I just can never find a game that I enjoy long enough to stick with it. Hero Academy, a turn-based strategy game on iOS and Windows, just made its way to Steam, and it’s got me hooked. Let’s dive in together to see what makes this game so great.

Gameplay

Hero Academy is sort of like chess, in the sense that you have different “chess pieces” that do different things, and there’s a certain kind of strategy that you have to keep in mind that’s similar to how you would strategize in chess. Hero Academy consists of five different characters (or “units”) and a wealth of different items like shields, swords, and helmets that you can use to upgrade your units, as well as one-time-use items like health potions, fireballs, and boosts.

You get 25 of a mixture of units and items per game, but only have access to five at a time. When you use them up, you get new units/items to replace the ones you used until all 25 are used up. Look at it as a deck of cards with a five-card hand.

Each player gets five moves per turn, and you can use those moves however you like. You can do a mixture of moving and attacking, or spend a turn simply building up your army for a major attack later in the game. You can even spend a move swapping an item in your hand for something else that’s waiting in the queue, in case you’re dealt a crappy hand.

The goal of the game is to either destroy all of your opponents’ units or destroy their jewel — whichever comes first. The game board includes special squares that give you certain boosts when one of your units lands on them. These include different types of increased attack power and defense strength.

Misc. features

All users receive the Council “starter” team when they begin playing Hero Academy. You can buy different teams (Dark Elves, Dwarves, Tribe, and the Team Fortress 2 team) for a few bucks per team. All the teams are relatively balanced, so there’s no real big advantage to using the paid teams other than having different characters besides the default ones — every team has roughly the same type of units that do the same thing with the same amount of power. Some units on the paid teams do things that other teams can’t, but there’s usually a trade-off  for those units.

Availability and pricing

Hero Academy is available on Steam for $4.99 and on iOS as a free, ad-supported download. When you buy the Steam version, you get the Team Fortress 2 team for free, along with the Council starter team. Sadly, the TF2 team isn’t available to purchase on iOS, but you can still buy the other teams for $1.99 each (removing the game’s ads while you do so) and get different avatar packs ($0.99 each) as well.

Conclusion

In a word, Hero Academy is addictive. Any game that allows you to play against your friends usually has a great lasting appeal, and Hero Academy has that and much more. The chess-like strategy mixed with the different attack items makes the game a unique title that a lot of casual gamers will enjoy.

iPhone app review: Checkmark

iOS’s built-in Reminders app is pretty good, but not great. The location-based reminders are a bit time-consuming to set up and the whole app is pretty basic and doesn’t offer up a whole lot of features. Checkmark, on the other hand, is an extremely intuitive reminders app that takes location-based reminders to a completely new level.

First off, it’s extremely easy to set up any kind of reminder in Checkmark, and there’s two kinds of reminders you can set for yourself: “When” and “Where.” When, for time-based reminders, and Where, for location-based reminders. You switch between the two using When and Where buttons at the bottom of the screen.

For “Where” reminders (location-based), you just add your most visited locations on the home screen, like work, home, the grocery store, your parents’ house, the bank, etc. You can add a location multiple different ways: By using your current location, searching for a point of interest, importing an address from your Contacts, or manually entering an address. You can also choose a radius of a location, so that notifications will alert you within a certain distance that you specify. I found the radius feature to be extremely helpful, since I was able to know far in advance that I needed to pick up a few things from the grocery store before I got near it.

After you add a location, tap on it to add a location-based reminder for that specific place. The next time you arrive there or pass by, you’ll get a notification reminding you of the task you need to get done at that specific location. Any location you add will automatically be saved to the app’s homescreen for future use.

“When” reminders are a little more basic. When creating a reminder, you simply enter in a title (and some notes about the reminder if you wish) and choose the day and time that you want to be alerted. When it’s time for the reminder to be delivered, you get a notification.

There are also other small features that can be really handy for a lot of users. You can sort your location-based reminders by distance, and even delay notifications until after you’ve been at a location for a certain amount of time.

The only downside that I see with Checkmark is its lack of integration with iOS and OS X. Checkmark is only available on the iPhone, so there’s no syncing between multiple devices. Checkmark also doesn’t integrate with Siri, so you can’t just quickly add a reminder in Checkmark using Apple’s virtual assistant.

However, Checkmark’s location-based reminder system is leaps and bounds above Apple’s offering, and I’ll gladly take that over any kind of integration with Apple’s ecosystem.

Checkmark is available in the iTunes App Store for $2.99.

Are computer eyewear the way to go?

I got to try out a pair of Gunnar Optiks glasses for a couple weeks. Essentially these glasses get rid of the harsh blue hue that monitors and displays emit by layering the lenses with a yellowish tint. So, theoretically, headaches and eye strain caused by looking at a monitor for long periods of time can be reduced by wearing these glasses. They also have other features, such as a sharper, clearer, and a slight magnification of the image.

However, after a few days of trying them out. I just couldn’t fully get into them, and I’m not really sure why. It might have something to do with how I hate wearing any kinds of glasses on my face for an entire day (thank God I have better than 20/20 vision).

I think I also didn’t really like the Gunnar glasses because they screwed up the colors on the monitor. The yellow tint overcompensated for the blue hue and changed the “true colors” of the image, so looking at a shade of green through the glasses wouldn’t be the true shade of green that’s shown. This really is only a big deal for graphic designers and not so much a huge deal for those who just surf the web, but it still bugs me…

My solution? I started using an application called F.lux. It’s a tiny program that can change the color temperature of your monitor in order to get rid of that nasty blue hue. You can even set it up so that the color temperature automatically changes based on the time of day, but what I really like is how you can manually adjust the color temperature to your own liking. It’s working out great so far. In fact, after using it for a couple of weeks, I temporarily went back to the default color temperature and almost blinded myself. The blue hue was horrific and I can’t believe I went all these years looking at my monitor like that. Of course, that might be because I was so used to the warmer color temperature, but even after getting used to the default temperature again, going back to the warmer option was still a lot better.

Have you experimented with Gunnar glasses or F.lux? I’m very curious to know what your thoughts are. Leave them in the comments below!

Buy a smartphone with a “bad ESN” for cheap entertainment

When scouring Craigslist or eBay for a good deal on a used smartphone, a lot of people avoid listings that say “bad ESN.” In the simplest of terms, this means that the phone is banned from being activated with a carrier, so it wouldn’t be able to make calls or send and receive text messages. It also wouldn’t be able to get any kind of 3G or 4G data access.

However, for those looking for a mobile device just to play games, listen to music or surf the web over Wi-Fi, buying a smartphone with a bad ESN actually isn’t a bad way to go.

Every smartphone has its own unique ESN (Electronic Serial Number) and it works just like any other serial number for any product, except that an ESN is embedded into a chip inside the phone and can be deactivated at any time – sort of like a kill switch. When a phone is either reported stolen or the owner doesn’t pay his phone bill, the carrier can ban that phone’s ESN so that it’s unusable on the network.

A device with a bad ESN is pretty much considered useless in some ways. That’s why you can usually find great deals on smartphones with bad ESNs on eBay or Craigslist.

However, for those just wanting an iPod Touch-like device for super cheap, buying a used smartphone that has a bad ESN is the perfect way to go. Just like an iPod Touch, you can still download and install different apps and games, listen to music, surf the web over Wi-Fi, get turn-by-turn navigation using an offline maps app, and even take photos and video. I actually recently snatched an HTC EVO 4G in great condition with a bad ESN for $50. That’s a not a bad price for all the things it can still do. Plus, I can just grab a 32GB microSD card and load it up with all sorts of music, movies, and games.

Image Credit: Miki Yoshihito

Gaming on a budget: An exhaustive guide

Gaming is expensive, plain and simple. With the price of a new game being around $60, it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money on a new title that you really want when your budget can’t compete with it. However, with a few tips and simple methods that you can keep in mind, you’ll soon be doing some hardcore gaming with only a fraction of the cash it normally takes.

Note: When I refer to any kind of console gaming throughout this guide, I’m referring to the Xbox 360, since that’s what I use and have the most experience with. However, most of the tips that you’ll read about are easily transferable to any console.

The Number One Tip

Before I dive any deeper into this guide, the number one tip that you must remember when gaming on a budget (or doing anything on a budget) is to never pay full price for anything. If there’s one thing that you learn from this guide, I hope it’s this. There’s no reason to pay full price for something, even if it’s brand new. This might seem obvious in a way, but too many gamers will go ahead and pay $60 for a game when they easily could have gone online or waited a few weeks and bought it for less.

Find a console (or computer) for cheap

Image Credit: YuMaNuMa

First thing’s first: You need a console (or a computer) to do your gaming on. If you already have either one of these things, skip to the next section. However, if you’re just getting into gaming for the first time (either console gaming or computer gaming) and don’t have a machine where you can stick game discs into, then you’ll want to stick around.

Gaming Consoles

There are tons of places where you can buy used gaming consoles, and some of these places I cover later in this guide, but I’ll give you a quick overview. eBay, Craigslist, and even Gamestop offer used gaming consoles. You can sometimes even buy brand-new gaming consoles at a discounted price. All you really have to do is wait for a seller who’s desperate for cash that needs to sell his just-purchased console because his car broke down. I’ve seen plenty of never-been-opened Xbox 360 Kinect bundles sell for around $250 on eBay (retails for $300), and I’ve even spotted one for $200 brand new on Craigslist.

Computers

Just like gaming consoles, there are tons of places to find used computers or even used computer parts to build your own custom rig. I’ve had great luck with eBay finding used parts for my gaming rig, and I probably spent half the cash it would’ve taken to build it brand new. However, some computer builders get nervous buying used parts from random strangers on the internet. The only solution to this is to either buy from a trusted friend, or wait for a sale at a reputable e-tailer and either buy brand new, or refurbished for an even bigger discount.

Be willing to compromise

I can tell you really want to play Forza 4, and it’s old enough now that you can get it used for around $30. But do you really need Forza 4 or could you get by with Forza 3? It would still be an excellent game and you can grab it for as low as $5 on eBay or Half.com. One of the biggest things that you must do in order to game on a budget is to be willing to compromise. You probably don’t need the latest and greatest sequel that’s out, especially for a series that releases a new title every year. Go with a game in a series that’s a year or two old in order to save some major cash.

Be patient

This sort of goes along with compromising, but to save yourself a lot of dough, be willing to wait a few months or even a year before buying that new release — it allows time for the used copies of a new game to start appearing on eBay and such. I can’t even tell you how much money I could have saved if I just waited to buy Call of Duty: Black Ops once Modern Warfare 3 came out. Usually when a sequel to a game comes out, you can get the prequel for a lot cheaper.

I’ve been finding a lot of great games for under $10 on eBay and Half.com recently. Titles like Forza Motorsports 3, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, Grand Theft Auto IV, Mass Effect 2Halo 3: ODST, and Batman: Arkham Asylum all were under $10 each at various online spots and stores. Sure, they’re older games that might have lost their hype, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their appeal.

Places to find cheap games and gear

eBay

eBay is easily one the best place to get cheap used games and gear. However, the best things to buy on eBay are huge lots of stuff.  You’ve probably heard the saying that it’s much cheaper to buy in bulk, and the same concept applies for big bundles of stuff on eBay. A lot of sellers simply throw all of their games and accessories in one listing and sell it at a single price. This is what we bargain hunters refer to as a “jackpot.” It’s much cheaper to buy a ton of games at once than to buy ten or twelve single game. Plus, whatever games you don’t want out of the lot, you can simply put back on eBay to make back a few dollars.

Half.com

Half.com is another awesome place to find cheap games. However, I would only recommend it if you couldn’t wait for an eBay auction to end. Half.com allows you buy cheap games right away, but sometimes you can find it cheaper on eBay if you just wait a few days for the auction to come to a close.

Amazon Marketplace

The Amazon Marketplace is a great alternative to Half.com. Prices of used games and gear are very competitive, so if you prefer doing business the Amazon way, there’s nothing to lose. You can still find some great deals through Amazon’s offering as you would with Half.com.

Gamestop

Gamestop wouldn’t be my first choice for looking for cheap stuff, but it’s at least worth a mention. Most pre-owned games they have can usually be found for a few bucks cheaper online, so I tend not to go to Gamestop too often. However, don’t cross it off your list completely. They do have a plethora of games under $10 and even a few for as little as $3. You can even find great deals on pre-owned gaming consoles. During my last trip to Gamestop, I spotted a used Xbox 360 Slim with a wireless controller for $130.

Steam

If you’re a PC gamer, Steam is pretty much your go-to place for awesome, cheap games. They have numerous free-to-play titles, as well as tons of games under $10. You can also find crazy sales going on year-round on A-list titles, especially during the holidays.

Humble Bundle

This is also another computer-only option for budget gamers. The Humble Bundle offers an assortment of 5-8 indie games for a price that you choose. That’s right. Pay whatever you want for a bundle of games. Only thing is, the Humble Bundle comes around only a few times a year.

Craigslist

Just like Gamestop, Craigslist isn’t my first choice to look for used gaming stuff, but you can get lucky at times by finding a good seller who’s selling his gaming gear for cheap. And like I mentioned earlier, a lot of Craigslist users get desperate and need money fast. Thus, you can grab some great deals.

Garage Sales

Garage Sales are a hit or miss when it comes to used gaming gear. Actually, I should be more specific. Garage sales are a hit or miss when it comes to good-quality, used gaming gear. Sure, you might find a couple of beat-up gaming systems bundled with a few B-list games, but you’ll have to look a little harder to find the good stuff. However, when that time comes — that time when some ignorant old lady is selling all of her grandson’s unused gaming gear for really cheap — that’s when you pounce.

Auctions

Same thing goes for auctions as with garage sales. It’ll be a little bit more difficult to find the good stuff, but once you do, you’ll be the proud new owner of some awesome gaming gear that you bought for mere dollars.

Conclusion

Gaming on a budget certainly takes a little bit of effort. It’s not as easy as just going to your nearest store and simply purchasing a game off the shelves. In order to save a lot of money, you have to be patient and be willing to compromise in order to get not only the good deals, but the best deals. Hopefully this guide will help you for your future budget-gaming endeavors, and if you have any of your own tips or tricks for saving money on gaming gear, let’s hear them in the comments!