Being a geek means a never ending quest for new bits. And if you haven’t got the dough, you’re likely trawling the net for bargains you think you might just be able to afford. You might remember that
we did a little guide on the best PC shops known to us a while back. Think of this as an update on the best gear shops, but this time we won’t restrict ourselves to just specialist PC shops.
Gear shops – The big chains
Now we would never ever recommend that you go and buy a prebuilt PC from a big chain like Harvey Norman. This is particularly true of gaming rigs. These are the domains of the aforementioned specialist PC shops. Worse, their value for money proposition is as good as buying a Landcruiser because you consider off-road to be your driveway. But the big chains do have a wide selection of devices worthy of your money.
For example, if you need a phone outright, JB HiFi have a great selection and they often have specials on Telstra plans. Not bad if you can put up with Telstra. Of course these companies also sell big 4K televisions, WiFi smart speakers and high quality headphones.
Also, if you’re in need of a laptop, the big chains are able to offer you a great variety of brands and price points. Including Apple, if you’re into that sort of thing. We won’t judge you.
You could rig up your whole house with the stuff on offer at these places. Just be aware that they also sell RGB mechanical keyboards and other gaming peripherals. Whatever you do, don’t get suckered in. The list prices are hideously expensive. You’re better off getting that stuff elsewhere, or if you want to spend that kind of money, buying and building your own custom board.
Also, a dishonourable mention here for EB Games. If you’re looking for a console then they seem to be your go-to shop. Every time we walk into one these days, it seems that they’d rather sell hideously overpriced PC gaming builds and not many games at all. We suspect that with Steam, Origin, Good Old Games and the myriad of other online game stores, they’ve seen the writing on the wall for that part of their business.
But we do not approve of their $3,500 builds with mediocre hardware and some LEDs. If you want one of those, go check out a proper PC shop. You’ll get much more bang for your buck.
Gear shops – Online marketplaces
Places like eBay have been a fantastic way for people to maintain an online presence and sell their wares. However the Internet is also a place where you can easily be taken in by shonks.
Having said that, there are actually some very high quality sellers on eBay or Aliexpress. If you look hard enough, or if your appetite for risk is higher, you might be able to grab a bargain. Just be mindful of the way pricing works when there’s a sales event.
What you need to do on eBay is check out the store’s review ratings before purchasing. The higher the reputation the less likely you’ll have a bad experience, particularly if something goes wrong. For example, Futu Online is an eBay store that seems to sell everything PC related. They have a great reputation and have very competitive pricing.
Gear shops – PC specialists
This section comes with a warning. This is based on our own shopping experience and is limited to Melbourne’s shops. However, we’d love to hear about your experiences in other states and territories.
Computer and Parts Land (CPL) – wandering into CPL, the place is much the same as it once was; spartan and to the point. However, the once dozen deep lines are no longer there. You still get the same short service, but if you know what you need and want, your don’t mind that. It’s price advantage is no longer there, but it still retains a large variety of stuff you never knew you needed.
PC Case Gear (PCCG) – It’s good to see PCCG going strong. Indeed, they’ve moved from their old joint in Mulgrave to a much bigger warehouse facility in Rowville next to EastLink. Great reputation and great service have been the hallmarks of dealing with these guys. While they are a mainly online shop, locals can go and get face-to-face interaction.
Scorptec – Another of the companies that offer great service and support. Based in Melbourne but expanded to Sydney, Scorptec is about being able to sit down and talk to a knowledgeable person across from you and getting good advice. Their prices might not be the cheapest, but you might be happy to pay for peace of mind.
Centrecom – These guys are all over Victoria. If you go to one of their superstores, you feel like you’ve entered the Bunnings Warehouse of computer shops. Heaven. With a lot of choice and good pricing, Centrecom could be for you if you’ve got no idea about just how big a 35 inch ultrawide monitor is.
MSY – These guys are cheap. But they’ve also been fined a couple of times for refusing valid warranty claims. Unless you know what you’re doing you should consider shopping elsewhere.
Mwave – Like PCCG, Mwave is a primarily online store based in Sydney. These guys have a huge variety of brands and products, some of which you won’t find anywhere else. Their customer service and reputation also seems top notch from our understanding.
Umart – When we looked at this topic last time around, some wondered why we never mentioned Umart. Sadly, it’s because we’ve never actually bought anything from them. Without really knowing, we feel that it’s best that we say something after we spend money there
Gear shops – Cameras
We all know that expensive hobbies are dime a dozen. Aside from computers, photography is also a credit rating busting affair. Affair is right, because your wife might just leave you after you come back home with another lens.
But you want your stuff to work and not need and support too, just like you PC. So where to go?
Michaels – Michaels is probably the Rolls Royce of Melbournian camera stores. They even have a museum of old cameras which is well worth a visit of you have an interest in the evolution of the camera. They do everything and have a huge variety of choice, but expect to pay a little more if you do choose to spend money here. Having said that, their staff are all experts.
Ted’s – A big chain store with lots of options. What’s good about Ted’s is price matching. They also offer a selection of validated second hand gear if you don’t mind pre-owned.
Digidirect – These guys also offer a great selection for all. While their Melbourne store isn’t all that big, you could instead browse their online offerings. We’ve certainly received good and reasonable service from them when issues were encountered with a purchase.
Gorilla Film Gear – We like these guys because they have a gorilla in their logo. Gorillas are awesome. They sell a variety of accessories for the photographer or videographer, just not cameras or lenses. Great speedy service and great prices are also part of their deal.