Computer prices

I wanted to buy a laptop, and since a laptop is priced relatively high compared to my salary, I have written a scraper for laptops on a Romanian website's seller: http://www.cel.ro/

I got the data for laptops once in February this year: each laptop's CPU model, GPU model, amount of RAM, HDD space, and SSD space.

I then looked up the CPU and GPU models on the wonderful sites, to get their performance scores:

I then manually looked around and saw prices of (cheapest) components per performance. I got the following:
  • CPU: ~0.15 RON / performance unit
  • GPU: ~0.16 RON / performance unit
  • HDD: ~0.18 RON / GB
  • SSD: ~1.4 RON / GB
  • RAM: ~16 RON / GB
Then, I computed the theoretical value of the components of each computer by adding up these estimated costs of each component.

What insights did I get?
  1. People pay up to 44% more, comparing the most expensive with the cheapest brand.
    Manually checking a few, it seems Dell laptops have more warranty: 36 months instead of 24, typical of Asus. This translates to 50% increase in warranty, for just 44% increase in price. But after 3 years, you might consider a laptop quite outdated (see point 4).
    Here are some ratios (higher means more of the price goes to component performance):
    1. Asus: 36.3% (cheapest performance)
    2. Acer: 36.1%
    3. Lenovo: 33%
    4. Toshiba: 31.1%
    5. HP: 27.4%
    6. Dell: 25.2% (most expensive performance)
  2. Still, there's enormous in-brand variation. At time of writing, the cheapest computer (an Asus) has a ratio of 62.4%, and the most expensive computer (a Lenovo) has only 12.3% of its price going to component performance. As you can see, writing a scraper pays off.
  3. High-end laptops are more expensive, about exponentially.
  4. Between Feb 16th and May 15th, the performance per RON increased by 10.26456%, which translates to an annual deflation of 49.33%!
    This means that if you save money for one year, you'll be able to buy 49.33% more computing power.
    It also means that if you buy some computing power now, it will only be worth 67% one year later.
    It also means the difference in value between the 2yr and 3yr warranties is about 14.8% of the original price due to deflation, which is significantly less than what you pay for keeping the laptop alive that year (44% more).
I also scraped the price of desktop computers, but only today, so I don't have inflation data for those. However, I can compare their costs: buying a desktop gives you, on average, 24% benefit, which is slightly less than I expected. Here's the chart:

So, there you have it! If you want to use my scraper for buying a laptop yourself, it's available on GitHub. The code is not very pretty, but it contains instructions about running it.

EDIT: I later found out about the Import.IO service, which lets you click your way through creating a scraper! Check it out, I recommend it instead of my scraper (which is now obsolete, since the site changed anyway).

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