The thousands you can save when importing your gaming laptop

South Africans who choose to import a gaming laptop rather than buying it locally can save thousands of rand on their purchase.

Many tech products such as smartphones, TVs, and monitors which are available from international retailers often come with a cheaper price tag.

However, the benefit of ordering many of these items is quickly negated by the additional import duties and ad valorem tax which the consumer often has to pay to get the item past customs.

This is not the case for laptops, however, which are only subject to the addition of 15% VAT on top of their selling price when imported.

This means that – even when taking shipping and delivery into account – laptops are often much more affordable when bought in the US than in South Africa.

Distributors and retailers along the supply chain generally add their own mark-ups to products in order to make a significant profit from their sales.

Working it out

While calculating exactly how much you can save can be difficult when converting from foreign currencies and taking possible hidden costs into account, renowned online retailer Amazon offers great peace of mind in this department.

Customers are able to use a calculator which shows exactly how much they will be charged in total, which will be the full amount they pay.

Should the calculated tax be less than Amazon anticipated, the company carries the cost for this.

Once you know the exchange rate your bank is charging at a particular point in time, you can convert this US dollar amount to rand to know exactly how much you will pay.

We’ve compared the local and international prices of popular gaming laptops from several major gaming brands to see which were the cheapest.

The table below shows a selection of devices that were available from Amazon.com and well-known local retailers.

Product Specifications Import duties + VAT + shipping Amazon Price Price (R14.85 per dollar)
Acer Predator Triton 300 – Amazon 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display
Intel Core i7-10750H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia RTX 2060
1TB NVMe SSD
$301.35 $1,438.00 $1,739.35 / R25,829
Acer Predator Helios 300 – Local R32,999
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 – Amazon 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
512GB NVMe SSD
$218.28 $999.00 $1,217.28 / R18,077
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 – Local R22,199
Dell XPS 15 7590 – Amazon* 15.6-inch 4K Touch Display
Intel Core i7-9750H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1650
512GB (Amazon) /1TB (Local) SSD
$347.47 $1,699.00 $2,046.47 / R30,390
Dell XPS 15 7590 – Local* R36,999
HP Omen 15 – Amazon 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
512GB NVMe SSD
$235.37 $1,109.99 $1,345.36 / R19,979
HP Omen 15 – Local R22,499
Lenovo Legion 5 – Amazon 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
512GB NVMe SSD
$232.56
$999.99
$1,232.55 / R18,299
Lenovo Legion 5 – Local R26,399
MSI GP65 Leopard – Amazon 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display
Intel Core i7-9750H
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
512GB NVMe SSD
$298.51 $1,449.99 $1,748.50/ R25,965
MSI GP65 Leopard –  Local R31,199
Razer Blade Stealth 13 – Amazon 13.3-inch FHD 120Hz display
Intel Core i7-1065G7
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
512GB SSD
$280.87 $1,429 $1,709.87 / R25,392
Razer Blade Stealth 13  – Local R34,999

*Storage between international and local stock differs. However, the pricing difference is still great than when an upgrade is added.

Verdict

It was evident from our comparison that gaming laptops were far cheaper when purchased from the US and imported than when bought in South Africa.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the Lenovo Legion 5, which came with a total price tag of $1,232.55 or around R18,299 when bought off Amazon.

By comparison, the model with the same configuration locally was priced at R26,499 at Evetech – a whopping 44% more expensive.

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 model was another good example, with a price difference of R9,607 between Amazon and Incredible Connection, equating to a 38% discrepancy.

In all cases, the laptops bought from Amazon were thousands of rand cheaper than when bought from a South African retailer.

The big caveat

The significant caveat you will have to take into account if you are willing to take the chance on an international purchase is the possible lack of a local warranty.

While certain manufacturer’s do offer traveller’s warranties that may cover you for repairs or replacement in South Africa, this is often not the case.

If your laptop were to malfunction and was still under warranty you would likely have to send it back to the country of sale, in this case the US, to be repaired.

The cost of shipping it back and then getting it returned would have to be carried by yourself.

There are certain global package-forwarding services such as Aramex Global Shopper which offer discounts on returns in such instances.

In addition, it would be best to ensure that your package is covered for theft and damage during transit, although Amazon mostly accounts for any such anomalies.

Now read: The most expensive laptops you can buy in South Africa

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The thousands you can save when importing your gaming laptop