Money Saving Tips

How to Save Big When Buying a Laptop

How to Save Big When Buying a Laptop
Written by Irina Vasilescu

When buying a gadget or an electrical appliance, you want something that’s shiny, sleek and is made using the latest that technology has to offer. However, these products are on the high end of the price spectrum, so they are not necessarily something that typical consumers can afford.

What if you’re a student and you need a laptop computer for your college work? You don’t really have the budget to buy a Macbook Pro or the most expensive model from Dell, HP or Acer, so you look for more affordable laptop models.

The good news is that there are certain compromises that you can make to buy a laptop that’s within your budget, but without sacrificing so much on features and functionality.

Wanna Save Big on Buying a Laptop? Skip the Features You Don’t Really Need!

When shopping for a new laptop, there are certain traps that you should not fall into. Number one is that you should not go over budget. There is a tendency for buyers to get carried away, wanting more memory, better features or a higher speed. There’s nothing wrong in paying extra for such features but if you will end up not using them, anyway, you will just be wasting your money.

To give you more of an idea about how you can save big when buying a laptop, here are some of the features that you most probably do not need:

Backlit Keyboards

A backlit keyboard is not necessarily a standard laptop feature so you need to pay extra if you want one. Although this is a pretty cool feature to have, the light used to illuminate the keyboard actually decreases your laptop’s battery life. You can simply rely on your touch typing skills or look for an overhead light instead of paying extra for a high-end laptop, simply because you want a backlit keyboard.

Discrete Graphics

Unless you’re a graphic designer, a gamer or a video editor, you would not need discrete graphics. This feature is included in laptops with high-end GPUs, and it typically raises the unit price of the computer so it is something that you could most probably do without.

Ethernet Port/VGA Port

An Ethernet port is the old school way of connecting to the Internet. But now that almost every café, airport, mall, park and even airplane offer wireless Internet access, you do not necessarily need a laptop with an Ethernet port. A VGA port which allows you to connect your laptop to a projector or a TV monitor is also something that you can skip. The newer HDMI and DisplayPort features are better.

Firewire

Also called IIEE 1394, Firewire was a feature developed by Apple during the 1980s and 1990s. This technology has been recently replaced by USB ports which are present among all laptops and other gadgets, so you don’t really need a laptop with Firewire.

High-Definition Webcam

With the proliferation of video chatting services, laptop manufacturers have thought to incorporate High-Definition webcams on their devices. This is likely to leave you frustrated, however, because you cannot use the feature to its full potential. The bandwidth limitations and the speed by which the people you are video chatting with use to connect may limit the capabilities of the HD webcam, anyway.

Kensington Lock Slot

A Kensington lock slot allows laptop users to use a cable and a lock to physically secure the computer somewhere. Most low-end laptop models do not have this and if you’re a casual user who does not frequently go to coffee shops or public places to work, you might not need this feature at all.

Optical Drive

From premium cable TV shows to music and games, everything is going digital these days so there is no need for you to pay extra for an optical drive.

Powerful Processor

Finally, do not be tempted to go over your budget ceiling when buying a laptop just so that you can have a core i5 or a core i7 processor. If you are simply using a browser to do quick searches on Google or if you only work with one Microsoft Word document at a time, there is no need for you to invest in a laptop with such powerful, expensive processors.

Ways to Save Big When Buying a Laptop

Now that you already have an idea about the features that you can skip when buying a laptop computer, what other ways are there for you to save big when purchasing such a gadget? Take a look at the following list:

What will you be using the laptop for?

The price range of laptop computers is anywhere from under $500, to as much as a couple of thousand dollars. This variety in prices simply shows how many options there are for the typical laptop user. The number one thing that you need to consider when buying a laptop is: what will you be using it for?

If you’re a college student who will simply be using it for word processing, e-mail and research, a budget laptop would be suitable for you. If you’re a gamer, a graphic designer, a video editor or a photographer, you might need a bigger-screen laptop with high-end specs. If you’re a web developer, you would also need a model that’s from the mid- to the high-end price range.

Again, choose a laptop model based on what you will be using it for. Don’t bother paying for extra features that you do not need in the long run so you won’t end up wasting your money.

Familiarize yourself with the laptop’s specs

Again, being a wise buyer all boils down to knowing exactly what you need from a gadget. If you are looking for a gaming laptop, you would need a model with sufficient specs like a high-end video card and excellent sound to boost your gaming experience. If you’re a student, you can easily stick with a laptop that has a 15-inch screen because there are many budget models available under this form factor.

According to MoneyCrashers.com, the average laptop user would only need the following specs for a computer: 2GB RAM, 100 GB hard drive; any core duo processor that’s above 2.0 GHz; and a wireless card G/N. You might also need a built-in webcam, HDMI hook-ups and Bluetooth capabilities. For other applications, you may want to look for higher or better specs but for typical, everyday computing use, these specs should do.

Consider buying last year’s model

Similar to when you’re buying mobile phones, gaming consoles or other high-tech gadgets, a newer model is bound to come out after just a few months – that is how fast technology is evolving. That $1,000 laptop that you bought now will depreciate in the market in just a matter of months or even weeks – so it pays to consider buying last year’s model.

If you really want to own a specific model, don’t immediately buy it once it comes out of the market. Wait for a few months for the price to go down so that you can get a better deal.

Shop from online outlets

If you want to get great prices not just for laptops but other electronic items, you may wish to avoid giant electronics stores. You can purchase what you need from online outlets instead. From these outlets, you can take your pick from open-box items which are sold at discounted rates.

Make a comparison of the prices offered at different websites

Once you have a specific laptop model in mind, check on the available prices at Amazon.com and the official website of the manufacturer. You can also check out great deals from tech websites which offer a review of the latest laptop models which are released in the market.

Once you’re decided on the laptop model and brand, you should naturally buy from a reputable website which offers the lowest rate for the product. Some of the websites that you can visit for comparison shopping purposes are MySimon.com and PriceGrabber.com.

Know how to look for discounts

There are many tech websites and laptop manufacturer websites which are more than willing to offer you great discounts for their products once you sign-up for their newsletters. You can also go online to search for discount codes, voucher codes and similar offers. Better yet, wait for the big tech sale like Cyber Monday or Black Friday where almost all laptops and electronic products are sold with huge price slash-offs.

You can also take advantage of student discounts which are usually offered by companies like Apple and DellAcer, PC World and Apple all offer refurbished laptops at reduced prices – if you are considering buying such.

You can also take advantage of rebate purchases to enjoy even more savings. Based from this list, you can see that there are many ways for you to save big when buying a laptop computer. Just because you’re buying it cheap does not mean that the quality of the machine needs to be sacrificed.

As long as you know exactly what the laptop will be used for, you can find a suitable model with the features that you need, at a price that will not burn a hole in your pocket.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

25 Comments

  • Good tips. When you’re looking at buying a laptop, you should consider something with at LEAST 4GB RAM (which is/should now be standard for any operating system besides Linux distributions), 250GB HDD and a fast dual/quad core processor. Anything less than that is going to run slower when Windows 9 comes out. Reason for a bigger hard drive is that 100GB runs out very quick. Windows itself usually takes about 20GB> of the HDD just with the base install. Also, ethernet port is a must and should still be available on most/all laptops.

    • Thanks for the additional tips. Now that technology is really growing fast I’m sure that these specs will get cheaper as time goes by. Just a few years ago 1GB of RAM is enough to run everything.

      • Yeah, technology certainly advanced quick, huh? I tried installing Windows 7 to a computer with 1GB RAM, and it lagged crazily. 4GB is really the minimum now unfortunately. The prices are coming down though, and you can get Solid State Disk storage (much faster than a normal HDD) fairly cheap now.

        • Yeah I was kind of shocked when I saw the price tag on some of the SSD’s now. Back then it would cost a $100 to get a 120GB model but now you can get 240GB’s at $70 or less.

        • BamItzMuffinz,

          Thank you for your additional comments. I’m approaching the replacement laptop market and value the information you posted. You really seem to know your tech! What is your opinion on Mac computers? I hear some very good things about them.

          I have had excellent luck with Toshiba laptops. Actually I still use the one I purchased 6 years ago and I’m still running Vista. I love the laptop even though it is a little heavy, but excellent quality.

    • I agree with those specs…if what your doing with the laptop needs you to be able to use windows 9 when it comes out. However, if you don’t need to upgrade to windows 9, it may be a moot point. It’s really important as the article mentioned, to consider what you need the laptop to be able to do. I recently downgraded a laptop from windows 8 to windows 7 and was very pleased with the results. It was slow in windows 8 but with a switch to 7, it could do everything I needed it to do easily.

      Switching to linux to maximize an older computer’s ability to manage tasks is also an option. Linux has many distro options that are very easy for a non-programmer to use. It’s free. And most of them are very light, freeing up processing power and memory that windows was hogging to do other tasks more important to the user, like surfing the net with a dozen tabs open.

  • Great tips, thanks! I may want to also add this, if you’re looking on buying a laptop just for internet browsing or some basic computing I would suggest you either go for a tablet or a preowned model. But if you’re really going to to use it for heavy computing work then it’s a great idea to do some research first.

  • It’s also best to look at the calendar. You’ll find great deals around back-to-school time and of course the holidays. But as with anything, it’s easy to be taken during these times too – making you feel like you got a deal even when you didn’t.. so it’s always important to do your research to make sure what a real deal is.

  • Great tips! thanks for this tips now I can save money in no time. I suggest that instead of buying loptop just buy tablet its not that expensive unlike loptop.

    • Well tablets and laptops aren’t really the same. If you’re just going to do some web browsing then a tablet is fine but if you’re going to do something more complex than that like word processing or graphic design then you’re tablet won’t do you any good.

      • The other potential option is a chromebook if you’re usually using it somewhere with internet. Lacks the power of a high end laptop and doesn’t have much on-board memory but if you’re doing a lot of typing, google drive has a great office suite. If you’re doing primarily web browsing, a chromebook excels. It goes back to the point in the article above about considering what you need it to do and where you need to do it.

  • Nice tips, and also beware when buying Laptop should get the guarantee for a sufficient period because it is a personal experience when i just bought my old laptop after few months my ATI Radeon graphics card is damaged so i should buy a new motherboard for my laptop to work which is difficult to find the same model number and if you find one it will be used and so expensive so you should fully change your laptop with a new on

  • A lot of good tips on this! I make sure to do my research before I even go to the store. I look at my old laptop and look at what I did and did not like, then I look into laptops that meet what I liked. I try to put some away away each month for a new laptop. I bought my current laptop three years ago and began to direct $50 a month into a savings account. It is on an automatic transfer so I have $1800+ because of the interest. I won’t buy one that expensive, but it does give me some extra money if i decide on a higher-end model.

  • These are definitely things to consider. My husband and I are actually on the market to purchase a laptop for the house because we have wireless and it makes things simple for us to work in the same room if one of us can just pick up the laptop and move around the house. We don’t have tons of money to spend so these tips will really help us get more bang for our buck.

    • To me, spending more money the first time makes more sense, if you have it available of course. My husband bought a brand new Windows 8 last year and it is already on the decline. I bought my MacBook 5 years ago and it is still going strong! I know, it is a lot more expensive, but in the long run you are actually saving more money. By the time he buys between 2-3 computers it will be just as much as I spent but with a lot more hassle.

  • I know this weeb site giges quality bqsed ardticles and additional information, is there any
    otrher wweb page which offers these data in quality?

  • I was fortunate enough to be able to find a good basic laptop that was on sale at Radio Shack, so I didn’t have to order it online, but that was after I had done some research and had a general idea what I was looking for. I think a lot of people are paying way more for their computers than they need to. I see so many people with these fancy Mac laptops that cost a fortune and all they do is basic computing.

  • Computers, especially laptops can be a huge expense but it is one we often have to bite the bullet and pay because we need the item. These tips are hugely helpful. I always buy used if I can but fortunately for me I have a husband who repairs computers and electronics for a living — So I can purchase slightly defective items that people are discarding and he can make them as good as new. I can often also forego the expense of purchasing a warranty.

  • Good advice, but I really think optical drives are NOT a thing of the past. They’re very good for installing drivers, burning CDs and run some programs overriding the hard drive system when you need it to. In my opinion, I’d always want to have one rather than not have one.

    I think investing in a good processor is a good idea though. You never know when your needs will change down the road.

  • Do not leave out the reliability date of each laptop brands. Laptops struggle from a much lower life than a desktop. Most of the time it can be even half that. One might save from skipping the features, but what use is that cheap laptop if it dies in two years. Add to the repair fees. So check the reliability data as well.

    As of now, ASUS seems to be leading in the reliability department. I have an ASUS, so far it is going strong. I had no maintenance problem with it. Compared with my old HP laptop that I had to reformat twice a year.

  • Listen up people! Based on my own very positive experience I am going to give you possibly the best kept secret in buying a laptop. The important thing to do is look for what is called a ‘business laptop’. There are certain models from your favorite brands that aren’t like the rest. These business class laptops are made to be considerably more durable, versatile and high-performance than their ordinary cousins. For Lenovo/IBM, you’ve got the Thinkpad T4 and T6 series; Dell has the Latitude and E6 Series; HP has the Elitebook/Probook. Other brands have their own as well. Most of these are very expensive if they’re bought brand new, so look for those that are discarded or refurbished. These things are so durable that they would still outperform modern ultrabooks today, plus they have extra features that are not normally found in modern laptops or notebooks. Just change the hard drive to an SSD and watch it become good as new.

  • I think, I only have my eye and money on Lenovo, Think Pad. I do not understand tech-savvy talk. But I will talk as a Mom-who-uses-her-lap-top-alot-lately. Laptops and computers my family ever owned have died. Their computers just died. Repairs would not be worth it. Technology just gave up on them (family members). But my Lenovo, which is older than their brands of laptops is still up and running.

    My IT hubby can explain my comment better about what I mean. 🙂

  • Everyone doesn’t need the latest laptop with the most powerful specs to meet their needs. For me, cpu, ram, and display are the most important because they determine the performance of my laptop. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, definitely some great tips and advice! Checking out the specs and making sure you get the most for your money are both certainly very important when it comes to buying a new laptop. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for specifying some of the big features that aren’t so commonly used, and therefore, can be eliminated for the sake of a cheaper laptop. I like to splurge a little on processors and discrete graphics, but I don’t necessarily need a light-up keyboard that will kill my battery. Great post!

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