Just recently I bought my very first laptop computer for around 700EU. You can find more details about it right here (though I bought from a local store).
While searching for my perfect laptop I did learn a bunch about laptops in general and I decided to share the knowledge with you to make that buying decision easier, quicker and how to get a laptop cheaper.
THE FIRST question you need to ask yourself when buying a laptop is what kind of laptop brand or brands are you looking for?
If you are an Apple fan, then you can skip this whole guide and go look what apple has to offer. Personally, I’m not a fan of apple they are just out of my budget, but I admire their business model.
If you aren’t an apple fan, then check out this post where all the laptop brands are rated.
Generally, the higher the brand is on the list the higher quality the product is and while I haven’t tried out all the brands, but my brother had an ACER laptop, which is at the bottom of the list and the laptop had serious ventilation problems.
So, it’s better to buy laptops from the top brands.
Set Your Budget
It’s obvious that the more you pay, the better the laptop will be. So, set a budget that you are willing to spend, you can even go a bit higher because I will show you a trick how to get a decent discount.
To Touch Or Not To Touch
When I started my search for a laptop I really wanted one with a touch screen.
Like why wouldn’t you want one? It should make everything much faster, right?
Well, I did my research and everyone had the same opinion “It’s a nice thing to have, but you’re likely not going to use it”, .
However, there are different kind of touch screens and some are less useless than others.
Some laptops allow to take off the screen and use it as a tablet. I can imagine plenty of problems that appear with design like that and my immediate reaction was a pass. Still, if you’re looking for a laptop and a tablet, then it could be a great choice.
Other type of laptops allow to flip over your screen and then use it as a tablet. That’s quite nice, but I suppose that makes it for a very heavy tablet, though not a major issue, if you have such strong arms as mine.
From all these, the second type was dearest to my heart, but still I didn’t get one because touchscreen laptops are a rare thing and those screens cost extra.
If you are looking for a laptop then skip this function, if you are looking for a tablet and found this as an option, then maybe it might be a fit for you.
Though from what I heard Windows still isn’t the best OS for tablets, so it even wouldn’t be the best tablet you could get.
Do you want a small laptop to carry around, travel and don’t feel the burden of its weight? Well, then you want to look for a laptop with a 11 inch to 13 inch screen. They usually have less computing power, because I imagine all the components need to be smaller and thus less powerful, but that also means they use less electricity and that gives a longer battery life.
If you aren’t planning to take your little bad boy with you every time you leave the house, then you can check out the medium size laptops with ~15 inch screens. They are a bit heavier, got more computing power and shorter battery life. Though it’s kinda the standard, because you get the perfect balance between power and mobility.
Lastly, if you want a beast, but to take up less space than a stationary, then look for a 15+ inch screens. Screens like that usually come with some monster components and thus they are more expensive. You likely won’t enjoy carrying it around.
Personally, I don’t like small things, my smartphone is Samsung Note 3 with a gigantic screen for a phone and I love it 🙂 So, I did buy a 15 inch screen. It doesn’t feel small, but it could definitely be bigger.
A simple choice here mate, AMD or Intel?
And you will probably pick Intel, because that’s what’s used in most laptops right now.
And what do you need to know about Intel processors?
Well, the general idea is that there are 3 types of processors i3, i5 and i7.
i7 being the most powerful and expensive and i3 the least powerful and cheapest.
There’s also some variation within those categories. For example you can find an i7 with 2 cores and with 4 cores. As well when looking for a cheap laptop you might find a processor that is weaker than i3 and have some weird name.
There’s a higher variety of names for graphics cards and there are 2 main brands, AMD Radeon and Nvidia Geforce. Through my searches Geforce seemed to pop up more than AMD.
You also should pay attention to the type of graphic card, is it integrated or not. Integrated meaning that the graphics card is a part of the motherboard and can’t be replaced and usually it’s quite weak in performance. You can usually find integrated cards in cheap and mid level laptops.
Generally, if you aren’t going to play games, then you can save some money by getting a weaker graphics card, but if you are an addict like I am, then a good graphics card is a must.
More is better… Ahh not quite. This would have been true severals years ago, but these days a new player has come to town – the SSD drive. It’s a different kind of way to store and read data.
An old type optical hard drive is limited by the speed of the needle, it can only move so fast and SSD is built like a USB drive without any moving parts and it’s a hell of a lot faster at storing and reading data. Here you can see a comparison in loading speeds:
Incidentally, an SSD is still very expensive, only the premium laptops come with one. So, if you’re paying big bucks for your laptop make sure it has an SSD.
Okay you now know how to rate all the necessary components, well maybe the sound system is also important to you in that case do your own diligence.
The last step is to start looking for a laptop in the online stores, I recommend using local ones.
If the store is specialized for computer sales, then it should have a sorting option. Meaning you can pick what price you want, what brand, what screen size you want, how much RAM, etc. And then it will show what’s available.
Now, you should have a list of laptops that fit your criteria, check the ones you like and repeat this process on all online shops that you can find.
What you’re looking to do here is to catch a retargeting pixel on your computer. It’s a technology that cookies your computer and then shows related ads.
After going through the shops, you should see only laptop ads, offering huge discounts for you. I personally, got a 30% discount and was immediately sold by that.
More generally the tip is to buy when there’s a discount, you could also wait for the black Friday or some other sales event, but they don’t happen often so, using this retargeting technique is much better.
Wrapping It Up
To summarize this post into a couple sentences, you need to pick the components you want that fit in your budget, then look what laptops are available that fit you criteria and then wait for a discount. Woohoo, you have a laptop you love and you saved some money.