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Believe it or not, more than 73 percent of U.S. adults own a desktop or laptop computer. No matter how well they take care of their computers, they’ll eventually need to replace them with newer models.
If you’re finding yourself frustrated with your old computer’s speed and capabilities, finding a new laptop as soon as possible is always a priority. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get back to doing the things you love to do.
However, buying a new laptop isn’t always as simple as you’d think. If you’ve had the same machine for several years, you might not know where to start.
Here are a few proven tips for buying a laptop that will work for your needs.
1) Set a Firm Budget
The first thing you need to consider before buying a laptop is how much you’re willing to spend on the computer. Take a look at your savings and think about how you’ll pay for the computer in the first place.
Some companies allow you to finance the purchase, breaking the cost up over several months. Others require you to pay full price upfront.
If you plan on buying the computer outright, you’ll need to keep the amount you spend at or beneath the amount of money you have saved up. If you choose to finance the purchase, make sure you can afford the monthly payments without putting a strain on your budget.
2) Look at the Operating Systems
Once you have a price point in mind, you’ll need to think about the type of operating system you want the computer to run. For most people, this comes down to three different options: Chrome® OS, Mac® OS, and Windows®. Each platform works differently, but they’re all ideal for certain purposes.
Chrome OS laptops give you access to the basics and, as long as you’re using the laptop for simple internet use and word processing, are strong enough. Mac OS computers are best for people looking for decent graphics and fast processors for video and image editing. Windows computers offer a balance of affordability and power.
The type of system you choose largely comes down to your personal preferences. You may want to try different options out before you make a decision.
3) Think About What You’ll Use It For
Some laptops are better at certain tasks than others. Before you start looking for the best place to buy a laptop, think about what you’ll use the computer for.
This will guide you toward the types and models that are best for your needs.
For example, if you’re going to use the computer primarily for gaming, you’ll need to look for a laptop that’s built for games. If you’re hoping to use it for work or school, a more utilitarian computer will do just fine.
If you’re not sure how you’ll use the computer, try to choose a model that can grow with your needs and your changing use. This might mean spending more money on a higher-powered machine, but it will save you money in the long run.
4) Choose Between a Touchpad or Touchscreen
You’re no longer stuck choosing between a tablet or a laptop with a touchpad. Some models feature 2-in-1 technology that allows you to use the computer as a tablet or a traditional laptop.
Other computers function more like tablets and only let you scroll by using the touchscreen.
Think about the way you want to scroll through documents and webpages. If you prefer a more traditional feel, look for laptops with trackpads. If you want to be able to use the system like a tablet, look for models that include a touchscreen.
Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to your personal preferences.
5) Pay Attention to the Processor
One of the biggest contributors to a laptop’s price is the type of processor the computer uses. Higher priced computers often have faster, higher-quality processors. Lower-grade computers feature slower processors that make it hard for you to run advanced programs.
If you’re looking for a laptop that will be able to keep up with changing programs and technology, look for one that features a name-brand multi-core processor. This will give you the speed you need to run programs for longer periods of time.
Remember, the average laptop lasts between three and five years. The more advanced the processor is when you buy the laptop, the longer the system will likely last.
6) Choose a Brand You Trust
When you’re looking for laptops online, you’ll quickly discover that there are dozens of brands to choose from. Some, you might recognize. Others might be a complete mystery to you.
There’s a reason for that and it’s not because some companies had a more successful marketing strategy. It’s because the brands you recognize are popular because they’re good computers.
Instead of choosing a brand, you don’t really know just because the computer is cheap, choose a brand you trust. If you’re not sure which one to choose, research your options. Look for brands that offer ongoing customer support, comprehensive warranties, and have good reviews from previous owners.
7) Try Them in Person if You Can
If you can, head to a store and try different computers out in person. Most big-box retailers and electronics stores have display models that you can play within the store.
Put the models through their paces. Run programs, type on the keyboards, and make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the computer in person.
If there’s something you don’t like about the computer in the store, keep looking. It’s unlikely that you’ll start liking the computer if you buy it and use it at home.
Keep track of the models and brands that you like and shop around. Compare prices both in your local area and online. You may find a retailer that sells the same computer for much less than its competitors.
8) Wait for Deals and Specials
Different retailers often offer deals and specials on the most popular computers throughout the year. The only way to know when those prices drop is to click on their website and watch for seasonal specials.
If you’re trying to stick to a firm budget, waiting to update your current computer with a new laptop may pay off. Some specials can end up saving you hundreds of dollars on the most advanced models of computers on the market.
Remember, the more advanced the computer is, the longer it will last. By waiting for specials and sales to come around, you may be able to get a nicer computer than you’d hoped for at a price well below your budget.
9) Be Mindful of the Battery Life
It’s rare that laptops sit on desks permanently attached to a power supply at all times. They’re meant to be portable and usable on the go.
This means you want to pay attention to the estimated battery life of each model you’re buying. The longer the battery life is, the longer you’ll be able to go between charges.
10) Pick the Right Ports
If you’re like most people, you’ll need to plug certain accessories into your laptop. This could be an external mouse or keyboard, your phone charger, or even a card reader for your digital camera.
Some models come with built-in ports to make using those accessories easy. Others require additional dongles.
Think about the types of ports you want on your laptop. If you rely on tons of USB accessories, look for a laptop with multiple USB ports. If you tend to use ports sparingly, you can choose models with fewer options.
11) Consider the Storage Capacity & Type
One of the most important laptop buying tips you should keep in mind is that storage size matters. Laptops can have small hard drives that only store a handful of files or incredibly large hard drives that even professional photographers may struggle to fill.
Think about your storage needs and the types of files you’ll keep on your laptop’s hard drive. The more stuff you want to store on hand, the larger the hard drive needs to be.
Keep in mind that you can always buy an external hard drive to free up space. However, keeping track of those external drives can be tough and if you’re frequently on the go, they’re not very practical.
In any case, having an SSD in your laptop is a must. Get a laptop with at least 256GB SSD and if your budget permits choose from anything between 256GB to 1TB SSD.
Keep These Tips for Buying a Laptop in Mind
Whether you’re taking care of schoolwork, business, or indulging your gaming habit, the right laptop can make all the difference. Use these tips for buying a laptop and you’ll be able to find a great machine that will work for your needs.
No matter what type of computer you choose, be sure to keep your budget in mind at all times. The last thing you want to do is spend more on your new laptop than you can reasonably afford.
Once you find the right computer for your needs, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest improvements and accessories to make the most out of your new purchase. Check out our blog for the latest news.