How to Buy a Budget Laptop - The Smiling Heart

How to Buy a Budget Laptop

True enough, not everyone can afford a fancy laptop that costs over a $1,000. Laptops come with a variety of capabilities and price ranges. The hippest laptops, like Apple MacBook Air, can cost close to $1,500. Certain specialty laptops like gaming laptops can cost over $2,000. What most consumers don’t realize is that one does not have to spend a lot of money to get a good laptop. Buying an expensive laptop does not necessarily mean that you are getting a good item. Some people end up buying expensive laptops that they really don’t need. If you are in the market for buying a new laptop, but don’t want to spend a fortune on it, here are several tips to keep in mind:

Assess Your Needs

The best way to end up with the best laptop is to first know what you need. Think about what you are buying the laptop for. First, consider whether you need a laptop for personal or business needs. Then, think about what you will be doing on the laptop, such as word processing, gaming, video editing or watching movies. Once you know what you need, it will be easy for you to determine the right specs for the laptop you need. For example, if you need a laptop for casual personal use, a $500 laptop with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB of hard drive with a decent graphics card will suffice. If you are a video editor, you might need tougher specs than that. As mentioned above, it all depends on exactly what you need. Once you know what you need, you will be able to spend less money.

Aim for the Right Specs

It’s easy to fall for crazy specs and overspend or under spend. Before you buy a laptop, understand what all the specs mean. For example, do you know what RAM is and how much will be ideal depending on your needs? Most laptops vary in price depending on the processor and the amount of RAM available. Sometimes, screen resolution and graphics card can add extra prices as well. You can buy the cheapest laptops with an Intel Core i3 or a Pentium processor. However, it’s best to buy a new laptop with a Core i5 processor. Aim for multiple cores as well. For example, a dual or quad core processor is faster than a mono core processor. Intel Core i7 laptops are the most expensive. But most people do not require such a fast processor, unless you are a gamer or run bulky software like video editing software.

A fast processor is good, but it’s not all you need for a smooth computing experience. Having a decent amount of RAM is crucial for all computing needs. If you are not at all a gamer, 4GB of RAM is usually enough for watching movies, browsing, doing word processing and so on. Even some of the best laptops for programming come with 4GB of RAM. But to futureproof your computer, get 8GB of RAM. You will be able to play games as well and run many programs at once. You will have to spend a lot of money, usually north of $800, if you are planning on buying a computer with 16GB of RAM or more.

Screen size and resolution are the next things that usually determine the price of a laptop. Screens that are larger than 15 inches may cost you more. Don’t spend a lot of money just for the screen. A screen with a 1366×768 resolution is decent enough, even for gamers. However, the larger the screen, the higher the resolution will have to be. Choose a matte screen over a glossy one because the former shows images better in direct sunlight. Don’t bother with a touchscreen. Laptops don’t really need one. Even OS like Windows 10 don’t need a touchscreen to run. Also, cheaper touchscreens may break easily or stop working after a while, in which case you might have to buy a new laptop again.

For budget grade laptops, expect the HDD capacity to be 500GB. Higher is greater but will cost more. Also, make sure the machine has enough ports for connecting external devices.  Most laptops come with these decent specs. The latest Dell Inpiron, for example, has mid-range specs and you can buy one for about $500. It’s usually enough for moderate computing needs.

Opt for a Chromebook

If you don’t need to laptop for much more than web browsing, word processing and occasionally watching a movie, then a cheap Chromebook may be the best budget choice for you. These Google machines often cost around two or three hundred dollars so they are dirt cheap in the laptop world. Chromebooks are designed for entertainment and web browsing purposes. It’s essentially like an advanced version of the Chrome browser. If you can wait a while, the upcoming Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps as well. Before you buy a Chromebook for cheap, be absolutely sure that you don’t need a more capable laptop. Keep in mind that you will not be able to do things like photo editing offline on a Chromebook.

Pick Windows or Linux over Macs

Macs are generally quite expensive. Unless you are okay with a cheap used Mac, it’s best to buy a Windows or a Linux computer. Windows computers are often the cheapest and Linux software comes for free. Windows is also more compatible with devices and software programs. Buy a Mac only if you absolutely need one.

Expect Caveats

You will not be able to buy your dream laptop with all the specs you need for cheap. You may have to compromise somewhere, whether it’s the screen or HDD space. However, make sure that you are not losing out on essential specs when buying budget laptops. As mentioned earlier, knowing what you need will help. Also, research the specs so you know what you will need to look for in the budget range laptop models.

Also, before you buy the laptop model, read reviews on sites like Amazon. People who use the laptop often know what it’s capable of. You will get a glimpse into the pros and cons of the laptop by reading these user reviews. Also, if possible, read expert reviews so you fully understand what the laptop is capable of before you make your purchase. Overall, if you don’t have specialty needs, you should not have any trouble buying a decent laptop for around $500.