Buying a new laptop can be a stressful and time-consuming endeavor. There are so many manufacturers, models, and specs to choose from. It’s easy to get analysis paralysis or be afraid of buying the wrong thing.
And unfortunately, buying the wrong laptop for a person’s needs is all too common.
Luckily, we’ve put together a guide on 15 things to NOT do. If you want to learn how to buy a laptop without wasting any time or money, keep reading!
1. Buying Cheap
While buying on sale isn’t a bad thing, making laptop purchases purely based on a cheap price almost always is.
This means that your decision is informed by the price tag instead of your needs and wants.
Are you really saving $500 by buying that cheap laptop, when you needed something more powerful for work? As they say: buy once, cry once.
The way to avoid this is to figure out exactly what you want out of a laptop. Do your research. That way when sales come around, you can be ready to save some cash on the laptop you really need or want.
As a counterpoint to #1, overspending is the other side of the same coin. This is when you assume that spending on a top-dollar laptop will get you everything you need.
But if you don’t play games, for example, then you probably don’t need that bleeding-edge graphics card.
Overspending on a laptop just means you are paying for features that you don’t use.
While it’s fine to future-proof (more on that later), make sure that you’re not just throwing good money after nothing.
3. Buying An Underpowered Laptop
This mistake is very easy to make if you don’t do your research before buying.
While some laptops may seem to be powerful enough based on a quick glance at their specs, often the devil is in the details.
A lower-quality integrated graphics card, for example, or an outdated RAM chip, can lower the performance of a laptop.
Make sure that when you are learning how to buy a laptop that you also learn about the different specifications of each part. What looks good on paper may not perform as well in practice.
4. Wrong Graphics Card
This is a very common mistake when figuring out how to buy a laptop. Unless you do a lot of research beforehand, graphics card specifications can be very confusing.
In general, there are two types of graphics cards: dedicated and integrated.
Integrated graphics cards are generally lower-power, although they sometimes are custom-designed for work in CAD and other imaging software.
Dedicated graphics cards are usually found in gaming laptops and come in many different levels of horsepower.
Make sure that the laptop you buy has the correct graphics card for your needs.
5. Going For Storage Space Over Other Specs
This is another common mistake people make when shopping for laptops. After all, two terabytes of storage space is better than half a terabyte, right?
With portable SSD drives being as cheap and common as they are, choosing a laptop solely on its internal storage space is not the best call.
Especially when that storage space comes at the expense of other components such as RAM or the processor.
While internal storage is nice to have, it is not going to bottleneck your laptop performance as much as those other components will. Consider it low on the totem pole.
Another thing to consider with hard drives is whether they are solid-state or SATA.
SATA is considered to be outdated at this point. These are the older style of spinning-disc hard drives. They draw more power and take up more space, on top of not being as fast or efficient.
Look for a laptop with an SSD (solid-state disc) drive. These are a massive improvement in performance over SATA drives. A smaller SSD harddrive will still outperform a larger SATA drive.
6. Tunnel Vision
Getting tunnel vision on one particular component is another common “how to buy a laptop” mistake.
Don’t hyperfocus on finding a laptop with just one good component. You may be ignoring a better overall laptop.
For example, focusing just on the processor while ignoring the RAM, screen size, and graphics card means that you might end up with a bottlenecked laptop that can’t multitask well.
Make sure to keep your options open, and look at the big picture.
7. Size Matters
Generally speaking, smaller laptops are cheaper. And a small 13″ laptop may fit your needs perfectly if you need ultimate portability and less weight.
But if you do a lot of multitasking, video editing, or other screen-dependent tasks, you may find yourself wanting a bigger screen.
A 15″ laptop is a happy medium for most people, however, some creative types can definitely make use of a 17″ laptop screen.
If you are looking into how to buy a PC laptop, make sure that you are aware of the best screen size for your needs.
8. Not Future-Proofing
It can be tempting to buy laptops with high-spec but older components. They are a lot cheaper and still offer a great bang-for-the-buck.
But what happens if the company stops updating the drivers for those components? You may be stuck with an underperforming machine.
There’s also the problem of only buying a laptop for your current needs. What if you’re a student now, but you graduate in a year? You might need a much more powerful laptop for your new job.
Be sure to buy a laptop that will perform well for the next five years (or more, if you’re lucky). You’ll end up saving money in the long run.
Companies such as Lenovo make high-quality laptops that are easy to replace and upgrade parts, so consider looking into upgradability when you’re laptop shopping as well.
9. Wrong Or Insufficient Ports
This is another extremely common mistake people make when buying laptops. It usually ends in having to assemble an army of dongles and adapters.
This is especially true since we are in a transition period between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0/Thunderbolt.
Many laptops only include one USB 3.0 port, although it is the new standard moving forward. Remember that USB 3.0 can power USB 2.0, but not vice versa.
Also consider ports such as HDMI or DisplayPort, for connecting your laptop to external screens. Make sure that your laptop has the appropriate port for your needs.
10. Mistaking a 2-in-1 or Tablet For A Laptop
Make no mistake, 2-in-1s and tablets can be the perfect machine for a lot of people.
But they are no match for the power of a full laptop. Even if that 2-in-1 has good specs, the hands-on use may not be as convenient for your needs with a smaller screen and keyboard.
11. Read The Reviews
When learning how to buy a laptop, part of that process is figuring out how to sort through reviews.
Make sure that you are going to unbiased review sites and getting reviews from multiple sources.
Sometimes user reviews can be helpful, but there are a lot of technologically-challenged people out there whose negative reviews could be user error.
Read between the lines and be sure to do your due diligence.
12. Try Before You Buy
It is always a good idea to go to a physical location and try the laptop you are considering purchasing.
While you may not be able to put it through its full paces, you can still get a good grasp of things like screen performance, how the keyboard feels, and general multitasking capabilities.
13. Brand Loyalty
Much like getting tunnel vision on a component, some people get tunnel vision on a brand.
And while there are many brands out there with great computers, they might not always have what fits your needs.
Shop for the specs and features that you need, not based on how much you liked your last computer.
14. Unbalanced Components
Let’s say you are interested in purchasing a gaming laptop. You want the best, bleeding-edge graphics card that money can buy. Even though you probably won’t even use all of its capacity.
All of the laptops with that graphics card and good specs cost thousands of dollars. So you decide to downgrade the processor and the RAM on the computer to save some money.
Now you’ve sandbagged that fancy graphics card, as it will not perform to its best capabilities. The other components are dragging it down.
Make sure that if you are spending for one component, match the other components in performance. This will avoid performance issues and bottlenecks.
15. Not Shopping Around
If you want the best deal on your new laptop, you’re going to need to shop around.
Don’t just buy from the first place that has it in stock. Many manufacturers actually offer discounts if you buy directly from their websites.
You can end up saving hundreds just by taking advantage of manufacturer sales and coupons.
How To Buy A Laptop
Ultimately, making a good laptop purchase comes down to two things. The first is doing your research. Knowing how to buy a laptop and what is out there is crucial.
The second is to have patience and not buy on impulse. This will likely save you money in the long run and lead to more enjoyment with your new laptop!
For more technology tips and tricks, be sure to check out the “Tech” section of our blog. And feel free to contact us at any time!