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Laptops: The Basics
Buying a laptop can be a tricky business. There’s a myriad of manufacturers, specs, operating systems, and a constantly revolving door of new releases and updates to keep track of. The first and most important thing you should consider when purchasing is “What am I primarily using this laptop for?”
Once you make that decision, the field narrows down, and you can start hunting for the best deals on the perfect laptop for you . To get you started, here are a few ways you might use a new laptop:
Browsing the Web and Connecting With Social Media, Chat, and Email
If your main use will be primarily browser-based, you can find great deals on smaller laptop systems, including inexpensive Windows laptops, Chromebooks, and the MacBook Air. Such machines are also suitable for many students.
Replacing a Desktop Computer for Work
If you often find yourself switching between machines at work and at home, or working remotely, looking for a laptop sale with better hardware may be in your best interest. Be sure to shop for a laptop with hardware that meets or exceeds the minimum specifications for any program or application you use frequently. In addition, choosing a laptop with a screen size of at least 15" may improve your workflow and productivity. Some popular options include the MacBook Pro, and offerings from HP, Lenovo, and Dell.
Gaming on the Go
If you’re a gamer, your options — while still plentiful — narrow even further. Laptops with discrete graphics cards and the latest hardware will ensure you can play the latest and greatest AAA titles. These laptops will also often be some of the bulkiest machines, in order to pack better cooling and battery life into a relatively svelte package. Popular manufacturers include Dell Alienware, Acer, Asus, Razer, and MSI.
Check Out These Blog Articles About Laptops
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose an operating system?
Chances are, you’ve already decided whether you’re looking for a Mac or a Windows machine, as this decision typically comes down to personal preference and history. The majority of the most popular programs and applications are available on both Apple OSX and Microsoft Windows 10, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty sharing data. Here’s a brief rundown of the most popular options available:
- Windows Laptops
Easily the largest category in terms of manufacturers and hardware options, Windows laptops will commonly be using a version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 10. Models run the gamut from basic 11” netbooks to ultra-high-end 17” business workstations or specialty gaming machines with dedicated graphics cards and high resolution displays.
Unsurprisingly, this expansive category also sports a wide range of prices. With near-constant releases of newer and faster hardware, many laptop manufacturers release new top-of-the-line laptop models regularly. Some of the best laptop deals are for previously released models.
- Apple MacBooks
Apple released its first MacBook laptop in 2006, and quickly established itself as one of the most popular options for many laptop buyers. (Indeed, stopping at your local coffee shop on a busy day can look like a veritable orchard of glowing Apples.) Considered to be one of the more expensive options, MacBooks also have some of the longest lifetimes among laptops.
There are three types: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air, a slimmed-down notebook, offers incredible portability. The MacBook Pro — generally packed with some of the newest hardware available — is aimed towards creative professionals and heavy users. The original MacBook (currently out of production) usually strikes a balance between the Air and Pro. It’s more expensive, but more powerful, than the Air, and cheaper (and less powerful) than the Pro.
With aluminum unibody frames and high-quality displays, all MacBook variants tend to hold their value longer than their PC counterparts. Although, with frequent releases featuring new hardware (generally two to three times per year), great deals can always be found on refurbished and previous-year models.
First introduced in 2011, these machines run Google’s Chrome OS. As one might imagine from the name, they’re based around Google’s Chrome web browser. They can handle all the common apps you can find in the Google Play store, and the bulk of application and user data is stored in the cloud.
These often inexpensive laptops are great options for students and folks that don’t require the sheer processing power of traditional laptops. Chromebooks still offer the most common computing tasks — email, web browsing, spreadsheets, media playback, and more — all within the Google ecosystem. Popular Chromebook manufacturers include (unsurprisingly) Google, Dell, Samsung, and Acer.
What size laptop should I choose?
Again, think of your main uses of this laptop. If it’s meant to replace your desktop or will be your main computer, looking at a 17” might make your workflow easier. On the other side of things, if this is a notebook you’ll be tossing in a backpack and commuting with, perhaps a 11” or 13” model will make your life easier.
How much should I spend on a laptop?
In general, you should consider spending a little more to future-proof your laptop purchase. Component manufacturing continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and software developers continue to update their applications. All computers will eventually reach the end of their useful life, as their hardware falls under the minimum requirements.
Generally speaking, the more budget you can put towards better specs, the longer your machine will be able to run the newest programs. That being said, many Windows laptops allow user-replaceable upgrades, including RAM and hard drives, which can extend the lifespan and bring down that initial price.
What laptop accessories do I need?
While perfectly usable as-is, it’s important to consider some accessories that may make using your laptop easier. Typically, you’ll want a mouse, USB thumb drives or external hard drives, and a laptop case or backpack. If you’re using your new laptop at home, a secondary monitor can be another good choice.
How do I get the best laptop deals?
Here at DealNews, we find new laptop deals every day. Once you've decided on a few key laptop specs that are must-haves for you, you can peruse these deals to find a model that fits your needs and falls in your desired price range. We post cheap laptops under $200, budget-friendly models under $500, and discounts on higher-end systems.
If you don't see a deal on the build you want, do some internet research to find current pricing at the stores that sell it, and then search for coupon codes. Retailers like Lenovo and Dell regularly offer promo codes, which can reduce the price significantly. From there, you can determine which store offers the lowest price, and whether you should act on that price now or wait for a better time to buy.
Speaking of when to buy, we see a higher number of laptop sale prices during certain times of the year. We typically list up to 300 laptop deals per month, but this number spikes during the holiday shopping season in November and December. You're more likely to find a good deal during this time. We've also seen an uptick in July previously, likely for Back to School shopping.
Another way to save is to buy a refurb