How to Buy the Best Laptop for You

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Learn how to buy the best laptop for you – get everything you need without paying a ton of money. We go over what features and specs to consider and ways you can maximize your buy.

My laptop picked the worst time to break – between the house, work, and the kids, I really needed things to go smoothly.

Unfortunately my laptop had other plans and just quit.

The good news is  I was planning on replacing the laptop, so I had savings. With a business conference coming up next month , I had to speed up my timeline. I had to get a laptop that could handle my work, had good battery life, and would last for years.

Sounds easy, right?

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Finding the Best Laptop By Focusing on Your Life

If you haven’t gone shopping for a laptop recently, I will say that there are plenty of options, but sorting through them and honing in on the best one for you and your budget..well, it can be an adventure.

Today episode I’ll share:

  • Figuring out the kind of laptop you need
  • sites to check out for deals
  • apps that can save you money

While we’re looking at buying a laptop, I hope you can get tips the next time you make a big tech purchase.

Figuring Out What Tech Specs I NeedFinding the Best LaptopFor You

It’s not like they make it terribly easy. You have to decide between a ton of things, such as:

  • Processor: Just looking at Intel’s options, do you want a mobile, i3, i5, or i7 processor?
  • Data Storage: Do you go with Solid State or Hard Drive?
  • Memory: How many GB does you need?

And of course, since this is a personal finance podcast, your budget is a key factor. How much do you have?

I want to highlight that shopping by function can help you get better value with your purchase because you’re going after what you need it for versus unnecessarily paying for bells and whistles that you rarely if ever use.

How are you planning on using your tech?

I needed a laptop that was portable and could handle my office work wherever I go. I have two little ones so a light but sturdy model would be practical.

Ultrabooks fit with my needs so I then had to make a consideration the specs. I skipped on the mobile processor because my typical workload.

That said, I didn’t need the top of the line i7 for the job. Which worked out well as those were out of my price point.

Did you find something you really liked, but it’s way outside of your price range? One thing you want to consider is with the previous model.

Seeing that there was a huge difference between disk space with SSDs and HD (talking about TB for HDs VS 256g for SSDs), I asked my husband, a software developer and who has tried out several laptops for work, for his thoughts.

My apologies as I’m not a tech expert – but from what I gathered, the reason for the huge difference between the two is how the data is written.

  • Hard Drives: store data by writing them to a disc via magnetism
  • Solid State Drive: flash memory, the same as your smartphone

Provided it doesn’t get damaged, you can keep writing HDD and for at the same price point, you can more storage capacity. On the down side, with the moving parts if your laptop gets bumped a lot it may get damaged and you could have data loss.

The advantages with SSDs include read & write faster, less power needed to run which can help prevent overheating, and they are more durable than HDDs when it comes to the day to day bumps. There is a limit to how many times you write to it, however for the typical user you’ll probably upgrade before it becomes an issue.

Based on what I learned and knowing my laptop would need to handle my less than ideal travel conditions, I went with a SSD.

You may listen to this and have completely different needs and wants and will come up with different answers.

And that’s fine.

Beforeyou hand over your hard earned money, you should feel confident about the purchase. But how do you whittle down which model is the right one for you?

Where to Find Laptop Deals, Buying Guides, and Reviews

Once you’ve nailed down the features and specs you need and want, go ahead and pick 2 or 3 contenders and start comparing.

If you want to learn more about the laptops’ specs, here are some of my favorite sites to check out:

  • Consumer Reports: My go to for whenever I make a big purchase. Learn quickly about how your top choices fared.
  • Amazon: The king of shopping, Amazon offers a ridiculous amount of choices and deals when it comes to laptops. One of the bigger pluses of the site in my opinion is the user reviews. It’s a good idea to see if there are any problems buyers have had with the tech. I was pleased by what I saw.
  • NewEgg: My husband and I have found some great deals here and like Amazon there are user reviews that cna give you a better idea of what to expect.

If you’re online often you’re probably familiar with sites like Engadget, ArsTechnica, and Lifehacker. Theyhave knowledgeable staff and communities so you may want to review their buying guides and the comments on them.

Apps and Sites that Save You Money

Before you check out and buy that laptop, there are a few sites and apps you may want to look over to make sure you’re getting a great deal.

  • RetailmeNot: If you’re shopping online, at the very least you should try and find coupon codes. Use their search feature to see if you can get discounts and/or free shipping.
  • When I did an episode awhile back about online shopping, I talked about Still handy site to compare prices.
  • Honey: A browser extension that runs through coupon and discount codes when you’re ready to check out.
  • Paribus: This app can save you money if prices drop soon after you purchased. You connect your shopping accounts and email. Paribus takes care of the rest. You shop online and if the price drops they file a claim with the store so you get money back (minus their cut). (Thanks to J for his excellent review of Paribus!(

If you have any money savings sites or apps you love or enjoy, please let me know!

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