Laptop buying guide: 5 things to know before you invest

Thinking of investing in a new laptop? I guess you are if you clicked to read this article. They come in a wide variety of sizes, features, and price points, making it difficult to choose the best one.

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This is why you need to determine what your needs are. I’ve put together this laptop buying guide to help you narrow down your options.

Regardless of the model you buy, laptops are expensive.
(Kurt Knutson)

1. Don’t let price be the deciding factor

Regardless of the model you buy, laptops are expensive. With this in mind, some people will immediately choose the cheaper option. Others, on the other hand, might do the opposite and opt for the most expensive model, assuming that anything expensive has to be the best.

Whichever side of the coin you’re on, choosing your laptop based on price alone is almost guaranteed to end in disappointment.

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Budget laptops come with minimal storage space, and without many of the features you need for your job, they might not be the right fit.

While the more expensive ones often include features you’ll never have, plus an abundance of storage that won’t be filled.

Rather than choosing the cheapest or the most expensive, you should instead:

  • Set yourself a maximum budget
  • Assess your current needs and the things you hope your new model will have
  • Find a device that meets all or most of your needs and still fits your budget

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2. Always try before you buy

Whether you’re a first-time laptop owner or just upgrading to a newer device, giving your new computer a test drive is always a good idea before deciding to buy it.

It is important to note that almost all physical tech stores including the Apple Store, Microsoft Store, and Best Buy allow you to test their devices. This will allow you to:

  • See if the features are to your liking
  • Discover the keyboard, touchpad and interface
  • Make sure it’s the size and weight you’re looking for

If the store for some reason does not allow you to test it, or if you buy it online, recheck the Return policy before you buy it, and make sure it is reasonable.

3. Be aware of compatibility

One of the increasingly common mistakes when buying a laptop is not checking port compatibility. Today, most laptops use USB-C ports, while you may still have several devices that use USB-A ports.

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Certainly, this incompatibility problem could be solved by buying a dongle. However, rather than spending more money, it’s a good idea to check if your computer’s ports are compatible with most of the devices you know you’ll be using.

It's a good idea to check if your computer's ports are compatible with most of the devices you know to use.

It’s a good idea to check if your computer’s ports are compatible with most of the devices you know to use.
(Kurt Knutson)

4. Plan for the long term

As with making a decision based on price alone, don’t be in too much of a rush to buy a laptop based on your current needs, as you’ll want your computer to last at least a few years. So before making the purchase, it is always wise to:

  • Take a look at your current device’s storage and features
  • Determine how many of its apps and services you use
  • Determine what you will need to suit you in the next few years

You don’t necessarily need to get the most advanced and latest model; however, you should always buy one that will be at least an improvement over your current device and allow you to grow for all your future needs.

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5. Size Matters

You should always think of Goldilocks when choosing a laptop. Depending on your tastes, some may be too big, others too small, leading you to want the “right” model for you.

This can be determined quite quickly by a few factors:

  • If you plan to use it more on the go or at home
  • Where you plan to use it and/or what you plan to transport it in
  • Your visibility and input requirements.

Suppose you plan to use your laptop almost exclusively at home. In this case, a sturdy device measuring 15 inches or more will probably suit your needs more, as long as you have room on your desk or wherever you plan to work.

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These devices may not fit in your backpack or carry bag of choice, and if they weigh around 10 pounds or more, your shoulders won’t be grateful.

If you work on the go more often, a smaller device, measuring around 11 inches or so, might be more to your liking. However, as stated before buying it, it’s best to try it out first, as you might struggle to type on the tiny keyboard; making a device somewhere in the middle is the best way to go.

If you work on the go more often, a smaller device, measuring around 11 inches or so, might be more to your liking.

If you work on the go more often, a smaller device, measuring around 11 inches or so, might be more to your liking.
(Kurt Knutson)

Of course, the biggest overall mistake one can make when buying a new laptop is deciding based on a single factor. It is essential to consider your multiple needs and reasons for buying before making your final decision. Considering these five factors, you are guaranteed to bring home a device that will satisfy you in the immediate future.

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