How To

6 Hacks for Students to Choose a Laptop While on a Budget

By Staff Reporter , Feb 13, 2020 10:25 AM EST

The modern world tries to drown us in the sea of choices. One can't simply buy a laptop - there are hundreds of laptops around and sometimes our budget becomes the only real limitation we can rely on. But how to choose other parameters to get the best laptop possible?

No matter what your budget is, the simple tips we offer will help you to choose the best variant you can. Let's go!

1. Are you ready to consider purchasing a used one?
Sometimes used laptops aren't really used. They can be opened one time or two, then the favorite game refused to launch, later a service center refused to solve the case and - voila! - the laptop is selling on eBay.

Of course, there are always chances to get something worse than you expected, but considering buying a used laptop broadens your field of choices and allows you to purchase a better machine for the same money.

If you decide to buy a used laptop, always ask about the refund policy. Try to buy only through major platforms like eBay or Amazon. Always make photos and videos of getting your package and unboxing and testing it, so that you can prove that the item you received doesn't satisfy your demands (if it doesn't).

2. Decide what you need a laptop for
Write down the list of tasks you want to perform on your laptop: be it gaming, browsing, watching movies, photo editing, studying and looking for needed topics or programming. Rank them from the most important to the least important. Write down the next line: the features you want to have in your laptop (cool design, the specific size, Thunderbolt inputs, extra-sensitive screen, etc).

Now you can see: the more demanding the task from the first line is (for example gaming or photo editing needs better hardware than merely watching movies), the less you can pick out of the second list because your cost will go to hardware mostly. If you are typing most of the time or just browsing the Internet - you may omit the "gaming" requirements and take lots of features instead.

3. Try it in the big shop, buy it online
Sometimes the online stores offer cheaper prices than brick-and-mortar ones. But the main drawback of buying online is that you can't try before you buy. Of course, there is a return policy and you may discuss it before the purchase, but still, the ability to touch and test the laptop is precious.

But there are big stores that have test models standing right there specially for touching, launching games and testing the laptops in any other way. You may go there (or to the expo if you are lucky enough to have one around) and make a final decision - and then find a small online store that offers a discount price.

4. Pay attention to hardware compatibility
The laptop with the best processor, best motherboard and best graphic board should work excellently, right? Wrong! One of the key components is the compatibility of different parts of hardware. You may have an overpowered chip and weak motherboard, or a chip that can't use all the RAM the laptop has. Usually, we can't buy all the best, so we have to choose amongst medium-priced components.

The trick is that well-adjusted parts will show the greater performance, comparable to the one of higher-class laptops. If you aren't a computer engineer, it can be hard to understand which suits which, but there are a lot of Youtube channels, professional reviews, forums and boards that will help you to understand the basics and do your research. Believe us, the result is worth it!

5. Sometimes older models are better than new ones
It's a rare case, but sometimes the old laptops don't become obsolete. It's just a marketing demand to present brand new models each year, with slightly different designs and characteristics. Naturally, the price of older models drops down - not because they don't fit the requirements of the modern world anymore, just because there is a newer model with all the hype around it.

Try comparing the features of older and newer models. Maybe, the differences are too slight to be really important, or can be corrected by adding another RAM board? Marketing tricks often make you pay more, but you need a laptop for your own things, not for boasting (laptops for boasting are a separate category, but they are usually way above the budget of a college student.)

6. Evaluate all the additional options
When you buy a laptop, the seller usually includes some additional options into the price. Do you really need the operating system for extra $100-$200, or you will be fine with an opensource free one? Do you need a pre-installed antivirus, a mouse or a case, or do you already have that stuff at home? Is extra-long guarantee what you really want?

The price of an item rarely includes the item only. Carefully look through and understand what you are paying for. Sometimes by simply being attentive you can save up to one third of the overall laptop price.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to buy the laptop of your dream, still staying in your budget. The main rules are simple: do not believe advertisements, do not buy in expensive but popular stores and always keep in mind what you need your laptop for.

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