If you’re in the market for a new computer, you’re probably hoping to get a solid suite of features while saving money where you can. The computer market can be pretty daunting, and with so many makes, models, features, and upgrades available, it can be easy to feel over your head. Read this guide to feel better about your computer search!
1. Know what you’re in the market for
Don’t just walk into Best Buy and declare that you are in need of a new computer. The salespeople might help you, but if you really seem that you’re down for anything, they might try to upsell you significantly. You should have a pretty good general idea of what you want out of a computer.
Are you just looking for a decent home computer for emailing and word documents? Are you hoping to stream lots of videos? Are you a gamer looking for a new rig? A businessperson who uses spreadsheets? There are plenty of different setups for different needs, so just be aware of this before walking into the store.
2. Consider buying refurbished
Refurbished computers are computers that have been previously owned but professionally set up so that they function as good as new. A refurbished laptop can sometimes cost more than $100 less than its new equivalent.
You might have some reservations about owning a pre-owned electronic, but if you get your refurbished computer from a professional retailer, they will often include with it a warranty and like-new guarantee to make sure you walk out of the store confident in your purchase. Don’t succumb to that new-laptop desire!
3. Consider a netbook
If you really only need your laptop for googling things, emailing friends, checking your social media, and doing some light word processing, a netbook might be right for you. Usually, with much more pared-down features, fewer ports, a smaller display, and limited memory, netbooks are basically a large phone with a keyboard – and so, they are often much cheaper, with most basic models costing under $200.
A few companies make netbooks, so be sure you at least consider Chromebook vs Windows before deciding on one. If you are hoping for a little more horsepower out of your machine, however, you’d be better off choosing a basic laptop over a netbook in many cases.
4. Try not to finance
Some retailers will offer financing options for computers. Seeing that you’d only be paying 50 bucks a month for a year sounds like a good deal – until you realize that that’s $150 more expensive than the computer would cost if you bought it outright.
Sometimes, if you’re in a bind and need a new computer as soon as possible but don’t have the funds upfront, you might need to bite the bullet on this. But if you’re able to plan ahead a little and save up over time, buying your laptop outright is a great way to get it much cheaper than if you financed it.
5. Make a budget
There are computers at every price range – from an $80 bargain on a 5-year-old refurbished netbook to $10k rigs optimized for editing terabytes of video and gaming at maximum capacity while hosting a server and uploading HD video to YouTube.
It’s up to you do decide how much you want to spend, given how much you have to spend and what features you’re looking for, and you should stick to that once you’ve worked it out.
6. Wait it out a bit
Sometimes, it’s not about the computer itself but about human psychology. It can be easy to walk into the tech store and see all the gorgeous laptops and desktops available, and instantly fall in love with the sleekest, top-of-the-line model. But, as the saying goes, that’s how they get you.
If you see something you like, take a couple of days to make your decision. Make sure to revisit your budget, check your personal finances, and review the features you know you have to have and which ones you can comfortably forgo.