How To Buy A Laptop – 7 Areas To Cut Costs

You have decided to buy a nice laptop by using my laptop buying guide (link below), but you can’t quite justify or maybe afford spending that much money on it.

Is there some way to cut the cost a little bit, without sacrificing too much?

Yes. You make compromises. But at this point, only you can decide where you are willing to skimp.

The $2000 laptop that most of my clients end up buying is tailored to last 3 – 4 years, with contented computing along the way. Ok, maybe we’ll have to reload Windows at the 2 year point to regain that new computer performance, but at least it can be done.

Here are 7 areas to consider for paring the cost of that new laptop:

  1. Overall brand quality. Not a good idea in my book to skimp too much here. Witness my previous blog posts about the Sony VAIO. Others on the web have had similar recommendations to avoid that one. But still there might be a way to get a good brand without paying top dollar. The web provides tools to find the deals.
  2. Processor. I normally pick the fastest processor on the price/performance curve that sits right where cost starts increasing faster than performance gain. You can cheat a little here and hopefully still get 3 years from the hardware. Just don’t count on upgrading the processor later – no matter what any salesman tells you.
  3. RAM. This isn’t a bad place to save some money, because you can easily upgrade later. Just don’t go through the manufacturer; companies like DELL can really sock it to you on upgrades. Choose someplace like Crucial.com instead.
    Tip: Depending on price structure, getting, say 512MB in 1 DIMM now lets you add 1 more 512MB DIMM later for a total of 1GB and still make use of the 512 that came with it. If you buy 512 via 2 DIMMs, you will have to remove 1 or both DIMMs later to add more, thus throwing away value (maybe you can eBay it for a couple bucks).
  4. Screen. Older eyes might prefer the lower resolution of a less expensive screen. Most laptops have 1 or maybe 2 native resolutions that actually look good. These are fairly high resolutions that many over 40, especially women, find difficult to read. Dell’s WSXGA is as good of screen as WSXGA+ or WUXGA, just lower resolution. Compare before you buy!
  5. Hard Drive. Go smaller if you like, but don’t go slower. 7200rpm or faster (faster not available as of this writing) is all you want to consider. End of discussion, don’t listen to anyone else.
  6. Video card. For strictly business usage on Windows XP, you can save a little here. If you are doing a lot of graphics work, watching movies, or expect to use Windows Vista with the Aero interface, I wouldn’t advise skimping here.
  7. Warranty. This is your call. See my post on CompleteCare. Repairs are expensive; do you ordinarily self-insure? Computer hardware has a nasty habit of dying within 30 days of warranty expiration – call it Murphy’s Law if you like.

Operating system is possibly an 8th point to consider for reducing cost. Don’t pay extra for Windows Vista Ultimate if you aren’t going to need the features, and don’t skimp down to Vista Basic and then wonder why you don’t have the cool Aero interface. Again, compare before you buy.

Oh, and here’s the link to my laptop buying guide that I mentioned above. Click here.

The buying guide is already tuned pretty well for cost versus performance, so take the guide and the 7 cost paring tips, then see if you can come up with the perfect fit for you and your budget.

The choice is yours. Just do yourself a favor and choose wisely! I hope the resources I have given you here will help.

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