Startup Hacks: 10 Tips for Buying a Laptop on a Budget

Every year, more than 627,000 small businesses open up for the first time. No matter what industry they’re in, every business owner needs a reliable computer to get their company off the ground.

If you’re one of them, you’ve likely noticed that buying a laptop isn’t cheap. So, how can you find a reliable machine when you’re on a shoestring budget?

Though it’s tough, it is possible. Here are a few proven tips for buying a laptop without breaking the bank.

Tips for Buying a Laptop on a Budget

1. Think About What You Want and What You Need

Before you can start shopping for a computer, you need to think about the features you want the laptop to have. This can be anything from a supped-up processor to the largest hard drive you can find. It all comes down to personal preferences.

Once you have a firm idea of the features that your ideal laptop will have, think about what you truly need to be productive. If you’re buying the laptop for your business, it won’t need to be the fastest gaming computer on the market. It just needs to work for your business.

This might mean your nice-to-have features will be out of reach. Remember, the more features you add on, the more expensive your laptop will be.

Write down a list of the must-have features and use this to guide your search. Make sure each computer you’re looking at fulfills those basic requirements and

2. Choose the Right Operating System

Before you can start shopping and looking at different laptop features in earnest, you need to choose an operating system. You have three main platforms to choose from: Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, and Google Chromebook. Each one offers unique benefits and features.

For startup owners looking for laptops that are almost purpose-built for graphic design and photo editing, Mac systems are an ideal choice. However, you will pay a premium for even the most basic version of their laptops.

Windows operating systems are the most common and most versatile for most business owners. They work with standard programs and laptops with this operating system are more affordable than Mac models.

Chromebooks offer, hands down, the most basic operating system of any laptop or notebook. As such, they’re not the best option for startup owners looking to build their company. If you choose this operating system, you’ll likely need to upgrade your setup in a matter of months.

3. Consider the Size

Laptops come in many different sizes and the right size for your needs may not be what you think up front. Consider how you’ll be using the laptop.

If you’ll be traveling often or working on the go, a smaller laptop with a lighter weight will be a better choice. However, if you’re going to work from a dedicated desk or tend to use your laptop more as a desktop computer, a larger screen will work better.

This will let you do more detail work without feeling limited by the screen size.

Keep in mind that size doesn’t necessarily correlate with price. You can still get a basic laptop with a large screen at lower prices than a small laptop that’s fully loaded with features.

4. Set a Firm Maximum Budget

It’s incredibly easy to spend thousands of dollars on a laptop if you’re not careful. Though you have a general idea of how much you’d like to spend on your new computer, take the time to review your budget in detail before you start shopping.

Set a firm maximum amount that you’re willing to spend and avoid looking at computers that cost more than that amount. This way, you won’t feel tempted to spend more than you can realistically afford.

That said, remember that your laptop is one of the most important tools in your business’s arsenal. Higher quality machines will cost more, but by spending a bit more on a better computer, you’ll get a product that can keep up with your company’s needs longer.

5. Look at Your Options in Person

The best way to see if you like a laptop is to see them in person. Go to different retailers in your area and look at the models they have on display.

Type on the keyboards and make sure you like the way they feel. Pay attention to the way the screen looks at different angles and play with the settings to see if you’re comfortable with each laptop’s capabilities.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask the staff members there. They’ll be able to show you different options that fit your price point and your needs.

Just remember that you don’t have to buy the computers you find in the store. If you think you can get a better deal elsewhere, keep looking.

6. Look at Computers Online

Once you have an idea of the different brands and laptop models you’re interested in, turn your search to the internet. Compare prices across different online retailers and see which ones will offer the best deals on laptops and which ones have the types of computers you’re looking for.

It’s a good idea to review each online retailer’s shipping fees and return policies before you buy a laptop online.

Remember, the computer you order might not be what you truly need or could have a severe defect when it arrives. You need to know if you’ll be able to return the laptop and exchange it for a different model easily. Otherwise, you risk getting stuck with a machine that you’re not able to use.

7. Figure Out How Often You’ll Upgrade

Before you place an order, think about how often you plan on upgrading your tech. The average laptop lasts for about three years. If you’re looking for a laptop that you’ll be able to use for years to come, you’ll want to invest a bit more money into the purchase.

However, if you’re just looking for something to get you by for a few months, you can always buy a computer based on price alone.

When it comes to computers, you do get what you pay for. Cheaper models typically come with fewer features and have less power than more expensive versions. If you can, invest in a higher-quality machine and you’ll be in better shape over time.

8. Consider Waiting for Deals and Promotions

There are times when you can get a high-quality computer on sale. However, you’ll need to wait until those deals come around if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

If you can wait, you stand to save hundreds of dollars on your purchase.

9. Avoid Buying Bargain Basement Models

When you’re working with a shoestring budget, it’s always tempting to buy the cheapest computer you can find. Though this is fine if all you’re using the laptop for is basic word processing and email, it’s almost always a bad idea if you need the machine to do anything more advanced.

Instead of buying the cheapest option on the market, invest a bit more into your purchase. You’ll get a computer that will last longer and be able to do more for your startup.

If that means you need to save up for a few more weeks or look into financing options, it’s worth considering.

10. Read Customer Reviews in Detail

Before you commit to a specific model or brand of computer, it’s always a great idea to read the customer reviews closely. See what others have to say online and pay attention to any repeat complaints or problems mentioned in the reviews.

If more than a few customers had the same types of experiences or issues with their laptops, you can expect to have the same issues yourself. You should also pay attention to any complaints mentioned about the retailer while you’re reading reviews. This way, you’ll know what to expect when you make your purchase.

For business owners that plan to keep their computers for more than a few years, do a little research into the types of warranties offered by the manufacturer. Almost all modern computer companies provide limited warranties on their products, protecting you from unexpected expenses related to manufacturer defects. Look for warranties that last for at least a few months so you can try the computer out thoroughly and make sure there aren’t any hidden issues before the warranty expires.

Follow These Tips for Buying a Laptop Now

A great computer can make all the difference in helping you get your startup off the ground successfully. Keep these tips for buying a laptop in mind and you’ll be able to choose the right model for your needs and budget.

Just make sure you shop around and explore your options thoroughly before making a decision. This way, you’ll be able to find a laptop that will work for as long as you need it to.

Finding the right tech to help you on your startup journey is just one step. Check out our latest posts for more tips to help you get your company off the ground the right way.

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