Let’s be honest. We all want the newest, shiniest and most powerful gadgets that the technology industry has to offer us, but that’s not necessarily compatible with our budgets. Even if you have the “extra” money to spend, it usually pays to shop around and see how you can get the best deal. There is certainly a reason why some laptops are only $400 while others can sell for north of $2,000, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t save a few bucks and still be perfectly happy with your purchase. So, how can you save some money on your next laptop?

Only Buy What You Need

Sometimes, you just have to bite that bullet. It’s easy to get upsold and consider buying something higher end for whatever reason, but those upgrades are always going to hit your wallet. This is one of the reasons why I ended up buying a Windows 7 Ultrabook instead of one that came pre-installed with Windows 8 and a touchscreen. I didn’t need that touchscreen and I didn’t need the newest OS.

When you look at the spec sheets, you’re bound to find a lot of features that would be on your “nice to have” list but they’re not really on your “I need this” list. Do you really need to have the Core i7 processor or will Core i5 do everything you need it to do? Do you really need to have 8GB of RAM for surfing Facebook and watching YouTube on the road? This isn’t always true, but you’ll find that AMD-powered notebooks tend to be cheaper than their Intel-powered counterparts, so that’s another way to save some money. That said, sometimes you’ll find some stellar deals on Intel laptops too.

Consider Aftermarket Upgrades

You know how I said that you should only buy what you need? That doesn’t mean that you need to buy something that is perfect for you right out of the box. Just as there is a significant DIY market when it comes to desktop PCs, a similar kind of philosophy can be applied to laptops too. This is why one of the factors that you may want to keep in mind when shopping for a new notebook is how easy it is to upgrade that notebook.

If you find that you have reasonably easy access to the hard drive and RAM, for example, it’s easy enough for you to buy some bigger RAM or a nice SSD to replace the OEM parts. This is oftentimes more cost-effective than buying a laptop that already has those upgrades out of the box. Even if you’ve never opened up a laptop in your life, it pays to keep your options open.

Stick with the 15-Inch Form Factor

Again, this isn’t always the case, but it is something that is worth keeping in mind. In general, laptops with 15.6-inch displays (or thereabouts) tend to be cheapest when compared, spec-to-spec, with both their bigger and smaller counterparts. If you want to go smaller, like a 13.3-inch Ultrabook, you should expect to pay a premium. If you want to go bigger, like with a 17-inch desktop replacement laptop, you should also expect to pay a premium.

Indeed, when you shop around for the different HP laptop deals that are available, the best deals are usually in the 14 to 16 inch kind of range. This assumes that you want to maintain the same kinds of specs, of course. If you want the increased portability of a smaller notebook but are willing to sacrifice on spec, you may be able to get a similar kind of price as a higher-powered 15-inch laptop.

Look at Refurbs and Open Box Items

Sometimes only what you need means looking at last year’s models, but those may or may not be immediately available through your preferred retailer or e-tailer. Even if they are, sometimes the better deal is to look for something that is used. There is Craigslist and eBay, but for greater peace of mind, checking out the refurbs and open box units may be a better option.

This is the case with refurbished monitors, just as it is with refurbished laptops. With Apples in particular, the refurbished MacBooks can not only represent significant savings; they can actually end up being better built and more reliable than the brand new versions. This is because the quality testing as part of the refurbishing process can sometimes be more intense than at time of manufacture.

At the end of the day, it’s about knowing what you want, doing your homework and shopping around.

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