Buying a Laptop

With students going back to school, and the Christmas season fast approaching, now is a good time to start researching those best laptop deals. Review Centre knows that Laptops remain one of the top Christmas gift wishes, and with the price of laptops decreasing, Review Centre knows how important it is to make sure you are purchasing the correct laptop to suit your needs.

If you're unsure or simply confused about what laptop to buy, take a few minutes to go through and consider our 5 step user guide, followed by our "Back to School" laptop FAQ.

Review Centre's guide to buying a Laptop

  • Step 1 - Speed

    Usually the first thing to consider is how fast you want your laptop to run. In order to have a laptop that runs nice and fast, you must go for a good processor. Certain processors run quicker than others. You can identify the speed of a computer by reading the laptop's specifications. A laptop's speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). The more GHz you have, the faster your laptop runs. If you are looking for a cheaper laptop, but do not want to forfeit the speed, then a suggestion would be to choose a laptop in the range of 1-2GHz.

  • Step 2 - Screen Size

    The next important step to consider when choosing a laptop is to look at the screen size. This is important if you are going to use your laptop for gaming or if you possibly have bad eyesight. Laptops with lesser displays are more often than not bought for portability and by those who travel often due to their smaller size. Laptops with a larger screen size are usually harder and heavier to carry around.

  • Step 3 - Hard Drive Memory

    When buying a laptop, check how much hard drive memory is available. If for example you need a laptop for downloading large movies and audio files, or photo storage and editing, then your best bet is to buy a laptop with a larger hard drive. This will allow you to store and archive your files easily without quickly running out of space. As a rough guide, a 160GB hard drive will provide approximately 3,000 hrs of music or 250 hrs of video.

  • Step 4 - Graphics Card

    If for example you're a gamer or a graphic designer, you would need to consider purchasing a laptop with a superior graphics card. By buying a laptop with a high-quality card, you will be able to have a better gaming experience. The laptop will be more than capable of processing the graphics required for the game and also handle the high-end multimedia applications you may wish to use.

  • Step 5 - HD Media

    If you watch a lot of movies, then you should consider purchasing a laptop with a blue ray player. A blue ray player shows films in high definition (HD), using the latest technology to bring clearer and sharper movie pictures straight to your laptop.

  • Review Centre's guide to buying a "Back to School" Laptop

  • What to buy?

    First of all, see what the college or university suggests. You may find that some university or college websites publish actual hardware recommendations and some even name specific models that work well on the network and that their IT people are trained to support.

    You may also discover that your specific course may require the students to have specific laptops to suit the needs of the class.

    Before you buy, also consider how long you'll need the laptop for, and almost certainly think beyond freshman year. The specifications colleges propose are normally meant to see students through at least three years of school. Thus they generally include an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. Buying the wrong underperforming laptop now, could result in pricey upgrades or even an additional laptop later.

  • Where to buy?

    If the college or university has one, check out their onsite computer shop. Thanks to bulk purchasing, computer shops located within the educational facilities can sometimes provide good prices and deals, sometimes up to 20% below retail prices. One of the advantages of having a computer shop within onsite is that these outlets often offer support and repairs. If your college or university doesn't have a shop, check online. Because you're looking for specific specs, it could pay to go direct. In some cases, colleges that don't have their own computer shop do have online discounts with major laptop manufacturers.

  • Warranty: Why you should get some!

    Most extended warranties aren't really worth the cost, however in this case consider the user, and assume the laptop will be taken everywhere and probably used as a beer coaster at least once during its lifetime. Review Centre suggests considering at least three years of warranty coverage, plus damage protection, from the actual manufacturer. If it unfortunately breaks after that, you'll probably want to replace it with more current technology anyway.

  • Still at School, but need a laptop?

    Your average school generally doesn't recommend specific laptop models. So what laptop should you buy when your child comes knocking?

    The functions most teens use, i.e. word processing, email and web browsing, don't actually call for a very powerful laptop. Review Centre suggests considering a netbook, highly portable, significantly lighter and great value for money. With low prices and great deals to be had, there's no reason to buy an extended warranty. Besides, your teenager will need a more powerful laptop by college anyway.