1 Tip to Save on a New Laptop? Buy at the Right Time
Purchasing a new laptop is always exciting, but what if you could have gotten it much cheaper?
Computers rapidly change prices throughout the year, so what are the best times to buy a laptop if you want to save a few pennies?
As we explain the best time to buy a laptop, we’ll look at other tips to help you grab the lowest price and save money.
We’ll also explore what features you should consider when you buy a new laptop, so it works best for your lifestyle.
What’s the Best Time to Buy a Laptop?
Technology evolves quickly, and retailers are always looking to sell new laptops and older models. These two factors work together to produce endless deals.
Here are a few times of year that we’ve identified as prime for good deals on laptops, so that you can find the best prices.
- Back to school
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Prime Day
- National holidays
- After major tech announcements
During the Back-to-School Season
Just ten years ago, three-ring binders were at the top of most back-to-school shopping lists. Now, laptops are becoming an essential item for every student.
Many major retailers offer special promotions during the summer months, gearing up for students returning to school. Some states even hold tax holidays and waive the sales tax on electronics and other items.
Check big-box electronics and super stores, like Best Buy and Walmart, for the latest deals on laptops and tablets.
Back-to-school sales aren’t only found in stores. You can check computer manufacturers’ websites around this time to see their online deals.
Deals can range from price discounts to free computer accessories. Apple routinely includes free add-ons such as Beats over-headphones, AirPods and printers during the back-to-school season.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day
Simply because companies want your business, we have shopping holidays — Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day.
You can find some incredible Black Friday sales on laptops if you can pull yourself out of bed the day after Thanksgiving or head out after dinner.
The best time of year for electronics and appliances is Black Friday, as retailers pull out all stops, marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The best deals are typically found in-store, but many retailers also offer online discounts for shoppers.
Cyber Monday sales allow you to get in on the action without leaving the house or even getting out of bed. Grab your smartphone off the night table and visit your favorite electronics retailers’ online to find killer laptop deals.
Amazon has also gotten in on the action with Prime Day in July.
National Holidays (Labor Day, Presidents Day and more)
Shopping holidays are a nice bonus, but we also see retailers handing out laptop discounts during national holidays too. If there’s a federal holiday, there is a good chance that it’s a great day to purchase a new laptop.
Retailers know that holidays are a great way to move merchandise. With many workers off for the day, what’s a better option than to go shopping? If you don’t have the day off, most holiday deals run for a few days or through the closest weekend so that you can make it.
Some holidays when deals tend to be offered include:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Fourth of July
- Labor Day
After Major Tech Announcements
Here’s a bonus tip that will require keeping a closer eye on the tech industry before making a purchase. After releasing new models, manufacturers typically begin marking down perfectly good laptops to make way for new inventory.
Aside from Macs, most laptops will have an Intel or AMD processor inside (aka your computer’s brain). When Intel or AMD updates their product line, we generally see discounts on older models with the previous generation of processors, making way for sales.
Speaking of Apple, the company will sometimes discount its older model laptops when releasing a newer model. If you have your heart set on a Mac, keep an eye on Apple’s numerous yearly keynote announcements for an idea of when prices might change.
3 Ways to Save on a New Laptop
A laptop can be an expensive purchase, but there is more than one way to save on your next computer. Here are a few tips for saving money on your next Windows PC, Mac, Chromebook or Linux box — we know you people are out there.
1. Skip the Cutting Edge Technology
As with most consumer electronics, it usually doesn’t pay to purchase the top-of-the-line components unless you actually need them. Computer technology moves fast. Today’s expensive laptop is tomorrow’s good deal.
Most of us need a laptop to browse the web, check emails, scroll through social media and write a few documents. You don’t need the latest powerhouse for that.
Despite what a sales rep may say, most people shouldn’t be afraid to walk away with a computer sporting last-generation specs.
2. Think Outside the Box, Literally
We love refurbished gear here at The Penny Hoarder. What’s not to love about good-as-new products at reduced prices?
If you aren’t familiar with shopping refurbished, there is nothing to fear. Check out our guides on refurbished devices and Apple certified refurbished electronics for more information.
You can score some great deals if you purchase from a reputable retailer and ensure a return period and a hardware warranty are included.
Open box deals may not receive the same level of inspection, however, they can offer just as good discounts. Just be sure to check that return period and warranty before swiping your credit card.
3. Take Your Time
We know this tip isn’t fun but do you need a new laptop immediately or if you can wait? It may be worth waiting to land a deal when computers go on sale.
If you need a laptop, keep an eye on the model you want to see what deals manufacturers and retailers introduce throughout the year. Waiting for a few months may allow you to grab a great deal as new laptop models arrive on the scene.
Regarding a new Mac, don’t hold your breath too long. Major PC manufacturers launch deals all year round, but Apple tends to keep its MacBooks at the same price. If you want a discount on a Mac, check out refurbished Apple products.
How to Find the Right Laptop for You
Computer specs can seem intimidating, especially if you don’t know what you need. To help you out, we’ll walk you through a few specs to keep in mind when buying your next laptop (at a discount, of course — you’re thrifty).
Let’s start with the brain of your new computer — the processor (CPU, aka central processing unit). When you purchase a laptop, the processor will help determine the overall speed of your computer.
If you buy a Windows PC or Chromebook, you’ll likely see Intel and AMD processors. Apple processors are M chips.
For Windows PC users, an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor works well for most tasks. If your usage is light, you may be able to step down to an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processor.
For more intensive tasks, such as video gaming and photo or video editing, an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor offers increased performance and speed.
Older Macs have Intel processors, but most new Macs offer the company’s M chip. For most users, the standard M1 chip provides a surprising amount of performance for the price.
For more processing power, the M1 Max and M1 Ultra are two other excellent options for professional video editors, developers or animators.
Chromebooks don’t require much processing power to run. Stick with an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor for the best experience. Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm are also a good option.
Processors from MediaTek and Intel Celeron processors are also available but best for lighter use only, like web browsing or Microsoft Word.
Memory, also known as RAM, helps to dictate how many tasks your computer can do at once. Go with 16 GB of RAM if you constantly have a dozen browser tabs open and you’re editing photos and videos on the side. Otherwise, 8 GB should be suitable.
Chromebooks can get away with 4 GB of RAM, but we recommend 8 GB for a faster experience. Video and photo editors, designers, developers and other high-intensity application users may want to consider 32 GB for a smoother workflow.
Once upon a time, choosing the right graphics card was essential for everyday buyers. Now, most standard graphics cards are more than enough for daily tasks. You can even get away with some basic video or photo editing.
A higher end graphics card may be needed for video games, professional video or photo editing or animating. Look for a dedicated Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics card.
Whether you’re storing cat photos or important documents, you won’t want to run out of storage.
We recommend a solid state drive (SSD) — a modern storage device with no moving parts. These drives are more durable and much faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) of yesteryear.
For most laptops, 256 GB is enough so you don’t feel cramped. If you know that you’ll be working with large files, increase your storage minimum to 512 GB.
If you’re a gamer, you know video games take up a lot of space. A laptop with at least 512 GB of storage is a good idea. A, single terabyte (1 TB) is preferred. SSDs of this size can be prohibitively expensive so a traditional HDD may be your best bet.
Your laptop’s portability will be boiled down to its size, display and battery life. If portability is important, don’t choose an oversized beast that won’t fit on an airline or Amtrak tray table.
Most laptop displays range from 11 to 17 inches. Go smaller if you plan on traveling with your laptop. Laptops with 13- to 14-inch screens seem to be a sweet spot for most shoppers.
Go bigger if you use your laptop for video gaming or movie watching or just want a larger display. A 15-inch screen might be the best option.
Don’t forget about the battery. Most Macs have up to 21 hours of battery life. PCs don’t tend to have an advantage here but check the manufacturer-stated battery life.
Save even more with our picks for the best budget laptops.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As with most electronics, we see the best deals for laptops in November, thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. If you are shopping for a computer, wait until the holiday season. That’s the best time to buy a laptop.
Laptops always go down in price, which is why patience can go a long way. Technology advances quickly, and retailers will quickly discount old models to make room for new stock. During these times, you can take advantage of better deals and pricing.
You should buy a laptop wherever you find the best prices, and the dealer is reputable. You can locate great new laptop deals at major retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, Micro Center and Amazon.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer with The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.