Don't Make These 5 Laptop-Buying Mistakes

Shopping for a new laptop can be fun and exciting, but don't let that cloud your judgment, or you may end up with a shiny new piece of technology that costs too much, weighs too much, and does too little. Before making your next laptop purchase consider these "don'ts" of buying a laptop, and you can avoid one of the most common, financially costly mistakes made by consumers. (See also: The Best Back-to-School Laptops)

1. Don't Buy the Wrong Laptop for the Right Price

Buying technology that doesn't actually suit your needs is a bad deal no matter how little you paid for it.

The general rule of thumb for electronics is the better the price, the worse the performance. To ensure that you're buying a laptop that does what you need it to do, start your search by knowing exactly what you will be using it for. Next, check the specs and user reviews to find out as many product details as you possibly can. (See also: What to Look for in a Laptop)

Finding the Right Laptop

  • For students and professionals who need a portable computer for daily work and travel, look for a laptop that weighs around five pounds and has a smaller monitor size because bigger screens can't even be fully opened on some planes.
  • For laptops that will be used in place of desktop computers and will mostly stay at home, go for the big monitor with all the bells and whistles — and a large screen with high resolution for watching movies, TV, and playing games.
  • If you only use a laptop to send emails and surf the net, then you're free to look for a bargain for any type of laptop at any size.

2. Don't Buy Brand Hype and Marketing

Yes, Apple is the talk of the town with an excellent reputation… But, in a feature-to-feature comparison by Gizmag, the KIRAbook from Toshiba stands up to the MacBook Pro in almost every way: "The specs of each competing device's lowest-priced models are almost identical, with the exception of storage, where the KIRAbook doubles the MacBook Pro's offering of 128 GB to 256 GB."

Similarly, Alienware is the "it" brand for gaming laptops, but when compared to a Qosmio, it turned out to be more expensive, with lesser value.

The Qosmio X70-ABT2G22 is priced at $1,250 before customization. Standard features include an Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB hard drive, a 17.3" LED backlit display (1920x1080), and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M 3GB performance graphics. In order to match the screen quality with an Alienware, you need to pay for an upgrade, and the same goes for the performance graphics. With a starting price difference of $400, you need to spend an extra $400 in upgrades to get the machines roughly on par. To get an Alienware to roughly equal the specs offered by the Qosmio resulted in an $800 price difference!

So don't forget — shop the specs and not the brand when buying your next machine. You'll be surprised at how much you can save.

Compile a list of your needs and compare the features, spec by spec. Throw your brand loyalty out the window and read before making a final decision. Read reviews from neutral sources and ignore deals with tons of extras, like software, unless those extras are things you would actually spend money on anyway. (See also: How We Brainwash Ourselves Into Brand Loyalty)

3. Don't Wait for Holiday Sales and Deals

Back-to-school and holiday sales are well advertised and may be a good time to get the precise model a company is pushing but not necessarily the best deal overall. In fact, looked at the pricing information for 6,000 laptops over three years and concluded that the best laptop prices occur during mid-summer, before back-to-school season and again right before Christmas during "last-minute" shopping.

Retailers push out more sales and discounts during the holiday season, but are these deals better compared to other times of the year? The answer is no.

Because most consumers are in the mindset to buy during the holidays, retailers play off of this weakness and pump out a higher quantity of deals, but the quality of a deal is what makes the difference on how much money you save.

According to, their HP coupon code offers drove 10% more sales during the summer than the year-end holidays with comparable site traffic, due to more aggressive back-to-school savings options for laptop buyers. Once you have narrowed down your search and know which laptop you want, start monitoring prices and deals for a few weeks, and to save time, set up a price alert to get email notifications when the price of a desired item drops.

4. Don't Pay for an Extended Warranty

Extended warranties might make you feel like you're covered, but when it comes to laptops, it's more often than not a waste of money. The reason being, most laptop failures occur long after the standard warranty expires, and most repairs cost around the same amount as the warranty. (See also: Get Free Extended Warranty From Your Credit Card)

Consumer Reports advises against extended warranties with two exceptions:

  1. If you travel frequently with your laptop and the warranty includes coverage for theft or damage.
  2. If you're buying an Apple product and want extended tech support; tech support coverage from Apple can be skimpy if you don't have a service contract.

5. Don't Overlook the Benefits of Bundling

Some consumers make an automatic assumption that a bundle price is a rip-off and that the manufacturer is just trying to sell a bunch of extra stuff you don't need. However, buying a new laptop can lead to additional purchases including a carrying case, mouse, screen protector, keyboard cover, and so on. Bundling your laptop and accessory needs can help you save more money. By putting some thought into which accessories you may potentially need, you can take advantage of bundling discounts and save on all related items in one fell swoop.

What's your best laptop purchase advice?

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Concerned Citizen

Seriously? "shop the specs and not the brand when buying your next machine"

This was obviously written by someone with very little experience using laptops. There is a huge difference in the quality of laptops. Spend a little time searching the web for "laptop reliability" before you blindly buy something based on specs.

Yes, Apple laptops cost more than others when you compare them based only on specs. The same way a Cadillac costs more than other cars when you compare based only on the engine. People don't buy Apple for the specs; they buy Apple for the impeccable design.