Knowing the tricks to buy the cheapest laptop is key with the waves of ” back to school ” offers since we are presented with very interesting models. The expression “big donkey, walk or not walk” is not valid here because all we will do is throw the money, so do not make mistakes and follow our guide.
With the “back to school” offers, many laptops have dropped in price and are in a good position for many. Young people increasingly have to use computers to do class assignments or to present technical projects, so they do need a laptop. We believe that the definitive combo (offers and needs) is given to correctly buy the desired laptop.
Precautions and tips when buying a laptop
Later we will show you models that can fit your needs, but first, we want you to know how to search for yourself and recognize if you are facing an interesting or overrated model. Read carefully what we expose you next.
Beware of FreeDos laptops
These laptops come without an operating system, so we will have to install them when we take the equipment out of the box and turn it on. This involves various computer skills because:
- Previously, we would have to download the operating system and “burn” it on a pen drive. Check out our tutorial on how to create a bootable USB with Windows 10.
- Then insert that pen drive and connect it to the new laptop.
- It will be necessary to know which key of the laptop (usually F9, F11, or DEL) is used to access the BIOS of the computer to change the boot priority to the Pendrive with the installation of the OS
- All that remains is to save, restart and start installing the new operating system.
Much trouble for you? So, run away from FreeDos laptops, unless you know someone who knows how to do it. As you may have seen, laptops that come without OS are much cheaper because manufacturers do not have to pay for the license, which can increase the laptop in question by around $ 50-100.
The keyboard layout
In full search of offers for the return to school, many ventures to buy a super discounted laptop with interesting specifications, where is the cat locked up? Well, it is possible that the keyboard does not have Ñ and its key layout is different, which is known as the layout.
For example, PcComponentes has rarely listed laptops without a Spanish layout in its store, but on Amazon, we do find many models with a US or EN layout, among others. This is because external sellers can be French, German, Italian, etc., so it is normal to see different layouts on Amazon.
Why are they cheaper if that is only the problem? Because some laptops with a different keyboard are more difficult to sell than others that simply come with a Spanish keyboard. They reduce the price to make them more attractive and to get rid of that stock from above.
Anyway, we can always reassign the keys or make a mapping to enable the Ñ, for example. This is more complicated and I advise against it for the average user who just wants to turn on the laptop and enjoy; for all the others, you have the tutorial available of programs to remap keys.
As a trick, Chinese laptop brands usually have EN or US layout and they don’t usually say it in the product description. Therefore, look at the opinions to see if someone has commented on the layout to avoid returns and unnecessary paperwork.
Weight is an aspect of value
Students will carry the laptop with them every day to college or high school, and it is an added weight to the notes or books they carry in their backpack. Therefore, it is advisable to prevent back or shoulder pain by reducing the weight of the laptop to the maximum.
I anticipate that lightweight laptops can be more expensive than normal and less powerful (they do not bring high-performance CPU or powerful dedicated GPU) due to the little space that the chassis has. A lightweight is anything between 1 and 1.5 KG; furthermore, it is a heavy laptop and its portability is greatly reduced.
Screen sizes: 13 ″, 14 ″, 15 ″ and 17 ″
Yes, there are laptops with smaller 13 ″ screens, but the truth is that their offer is not that great and they are not “standardized” sizes. If you go to the 4 dimensions that we propose, you will see that the product catalog is enlarged quite a bit.
Why is it important to know the laptop screen sizes out there? Think for a moment, where are you going to put the laptop? In a backpack? Well, the ideal thing is that the backpack can house a laptop of that size, an aspect that can be known when we go to buy a backpack.
Just by searching Amazon 15-inch laptop backpack, the following appears:
Therefore, do not buy a laptop that later does not fit in your backpack or your suitcase because it will have to stay at home or we will have to buy a new backpack.
Free upgrade to Windows 11
We have observed that some laptops that are on sale come with an interesting promotion: a free upgrade to Windows 11 . And is that this operating system is going to land at the end of 2021 officially, so Windows 10 will become “obsolete”.
I put it in quotes because it will not be an outdated OS, but it will continue to be used a lot, but sooner or later we will have to update to the new version, and if the laptop we have bought offers it for free, why not?
Microsoft Office 365, perfect for the student
As a student, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the editors that I have used the most throughout my career. I already used them at school, but the Microsoft Office suite is super important, unless you want / can work with OpenOffice.
There are several laptops that come with Windows 10 Home installed and with Microsoft Office 365, which includes OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This is because many people buy a laptop to work or study, regardless of whether there is a “back to school.”
Even if the laptop does not bring it, you can always use the “Word” or “Excel” from Google Drive, which has saved me from a bind and works great. Even so, I advise you to look for information about Microsoft 365 Education because it can be free for being students, as long as the center is within the “partners”.
For iPhone users: buying a Mac can be interesting
This advice is somewhat more specific, and it is that Apple knows how to take care of its ecosystem because it offers the possibility of transferring files without cables with AirDrop. I have used it and I find the synchronization between iPhone and Mac super comfortable. It is simply a note that Mac users can use.
Dedicated graphics cards and high-performance CPUs
The return to the cole allows us access to a portable sale that is very interesting as their performance is concerned. We launch this advice to technical students who need a team that can handle video editing, game development, 3D modeling, or AutoCAD (among others):
The integrated graphics of the CPU may not be sufficient for your use, so we recommend a dedicated GPU.
What dedicated graphics cards do we find on the market? AMD and NVIDIA, but it is very difficult to find RX 6000M graphics cards (if not impossible). So the best candidates are the RTX 3000 Mobile, as well as the professional RTX. Our recommendation is as follows:
- High-performance 6-core 12-thread CPU. If the budget is not enough, go down to one with 4 cores and 7 threads.
- Ryzen 5000 or 10th or 11th Gen Intel Core, no less.
- If you opt for a laptop with NVIDIA RTX 3000, check that the laptop works and is compatible with Resizable BAR and Dynamic Boost.
Working with heavy loads requires having the hardware to match, and I regret to say that a computer with these characteristics is not cheap.
Which processor is more suitable?
Depending on what you need, but one thing you must be clear about: the better it is, the less you will notice the planned obsolescence. The passing of the years shows a lot in the technology, and the processor was not going to be less. But, it is true that powerful processor ages better than a light one.
First, define what you need and what use you are going to give the laptop:
- Office automation and navigation? With a Ryzen 3 or an Intel Core i3, it is enough, although a Ryzen 5 and an Intel Core i5 are recommended.
- Watching movies or surfing? It is not the need that we wanted to cover in this return to school, but the laptop will give you the use you need with 8 GB of RAM, an SSD, and a good resolution. Regarding the CPU, with an AMD Athlon or an Intel Atom, you can spare.
- Programs and powerful video games? Part of a Ryzen 7/9 or an Intel Core i7 / 9.
RAM and storage, what do I choose?
In the middle of 2021, I recommend starting with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, regardless of whether it is a 2.5-inch SATA or an M.2 SSD. If you store a lot of photos, just buy a 1-2 TB external HDD and connect it to the laptop every time you want to save photos, music, or video.
If you are a student of a technical career such as multimedia engineering, computer science, industrial, civil, building or any architecture … it would start with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD. The reason is because of the heavy multitasking that you are going to use and that the projects that you save at the end consume a lot of space. Equally, it could work with 256 GB SSD and use an external HDD as we have explained.
The importance of resolution
Finally, it remains to address how important it is to have a good resolution on the laptop screen. Regardless of the size you have, I recommend starting from Full HD for obvious reasons: it is the standard base resolution. Anything that is higher resolution is welcome, but try not to settle for 720p or “HD”.
For those of you who study photography or video, tell them that you may be interested in a panel with certain characteristics (color space, color depth, IPS or OLED, etc.), adding a higher resolution: 1440p or 4K, for example. I repeat, it depends on the needs of each one.