laptopHave you ever purchased a laptop that turned out to be a complete nightmare? Maybe you’re not a fan of trying to decipher what all the specs mean or fending off sales people trying to sell you more than you need. Whatever the case, here are a few tips to guide you on your way.


If you’re on a budget, it’s tempting to pick the $400 laptop; resist this siren call with all your might. Spending an extra $50 to $100 will get you away from laptops with slow “budget” processors, like the Intel Celeron series or AMD E series. You’ll definitely notice the performance difference.

Laptop Life

Expect to replace your laptop every two to three years. Why so often? New software tends to be more “bloated,” slowing computers down and new hardware is faster, doubling in speed every two years; regularly replacing the laptop offsets this slowness. Also, the longer you have a laptop, the more likely it is that components will fail. If you’re proactively replacing your laptop, then you increase the likelihood that you’re getting it set up according to your schedule and not when it fails.


Expect the store to tell you the world will come to an end if you don’t buy the extended warranty. If you’re set to replace your laptop every two to three years, you’ll likely be okay with the one-year warranty on parts and labor that most laptops come with. If you’re set on considering an extended warranty, a good rule of thumb is to purchase it if it’s 15% or less of the cost of the laptop. Be sure to haggle with the sales person on this, they may drop the price.

Pick a Winner

Few things are worse than spending hours on the phone with tech support due to an unruly laptop. Be sure to check online reviews at a couple different stores, like NewEgg or Amazon, to see if the laptop has issues. Also do a Google search for your laptop brand, specific model and the word “problems” to see what comes up, for example: “Lenovo Y570 Problems.” In the results, pay particular attention to forums where people share tech support questions, answers and nightmarish tales.


Go to the store and get a feel for it. Check to see if you’re happy with overall size, weight and sturdiness, as well as the screen size, keyboard placement/feel and trackpad. You can also take this opportunity to ask the sales person if they see a lot of returns for the laptop you’re interested in.

After the Purchase

Keep in mind, if you’re transporting your laptop often, it has a higher risk of being damaged or stolen. Here’s what you can do about that:

  • Buy a case with plenty of padding that fits the laptop well
  • Install tracking software like Prey or LoJack for laptops
  • Use a password on your laptop
  • Encrypt sensitive data
  • Backup your data