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Tips for Buying a Laptop Online

written by: randalarias•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 5/27/2009

There are a number of tips for buying a computer online that can help you out, no matter your budget. This article will help you discern what important features you need and what's unnecessary for you. It'll also give you a great idea about how to find the best computer deal online.

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    You Laptop Use

    The best tip for buying a laptop online is to consider how you'll use the computer. Each use will be best served by a slightly different laptop. For example, a gaming laptop will be much more expensive and require a much higher amount of RAM and processing speed than a laptop used by a student for work. Look at these different types of uses and think about how you plan to use your laptop. This will help you get the best laptop deals to suit your needs.

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    Home Laptop

    If you're just using your laptop for home use you'll probably want a computer that is either midsized or acts as a desktop replacement. Home laptops are usually used for email, watching videos, burning CDs and hooking it up to your television to watch movies. When shopping for a laptop for home use, you'll get the best laptop prices by sticking to what's important to you. You'll only need a fair amount of RAM, although you should spend a bit more to get a large hard drive and a faster processor. Graphics don't need to be the best because the computer won't be used to run new video games. Look for features that you care about: webcams, a CD burner, and connections that you can use to connect your laptop to your television (such as an HDMI connection).

    Here are some of the best laptops for home use:

    • The Toshiba Satellite E105-S1402 Laptop is a good home use computer that has a great battery life, a good warranty, back-lit keyboard and is well-built. The computer is also a good value at only $799.99 at Best Buy.
    • The Sony Vaio AW125J/H is the most affordable 18-inch Blu-ray laptop on the market. It's great for watching high def videos and looks great. This laptop has 4 GB of DDR2 memory and weights 8.2 pounds. This Sony Vaio is a great computer for home use or as a desktop replacement in the home.
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    Student Laptop

    A student laptop should have many features in common with a business laptop. It should be completely portable to allow you to take it with you to classes. It should also have an easy to view screen and a long battery life.

    This laptop is great for students:

    • The Dell Studio S1535-125B laptop has an HDMI output, 4 GB of RAM, a huge 320GB hard drive and a much better performance for similarly priced laptops. Unfortunately, the Dell Studio is a bit bulky and doesn't have the best battery life. Still, at well under $1,000, this laptop is great for students on a budget.
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    Traveling Laptop

    Above all else, a laptop designed for travel should be lightweight, well-built and have a long battery life. Great travel laptops also have multimedia options that let you enjoy videos and music while on the go.

    This is the most affordable, high-quality travel laptop.

    • The Gateway MD7818u is the best travelling laptop for under $1,000. It costs just $599.99 at Best Buy and has a large hard drive, a good battery life, a sleek, durable design and great high-end touches. This is Gateway's most affordable multimedia laptop and is recommended for travellers.
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    Work Laptop

    The most important features in a good business laptop are the following: a simple design, a durable case and a lack of entertainment features. Business laptops are designed for quality and durability and aren't meant to have great graphics. When choosing a business laptop to suit your needs make sure it has a high battery life, is lightweight, and has an easy-to-read display. A good laptop for work will usually run between $1,000 and $1,700.

    Here are some top work laptops, along with where you can get the best price on them.

    • The Apple MacBook 2008 Release ranks high for both business and student use. This laptop has a great design, battery life and mobility at only 4.5 pounds. The Apple MacBook 2008 Release is afforable and sleek, giving all the features you need in a business laptop. Available at the Mac Connection for $1,249.00.
    • Another great laptop for business users is the Lenovo Thinkpad X301. This computer ranks highest on mobility and battery life, is very lightweight and quiet, and has a great display. The computer is very expensive but this may be worth it to get a great mobility laptop. The Thinkpad X301 is available at Cost Central for $1,748.
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    Gaming Laptop

    Gaming Laptops are by far the most expensive and hard-to-shop-for laptops out there. You'll need to take a few things into consideration when choosing a gaming laptop. First, make sure the laptop's graphics card has it's own RAM, or integrated graphics. This will prevent the computer from running very slowly when you try to play games. Look for the latest ATI or NVIDIA GPU in the computer which will give you the most power. You'll also need a rather large amount of RAM and a very fast CPU to make games run correctly. Lastly, look at the size of the computer. A larger computer will help cool the computer more effectively and a bigger screen will be more enjoyable to play on. Choose a computer with a screen that's 17" or larger. Laptops for gaming will usually run fairly high, up to $4,000.

    Here are some great gaming laptops to consider, along with where you can buy them for the best price.

    • Alienware, a brand known for creating great gaming PCs, has released a gaming laptop called the Alienware m15x Gaming Laptop. This laptop is powerful and performances very well, although many will consider it overpriced. Available at, starting at $1,199.
    • The Asus G50vt- X is a good gaming laptop for people on a budget. The laptop gives good performance, although mobility and battery life are rated low. Available at for $1,574.99.
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    Getting a good deal online

    Getting great laptop prices online is easy when you take into account what you're looking for. Don't pay for features you don't need or don't desire. Make sure you go over the options and compare different brands and different sites. What may be the best deal on what site could be over-priced at another. You can also consider buying used/refurbished laptops from well-known companies like Dell, HP, NewEgg, and others. Make sure the refurbished laptop still comes with a warranty and a return policy.

    Also, be sure to do a lot of comparison shopping. This is the key to saving money. Read reviews on websites like and to get an idea of the laptop that's ideal for you. Then go to all the reliable websites you know to search for the best price. First try the manufacturer, like Dell, HP, Alienware, Asus, Acer, Apple, etc. Then go to websites like, and others that you trust. If you have a membership at Costco or Sam's Club, now may be the time to put it to use. These warehouses frequently feature popular laptops at great prices; you can even get them on sale every now and then for up to $300 off!

    Using these methods is sure to get you the best laptop deals online, helping you get the laptop you want for a price you can afford.

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    Resources to use during your comparison shopping

    CNET: This website features reviews on all laptops on the market, new and old. This should be one of your first stops when looking for the best laptop deals. This is another website that specializes in laptop reviews. It can be helpful.

    HP: The best way to see HP's latest products and prices.

    Dell: Find out what Dell's currently offering.

    Acer: A great provider of high-quality, affordable laptops.

    Sony: One of the biggest makers of laptops.

    Toshiba: A good source for home use laptops.

    Alienware: A well-known maker of gaming desktops and laptops.

    Costco: Frequently offers great prices on laptops and netbooks, as well as desktop computers and accessories.

    Sam's Club: A good place to find great laptop deals.

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    1. "Laptop Buying Guide." 26 May 2009.