4 tips when buying a new laptop

Sometimes, buying a laptop is like buying insurance. When you mention you’re looking for one and ask for recommendations, many say, “Oh, it depends on what you want to use it for”.

Well, after much answering of questions, here are the four best tips when you’re looking to buy a new laptop.

1. Identify what type of laptop user you are

There are exactly three main types of laptop users:

1. Gamers and hardware geeks.

2. Those who do design and creative work i.e. video editing, photoshop, music composition.

3. Neither (1) nor (2).

Gamers and hardware geeks are often techies who know what they need. Gamers say, “I need a computer with G3260 LGA1150, 120GB SSD, GTX1070 Gaming X 8GB GDDR5 and oh, must have 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 G-Sync IPS HD screen.”

Creative folks on the other hand, tend to buy Apple Macbooks. It’s like a cult. But seriously these are good machines – many people use their Macbooks for more than five years. Over the long run, that’s pretty cost effective.

But how about people in the third category? We mainly use our laptops to surf the internet, work on documents, plus whatever vice we have (movies/music/light gaming/ebooks etc).

If you are neither a gamer nor creative person, shop around and try out different laptop brands. Try to narrow it down to two or three contenders and buy whichever gives you the most value-for-money.

2. Specs: Go for at least an i5/8GB RAM/256GB hard disk

You can get laptops with better specs, but this specs combo is fast and dependable enough, so purchase these even if you don’t like the design or colour.

The Lenovo Flex 14 has the i5/8GB RAM/256GB hard disk specs, and if you buy it on sale, can be inexpensive at RM2,111.77.

In general, laptops with i5/8GB RAM/256GB specs are cheap (from RM2,000 plus) if it’s chunky, but expensive (RM5,000 plus range) if it’s light and portable.

As a guide, the Lenovo Flex 14 is only 2 kg while the Surface Pro 4 weighs half that.

3. Fixing laptops for cheap

You will encounter issues with your laptop from time to time and have to attend to the repairs. Accidentally dropping your laptop can crack its screen, and sometimes certain alphabets on the keyboard will refuse to work.

If you don’t want to spend RM500 to replace the broken screen, you will still however have to fork out about RM180 to get the keyboard fixed.

This tip is from Twitter: Buy replacement parts from Taobao.com and either fix it yourself or get someone who can do it for you. It’ll be much cheaper.

4. Or splurge on warranty

Consider a four-year warranty for your laptop, including a manufacturer’s warranty – it’s covered for five years in total.

Here’s why:

• Laptop malfunction rates (in three years), or the likelihood it’ll go kaput varies from 15.6% to 25.6%. Asus has the lowest, HP has the highest (source: Statistic Brain Research Institute). Microsoft Surface has a high malfunction rate at around 25% in two years (source: Reuters).

• Smaller laptops = more portability = more wear and tear = more likelihood to damage faster.

• Sometimes, DIY as in point 3 is not for everyone.

• You may not know of a laptop repair person who can do the DIY repair for you.

• If you like the idea of selling your laptop when you’re ready to buy a new one, having a warranty helps get buyers. Warranties add on about RM350-RM500+ per year, depending on the coverage length. For instance, Harvey Norman has a warranty plan. If you need to send your laptop for repair more than two times, they’ll replace it with a brand new machine (or a comparable one).

If your laptop is cheap-ish, chunky (mainly leave at home) and comes from a brand with low replacement rate, don’t bother with a warranty.

This article first appeared in ringgitohringgit.com

Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.