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Guide to Buying a laptop PC

Choosing the perfect laptop is always a balancing act. You have to factor in screen size, weight, speed, energy efficiency and price. Finding a laptop that meets your needs on all fronts is tough.

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It helps to start by determining the price range where you are comfortable. That will be the first step in narrowing your options. Fortunately, laptops tend to break down into three easy price ranges.

Note that this buying guide is PC only. To learn about Apple laptops, visit this buying guide instead.

Budget laptop (under $500)
These laptops won't be the thinnest or lightest models. Nor will they be the most powerful. However, a budget laptop is perfect for browsing the Web, composing documents, viewing photos and basic photo editing. And those are the most common tasks performed on computers, anyway.

The weight of budget laptops varies wildly. I've seen models ranging from 3 pounds to 6 pounds. For the average owner, size probably won't matter. However, frequent travelers will definitely want a lighter model. Six pounds can seem back-breaking on the road.

One factor that contributes to a laptop's weight is screen size. Screen size is important, but you'll find most budget laptops have screens from 12 inches to 15 inches.

You'll want to be sure to choose a screen that is large enough for easy reading. Readability is different for each user. Take a trip to the store and see what screen size works best for you. If you're comfortable with a smaller screen, you'll save on both weight and money.

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