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7 big mistakes people make when shopping for a new laptop

For most of us, laptops are a crucial part of our daily lives. We use them for work, for play and for everything in between. But buying a new one can be a confusing, frustrating process. Laptops come in a wide range of prices, designs and capabilities, so it can be hard to know which to choose.

Technology is constantly changing, evolving and advancing, making it hard to determine what your needs are when sorting through the newest operating systems and top-of-the-line displays. Do you even know if you want a Windows or Mac computer? Tap or click here to find out which is best for your lifestyle.

While buying a new laptop can feel overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re on the market for a new computer, try to avoid the seven big mistakes most people make. Start by looking past those sale tags.

1. Buying because it’s on sale

Sure, everyone loves saving money, but buying a laptop — or any electronic, for that matter — just because it’s cheap isn’t a wise move. Try to get the best deal, of course, but make sure the laptop you choose has all of the capabilities you need.

If the operating system can’t meet your needs, it’s probably not as good a deal as the store would have you think. You’ll likely end up spending more to make the laptop usable or you’ll end up replacing it well before you would have if you’d purchased a laptop that was a good fit in the first place.

2. Purchasing by brand

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Listen closely: It’s smart to shop for the right specs, not the hippest brands. Yes, there are some manufacturers who offer some really cool-looking gadgets, but those same devices aren’t always a good fit for your needs.

Those super slim, high-tech laptops may require a ton of extra dongles, cords or software to meet your requirements, which can jack up the price on an already expensive piece of equipment.

Meanwhile, that bulky laptop without a recognizable logo or ultra-sleek design could be a perfect fit, and it may be more affordable. Buy the computer you need, not the computer that looks like a futuristic portal to the internet.

Make sure the laptop you choose has the right processer, hardware and screen resolution to function well for what you want to do with it. In other words, keep your eye on the prize, which in this case is productivity, not bragging rights.

3. The best hardware isn’t always best for your wallet

Do you really need that super high-res gaming screen and mega-dose of memory? Chances are, probably not — especially if you’re buying a laptop for simple everyday use.

Sure, those super high-end computers look awesome and the screens are pretty futuristic, but if your main goals are to surf the web, check email and do a bit of work after hours, you don’t need a laptop that comes with a high-def 4K touch display.

4. Buying blind

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There are tons of deals to be had online, but be careful about buying a computer on the internet without testing it out first.

Laptops come in all variations of weights, feels and looks, and while online reviewers may rave about a certain laptop, that same machine could have annoying, clacky keyboard keys you decide you can’t live with after only a few minutes.

Plus, you don’t want to wind up with a laptop that earned 4.7 stars online but weighs too much for you to drag from class to class every day. Each person has their individual preferences, so the only way to know if a laptop meets yours is to test it out in person.

5. Impulse buying

While you’re out testing laptops in person, try not to get suckered in by high-pressure sales pitches. You may have found the perfect laptop that meets all your needs, but resist the urge to dump a bunch of money on it right then and there.

Test it out, make sure it’s right for you, then shop around to see if anyone is offering a better deal on the same machine.

This is where online shopping can come in handy. If you’ve decided on a specific laptop, check all the avenues and see if you can get the same computer for less money. Chances are you can.

6. Brand new or it’s not for you

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If you know what laptop you want, look around and see if you can find an open box or refurbished version of the same machine. You may be able to find the same computer for hundreds of dollars less than a brand new one.

Refurbished products aren’t the same as used computers; they’re electronics that were returned for having missing or defective parts. Once they’re returned, the manufacturer fixes the issues, cleans up the laptop and does a data wipe, then sells them for a lot less than the retail price.

Plenty of reputable online retailers offer refurbished electronics, and while it can feel like a bit of a gamble to invest in one, it doesn’t have to be.

Some online retailers (Amazon, cough, cough) will offer refurbished laptops that come with warranties, and while the warranties won’t match the retailer warranties, they will often cover you long enough to be sure the laptop is working well and does what you need it to.

Plus, in a lot of cases, you can buy a much nicer version of the laptop — with more capabilities — for less money than the one you had your eye on. Tap or click for ways to save up to 70% on Amazon purchases.

The same goes for open-box laptops. A number of retailers offer big deals on open-box products — products that were purchased then returned for one reason or another — and most of the time they’re the exact same machines you would have purchased with a sealed box, only cheaper. So start shopping around!

7. Waiting until the last minute

If your computer is overheating to the point where it scalds your skin, it’s probably wise to start your new laptop research now. You don’t want to wait until your laptop sounds like a whirring helicopter to start looking for a replacement. Tap or click here for 5 signs it’s time for a new computer.

Time crunches lead to snap decisions, which in turn leads to spending entirely too much or relying on a salesperson to tell you what you need. Realistically, you should already know what you need in a laptop.

If you wait until your laptop gives you that dreaded black screen of death, you’re going to lose money or end up with the wrong replacement.

Start your search early, well before you have to replace your computer, and make a list of the most crucial components you need in your next device. This will help you make the best choice when shopping for a new laptop.

Buying a new device doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Smart shoppers are prepared, so avoid these common mistakes, do a little research and be patient.

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