By Joel Montgomery // 16 January 2011 // Related Categories: Tips

In 2010 a third of all laptops were purchased for under $800, almost double the number of cheap laptops purchased in 2009. So what do you compromise when you buy cheap? Are you getting a bargain or will you pay for it in the long run? We explain.

1. Performance - You probably won't notice the difference

Cheap laptops generally use cheaper internal components, but it's unlikely you'll notice the difference. Manufacturers are continuously finding new ways to produce memory and storage at a lower cost. The most recent Windows version (Windows 7) is also far less demanding on your computer than the previous windows version (Vista) was, meaning you can spend a little and get more than enough power for everyday work and play.

2. Software - Make sure it's the right Microsoft version

More expensive laptops may come with Microsoft Office but you can be sure that the cheaper versions won't. Don't be tricked by Windows Office Starter Edition, which is a limited version of Office that won't let you do much more than read basic word and excel files. So check the version of Office and also make sure you are getting the Windows 7 version that you want (i.e. Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate) since Windows 7 Home Premium Edition doesn't have some of the features you may expect from a business computer. Also be warned that some manufacturers load up cheap laptops with lots of free trial software as a way to make money in the hope you will activate it. Uninstalling these programs can be quite cumbersome.

3. Longevity - It may fall apart faster than you expect

Cheap laptops may look similar to their more expensive counterparts but what you're really compromising on is the quality of the shell. Cheap laptops are typically made from cheap plastic that will be more susceptible to wear and tear. If you carry your laptop around with you a lot, you will notice significant wear if you buy cheap (keys start to fade or fall off, hinges crack etc). More expensive laptops have more magnesium alloy making them more durable and lighter than the cheaper alternatives.

4. Warranty - You may find it more difficult to get help

Be sure to compare the warranty and support for your cheap laptop. Manufacturers tend to cut their costs by outsourcing the technical support to low cost locations, and the warranty conditions may be restricted. Whilst not always true, the more expensive laptops often come with higher levels of support with faster response times and local support agents.

5. How to spot a real bargain

There are some great deals to be had at the moment. Intel has recently replaced their processor range with the new Core processors, which means they're running out the models with the previous processor (Core 2 Duo) at extremely cheap prices. I recommend compromising on the processor type (you shouldn't notice the difference) and buying a model with a reputation for superior quality and warranty. Harris Technology are also selling the previous models of Dell Latitude E4300, E6400 and E6500 which only six months ago were selling for over $2,000, but now you can pick them up for as little as $650 - what a deal!

Comments: 14 // Share:

Tony // 18/01/2011 9:13 PM

Good advice. I bought a Latitude E6400 from Harris Technology and am well pleased with its performance and quality. Pity about the clover leaf power connector though.

Jean Stone // 19/01/2011 10:35 PM

I usually by a 3k laptop built to defence force standards. The last one only laster 12 months. This time I purchased a cheapie. It has lasted 6 months so far. I'm happy with that!

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dell laptops // 27/05/2011 8:37 PM

For gaming, surfing the internet and for watching video, other entertainment and for studies you can easily buy laptops on cheap price.

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I use laptops for gaming the lowest current price for a laptop that can play all current games (only at low settings for the most demanding ones, however). It's a great fit for portable World of Warcraft use, though.

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