The Price Is Right: Laptop Buying Season Is Upon Us

The Price Is Right: Laptop Buying Season Is Upon Us

In the market for a new laptop? You’re in luck: we’re coming into one of the best times to buy right now. Here’s why.

That’s right: we’re on the precipice of deals season for laptops and PCs.

More: The Best Thin Gaming Laptop For Every Need

In one week, a gaggle of the world’s laptop manufacturers — including Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Gigabyte and Dell — gather in Taipei for the world’s largest computing show.

It’s called Computex, and it’s where all the new tech that powers the super-thin laptops we covet gets unveiled. We’re talking new processors; thinner laptops; better batteries; brighter screens; clever cameras and other awesome nonsense we haven’t even thought of yet!

Last year’s Computex brought with it the first fanless laptops, as well as a dream of being cable-free forever. It’s easy to argue that those concepts have now been parlayed into machines from the likes of Apple and Lenovo. Computex is a big deal.

What’s interesting about Computex is that it’s a buyer’s show as much as it is a show for journos and keen industry analysts. It’s a show where the people in charge of the purse-strings for Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, JB Hi-Fi and more go to decide what they’ll range in their stores.

For this reason, those Aussie retailers are looking to clean house. Models unveiled as recently as January at the Consumer Electronics Show will be on the specials block, and if you’re a savvy negotiator, you can save fistfuls of cash on a new machine.

Here’s how.

How To Get The Best Deal In Laptop Season:

Here are our top tips for hunting down a deal during laptop season.

Know Your Needs

It’s all well and good to drool over the latest shiny laptop, but before buying you need to lock down what you actually need. Do you travel a lot? Use your laptop at work? Edit 4K video? Watch movies in bed? Study?

Make a list, make a mind map or talk it over with your partner, parents or pet. But make sure you know exactly how you plan to use your laptop. There is no point buying a powerhouse with high end CPU if you only edit Word documents. Likewise, if your laptop rarely leaves your desk, an ultraportable model with 10 hours of battery life is pointless.

It’s also worth considering if your use is better suited to multiple devices. A cheaper but bulky gaming machine is perfect for home use, while a slim 10” laptop or tablet can provide on the go connectivity. You might even decide that a desktop coupled with a cheap laptop gives a better overall package than one expensive laptop.

Make a Budget

It seems obvious, but actually sit down and figure out how much you want to spend. Can you actually afford the latest Macbook Pro? The urge to get the best is strong which often leads to purchases which are totally overkill for their intended use. Don’t max out the credit card unless you really have to – a laptop that’s slightly slow is better than one you are paying off for the next few years.

Once you make a budget, stick to it. It’s all too easy to stretch to the next model up, just because you want it. That said, be realistic –-if you need a grunty laptop to run Solidworks for work, set a higher budget. Also check your salary sacrifice or tax write off options if you laptop will be used for work.

Keep an eye out for specials – you can often grab a bargain. Consider upgrading RAM and SSD yourself (check if is possible) as it will be almost always cheaper than getting the manufacturer to do it. Some brands (such as Dell) often sell the laptop you want, but you can downgrade the CPU and RAM or drop the discrete GPU to save a little money.

Research, Research, Research

This guide is a great starting point on the road to buying a laptop, but don’t be afraid to do other research. Once you have an idea of what you need and how much you have to spend, put together a list of models.

Search online for the latest reviews and jump into forums to get actual user feedback on your top picks. Look for common problems, real world battery life and how the manufacturer handles warranty issues.

Check The Release Date

Just because everything has a big red sticker saying it’s on special doesn’t mean you’re about to get a bargain!

You don’t want to find yourself walking out of the store thinking you’ve got a deal, only to realise that you bought a clunker from two years ago.

Make sure to check the release date with a quick Google search, and double check the configuration list in-store against the manufacturer’s specs to make sure you’re getting the bang-for-buck you want.

Haggle For Extras, Not For Price

Retailers can often be flexible on price when it comes to sale items. By putting it on sale, it’s implied that the retailer wants it out of the store as quickly as possible, so negotiating on price isn’t completely out of the question.

Don’t be rude and just assume you’re going to get the product for nothing, but know that you can maybe get a few hundred bucks off a sale item just by asking the question, “how low can you go?”.

Even if you can’t get any extra cash off your coveted laptop by haggling, there are other arrows in your quiver you can use.

Retailers will often throw in accessories or an extended warranty to sweeten the deal when haggling. If you can’t get cash off your purchase, go for the optional extras before giving up!

For more advice, check out our Laptop Buying Guide!