How to buy a Cheap Laptop Under $300
Buying a cheap laptop computer is similar to buying a used car, so many options, and so many concerns. Will it perform as needed, and is it dependable? eBay, computer wholesalers, and classified ads all host cheap laptops for sale. Occasionally manufacturers offer excellent deals. While these cheap laptop deals are nice for the budget shopper, it’s easy to end up with a model you’ll regret purchasing.
Model numbers alone of cheap laptops are overwhelming. Whereas Brand X 3275 is a screaming machine, model 3257 deserves early retirement. Reading laptop reviews helps considerably, but unfortunately, many cheap laptop models escape computer industry interest.
Do not despair if you do not understand the details behind technical components. Just as one can buy a car without knowing how an engine works, the same is true for laptop computers. Understanding the basics allows you to compare cheap laptops and obtain a good deal. Furthermore, a seller is less likely to mislead you if you present him with technical questions.
What to Consider When Buying a Cheap Laptop Computer
Budget: Determine how much money you can spend on a cheap laptop. Smaller budgets reduce choice, so if you find that a cheap laptop doesn’t meet your needs, strongly consider postponing your purchase. Computer prices decrease monthly.
Usage: Make a list of intended use (e-mail, games, etc.), and software you plan to use. Will the laptop be your primary or only computer? If so, you will need more power and features and perhaps a larger screen. If a cheap laptop supplements a desktop system, a lower-end system may work.
Operating System: For best results with current programs, Windows XP is the best. Cheap laptops, used or refurbished, may still be using old operating systems which are no longer supported (for example Windows 2000, or even Windows 98). Other cheap laptops, and most new ones, use the new Windows Vista, instead. This is the latest release and requires more computer memory (1MB plus RAM) to run well.
Speed/Processor: Modern lower-end processors work well, so you can save money on a cheap laptop computer and have plenty of power for average usage. Two popular computer processor manufactures include:
• Intel: Celeron is the lower end of modern technology and yet works well for budget users. For performance, look for Celeron M model 400 or above. On a cheap laptop you may find Pentium 4, also good. Stay away from Pentium III technology unless you plan to limit laptop use. If you want the best laptop for web development, you should take at least i3 processor.
• AMD: Sempron is a good mid-range processor, affordable, and the latest models offer high speeds. Cheap laptops may be equipped with an Athlon or Athlon XP, also good. Duron was discontinued in 2004, but may be seen in used laptops.
RAM: Windows XP requires at least 512 MB RAM (Computer memory) to run efficiently. For cheap laptops with less RAM, inquire about an inexpensive upgrade from the seller. Find a cheap laptop that _can_ be upgraded to at least one MB of RAM. If so, it is a laptop with newer technology.
CD/DVD: CD-ROM access is essential for installing programs, and a CD/DVD combo preferred if you care to use DVD’s. If the laptop lacks one, consider an inexpensive external R/W drive. It requires no physical installation; just plug it into a USB port.
Graphics Card/Accelerator: Cheap laptops typically have a built-in graphic’s chip. A built-in chip cannot be upgraded and it shares memory (RAM) with the computer. For best compatibility, get a card that supports at least 64MB of memory.
Wireless Card: Ensure the laptop has a wireless card, not just supports one, if you plan to be mobile with your laptop. Otherwise, add a wireless card and installation fees to your cost. Additionally, look for 802.11 wireless support.
Ethernet: An Ethernet card allows you to access the Internet on a high-speed physical line, such as DSL.
Display: Some cheap laptops seem to have it all but possess a small 12-inch screen. Know what you are getting. In addition, some displays are historically poor in certain conditions, such as outdoors. If unsure, research reviews by the laptop’s model number.
Weight: It is a matter of preference, and lighter notebooks tend to cost more, or offer less. Mobile users that want a desktop replacement equivalent should aim in the 6lb range for comfort.
Hard drive: Cheap laptops often have small hard drives, particularly those sold on auction sites. Look for 40 GB or more. Otherwise, the cheap laptop will be painfully slow in a short time and provides limited storage space.
I hope this article will guide you to buy a cheap laptop. If you want to buy a used laptop, read my earlier post – Buying Used Laptop Computer – The Ultimate Guide for more information.