Save vs. Splurge: How Much Do You Need to Spend on a New Laptop?When it comes to laptops, one thing is certain: There’s a wide variety of options. From brand to screen size and memory (to name a few), choosing a laptop can be a difficult decision. Add in the fact that the price can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, and you’ve got quite the dilemma on your hands.

Not to worry, though. The money you spend on a laptop is mostly determined by how you plan to use the laptop. For example, if you’re only purchasing one for basic needs such as email and keeping up with the news, you can most likely get by purchasing a laptop on the cheap end. However, if you’re looking for enhanced graphics to play games, or if you’re a new college student, you’re probably better off shelling out a few more bucks. In this week’s version of Save vs. Splurge, we’ll ensure that you make the right decision when it comes to purchasing your next laptop.

According to BestBuy.com, the cheapest brand-new laptop starts at $199.99. Any guesses on the most expensive? Did you say $2,000? If so, you’d be wrong. Keep going. Did someone say $3,500? Wrong again. We could do this all day, so I’ll just tell you that the most expensive laptop on the site is listed at a whopping $5,134. In case you didn’t think there could be that big of a difference between laptops, that difference of $4,934 proves otherwise.

How could there be such a difference, you ask? Let’s start with the HP 11.6” Chromebook Exynos 5. It’s got 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of flash memory. At $199, you’re paying for the bare minimum of bare minimums. DVD/CD drives are not included. A laptop like this is for someone who doesn’t plan on using it for much more than checking email and surfing the web.

Now, let’s take a look at the Alienware 18.4” Intel Core i7. With 32 GB of memory, it’s got 16 times the amount of memory of the HP model to go along with a screen that is 6.8” bigger. Playing games or watching videos on YouTube is not only possible on the second option, it would provide a much better experience with much better graphics and a larger screen.

Chances are, you probably need something in between. How can you find the right match? Let’s take a look some of the things you need take into consideration.

Brand

In many cases, Apple products tend to be on the expensive side. Before making any decisions, you’ll want to test an Apple against a PC to see what you prefer. After growing up with a PC, I decided to switch to a MacBook in college. It was a difficult transition because I was so used to working on a PC. Minor things seemed to annoy me the most. For example, I was accustomed to closing out programs by clicking a button on the right side of the screen. On a Mac, though, you close out programs by clicking a button on the left side of the screen. Something so minor took me such a long time to get used to. Be sure to test out a variety of brands before slimming down your choices from there.

Screen Size

Depending on how you plan to use your laptop, screen size is important. If you plan on playing games or using programs such as Photoshop or InDesign, you’ll most likely want a large screen. If you plan on just using the laptop for basic purposes, you can probably get away with using a smaller screen and saving a little bit of cash.

Memory

Again, this is all dependent on use. Are you going to be saving a lot of documents on your laptop? Are you the person in your group of friends who brings a camera everywhere with them and takes pictures of everything? If so, you’ll want a little more memory and will have to shell out a little extra cash. Be sure to talk to a sales representative to figure how exactly how much memory you’ll need. It’s one of the main factors in determining the cost of your laptop.

Programs/Extras

Do you need Microsoft programs such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel? If so, plan on doling out an extra $100–$200. If you don’t like using the touchpad mouse on the laptop, you can purchase an extra mouse. Those range in price significantly, too.

When trying to budget the purchase of a laptop, keep in mind that the average PC laptop sells for just under $500. So, to sum it up, you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get a laptop that will last you for an extended period of time. You’ll probably want to stray from purchasing one of the super cheap models, but I’d say you can purchase a laptop with everything you need for $600–$700. As technology has improved in recent years, the prices of laptops have come down considerably, too.

We want to hear from you now. What do you think is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a new laptop? Do you think $600–$700 is pretty accurate when it comes to the amount needed for a laptop that can perform a variety of tasks and last an extended period of time? Let us know in the comments below!

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