Prime Day deals are nearly upon us, and laptops will inevitably be hot sellers as always. But don’t go out and just buy whatever’s cheapest.
There are some important things to keep in mind when searching through the Prime Day laptop deals, including some obvious laptops to avoid.
Chromebooks are a popular purchase on Prime Day, primarily because they already tend to be cheap laptops. But these days, the best Chromebooks aren’t solely super-cheap laptops for kids. They can range in price from $150 all the way up to $1,000. While you get access to Chrome OS regardless of what you buy, quality can vary quite a bit.
There are some easy ground rules to follow to make sure you don’t get stuck with a dud. First, we wouldn’t recommend buying a Chromebook without a 1080p display. Some of the sub-$300 Chromebooks out there still use 720p screens — and trust us, it’s worth paying an extra $50 to get a screen that’s sharp enough that you don’t need to squint. The worst offenders are 14- or 15-inch Chromebooks with 720p screens.
A couple of good options in this category are the Samsung Chromebook 4+ and the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5.
The other important consideration is performance. Obviously, if you stretch for a Chromebook with an Intel Core processor rather than MediaTek or Intel Celeron, you’ll enjoy a much smoother experience. Pages will load faster, you’ll be able to handle more tabs at once, and you’ll even have a much better docking experience when connected to an external monitor.
Buying a Windows laptop on Prime Day can be even trickier than Chromebooks. You might be tempted by some really cheap, old laptops that you really shouldn’t buy. But again, there are some simple guidelines to follow that should ensure you get something that you won’t regret.
As with Chromebooks, don’t ever buy a Windows laptop without at least a 1080p screen. Those are less common these days, but it has to be said. It’s a similar story with storage. There’s no reason to buy a laptop that still uses a mechanical hard disk drive. All modern laptops come with a solid-state drive, even entry-level budget options.
A few great cheap laptops to keep an eye out for include the Dell Inspiron 14 or Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. If you can expand your budget out of the $500 range, you’ll open up to more powerful options with better designs, more storage, and sleeker profiles. The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is a great example and has a surprisingly powerful AMD Ryzen processor. The Asus ZenBook 13 OLED falls into a bit higher price tier than that but throws in an OLED screen for good measure.
Prime Day can offer decent discounts on premium laptops too, of course. The Dell XPS line still sits at the top of our list, whether that’s the ultraportable 13-inch model or the powerhouse 17-inch. Beyond Dell, the HP Spectre x360 line has some fantastic options that are just as premium.
How do you know you’re getting the latest model? Well, the processor is the easiest way to know for sure. If it’s powered by Intel, you want either the 10th or 11th generation. This is usually found in the marketing, but it can also be deduced from the name of the processor, such as the Core i7-1135G7, which is an 11th-generation Intel processor.
Laptops come in all shapes and sizes, so you might have something specific in mind. For example, there will be lots of gaming laptops with discounts on Prime Day, as well as more powerful mobile workstations and 2-in-1 tablets like the Surface Pro 7. A lot of these same principles apply when searching here. Never buy something from more than two processor generations back, and always make sure it includes the components you need, such as a discrete graphics card or specific ports.
MacBooks will undoubtedly be for sale as well, though they fall into a bit of a different category. I wouldn’t recommend buying older MacBooks such as the pre-M1 MacBook Air or the butterfly keyboard MacBook Pro from before 2020. The newer M1 MacBook Air and even the powerful 16-inch MacBook Pro are fantastic options, though.
If you can’t wait until Prime Day, there are several fantastic laptop deals you can shop right now. We’ve rounded up the best below.
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