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Currys back-to-school laptops: could you get a better deal?

It's back-to-school season, but are this year's laptops worth the premium?

Currys PC World has launched its late-2018 laptop range just in time for the back-to-school season.

It’s rounding up ‘tech for school’ and ‘tech for students’ to help prepare for the new term, but are these really the best options available?

We take a look at five of the most exciting new models and offer up our suggestions for cheaper alternatives.

Take a look at our Best Buy laptops to see which models have come out on top in our tough tests.

Five new laptops for the back-to-school season

As well as rounding up some notable models from Currys PC World’s back-to-school range, we’re also interested to see how they fare against alternatives and whether, actually, there could be a better and cheaper option available.

Several of our cheaper recommendations are simply last year’s models that are now on discount, but it’s always worth checking the full range of laptops in any given retailer, as older – but still excellent – products will be available.

Plus, follow our guide on how much to spend on a laptop to ensure you don’t overspend on a laptop that’s more powerful than what you need it for. Take a look at our full guide on budget laptops and laptops for students for more information.

Lenovo Ideapad 530S | £730 | Power for the most demanding user

Lenovo’s latest generation of its popular Ideapad range has launched, with several new models now on the market starting at under £600.

First up is the Ideapad 530S, which should pack plenty of punch. Specifications range from Intel Core i5 up to Core i7, along with an AMD Ryzen 5-powered version with souped-up 3D capabilities.

This 14-incher is expensive, starting at £730. While it might weigh down your credit card, it won’t weigh down your bag as it clocks in at 1.5kg. Read our first impressions of the Lenovo Ideapad 530S, or view the laptop on the Currys website.

A cheaper alternative – Ideapad 520S

If you want to save a bit of cash, last year’s Ideapad 520S is currently £100 cheaper and you can save another £100 on top of that if you trade in your current laptop. The model currently on sale at Currys PC World has the same powerful Core i5 processor and even comes with Nvidia graphics, making it faster in some tasks. Read our Lenovo Ideapad 520S review for more.

Lenovo Ideapad 330S 14 | £550 | A small laptop for the basics and more

The 330S specialises in value-driven performance. It has the same 14-inch form factor as the 530S above, but features lower-power processors (Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3), less storage and 4GB of Ram. It should be ideal for working on documents, watching videos and browsing the web with lots of tabs open. Read our Lenovo ideapad 330S first impressions, or take a look on the Currys website.

Same price, better deal – Ideapad 320S

Last year’s Ideapad 320S is on a £100 discount at £550, with another £50 off if you trade in your current laptop. This model has a Core i5 processor – which should be a little faster – and double the Ram. Read our Ideapad 320S review for more, or view it on Currys.

Lenovo Ideapad 330S 15 | £600 | A chunky laptop suited for desk work

This 15.6-inch Lenovo laptop is another model that’s destined to go down in price in the future, with relatively basic dual-core processor options, a 1TB hard disk and 4GB of Ram. It weighs 1.9kg, meaning it’s better suited to home use than carrying around with you everywhere. Read our Ideapad 330S first impressions for more, or view it at Currys.

A cheaper alternative – Acer Aspire 6

The Acer Aspire 6 is £20 cheaper right now and comes with more powerful specifications, including a Core i5 processor and 8GB of Ram. It’s heavier at 2.1kg, but it’s nonetheless a decent deal on the face of it. Read our full Acer Aspire 6 review for more, or view it at Currys.

HP Pavilion 15-cw | £600 | A metal-bodied show-off

You pay a small premium for this laptop, with models starting at £600 for a Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 model. Go to £650 and you’ll get yourself a Ryzen 5 processor and more storage and Ram. It looks the part, but perhaps you can get a little more for a little less. Read our HP Pavilion 15-cw first impressions, or view it at Currys.

Our cheaper alternative recommendation would be the Acer Aspire 6 mentioned above.

Geo Book 1 | £220 | New kid on the block

This last laptop is from a new Currys PC World-exclusive brand. The Geo Book 1 is the cheapest laptop in the Geo range, costing just £220. It’s basic, but it might fit the bill for someone who just wants a laptop for taking notes or similar. Read our Geo Book 1 first impressions, or view it at Currys.

Consider a Chromebook – Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131

If you truly want something basic, the Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131 can often be found for under £200, and might be better suited to very light users. See our Chromebook CB3-131 review for more.

How much should I spend on a back-to-school laptop?

The new laptops mentioned are at the top-end of what most people should be buying, priced at around £600. These computers are fast and all tasks will benefit from the increased speed – from web browsing to essay work. Plus they don’t exceed 2kg in weight, meaning none of them will weigh down your bag too much when being carried to and from school or lectures. Here’s what you should think about spending depending on your needs:

  • Basic note-taking and occasional documents £200-£250 should be enough, look out for Intel Celeron-powered Windows 10 laptops and Chromebooks.
  • Heavy web browsing, documents, video £300-£500 will net you either an Intel Pentium Gold laptop with plenty of Ram, or even an Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 3 laptop.
  • Editing photos, videos Beyond £500, you can start looking at laptops with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors that are capable of editing photos and videos without much lag.
  • Gaming A good gaming laptop will set you back at least £600, and the more you spend the better graphics settings you’ll be able to run your games on.

We have plenty more advice on buying the right laptop – read more about student-specific models in our laptops for students guide. If you’re on a tight budget, discover the best laptops for under £300, or explore the best laptops for under £500 if you can stretch further.

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