A laptop can be a big purchase that you don't want to make too often. You can make the bill smaller with our expert advice.
It's back-to-school season, but the best deals aren't just for uni students and school pupils. Here, we give you five top cheat-sheet tips to getting the laptop you need at a price you'll love.
Scarcity in supply coupled with huge demand, due to home schooling and more people working from home during the pandemic, make it easy to imagine neither brands nor retailers were feeling in a particular hurry to slap the 'Reduced' sticker on their stock.
But times have changed. Now, not a week goes by without some of the largest retailers popping great discounts on big-ticket computers.
So it pays to start your laptop search nice and early, and keep tabs on the model on your shortlist as prices can change on a daily basis.
Michael Passingham, Which? laptops expert, says: 'I've been hunting out laptop deals for almost a decade and the landscape is always changing. Here are three deal-finding strategies I've noticed recently.'
It used to be the case that sales on MacBooks were pretty rare. But, of late, I've not seen either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro at full price at either John Lewis or Currys in months, and it's always at least £100 cheaper than buying direct from Apple.
You might have other motivations for buying direct, such as you want a specification the retailers don't sell, but otherwise I can see few reasons not to shop at a retailer. First, though, check our to make sure you're getting the right model for your needs.
Manufacturer websites vary in quality and service, but more often than not there is some kind of promotional deal or voucher code that can knock upwards of 10% off the price.
Some shops have 'discounts' on models for a suspiciously long time. You can check whether a discount is genuinely good by looking to see when and for how long a retailer was selling the product at full price.
Even then, always check rival retailers' prices to make sure that '£100 off' is a genuine discount and not just a label slapped on to make you think you're getting a bargain.
Unless you're editing videos or high-resolution photos in large batches, 8GB is enough for almost every task. Stepping up to 16GB can cost £200 (if you're buying a Mac, anyway) and is really unnecessary for most tasks.
It's nice to have extra room - those of us who have fantatised about a walk-in wardrobe know the feeling. But buying a laptop with loads of storage is likely wasted money if you store most of your files in the cloud, and don't have big programs and games installed most of the time.
256GB of storage is a happy medium, but assess your current and future needs before you commit.
Unless you're playing the latest games, using computer-aided design (CAD) software or editing videos, you don't need a 'dedicated' graphics card. These add extra cost to your laptop for performance in tasks you won't be doing.
If you're buying a Windows 10 laptop, make sure that what you're buying will also compatible with Windows 11. If you're buying new, it's very likely to be compatible and you don't need to worry, but do check with the retailer if you're unsure.
If you're buying used or refurbished, you should be more careful. The Microsoft support website has a of your laptop in order for it to be eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade in the future. You also need to ensure the processor is included on these Microsoft lists of supported processors: | | .
If your computer isn't compatible with Windows 11, you'll stop getting Windows 10 security updates in October 2025, at which point your device will be unprotected from whatever the latest threats may be.
You can save hundreds of pounds buying a refurbished laptop, but make sure you do your homework before you hit 'buy'. Here are three things to look out for:
As it's back-to-school season, you're likely to find all the big retailers and manufacturers offering up tempting discounts for students. Some require verification that you're a student, such as an '.ac.uk' email address or a membership with a website such as StudentBeans. But many are simply themed discount events that don't have any kind of education requirement.