Everyone wants to pinch a penny when buying pretty much anything, and laptops definitely fit the definition for anything. On a more serious note, though, laptops can be quite an investment, so it’s important to know how, where and, equally as important, when to buy one to keep it within the budget. So, what is the best time to buy a laptop?
Well, the first answer would be as late as possible. If there’s a particular model you like, but don’t have the money to get it, just wait a few months, even a year, if you can make it, and you’re golden. However, we realize not anyone is willing (or able) to wait, so here’s a list of some pro-tips when and how to go about buying a laptop.
There drops in prices at certain times of the year, and one of those times is in April, simply due to the fact that’s when most of the older models go on clearance. So, if you want to grab a bargain, start studying the offer around March, right about the time when the Japanese end their fiscal manufacturing year. (Feel free to connect the dots.) This should give you up to approximately 20 per cent discount on last year’s models, since the stores have to make room for the current newer models. Just keep in mind that the prices may not carry over to the newer models, unless it’s explicitly on offer as a promo. On that same note, unless it’s a revolutionary step forward, newer generations will only marginally improve an already impressive performance, so if you really want to see a marked advance, wait for a couple of generations. Of course, seeing as this implies waiting for at least a couple of years, that sort of defeats the purpose of buying a laptop. Bottom line, wait for spring for the biggest discounts and best deals on laptops.
Back to School
The second largest drop in prices you’ll see for laptops is around August to September, when stores mark them down as back-to-school items, targeting students. It’s the best time of the year to pick up not only older, but also newer models at a discount. If you factor in the drop in price due to the introduction of a new CPU generation at around this same time, older models can go for only a fraction of the price, and you can get some serious bargains. In other words, although April sees the single largest discount during any given year, the cumulative value of the back-to-school season discounts can be the most convenient time to buy a laptop. This rings especially true if you’re looking for a general purpose laptop, rather than a higher end business or gaming laptop, which don’t quite play by the rules.
Welcome the Holidays
Come holidays, you might see another drop in prices, especially during the early holiday shopping period – think around Thanksgiving, or that holiday that will be known in a couple of years as the dinner before Black Friday and Cyber Monday (yes, it’s criticism). On the flipside, you have to keep in mind that the deals you might be able to find during this period are nowhere near what available around April and September, no matter what the retailers claim. One of the major reasons this may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime deal is that late November sales are squeezed in between two spikes in prices – mid October and December, respectively. Still, that doesn’t mean you’re not pinching a penny or two, only that it’s not that big of a deal as the advertisements and the holiday hype would have you believe. On a similar note…
Avoid Black Friday!
Granted, not every store will go through the same scenario as those horrid videos on YouTube show, but it will be crowded, and you might not even manage to get a deal. This especially applies if you went in there with a specific thing in mind. However, if you insist, here are a few tips on how to avoid the worst of the crowds during this period.
One, the busiest time is actually not is not when the store opens (although your experience might suggest otherwise), but rather in the afternoon. Electronics stores should peak about noon to 3 PM, so you should shoot for the window between doorbusters and 12 PM, ideally. Short of that, you might want to go around 4 PM – it’ll still be fairly crowded, but most of those people will be making rounds between clothing stores, so you can browse the electronics department to your heart’s content.
Two, don’t go to the malls at all. Going there is, in most cases, utterly ineffective, since you’ll have to navigate not only through the crowds of “unfriendly” fellow shoppers, but also the packed parking lots. Besides, once you do get inside your particular store, you might find out they’re out of stock for that particular model. Granted, you could easily avoid this by checking them online on your phone before even trying to get through the mob, but that just begs the question. We mentioned Cyber Monday earlier, but didn’t quite explain it – in a nutshell, it’s basically the same as Black Friday, only online. Basically, you’ll get pretty much the same deals, only without having to go through the hassle of actual shopping.
The Refresh Cycle
The refresh cycle refers to the tendency of manufacturers to put a hold on the updates until they coincide with Intel’s CPU release schedule. In other words, they’ll wait until they have all the latest components. For example, the latest in Intel CPU’s is the new 7th gen Kaby Lake series of processors (you’ll recognize it by its model number, if the first out of the four digits is 7, e. g. i7-7700K). You can expect it around March, if not sooner.
If, however, you’re on the hunt for a new (or first) gaming laptop, you’ll want to the GPU rather than CPU update schedule. For example, way back in August of 2016, NVIDIA released their newest graphics card – Pascal, and manufacturers such as MSI, ASUS and Alienware began updating their configurations right off the bat, and many rushed to get theirs. The best advice in these situations is to tame the impulse and wait to see how it performs, which you should know pretty much by the time older models go on clearance. Bottom line is, keep in mind that patience is a virtue, and good things will happen.