How to shop for a laptop during Black Friday 2020
Select an operating system
If you want an operating system that mimics your iPhone, you’ll be looking for an Apple laptop (see: MacBooks). Alternatively, you can keep your eyes peeled for a good Windows laptop; the operating system is more common than MacOS and offers the widest range of program compatibility (especially useful if you’re looking to work on your laptop).
At a lower price point, you could also opt for a Chromebook — a streamlined version of MacOS and Windows that gives you access to much of the same basic functionality (internet, word processing, etc) via Google Chrome apps.
Check the specs
You’ll want to invest in something fit for purpose, remembering everyone’s needs are different. Screen size, weight, memory, graphics capabilities and battery life will affect each laptop’s suitability for you, and you may be willing to make sacrifices on one feature to get a great deal on another. Make sure you read the specs in detail so your purchase meets expectations. If you’re not sure what all the jargon means, here’s a handy reference guide.
RAM: This is your laptop’s memory. 4GB is acceptable as a minimum but 8GB or more is recommended for a high performance model and/or all-day daily use.
CPU: The Central Processing Unit is the processor responsible for running the programs on your laptop. Look out for models with multiple ‘cores’ as each CPU core optimises performance; an Intel Core i7 processor is the standard.
GPU: Here, we’re talking graphics cards – the tiny cards which process visuals. Each GPU is nuanced, so it’s worth researching each specifically to ensure it is powerful enough for your needs. High-end gaming laptops will require something special, like Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon GPUs.
Solid state drive (SSD) vs hard disk drive (HDD): This is tech slang for storage. Many laptops now come with an SSD, which is more expensive but performs faster. Both do the same job, but HDDs are still the go-to for cost-conscious consumers (everything simply runs a little bit slower).
Resolution: Screen resolution will determine the quality of the things you read and watch. Every display panel is made of pixels and more pixels mean more detail. Look out for a resolution of 1920 x 1080 or higher. Many brands use additional slang terms (like Retina, QHD, and UHD) but you’ll want to focus on the numbers themselves to simplify your comparisons.
To touch-screen or not to touch-screen
Many newer Windows laptops come with this handy feature which can offer a lot to younger people, older people, and artistic types. Some touch screen models will be described as ‘2 in 1 laptops’ as they can be used as a laptop or tablet. If you opt for a detachable keyboard, make sure you test it for comfort beforehand; some people love them, but some people don’t.
Popular models like Apple’s MacBook Pros are in high demand throughout the year, so they will be considerably more expensive than non-Apple laptops during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. You can find £100s off of older Windows laptops, as retailers hope to replace them with newer stock, but it is rare to see price cuts of more than £200 on Apple laptops.
Choose a price bracket
Once you get to grips with your desired specifications, you need to find the best option within your budget. From Black Fridays past, we expect good netbooks and Chromebook deals available for as little as £100, low to mid-range laptops for £300 or so, and high-end and gaming laptop deals around £600.