By PowerBuy // 18 September 2012 // Related Categories: Tips

Cheap laptops are everywhere right now, especially as manufacturers clear stock of Intel's older processors. Everybody wants to save money, but should you rush out and buy the cheapest laptops available for your business?

Here are some key things to consider when you make your next business laptop purchase:

1. Performance – Most laptops are fast enough for everyday use

Cheap laptops generally use cheaper internal components but it is unlikely you will notice a difference in performance. Manufacturers are continuously finding new ways to produce memory and storage at a lower cost. Windows 7 is not as demanding as Vista was, and Windows 8 is also tipped to tread lightly on your PC, so even basic laptops running low-end Intel CoreTM processors are more than enough power for everyday work and play.

2. Software – Are you getting the right version?

Cheap laptops do not come with Microsoft Office and they usually come with the consumer version of Windows 7 (Home Premium). Make sure you are buying the Windows version that you need for business networks (i.e. Professional or Ultimate). Also be warned that some manufacturers load up cheap laptops with lots of free trial software as a way to make money in the hope you will activate it. Uninstalling these programs can be quite cumbersome.

3. Longevity – Cheap laptops fall apart faster than you expect

Cheap laptops may look similar to their more expensive counterparts but what you are really compromising on is the quality of the shell. Cheap laptops are typically made from cheap plastic that will be more susceptible to wear and tear. If you carry your laptop around with you a lot you will notice significant wear if you buy cheap (keys start to fade or fall off, hinges crack etc). More expensive laptops are better built (e.g. made from a magnesium alloy) and are more durable and lighter than the cheaper alternatives.

4. Corporate use – Spend more to get the bells and whistles

If you are storing confidential information on a laptop - and especially if you are legally obliged to do so, you will often find that security features such as hardware encryption and biometric security only come with higher business-grade laptops. The same is true on the software side. Also consider that docking stations (aka port replicators) and desk security locks are only available if you pay that little bit more.

5. Warranty – Be warned if you buy cheap

Be sure to check the warranty and support conditions. Manufacturers tend to cut their costs by outsourcing the technical support to low cost locations, and the warranty conditions may be restricted. Whilst not always true, the more expensive laptops often come with higher levels of support, faster replacement times and local support agents.

6. Aesthetics – It reflects your business image

This is a more subjective matter, but consumer-grade laptops are not just built cheaply; they are also built to appeal to consumer sensibilities. Presenting to a prospective customer from a cheap plastic keyboard on a knocked and scuffed laptop that's clearly been purchased on the cheap might say something about your business. There is a careful balance here; it is not necessary to spend up big on things that look too ostentatious - but aesthetics are something to keep in mind.


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