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Red flags to watch out for when buying laptops on sale or looking for deals

Red flags to watch out for when buying laptops on sale or looking for deals (Image source: iStock)
Red flags to watch out for when buying laptops on sale or looking for deals (Image source: iStock)
Cheap displays, low RAM and storage, and older generation CPUs or GPUs are common tricks that manufacturers like to use. Uninformed buyers may think they're getting a good deal, but the sly cut corners can sometimes be steep.

There are so many laptop sales happening everyday that even if you miss one, another model will be waiting right around the corner. Many are lucrative, but an equal number of them can also be misleading. Here are some red flags to keep in mind before you purchase that seemingly good deal.

Low Quality Displays

Like CPUs and GPUs, laptop models can also come with various display options to choose from. Configurations that you see on sale, however, are often equipped with the lowest-end displays available. Such panels usually have very poor colors and/or poor contrast to be significantly worse than even midrange panels. Be sure to research the color coverage of the exact configuration and panel as anything under 70 percent sRGB can be considered poor for gaming or even regular web browsing.

Low RAM and/or Storage

Cutting RAM and SSD capacities is a common tactic to keep prices as low as possible. In general, we recommend staying above 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage space for most home and office users. It's possible to get away with less and then simply add more RAM or storage yourself, but some laptop models purposefully make such upgrades difficult for the user to discourage tinkering. RAM may be soldered on some models as well to make upgrades virtually impossible.

Budget Laptop Models

Many laptop "deals" you see online are already part of the manufacturer's budget series. Thus, even if the laptop wasn't on sale, it would still be inexpensive regardless since it is already a lower-end model. For example, the MSI GP or GF series of laptops can often be found on sale for relatively low prices. In reality, however, the GP and GF series are home to MSI's budget gaming laptops designed to be cheaply priced anyway. For a better deal, you're going to want to find discounts on the MSI GT or GS series which have higher-end models with significantly better build quality and features.

Last Generation CPUs, GPUs, or Model Designs

Whenever Samsung or Apple are about to launch their respective latest generation of smartphones, sales on their last generation models become common. Laptop makers follow this same pattern especially right before Intel, AMD, or Nvidia are about to announce their newest CPUs and GPUs.

Buying older generation hardware isn't inherently a bad option. In fact, it is sometimes recommended as newer processors don't always offer that much of a performance boost over their older counterparts. Nonetheless, it's important to be aware of the CPU, GPU, and model generation when looking at any laptop sale and then research what potential features the upcoming generation will offer. Buying an older generation laptop only to see the newer generation model one month later with desirable bells and whistles missing on the laptop you just bought would be a worst case scenario.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 08 > Red flags to watch out for when buying laptops on sale or looking for deals
Allen Ngo, 2022-08- 5 (Update: 2022-08- 6)