I’m REALLY tired of people asking me advice on “Hey, what kinda laptop should I buy?” when I have no freaking clue because I’ve been happy with mine for the last 2 years, don’t plan on buying a new one anytime soon and I know jack shit about laptops or hardware in general. I’m a Software Engineer, note how there’s no “Hardware” in there. It’s like someone asking a guy that makes GPS for cars what is the best car for them.

But I do buy electronic hardware, so here is how I do it. For simplicity’s sake I’m gonna use a laptop as an example but this “guide” pretty much applies to any thing you want to buy, from a blender to a gaming computer.

Visit the stores

First of all, go visit hardware stores near you. That’s right, go waste a good 4-6 hours, drive/walk around, find a handful of brands and models you like and take notes. Preferably take photos too. Make sure to take note of the prices too.

Next, go home. Don’t buy anything. Don’t ask any store tech/salesman anything. Don’t trust anyone which is interested in YOU buying something from THEM.

Research

Now that you are home, get those brands and models you took note and start searching for things like

  • “BRAND MODEL review”
  • “BRAND MODEL comparison”

This will show you some reviews and comparison against similar models.

  1. Prefer reviews from actual people instead of bloggers who just want to gain visits.
  2. Youtube videos are (sometimes) good source for reviews.
  3. Read at least 5 reviews per brand/model.
  4. See ratings people gave the laptop on sites such as amazon.com/co.uk, cnet.com, etc.
  5. Make sure you read comments (if you do end up reading blog reviews).
  6. Consider wasting an hour for each $100 you want are willing to spend to buy the thing you want.

Search for problems

Next search for

  • “BRAND MODEL problem”
  • “BRAND MODEL is crap”

Now this is the real critical test. It should give you a good overview of what problems you can expect from your laptop and how satisfied are people with the laptop. If you only get random problems such as “I turn on laptop as soon as I got back from the store and it exploded!” then you are looking at a fairly safe buy. If you see a lot of people complaining about the heat, laptop shutting down after a few hours, crashes, etc… then consider another one.

The decision

Finally, weigh in the price, tech support you can get from the store you are planning to buy from, reviews, problems, technical specifications, etc, and try to make a decision. It is never simple.

Still need help?

Other things you can search for if you need help, for example:

  • “Best Laptop “

Remember to check last year too when searching for “The best laptop”. You get good deals on later models during stock clearance.

  • “How to buy a Laptop”

For this one remember to ignore sites which have more than 2 years. They are usually outdated. If the site you are consulting doesn’t have a timestamp on the information it is providing then ignore it too, it’s probably a crappy site anyway.

What about the tech specs?

Most of the times, manufacturers offer pretty much the same thing at very similar prices. But you can always check Wikipedia and the “How to buy a …” guides on technical things to look at and which ones are better. Make an informed decision on what is the best thing for you: RAM, CPU or/and Graphics Card. It all comes down to those 3.