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The best budget laptops we’ve tested

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The best budget laptops we've tested

For our full take on what to look for in a laptop, check out our guide. Choosing the right laptop. The condensed version (even if your budget is limited) is to try to get at least an Intel i5 processor and at least 8 GB of RAM. 16 GB is even better. Recent versions of Windows (both 11 and 12) use an astronomical amount of RAM (sometimes up to 6 GB in my tests). If you only have 8GB total, that doesn’t leave much RAM for apps and results in a slower laptop.

Aim for these specifications: Try to get a laptop with at least a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage in the form of a solid-state drive. We suggest purchasing a 13 or 14-inch screen close to FHD (1080p resolution). If you’re going to use it to watch movies, consider a 2-in-1 model (although these tend to cost more).

If you’re on a tight budget and want to get the most bang for your buck, or just want to keep something out of the landfill, consider the used or refurbished laptop market. I’ve had great luck buying used laptops on eBay from all types of sellers (both professionals and everyday people).

To get the best deal, make sure you know the market. Do some research to find out what type of machine will suit your needs. The easiest to get, and therefore (usually) the best deals, tend to be the more boring, business-oriented models. I happen to like ThinkPads, which are used by large corporations (and then discarded all at once), which means there are plenty to choose from and they’re cheap.

Finding Used Laptops on eBay: Once you know what you want, look for it on eBay. Scroll down and check the option to show only “Sold Listings.” Now take the 10 most recent sales, add up the prices, and divide by 10. That’s the average price; Don’t pay more than that. Note the lowest price: that’s the hot sale price. Now, uncheck the Sold Listing option. See what’s between the lowest price and the average price. Those are the offers you can consider. I suggest watching some. Do not bid or participate at all. Just watch them to the end and see how high the auctions end up going.

Once you have an idea of ​​the market and what you should pay, you’ll know when you’ve found a deal. When you find it, wait. Do not bid until the last minutes of the auction. You don’t want other bidders to have a chance to react. Remember that if you miss something, it’s not the end of the world. There is always something new on eBay.

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