What does purchasing a laptop have to do with financial planning?

Ideally a laptop purchase is planned well in advance and done before the current laptop becomes obsolete or too slow/heavy despite upgrades and software tweaks. This allows you to save and plan your cash-flow for a sizeable outgo ensuring you don’t need to incur interest through EMI’s.

However, this might not happen always as in my case where there was a sudden deterioration in the present laptop requiring it to be replaced. I spent a good chunk of the last 3 weeks researching for a new laptop I planned to buy. Here are some of my learnings.

Ten important factors while purchasing your laptop….

BUDGET: What is your budget? What is the lowest and the highest amount that you are willing to spend? Keep in mind that you will be paying not only for the laptop, but also software, upgrades like RAM and SSD, extended warranty, accidental damage protection (if that’s important to you), accessories etc.

SERVICE: Does the brand that you have shortlisted have service centres in your city or near your area of residence? This won’t be a problem in major cities but could be an issue in smaller tier-2 or tier-3 cities and in the case of laptop brands whose service network is not as widespread as that of the big three i.e., HP, Dell or Lenovo. 

I planned to buy a Windows laptop hence Apple was not in the reckoning. While some manufacturers like HP, Dell, Lenovo are transparent regarding warranty costs, other manufacturers like Asus, Samsung, and LG make no mention of extended warranty costs on their website.

  rsz 132044
INTERNALS: What will you be using the laptop for? Based on how you plan to use the laptop, which processor are you looking at? The 12th gen Intel or 5000 series AMD? i5 or R5? Within the 12th generation processor family will the U mobile series satisfy your needs, or do you need the performance-oriented P or H version processors?


Overpaying for a top-of-the-line processor you have no use for will reduce the battery life and stretch your budget which could be better spent on accessories, software or upgrades. Is getting a good deal on an older 11th generation laptop of greater significance to you rather than paying more for the current generation of processors?

Do you need a dedicated GPU or would integrated graphics be sufficient for your needs? Everything costs money. One aspect you should pay attention to is the cooling and thermals of the laptop. Does the laptop tend to get hot? Fan noise and heat can take away from the fun of computing.

EXTERNALS: What resolution of display do you need? Is FHD enough or do you need a 2.2k, 2.8k or perhaps a 4k display. The higher the resolution higher is the likelihood of increase in costs. What about aspect ratio? 16:9 or 16:10? Are you looking for a matte, glossy, anti-glare or perhaps an OLED display?   

Many laptops have a colour accuracy of 45% NTSC which equates to about 60% sRGB. Compare these laptops, to one having 100% sRGB rating, using the same video to decide if 45% NTSC is good enough for you. In the example below, the laptop on the right has 100% sRGB coverage giving a warmer, more natural tone than the one on the left which covers around 56% of the sRGB colour space.


BUILD QUALITY: Should the laptop be light (around 1.2kg) or is a heavier laptop (2kg or more) more suited to your requirements? Do you need an aluminium/metal alloy build, or a plastic/polycarbonate build will do? How about flex? When checking out a laptop with its lid closed is there a large amount of flex when you press lightly on top of the lid? Is there flex on the keyboard or near the hinge?

Flex 2

KEYBOARD: How important is the keyboard and trackpad for your use case? Do you need the 1.8mm key travel a la ThinkPad or are you looking for a chiclet type keyboard? If you work on the trackpad rather than use an external mouse you might want to check out the trackpads at offline stores to get a feel for them.

Typing on the keyboard will also allow you to check if the laptop you’re considering wobbles when you type.

TP keyboard

PORTS: Do you intend to plug external monitors or perhaps a docking station to your laptop? What ports are a must-have for you? Do you want an easy to carry charger perhaps a USB-C charging one?


BATTERY: If you intend to use the laptop while travelling or on the move you might require a larger battery than the standard 41wH. The more powerful the processor the more power hungry it will tend to be. AMD processors require less power than equivalent Intel processors and could give better battery life. Higher resolution displays also require more power than a standard FHD display.

UGRADEABILITY: Do you need dedicated RAM slots that can be upgraded in the future? Is a single SSD slot enough for your needs or do you need at least two? How about upgrading the Wi-Fi card in the future from the current generation Wi-Fi 6? Is that important? One of the best resources for teardown or disassembly videos to find out upgrade options on your shortlisted laptop is Laptopmedia

Upgrade possibility

OTHERS: Are doing virtual meets an important use of your laptop? In that case you should go for a laptop with a FHD webcam rather than an HD one. Media consumption will require decent sound from the speakers even though you might use earbuds regularly. Are security features like a privacy guard, privacy shutter, fingerprint reader or Windows Hello login important for you?

Now that you know the ten things to be kept in mind while shopping for your laptop what resources are available while shopping online/offline?

  1. Offline Exclusive stores: Brand exclusive stores provide a great window-shopping and demo experience to test laptops. Though nowhere near the Apple store experience, I got decent demoes at the local Lenovo, HP and Asus stores. Dell was a hit-or-miss with 2 of the 3 stores having dummies on display.
  2. Chain stores: The local Croma and Reliance Digital stores had a limited collection of laptops on display.
  3. YouTube channels: There are a lot of youtubers who do detailed reviews and tests while reviewing laptops. I found GreenGreen store, Brue Computing, Britec09, Matthew Moniz, Souloftech and Mobiletechreview very useful.
  4. Other resources: Notebookcheck is an awesome site that does very detailed quantitative tests on laptops while also providing comparative data on similar laptops. Subreddits are a good resource to get views from long-time laptop owners.

I finally ordered a configuration-to-order ThinkPad from the Lenovo India website with a delivery time of four weeks. The longer time taken for researching my purchase drove home the fact that this ThinkPad model is not the “best laptop”.

Neither is it the lightest or the fastest, nor does it have the highest resolution or the best sound. It does however have a good build quality, nice keyboard, decent ports, usb-c charging, FHD webcam, 100% sRGB coverage and a wide service network.

To summarise, decide what you are willing to compromise on while buying your laptop. Take your time. This will reduce chances of a spur-of-the-moment or a hasty “festival shopping discount” decision that comes back to bite you. An added advantage is the lesser likelihood of being afflicted with buyer’s remorse when comparing your post-purchase laptop with the next “shiny new thing”.