When is the best time to buy a laptop?
Right now, actually.
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Need a new laptop? Whether you're still milking everything you can from the computer you've had for the past five years or you're picking up a new laptop for school, you're likely wondering when you should be investing in your next machine. Aside from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, where we see incredible discounts on our favorite electronics, there's one time of the year that's ideal for laptop-shopping: Right now.
For some products like headphones and TVs, new models hit the market on a fairly regular cycle. New stuff is announced at the beginning of the year, ships to stores in the spring, and gets discounted around Black Friday to make way for next year’s models.
Timing those purchases is easy—if you want the best stuff at a discount, you can wait until the fall. For laptops, it’s not so easy.
The beginning of the year is the best time to buy a new laptop
New laptops come out all the time, which means you need to be careful about when you pick up the latest machine. Luckily, right now is one of the best times to buy a laptop—if you know what to look for.
Though there are some awesome new laptops coming out this spring and summer, there are actually a bunch of great models that came out at the end of 2019 that are already on sale. One of our favorites is HP’s 13-inch Spectre x360. The late-2019 model can easily go toe-to-toe with anything on the market right now—including some 2020 models that haven’t been released yet. It has an attractive metal design that is lightweight and durable, a very satisfying keyboard and trackpad combo, and a hinge that lets it transform into a tablet-style device.
And we see this pretty frequently—laptop models released at the end of the year frequently feature some of the best features laptop companies have to offer, so even though it's technically 2020, you can expect a lot of the innovations making headlines this year to be present in those late-2019 models, too.
Am I losing features by buying last year's model?
Though buying “last year’s” laptop may seem like you’re getting outdated performance, they often come with high-end features. The HP Spectre, for example, has the newest 10th-gen Intel processors. The processor is the brains of the laptop, and a faster processor means it can usually handle tasks quicker, saving you time while helping your battery last longer.
Though we assume Intel will put out 11th-gen processors some time this year, pretty much every 2020 laptop we've seen this year is still slated to ship with a 10th-gen processor.
Best of all? Because those late-2019 models hit the market in the fall and winter, they are already seeing pretty hefty discounts. For example, HP is currently running a President's Day sale that offers up to 60% off its inventory, meaning you can get the so-called entry-level model of its premium 13-inch Spectre x360—one that will easily compete with high-end laptops for this entire year—for under $1,000.
HP isn't alone. Dell offered up to 50% off during its sale, while big-name retailers, like Best Buy and Walmart, offered their own sales, as well. And as laptop makers continue to release the newer versions of these machines, you can expect the 2019 prices to continue dropping.
Don't go back more than one model year
One thing to be aware of all year long—but especially right now—is laptop designs haven't changed much in the last couple of years. As a result, it’s very easy to see a 2018 or 2017 laptop that seems awesome but has an older 8th-gen Intel processor. While 9th-gen processors aren’t dramatically slower, at this point we don’t recommend an 8th-gen mobile chip unless you’re getting something for $500 or less.
There are also some other areas where an older laptop may be lacking. Newer wireless chips inside laptops support faster WiFi and Bluetooth standards, meaning you should see better range, better battery life, and potentially better speeds. Even if your current internet setup at home isn't that fast, you'll want your new laptop to hold up for several years to come.
Now, if you want something different—especially if you’re shopping for a gaming laptop or want a larger 15-inch screen—it might be worth waiting a bit. But for most people who just want an awesome laptop at an amazing price, there may not be a better time to buy a laptop this year.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.