This last year in quarantine likely had you using all your screens more than usual. Even with work- or school-issued devices sharing the load, your personal laptop probably got a lot more use than it has in previous years thanks to Zoom parties and increased time watching Netflix and other streaming services.
This might have you wondering whether it's time to buy a new laptop.
A new computer is typically a big purchase. A Dell Inspiron 15 3000 laptop, for example, starts at $370. And a 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,300. Here are signs you need to bite the bullet and spend the money, according to shopping experts.
Taking good care of your laptop can prolong its lifespan, says Lisa Davis, shopping expert at Offers.com. This includes keeping it in a cool area and making sure you clean it. Still, no laptop can last forever. "Even with all the care in the world, the average lifespan of a laptop is around 3 to 5 years," Davis says.
If you can fix your laptop relatively inexpensively, go for it. But if repairs cost more than buying a new laptop, getting a replacement makes sense. "If you have to spend more updating or repairing your old laptop, it's way more cost efficient to put your old computer to rest and invest in its newer counterpart," Davis says.
The number one sign that your laptop is ready to be replaced, Davis says, is if the latest operating system is incompatible with it.
"An older laptop cannot typically handle a newer operating system or advanced applications efficiently," she says. "If you can't upgrade, you're stuck with an out-of-date operating system that eventually won't run those newer apps."
If your hardware can't handle the new operating system, that will reduce your laptop's capacity to run multiple applications at the same time and cause other inconveniences. For example, it will take longer for the computer to turn on and "the fan will run louder and warmer than normal as it tries to keep up," Davis says. These are signs your laptop is struggling and needs to be replaced.
There are a number of major tech sales throughout the year, says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. "Without a doubt, Black Friday is the best time of year to find a heavily discounted laptop." Back-to-school sales might also have some good deals, especially this year, she adds.
"Historically the back-to-school deals aren't as great as what we see around Black Friday, but this year that could change," she says. "Due to the pandemic shutting down schools last year, there was a high demand for laptops for students to participate in virtual learning. Now that so many have been bought, though, that could translate to a lower demand during back-to-school 2021."
This all means that retailers could be offering better-than-usual discounts on laptops in July and August to entice consumers to buy.
If you want to buy an Apple laptop, Davis says, Prime Day might be a good bet. "Amazon Prime Day is potentially coming in June, which means a higher likelihood of scoring deals on older MacBook generations," she says. "Expect other retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart to have their own deals to compete with Amazon Prime Day, too."
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