Buying a New Laptop: When, Why, How

Key Points

  • Shop sales and holidays, as these are when to buy a laptop for less money.

  • At roughly the three- to five-year mark is when to buy a laptop.

  • Intel and AMD hardware are comparable to one another.

You’re ready for a new laptop, so you start wondering when the best time to buy a new one is — especially when there are holiday sales, back-to-school sales, and sometimes just a coupon or two to help. All of this makes it hard for you to discern when to buy a new laptop

Once you've decided when to buy a new laptop, you wonder which laptop to buy. Every laptop is not the same. Laptops come in different shapes, sizes, and price ranges and of course have different specs. 

Read more below to learn about the when, why, and how of purchasing a new laptop.

Average Lifespan

An aging computer is not an ideal thing for you to deal with. This means eventually your laptop will no longer meet the demands of today’s computer use. When dealing with an aging laptop, you might find that you cannot multitask because your computer runs too slowly. Nobody wants to move at a snail's pace.

There may also be lengthy bootup times leaving you waiting for the computer to even turn on. The older the laptop is, the more outdated the software, hardware, and security measures. All of this leaves your laptop and your information vulnerable to hackers.

But how many years does your laptop last on average? This is a great question and one that people ask all the time. When aging the laptop and determining how long the average lifespan of a computer is, there are a lot of variables to consider. The good news is if you take good care of your laptop, it should last anywhere from three to five years, according to HP.

Woman points to her brand new laptop

Laptop lifespans are shorter than desktop computers because of their compact structure. The tightly packed components are prone to overheating and cannot be easily upgraded. Because it is so hard to upgrade a laptop, you'll deal with obsolete parts more quickly.

Another issue is that desktop PCs are not portable. They stay in one place. Laptops are portable and meant to travel. However, traveling is not without its perils. The more you travel with your laptop, the more it may wind up damaged from a cracked screen to a dented chassis or even water damage.

Every situation is different. Therefore it is very hard to determine how long your laptop will last. The better you care for it, the longer it will last, but you should expect at least three to five years.

Upgrading: When To Do It

When you hear the phrase "upgrading your laptop," the first thing you need to be aware of is that this is not typically a statement involving the upgrading of components within the laptop. Because laptops are typically under warranties that will void if the warranty seal is broken, people rarely upgrade laptops.

It is extremely hard to upgrade laptops because of the limited amount of space in the case. When you purchase a laptop brand new, everything in that laptop has been carefully placed and wired considering the type of case, case fans, and the voltage that the computer can run off of. Trying to upgrade a laptop and upgrading incorrectly could easily leave you with a brick.

When you hear the term "upgrading your laptop," typically this means upgrading to a newer model. No matter how well you take care of your computer, it will eventually die. There are just too many variables to fully protect your computer. Patrick Wenning, president of Alta Technologies, said, "The typical laptop will become unusable in about four to five years with the battery generally being its Achilles' heel." However, Wenning also said the exception to this rule is Apple computers. Most Apple computers will last anywhere from seven to ten years on average.

One of the biggest reasons that the battery in today's technology is the Achilles' heel is that many laptops today do not have a removable or replaceable battery. If your computer has a built-in battery, once the battery is gone, the computer is done.

The signs that you should get a new laptop — especially if your laptop has outlived its expectations — are below. Laptops don't last forever, and you need to be aware of the list when purchasing a new one.


If the battery is not replaceable and no longer holds a charge, you need a new computer. Some laptops can have their batteries replaced and can be used for longer periods, but the most common types of laptops in the 2020s are laptops with built-in batteries. Computers with built-in batteries do not have a practical way to swap them.


If the display feels cramped or the resolution is low, this is a great indicator that your computer is most likely outdated in relation to more modern tech. If you are having trouble working on a smaller, low-resolution display after seeing more modern computers, then you might look at upgrading.

Pile of old laptops of various ages

Outdated OS

The latest version of Windows or macOS puts more pressure on your hardware. Every operating system has a minimum requirement to run the operating system. Eventually, your laptop will no longer meet the minimum requirements to run the most recent update of whatever operating system you're using. When this happens, you have very few options.

You could choose to use the older operating system. However, most operating systems eventually become obsolete. It's happened to Windows XP, Windows 7, and one day in the future, it'll happen to Windows 11.

You could also choose to use outdated applications when using your older operating system. However, you run into the same issue that these applications will no longer be usable after a certain point in time. Also, most software is continually updated. Using older versions leaves you vulnerable to a digital attack. Most companies do not support older versions of their applications for very long.

Sluggish Multitasking

If you're a multitasker in any sense of the word, and your computer is outdated, you will struggle to run applications simultaneously. It could even be so bad that you cannot open multiple browser tabs because of the strain it puts on your computer's hardware.

Poor multitasking performance is an extreme productivity killer. However, if you can add more RAM to your system, you might get some more use out of your old computer. However, that’s not a permanent fix. A new computer quickly pays for itself — especially if you work from home or use your laptop often in your work environment. By having a faster laptop, your productivity at work improves, and you're able to do more work, work for longer, and earn more money.

Poor Application Performance

If you use applications day in and day out, and suddenly these applications are taking too long to load, they are loading poorly, or are ‌not working how you know they should be, it could mean your computer is outdated. If you cannot update your software, then there's an issue. Most likely, the issue at hand is that your computer can no longer support the most updated version of the software.

Barely meeting the minimum requirements is going to give you a substandard user experience. The latest software versions have more demanding hardware requirements than previous releases and because of this, you will experience poor performance. The only option is to get a new computer or downgrade to an older version to speed up the experience.

Slow Startups

Another issue that tells you that you need a new laptop is if it is slow to boot up and shut down. If your computer is taking a very long time to turn on and turn off, then the computer is not performing at its best. 

Slow startups are time-consuming and can negatively affect any work you are planning to do on the computer. A common non-hardware-related problem that can cause slow startup time is that you have too many applications loading upon booting your device. Lowering the number of applications that begin automatically when the device turns on can give your computer a bit more time before you need a new one.

Noisy Fan

If your laptop is making a tremendous racket with its fan during light use such as browsing one or two web pages at a time, this might be a sign that your computer is dying. An overworked computer gets extremely hot, and the fan automatically goes to ramp-up speed to compensate for that heat. If you’re doing light work on your computer, it should not be running the fan at a high speed. If it is, then the hardware on your computer is working overtime even when it does not need to be.

Laptops for sale in hardware store

What To Expect When Buying a Computer

The latest laptops are exceptionally fast compared to their predecessors. However, there are many new options to choose from and you must understand what to look for and how to decipher some technical jargon so you can purchase the correct laptop for your needs.

Operating System

The first thing you have to decide when you are purchasing a laptop is which operating system you would like to use. There are three out-of-the-box options for operating systems: Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS. 


Most laptops you’re going to buy these days run Windows. They’re so popular because they‌ support more apps and features and are the standard for gamers. Numerous companies manufacture Windows laptops, and while they range in price, Windows laptops are more likely to be budget-friendly.

Remember to check if the laptop you're buying has Windows in ‌S mode. S mode restricts you from downloading apps unless they are from the Microsoft store. Microsoft is not the best company providing customer service because there are so many manufacturers creating devices that use their operating system.


All MacBooks run on macOS: Apple's operating system. This operating system is cleaner and easier to use than Windows and is a hit with non-tech-savvy users. MacOS supports a lot of programs for designers, video editors, and other creative types.

MacBooks are not nearly as popular as Windows, so there are not as many viruses aimed at harming macOS devices. Apple has total control over the hardware and software of MacBooks, so they provide better customer service than Microsoft provides.

New Macbook and accessories

Chrome OS

The Chrome operating system was designed around web-based applications. However, it also supports Microsoft Word, Netflix, and some Android apps. Chromebooks can be slow with limited storage which requires you to save to the cloud or Google drive. These are extremely popular with school systems and students.

Onto Hardware

Now that you know about the three types of out-of-the-box operating system solutions, you’re ready to learn about hardware and what to look for. No matter what device you pick, the hardware is going to be different.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The central processing unit is essentially the brain of the laptop: It tells the laptop what to do. The chip is involved in a bunch of little processes dealing with all kinds of information from applications, operating systems, and more. This is one of the most important hardware pieces in a laptop.

AMD Versus Intel

The two main CPU manufacturers are Intel and AMD. Intel has released many of the fastest CPUs on the market. However, AMD is quickly catching up. In 2023, AMD and Intel are pretty comparable and it's just a matter of preference.

Man opens his brand new laptop

How To Choose an Intel CPU

Intel's latest line of CPUs is called the Core family, and you can tell how powerful it is based on looking at its name. Intel has four brand modifiers to signify how powerful the CPU is, starting with the basic core i3 and ending with the professional grade core i9.

  • Core i3: Basic tasks as it will not support much else

  • Core i5: Everyday multitasking and light gaming

  • Core i7: Power users, gamers, and other creative users

  • Core i9: Powerful workstations with professional software use

After looking at the brand modifier, you should look at the generation indicator which is going to come after the brand modifier in the CPU's name. The higher the number, the newer the CPU.

You might also find budget laptops using Intel's Celeron and Pentium processors, but these processors are much slower, and you would probably benefit from the Core line.

How To Choose an AMD CPU

AMD's most popular line of CPUs is called Ryzen, and they are comparable to the Core CPU line from Intel. You can tell how powerful a Ryzen CPU is by looking at its name.

  • Ryzen 3: Basic tasks; matches with Core i3 usage

  • Ryzen 5: Multitasking and light gaming; matches with Core i5

  • Ryzen 7: Power users and gamers; matches with Core i7

  • Ryzen 9: Professional workstations; matches with Core i9

Just like with Intel, the newest Ryzen processes are ‌faster, and the generation indicator is the best way to see that. The generation indicator comes in the numbers attached to the end of the brand.

Apple M1 Versus M2

Until recently, most MacBooks came with CPUs from Intel. However, Apple has created its own processors and you can only find the new M1, M1 Pro and M2 chips in all new MacBooks.

The M1 differs from the other processors because it is a system on the chip; this means it contains the CPU, GPU and RAM all in one device. The M2 is a totally separate CPU from the rest of the system. When choosing what fits your needs, talk to an Apple customer support tech before purchasing.

Colleagues work on a laptop in an office

Best Time To Buy A Laptop

The best time to buy a laptop is going to be on holidays and, of course, Amazon Prime Day. Amazon Prime Day is an annual event exclusive to Prime members. This is the biggest event Amazon features all year long. Some of the biggest deals come around on this day: Amazon’s birthday.

Aside from Prime Day, other holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday weekends, and back-to-school seasons are great for getting sales on computers. If you find that your dream laptop is out of your budget, look for sales.

Now You’re Ready To Buy a New Laptop

Before you run off and purchase a laptop, consider what you need. Understanding what you need will let you know if the computer you’re seeking is within your budget or not, and if it’s not, you can wait for a sale. Laptops can be big-ticket items which means they can be extremely expensive. Make sure you do your research.

Part of that research is to review laptop reviews such as the ones available on Looking at reviews online can help you determine whether you like the operating system if the CPU has enough power for your needs, and if the display is to your liking.