[Guide] Which Laptop To Buy and How Much to Spend in 2015?

Raghuram Sukumar Edu News 14 Comments

Are you buying your first laptop in U.S.A?  Trust me, it’s not easy to make a decision when you have so many brands and models and price range.  When I was a student, I went thorough the same process. I want to make your laptop buying process easy and fun experience for you.

I have owned several laptop brands, models of varying size and cost. This article is based on my hand on experience.

Current Computers :

At present, I have the following ( in working condition)

  • iMac
  • Macbook Pr
  • MacBook Air
  • ThinkPad T420
  • HP Ultrabook (don’t recommend)
  • Windows Desktop
  • 2 iPad’s

Plus, I have three ThinkPad’s, 1 Fujitsu that’s in broken state. I have owned Dell, HP, Compaq and IdeaPad from Lenovo in the past.

thinkpad t440 lenovo laptop

I recommend the following based on my personal experience

Laptop and your cell phone is your connection to the external world. So, spend wisely ( even if you have to spend little bit more than what you can afford at this time).

Rule of  Thumb

  1. Don’t buy $500 laptop.
  2. Laptop should last for 3 to 5 years
  3. Plan to spend $800 to $1200

There are variety of laptop brands like AppleLenovo (Thinkpad), HP, Sony, Toshiba, Gateway, Fujitsu, Dell and few other brands.

Things to Consider When Buying A Laptop

  1. Cost
  2. Weight vs Cost
  3. Laptop Brand vs Quality
  4. Laptop’s life
  5. Basic Configuration


I have owned laptops that were $300 and up to $1500. If I were to buy a laptop these days, I stick with two brands and models.

I got Macbook Air for wife 3 weeks back ( July 2014).

There are so many laptops that you can buy for $500. But, they are made for people who want to listen to music and browsing. It’s flimsy.

For students way of life, you need a laptop that is well-built to withstand your way of life. Some laptop have that bulky, hollow feeling. They will not last for 3 to 5 years. So, invest $900 for a Thinkpad T440 series or $1200 for a Macbook Pro.

Size, Weight vs Cost

Size , Weight vs cost is the most important factor. You will be carry around he laptop a lot. Find something less than 4 lbs.

From my personal experience, carrying a laptop more than 6 lbs is very hard. You will get good deal on Laptop for $500, but it would weight 5 to 6 lbs.

Cost of laptop raises sharply as size decreases.

  • 13″ to 15″ screen laptops will weight between 3  to 6 lbs.

Laptop’s Life

Above everything, depending on how you handle them, laptop’s maximum life is 3 to 5  years.

I know folks who used laptop as desktop and had it for over 8 years. I had my Fujitsu, last for 4 years. It took a beating in its 4 years life span.

Lenovo Thinkpad T440 has that rugged feel with low-cost weight and durability.

Laptop brand vs Quality

Few laptops brands are expensive, but  yo get what you pay for. Considering my experience with laptops, my suggestions will in the following order.

  1. Apple
  2. Thinkpad (Lenovo’s)
  3. Fujitsu
  4. HP ( I had terrible experience with HP )
  5. Dell ( no way, poor customer service)
  6. Don’t think of buying other brands

Thinkpad T series laptops are best choice for students.

Fujitsu (Lifebook ). I love this machine, until it gave up on me after 3 to 4 years. I had S6120 and its was 2.75 lbs with 13″ screen.

It was costly buy ( $1600), some 10 years back, but it was worth every penny.

Minimum Configuration

  • Screen : 13″ or 14″
  • Processor : Intel i3 to i5 ( depending on your need )
  • RAM : 8 GB RAM ( 8 GB or More)
  • Hard Drive : Solid State drive if you can afford.

Let me know if you have any questions about buying your first student laptop.

Guess how much I paid for my New MacBook Air – 13″ with Apple Care?


  1. +1 for macbook air … Super battery life and awesome feel 🙂

  2. I just arrived in the U.S. Let me know how you got it for that less a price. Any discounts anywhere?

  3. In my opinion, Toshiba Satellite E & S series also work very well for students need. These series are not too bulky, come with all the bells & whistles which you can find in any other brands, they are rugged for daily optimal use & not very expensive as compared to other brands.

    1. @VKC – If I’m buying laptops it’s going to be Macbooks or Lenovo 🙂

      Not going to mess with other brands.

      Apple – You can’t beat the customer service.
      ThinkPad’s are real workhorse.

          1. $900 something? also, it’d helpful if you let others know how to get it for a discounted price 🙂 I’m planning to buy a Macbook Pro this week.

          2. @Sriram – Apple store gives your student discount. All you got to do is give your school .edu email address to them. They will send you an email to that id with a confirmation link to verify email. I am not sure exactly how much is the discount. My guess is you get discount of around $100-$150 on MacBook.
            Hope this helps. Good luck.

          3. Hello Mr. Sukumar, Is it an additional $100 Apple Store Gift Card apart from regular student discount? Btw, you didn’t mention the price you got the machine for 🙂 Thanks for all your help!

          4. Thank you! Couple of my friends purchased it using this student discount. I was curious if Mr. Sukumar know of any other promotional offers. Again, thanks for the reply.

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