Technology Explained

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Computer? 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Joe Keeley Updated 27-03-2020

It can be expensive to buy a new computer or laptop, so it makes sense to time your purchase for when you can secure a bargain.

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While prices are always subject to change without warning, annual sales or new hardware launches can be the perfect time to get a computer or laptop at a discounted rate. However, you could be waiting for a price drop that never comes. If you need the computer or laptop sooner rather than later, it’s better to buy it while you can.

Here are the best times to buy a computer or laptop.

1. Seasonal Sales

Santa Claus using a laptop
Image Credit: GeneGlavitsky/Depositphotos

The Christmas season is one of the biggest periods for every retailer. While computers and laptops are usually too expensive to be a common holiday gift, retailers will be looking to take advantage of the flowing holiday money. They will apply discounts to systems in order to attract shoppers and sell off stock before the year-end.

These discounts can also come in various forms, like traditional discounts, cashback offers, and voucher codes Top 14 Sites for Online Coupons & Promotional Codes Online coupons can make a difference in your savings and budget. Try these promo code websites to find the best discount coupons. Read More . Retailers will often engage in one-day-only deals near the holiday season, especially around key dates like New Year’s Day, so be sure to constantly check their websites near this time and keep your eyes peeled for any sudden discounting.

2. Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Woman shopping online
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sales days that originated in America, but they’ve become a worldwide phenomenon. With prices often slashed across the board, usually only for a limited amount of time or on a set quantity of stock, real bargains can be snapped up on these two days providing you’re quick off the mark.

A word of caution, however: retailers will often use the fever around these days to flog outdated systems at not-so-great prices. Make sure you always do your research before buying and don’t get drawn in by a seemingly appealing price tag—you might end up overpaying for something you would have got cheaper outside the sale.

3. Back to School

People looking at computer screens
Image Credit: NESA by Makers/Unsplash

Typically, the back-to-school period runs during the summer in August to September (although it can begin earlier.) It’s a perfect time for retailers to target parents and students who are in the market for a new system to deal with their educational needs. This might actually be the best time to buy a new laptop, rather than a desktop computer.

Deals on laptops are especially prevalent during this period as they make for great college and university purchases. Stay prepared for such deals by researching the best Windows laptops The 5 Best Windows PC Laptops of 2019 What is the best Windows laptop for you? Here are the best Windows laptops of 2019 to help you find one that suits your needs. Read More beforehand.

Many retailers, like Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, will also give exclusive discounts to actual students. These deals are usually available on presentation of a student ID or a valid academic email address. Apple even extends their educational pricing to teachers and parents buying for their children.

4. New Hardware Releases

Laptop half-opened
Image Credit: Junior Teixeira/Pexels

If retailers are expecting to get fresh hardware then you’ll usually find that they begin discounting their current stock in order to make way for the new.

Different manufacturers will operate on different cycles. However, generally new products release in the spring, mid-year for the back-to-school period, and in September as the holiday season approaches.

Manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Acer often release their new products on these timelines. However, it’s best to keep your eyes on their sites and tech news so you remain in the know.

New MacBooks typically release in the spring and winter. Apple usually host media events in March, June, and September, so you should check these out to get the latest information on their upcoming releases. The best time to buy an Apple laptop is usually just before new hardware is announced.

Microsoft holds an event in October where they announce their latest Surface products. Google also hold an event at a similar time when you can expect to hear the latest on the Pixelbook.

Keep your eye on the upcoming big hardware releases and you’ll likely find retailers discounting old stock accordingly.

If you’re not after the latest flashy piece of kit then this will be a perfect time for you to jump in. While the system may be classed as old, simply because technology moves so quickly and there’s always new things being pushed to market, it might be great for you if you only need a computer or laptop for general tasks rather than high fidelity gaming.

Of course, perhaps you do want the latest compute or laptop. If so, wait a couple of months after release when the hype has died down and prices will reduce slightly.

5. Flash Sales and Price Tracking

Price graph on camelcamelcamel

Nowadays, you can probably get a good deal at any time of the year thanks to the popularity of flash sales and daily deals. Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg have new discounts all the time, and the tech that you want might be included in that. Manufacturers also do similar things—in the past, Dell have hosted a ‘Black Friday in July’ event, for example.

Of course, it’s cumbersome to check these deals every day, which is why price tracking websites The 5 Best Amazon Price Watch Trackers for Bargain Hunters Want to find the best deals when shopping online? Run a check on an Amazon item's price history before you hit the buy button. Read More can help you choose the best time to buy your new PC or laptop. These let you track specific product price history, and receive notifications when something drops to your desired price point.

You Could Buy a Used Computer or Laptop Instead

Hopefully these tips are useful for you to know the best time to buy a new computer or laptop. If you’re in the market for a purchase, the best thing you can do is always keep your eye out for deals because you never know when a retailer might begin discounting.

Just remember not to wait too long. If you see a good deal and wait in hope of a better one turning up, then you may end up disappointed and losing out on the original offer.

Still haven’t found the deal you want? You might be better off reading our advice on why buying a used computer can be better than a new one 6 Reasons to Start Buying Used Computers Instead of New Ones Thinking about buying a new computer? Here's why a used, refurbished, or pre-owned PC might be a better option for you. Read More .

Explore more about: Buying Tips, Laptop, Online Shopping.

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  1. Anon
    March 27, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    re: prices - holiday season always tends to have the best deals, but you'll find discounts on systems with older OS's on newegg and tigerdirect after systems with 10 are shipped to retailers.

    re: Linux, specificly to ryan and cg: This site has gone out of its way to demystify finding the right flavors, desktop environments, etc. the best primer I've ever been able to find on this subject was published on March 12th, called "9 questions new linux users always ask" and can be found here:
    //www.makeuseof.com/tag/9-questions-new-linux-users-always-ask/

    it also briefly goes into the fact that for windows 10, Micro$oft has decided that a linux-style package manager is a good idea. Well worth the read, and full of links that can greatly expand one's knowledge base.

  2. Bill H.
    March 27, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I find the prices in this area are influenced by the two local universities and community (tech) college. This applies more so to used / refurbished gear.
    As the academic year wraps up a lot of good used stuff shows up at pretty good prices - but the new stuff doesn't sell well so prices tend to drop.
    When it's back to school time - there are some deals but prices do tend to rise a bit.

  3. Paul
    March 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    @ryan
    Exactly! What do we use our computers for, if not fun, eh?
    Otherwise, why even waste time with a site like makeuseof ... Hmmmm
    Just march dutifully along like all the other Microsheep...

  4. danny6114
    March 27, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Some states have tax free days during back to school time so not only might you find a deal, you won't pay taxes on it either!

    • Joe
      March 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      Awesome! I didn't know that. Thanks for that handy tip, Danny.

  5. Millar
    March 27, 2015 at 2:33 am

    I remember last summer that Intel had a promo for $100.00 off any Intel based computers

  6. Paul
    March 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    @cg
    Wrong!
    Windows could take lessons from Linux for the desktop. I've been running Linux for many years (desktop, laptop, and netbook) and would not dream of going back to Microsoft products.
    The special beauty of Linux is all the flavors and desktop environments -- there is bound to be at least one distribution that could make even you happy.

    • ryan
      March 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Yeah, and i'm sure finding that ONE distribution that's going to make me happy is going to be fun..

  7. Zhong
    March 25, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Isn't it a good idea to buy a laptop that caters to the casual user and pick specs that doesn't produce as much heat? Because all these powerful laptops running high end processor made for either gaming or huge projects will die much early than its counterparts.

    • Joe
      March 26, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      I think it just depends on what you want out the system, Zhong. But yes, if intense gaming is the aim then then I would recommend getting a desktop instead of a laptop, if possible.

  8. Saikat
    March 24, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Nice one Joe. With the faster release cycles (even from Microsoft), this question needs consideration. Microsoft has moved to a rapid release cycle which also changes their support policy.

    Also, the other question -- how quickly do you upgrade? Some do it every year. I do it once every three years.

    • Joe
      March 26, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks, Saikat! I tend to upgrade as and when my computer needs it. For example, I recently found that some of my RAM had failed and I was running low on drive space, so I've now kitted my system out with some more memory and a bigger hard drive. It was a long time ago when I got the computer originally, but the insides have changed a lot since then.

  9. David Whitmyre
    March 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Gavin, what is your experience with Windows 10, vs. Win 7 and Win 8? I hated 8. but I heard that 10 will incorporate more features that emulate 7 and even XP in functionality. Not sure exactly what, but I would be interested in your opinion.

    Thanks,
    David

    • Gavin
      March 24, 2015 at 6:46 am

      David, I was relaxed with Win 8 (the first 8.0) where as most people found it frustrating and confusing to use, like yourself. I adjust quickly to the new OSes. I am running Win 10 on a 8 year old Core 2 Duo PC, so performance-wise can't give much feedback. The new added Cortana feature is useless on a Desktop PCs and the Start Menu can be switched between the Win 8 style (full screen) or Windows 7 style, I use the full screen start menu. Much of the rest is from Windows 8.1

    • likefunbutnot
      March 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Just to start off, I too like Windows 8.x and prefer it to Windows 7.

      Based on the current build, running Windows 10 on top-end hardware (i7 machines with SSDs), the experience is very similar to both Windows 8 in most respects other than the current build of Start and Modern applications.

      Search is glacially slow and mis-prioritized (based on how results are displayed: Windows searches the internet with Bing first, THEN your files, THEN programs and settings, even if you're searching an exact command name like winword.exe). Modern Apps, if you use them, take forever to load and are still missing basic customizations and interaction with desktop style programs, such as the ability to properly respect the directory structure of your Pictures and Music libraries.

      Based on the pause for display and the start of search, I think the current Start interface is basically a Modern-Style Windows application. On machines where I should not have to wait for anything, I have a pause that's long enough for me to miss three or four characters as I try to use the search box.

      There's also a continued disjoint state between Control Panel and the Settings app; there are still things that have to be configured in Control Panel and some things that have moved entirely to Settings.

      Absent the change in the Start application (whether it's fullscreen or a menu), Windows 10 is indistinct from Windows 8. cmd.exe is a little nicer to use and built-in virtual desktops are handy, but I've gotten less excited since it's clear that many of the issues that bother me aren't going to be fixed before it is released.

  10. Edward
    March 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    My old computer is 7 years old and he's running Linux Ubuntu with no problem at all, why spend money to run Windows 10

    • cg
      March 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      Linux is bad as a desktop OS. Windows is widely supported and better for desktop.

    • timo
      March 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Sorry, cg, but you're dead wrong--and you obviously haven't used a Linux in a while.

    • Ninja250
      March 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

      I agree with Timo. Linux works great on my 8 year old laptop and blindingly fast (15 second cold boots) on my HP desktop with Samsung SSD. I still keep a Windows 7 desktop to run DxO Optics Pro 8. If that one program was ported to Linux (there's a Mac version) I wouldn't have a Windows box at all. Maintaining Linux to it's most current release and security updates takes only a few minutes per month versus hours for Windows (providing their updates don't crash and burn requiring a full Windows re-install). If anything, buy a nice SSD and install any flavor of Linux - you'll never go back to Windows.

  11. Gavin
    March 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I am still running the preview of Windows 10. When that expires, I will look into buying a new laptop with it pre-installed.