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By John Shmuel

On a budget and looking for a new laptop?

Ryerson students wanting to buy laptops have plenty of options available this fall that offer enhanced features and quality performance for under $1,000.

When shopping for a new system it’s important to keep several things in mind.

Make sure you know what you want your laptop to do. An entry level laptop, including basic features and memory, for under $1,000 has its limits.

Corey Sandler, writer of Laptops for Dummies and dozens of other laptop related books, reminds buyers of one fact: “Remember that whatever you buy today will immediately be outdated.” That can especially be true when purchasing entry level laptops.

First, look for certain hardware options that will help you get the most mileage out of your new system.

When it comes to processors, you should be looking for dual core. Dual core processors minimize run times for virus scans, burning CDs and file searches among other things. They also allow you to open dozens of tabs in your web browser and switch between them instantly.

Another important feature to look for when buying a laptop is RAM.

“Look for a computer with at least one GB of RAM,” says Craig Rodrigues, a Best Buy employee and first-year Ryerson student. “It’s considered to be a minimal amount now, and choosing to upgrade later is expensive.”

Most budget laptops can store around one GB. Some come with an option to upgrade your RAM. Pay the extra money if you can spare it — it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Hard drive storage size may also be important, depending on your needs, according to Rodrigues. Standard memory for most budget laptops is 120 GB. But if you plan on downloading a lot of music and video files or software, you should look at picking up something with a bit more space.

Once you’ve made your choice, seriously consider getting an extended warranty Rodrigues says. Accidents happen.

Make sure you’re not stuck with huge repair bills if you drop it or if a late night coffee drenches your keyboard.

“Students should look for warranties that will cover all wear and tear on the computer,” Rodrigues says, adding that “manufacturer warranties usually only cover the internals of the computer [hard drive, video card, etc.] not the screen, keyboard, mouse, and so on.”

Finally, hold onto your receipt. You can take advantage of sales even after you’ve bought your laptop.

“Keep an eye on store flyers,” says Mark Prociw, a laptop technician and web designer who worked with Staples Business Depot for a number of years. “The price of your laptop might drop even more. If this happens, walk into the store with your receipt and ask for the price to be matched. If you are within their return policy, they’ll do it.”

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