You can’t study these days without a computer. Even if you’re not taking an online course, you’ll likely still need a computer to write up essays and build presentations, as well as accessing online study tools and doing research online.
Many schools and campuses have free PCs that you can use, but these aren’t always readily available 24/7 when you need them. Smartphones can be used to access certain study tools, but you don’t want to be writing an essay on one. This is why laptops end up being the most common and convenient option for students – they can be taken to seminars, lectures, study groups and libraries and they’re designed for easy typing.
Unfortunately, laptops can be expensive, often costing more than £400 if you’re buying from a local PC store. Consequently, many students that don’t already own laptops can struggle to afford them. There are ways that you can reduce costs though to make laptops more affordable. Here are just a few different ways to get a cheap laptop as a student.
Take advantage of back-to-school discounts
In August and September, many retailers hold back-to-school sales. Prices on computers and laptops are often reduced during this time. You won’t get discounts on the latest models, but this shouldn’t matter if you’re just looking for any laptop.
Currys, Argos and John Lewis are just some of the big UK retailers that often provide discounts. It’s worth checking their sites for deals, as well as looking on coupon sites for separate discounts.
Check specific brands for student discounts
Some electronics brands offer discounts to students all year round. Accessing these discounts may involve proving that you have a valid ac.uk email address, or it may involve signing up to a student discount service such as Student Beans or Unidays.
A few of the brand that offer student discounts include:
Finding these discounts isn’t always easy – sometimes you won’t find these discounts through the brand’s main website. For instance, finding an Apple student discount often involves visiting the Apple Education Store and then scrolling down to the footer of the website where there is a link titled Shop for College. Lenovo meanwhile only advertise their student deals via Student Beans.
A student discount on a laptop can be as much as 20%. On a £400 laptop, that’s a potential saving of £80.
Buy used laptops online
You can also save money on a laptop by buying a used laptop. There are two options here: refurbished laptops and second-hand laptops.
Refurbished laptops are laptops that have been used but have had parts restored and repaired by a manufacturer or retailer. They’re generally more reliable than second-hand laptops while being cheaper than brand new laptops. You can get a warranty on these laptops – although it won’t be as long as the warranty on a new laptop.
Second-hand laptops generally have no repairs or restoration work done to them, aside from any repairs that they previous owner may have payed for. They’re generally not as reliable as refurbished laptops but can be a lot cheaper. If you buy these laptops from a retailer, they’ll tend to have been checked beforehand to ensure that they’re in good enough condition to sell. If you’re buying directly from the previous owner via Gumtree or Facebook, you may be able to get a significantly cheaper price, but there’s no guarantee that everything will be in working order. Second-hand laptops tend not to come with warranties, which is another reasons to be wary of them. This guide at Make Use Of delves more into the risks of buying a second-hand laptop.
Consider a tablet over a laptop
A tablet could be an alternative to a laptop. Cheap laptops tend to offer the same performance as cheap tablets of the same price, while providing added portability (you can’t use a laptop standing up, while you can with a tablet).
Tablets may also be better suited to certain types of work such as design sketches. Many people find drawing with a stylus on a touchscreen easier than drawing with a mouse on a screen.
That said, if you’re going to be writing lots of essays, a tablet may not be so convenient. You can buy an attachable keyboard as a way of getting around this, but this could be an added cost. Tablets also tend to have less storage space and a smaller display.
Many of the methods discussed above for saving money on a laptop work for saving money on a tablet – you can often find discounts via back-to-school sales, student discounts on brands or by buying used.
See if your university offers deals on laptops
Some universities offer free or discounted laptops to certain students. This may include students with certain disabilities or students under a certain income.
There are also universities that offer laptops for loan or to lease. This could be another option to look into as a way of making a laptop more affordable.
To find these deals you’ll have to talk to your university’s student advice department directly. Some universities may offer a laptop to you without asking if you meet certain eligibility requirements.