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How to Buy a Laptop

How to Buy a Laptop

woman looking at laptop GB. TB. CPU. What?!

Is it time to learn a new language, or is it time to buy a new laptop? Computer shopping is filled with unique lingo. This handy laptop buying guide will give you the basic background info you need to make the right choice.

What Size Laptop Should I Buy?

Reading through specs for multiple laptops can get overwhelming, but there’s one easy-to-understand starting point when you’re trying to decide what laptop is best for you: size.

Consider first how you will use your laptop. Will it sit on your desk most of the time? Go big! A 17-inch screen is an ideal size for gaming, or for a computer that won’t need to be moved often (such as a laptop you’ll use only to pay bills or take care of lightweight household management tasks).

Larger screens are also ideal for any functions involving graphics, such as graphic design work, gaming, or watching movies. Keep in mind that a larger screen will likely shorten battery life, so a laptop this size will probably need to be plugged in while it’s in use.

Will you need to tote your laptop back and forth from your home to your office? Will you travel with it often? Go for a size that’s easier to fit in a backpack or briefcase. A laptop screen size that’s 14-15 inches will give you enough screen space to be productive, while still allowing you to pack and transport your laptop easily.

Remember these quick tips for picking the best laptop size:

  • Larger screen = more capability for graphics. Laptops with larger screens are heavier and bulkier, making them more challenging to transport. Larger screens will also use more battery, meaning you’ll need access to an outlet while using a larger laptop.
  • Small screen = more portability. Laptops with small screens are great for travel and everyday productivity but don’t expect them to give you all the screen space you need for gaming, movies, or graphic-heavy work.

17" Asus Gaming Laptop

Get the Big Screen Experience

With a screen size of 17.3″, the Asus Gaming Laptop is one of our largest, most dynamic laptops. The crisp HD display makes it great for gaming, editing photos, and streaming movies.

  • Customizable RGB lighting of keyboard, logo, and light bar
  • Latest 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H Hexa-core Processor
  • Intelligent Cooling thermal system with adjustable fans

See Laptop Computers >

What Laptop Model Should I Buy?

Now that you’re thinking about how you’ll use your laptop, let’s go one step deeper. What physical features do you need from your laptop? Do you need a traditional clamshell laptop or a 2-in-1 conversion laptop with a touch screen?

Touch screen capability can be a lifesaver for students who need to take notes or those who need to be able to sketch or draw. If you don’t need either of those features, shopping for a traditional laptop can keep your costs low (and can offer you more options for additional features).

At Rent-A-Center, you’ll find a top-quality selection of laptop models from nationally recognized laptop brands, like HP, ASUS, and Dell. Browse laptop models from these trusted brand names online to compare features once you know what you need.

Remember these quick tips when comparing laptop models:

  • Consider how you need to use your laptop. Before you choose between a traditional laptop vs. a touch-screen laptop, list out the tasks you’ll need to perform on your computer. Choose the laptop model that makes sense for your lifestyle.
  • Keep budget in mind. Some laptops with touchscreen capability can be more expensive than traditional clamshell models. You can save money by only paying for the features you need.

HP 15.6" AMD A9-9425 Laptop

Work & Play Longer

Stay connected and entertained where you want and for however long you want, with the HP 15.6″ AMD A9-9425 Laptop. It boasts up to 9 hours of battery life!

  • 4GB Memory
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • Up to 9 hours of battery life


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Tech Specs: How Do I Know What to Look for in a Laptop?

Here’s where things can get crazy: tech specs! How are you supposed to know the difference between laptop memory, processor cores, and hard drive RPM?!

All three of these components impact the power and speed of your laptop. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Laptop Memory

CPU stands for central processing unit, and the speed of your central processing unit determines how quickly your computer can function. It’s also referred to as “memory,” and it’s measured in gigabytes (or GB, as you’ll see it abbreviated).

The most common type of CPU is an Intel Core Processor. The more memory/CPU a computer has, the faster the computer will operate (for example, a laptop with 8GB of memory will perform much faster than one with 2GB of memory).

For everyday tasks and efficient work speeds, most people need a CPU with 4GB of memory. And get this: all of the rent-to-own laptops you’ll find at Rent-A-Center have at least 4GB of memory!

Laptop Storage

This one is easy to get confused with CPU. Both are noted using gigabytes (GB), but storage refers to the volume of files that your computer can store in the long term. It can also be called a hard drive, and a “solid-state drive” is just a different type of storage drive (it’s faster, but has the same function).

If you need to store lots of photos, videos, or multimedia files, go for a hard drive with more than the standard 250-500GB of storage. At Rent-A-Center, you can find a laptop with up to 1 terabyte (TB) of storage (which is equal to 1000GB).

Remember these quick tips when exploring your laptop memory and storage options:

  • You need a minimum of 4GB of memory. No matter what you use your laptop for, look for a laptop with at least 4GB of memory to ensure your computer can keep up with life’s most important tasks.
  • More graphics = more memory needed. Gaming or multimedia work (graphics, video, or audio) will require a laptop with more/faster memory, as well as more storage.

Dell 15.6" Gaming Laptop

Max Out Your Memory

Want more gigs? Check out the Dell 15.6″ Gaming Laptop. It has a 1TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce graphics.

  • 8GB Memory
  • Killer™ Ethernet & SmartByte tech


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How to Buy a Laptop with the Features You Need

Beyond speed, power, and storage, you may need extra features in a laptop. Do you use video conferencing often? Look for a laptop with a webcam. Do you plan to stream audio or video? Do your research to find the best-reviewed laptop speakers before you buy. Here are a few other features you may need from a laptop:

  • Upgraded graphics card. Are you a gamer? You’ll want to make sure everything on your screen looks sharp, and that there’s no lag in your screen’s response time to your games. Look for laptops that say “Gaming Laptop” in the description, or buy a laptop with an NVIDIA graphics system installed.
  • USB and storage ports. Need to get photos from a traditional camera to your laptop? How about syncing your phone? Make sure your new laptop has the ports you’ll use most often. If it doesn’t, you may have to carry around multiple adapters when using your laptop. The same goes for DVD drives. If you want to watch DVDs on your laptop, make sure it has a DVD drive! This feature is becoming increasingly rare.
  • Extended battery life. If you tend to work on the go, consider battery life! Some laptops have a longer battery life than others, so read reviews and look at the manufacturer’s battery life specs before buying a laptop.

Make sure you get the laptop features you want. Remember to:

  • Consider your most-performed tasks. Ensure your computer has built-in equipment or ports to do these things quickly and seamlessly.
  • Do your research. If you’re not sure if you need an extra feature or not, read more about the feature online. Look within online gaming forums to determine the best graphics specs for your laptop, read up on the best speaker types for music lovers, or find reviews written by real consumers about extended battery life options.

What Laptop Should I Buy? Rent-A-Center Can Help

When it comes to shopping for a laptop, there’s no place better than Rent-A-Center. Is it time to upgrade your laptop? Shop online or stop by your nearest store today for powerful rent-to-own laptops from the brands you know and trust, like HP, ASUS, and Dell.

HP logo Asus Logo Dell logo

About Us

The good things in life don’t have to be out of reach. Rent-A-Center is here to make the things you want and need accessible, and Front & Center is your resource for living well on a budget.

Each week, we’ll bring you tips and tricks for infusing simplicity, style—even a little fun—into every aspect of your life and home. From decorating advice to money-saving strategies to opportunities to share with others like you, we’ll give you ideas that inspire. Live well, friends. And send your submissions, suggestions and questions for the blog to blog@rentacenter.com. For all customer service inquiries, please contact our Solution Center team at 1-800-422-8186.