Do you think spending $2,000 on a laptop is a lot of money? I do too. But… I’m not going to tell you not to go out and buy a MacBook Pro. Because if you’re a savvy freelancer, you can make up that $2,000 fast enough. Then you’ll essentially have free hardware to keep producing your compelling content. That’s pretty awesome.

Though if you don’t want a MacBook (like me), you’ll need to dive a little deeper in order to choose your right laptop. I did this recently. It took me hours and hours to gather this information. So I’ve created a guide for you. Over the next 3-5 minutes, you’ll know everything I know which took me probably three to five hours to gather. Gotta love this blog.

Screen Size and Clarity Is the Best Starting Point

… after the decision of PC vs. Windows, that is. And no, I’m not including any information about Chromebooks, etc. into this post. While they work for children, they do not work for serious business owners. Yes, you can hack your way into making them usable in some cases but that’s a huge pain.

I’ve found that screen size and clarity is where your search should start. Screen size is important because you want a screen that fits your needs but is also not too large to carry. I like a 15.6″ screen because it’s large but not cumbersome on airplanes, on a small table, etc. It’s also easy to find a backpack that has a sleeve to accommodate this size. Clarity is important to consider because if you want full HD, that will cost at least $100 more. P.S. full HD means at least 1080 resolution when you see a resolution that has two numbers such as 2560 x 1600.

Hard Drive

Hard drive is important. It contains two of the most significant factors when choosing a laptop: storage + speed. For storage, 100 gigs will do if you just download images and podcasts – and if you’re not a pack rat. 1 TB is pretty common and I’d want that if I did a ton of video content. For speed, a solid-stat drive is best. Not necessary, but certainly enhances your experience. If you wait a fast load time, you’ve got to have a SSD. And note that you can swap hard drives rather easily so if you find the perfect laptop but it doesn’t have a SSD, you can throw one in for less than $100.

Brand

I have a ThinkPad. It has been great. But you know what? I don’t want another. Because I’m tired of looking at the design day after day. This sounds silly but it’s important. I want something new to enjoy.

I was set on Asus until I went to Best Buy to try out a few machines. Turns out, I disliked the feel of the keyboard. So my Asus journey ended there.

I find choosing a brand to be beneficial because then you can find the perfect machine within the brand. If you want a 15.6″ full HD screen with a SSD and you want an Asus, you’ll be able to target what you want very quickly.

Where should you buy?

Saving money is fantastic, I don’t care if you have $1,000 or $100,000,000. So think about where you’ll buy. An obvious choice is Amazon. It’s good because of the customer reviews and simple checkout (because who doesn’t already have their card information saved on Amazon). Best Buy is the most popular physical store for electronics. They are good because the staff is usually phenomenally helpful. Their prices aren’t terrible either. Finally, if you really want to save, check eBay. eBay offers used laptops that have been reset to factory specs. You can often find laptops at 20%+ off new price. Just make sure it’s exactly what you want before you buy.

Final Words

Choose a work machine that’s the best for you. Do not buy the cheapest option. Remember, this is a money-making machine. It’s not irresponsible to say that the more expensive the computer, the more money you’ll earn. Enjoy spending with purpose.

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William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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