10 Laptop Features You Can Skip to Save Money

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Whether you're buying a laptop that you can configure-to-order or choosing from a set of different models, you'll pay more for better components and capabilities. If your budget allows, you can splurge on the fastest processor, largest storage and highest-end graphics, but if you need to economize, these are several luxuries you can skip.

Cover Image Credit: mstanley / Shutterstock

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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  • Christine Says:

    @TechEnthusiast "If you need to save money, the best strategy is to forget about a laptop all together and build a cheap desktop PC that will outperform even the most highest end laptops".

    The "keyword" here is LAPTOP! Have you ever set a desktop PC on your lap while reclined in your favorite chair? Have you ever used your desktop PC during a power outage? Saving money isn't always the most convenient option.

  • Christine Dacquisto Says:

    I will not buy a laptop that doesn't have a Touchscreen and back-lit keyboard.

  • Joe Bean Says:

    Wow, guys you are harsh!

    It is true that it is more a list of what manufacturers shouldn't put on laptop, but the recommendations are not that bad.

    Advising people to not pay for an i7 on a laptop makes sense for a lot of people. A lot of i7 processors aren't even quad cores on laptops, which makes them not really better than i5s. Unless you really need the power of a quad core i7 (there is a Q in the name often), the cheapest i5 is often the best value and won't be slower for day to day. And you need to realize that to use the power of the quad core, you need an actual application that uses parallelism and is specifically coded for that. A lot of applications don't really take advantage of that. If you don't do any computing intensive apps, I don't think it is worth it, especially considering the ridiculous price difference.

    As for discrete cards, unless you are a gamer, a discrete cards just runs you the risk of lowering your battery life, having a fan break and make your laptop overheat and shut down by itself after some years.

    I also agree with the display, for battery life and uselessness of the higher resolutions due to poor scaling on Windows combined to the very small size of a laptop display. I use a 30 inches to work and I don't even use 4K on it. Maybe if you want to watch 4K movies badly on your laptop, but then you compromise on battery. To me, it is just not such a great compromise now. If you want 4K that bad, why not buy a 4K tv? Apparently, it starts to make a difference for screens bigger than 65-80 inches depending on where you sit...

    Windows Pro: I would agree on any other edition than Windows 10, but if you want more control like being able to delay feature upgrades and you know how to do that, Win Pro is better now. It is sad Microsoft changed Windows to make the Pro version more of a requirement for those who don't want to be the guinea pig tester after they fired lots of their QA people to use you as the tester, but we have to deal with that today. And no, even if you pay that much more for Pro, you will still have to put up with ads on Windows and pay even more indirectly with your personal data, especially if you use Edge and Bing and Cortana and their App store. However, there is no warranty MS won't cripple the Pro version later like they did with their Anniversary Update by removing some features from Pro that were present since the beginning and make them only available to Enterprise version, which no normal user can really hope to run at home.

  • reader Says:

    About the only thing I agree about this article is the 4K display, i7, and discrete GPU....especially if you're buying the notebook for productivity. If you're doing any multimedia work, you'll need all 10 things.

    Backlit keyboard is not important for the QWERTY layout but IS important for function keys and other toggles that you may use -- e.g. screen brightness, volume. Imagine being in a dark room and having the screen full-blast in your face...the glare is going to make it really hard for you to find that "dim screen" button on your keyboard.

    More ram, IMHO, saves you money by leaving your laptop future proof. Yes you can buy a $300 laptop that becomes unusable in 3 years because of increased RAM needs by the OS, or buy a $400-500 one that gets you a few more years to buy the next tone...your dollars-per-year will actually be lower.

    i5 is probably enough for most users and does serve as a balance between power and battery life...although power users would need the headroom for i7.

    Discrete GPU is the first thing I'd get a user to think about, as it helps with future-proofing as well as online streaming sites are turning to hardware acceleration. Your benchmark is wrong in using Rise of the Tomb Raider, a game that's known to be CPU-heavy, to see the difference in presence/absence of a GPU.

    Touch-screen can be left out if the user has never used a device with one. But once you go touch, the lack of a touchscreen is glaring. I alternate between a travel-size Windows laptop with touch and a Macbook pro, and I find myself wishing the latter has touch.

  • Mohar Says:

    This article was one of the least informative I have read. It offers no help to experienced buyers, and counter intuitive advice for new users. Are you suggesting people narrow their search by Kensington lock slot?

  • anonimus Says:

    I think you said 10 not one

  • TechEnthusiast Says:

    This is probably the most non-intuitive and poorly written tech article ever. Are you joking? To save money you don't need Core i5 or i7? The Core i5, i7, iwhatever is just a naming scheme, that does not reflect performance in the slightest. You have to take into consideration of core count, and clockspeed. By your logic, every i5 processor is off the table, yet a desktop i3 which smashes i5 mobile processors across the floor is still up for grabs. Discrete graphics are getting more important as people's demand for video and games has increased and is required for any serious commitment to gaming. Discrete graphics just plain suck if you look at the benchmarks. If you need to save money, the best strategy is to forget about a laptop all together and build a cheap desktop PC that will outperform even the most highest end laptops. Price per performance ratio is all measured with benchmarks, and not subjective empirical nonsense this article has used as it's foundation of logic.

  • John Says:

    The last six things don't save you money by leaving them out. Every budget laptop comes with VGA, Kensington lock, HD webcam and ethernet. It's rather DisplayPort and HDMI which increases cost by bigger margin.
    FireWire and PCI slots don't exist anymore.

    And other than the first 4, you can save a lot of money by selecting a lower resolution and going to a traditional 500GB hard drive instead of SSD, and YOU DON'T COVER THAT? That's the luxury in there, and students can live without that.

  • kerby ruiz Says:

    how can i get my laptop asus keyboard lit up when i purchase the asus laptop keyboard is regular so i want to make it light up when im on. so can you tell me how to get it done

  • rob Says:

    this list is not vary good most of the items come standard on laptops some don't cost a thing to have like the kensington lock. if you do want a backlit keyboard try buying it after market it will be much cheaper. (i just got mine today) the only thing on this list that i don't use every day is firewire and the kensington.

  • RI Says:

    It sounds to me like you people are just complaining. No where did I remember reading you definitely don't need these features. All it's saying is if you are a casual user then you may not need this particular feature "if" you have to pay extra for it. To the first commenter you are missing something same as the next commenter. If your laptop comes with those features standard than great for you. If not than think if you need it before upgrading. I wouldn't do without some of those features either but didn't think the reviewer made any mistakes. Enjoy.

  • Jeff Says:

    I read this in the magazine at an airport a while ago and I was really disappointed in Laptopmag. It's easier to see this article as "10 things manufacturers shouldn't put in consumer laptops" because I see as many as 8 of the 10 not a buyers option for some laptops (to Presly's 6, I would add backlit keyboard and optical drive and that can be a consumer's option - if they buy it CTO - but are standard on many laptops. But that's not the key point in my view.

    I think the list offers about the worst advice I've ever seen from an erstwhile credible tech publication. At a minimum, the article should have been prefaced by something like: "If you don't ever use your computer for important work of any kind, only use it for web surfing, email and possibly MS Office, trust that you will always be able to get fast Internet signal, don't mind eliminating any convenient feature as long as it will save money and battery life, and so on, and so on. Other than the Firewire port, I have every other feature listed on my Sony Z13 and I have used every one over the past 6 months and am very reluctant to trade "up" to a newer model because they all have eliminated features I really need - even if only a few times a year - and some that I use every day and would be way worse off with a thin mint for a computer that you can't do much with nor connect to many peripherals. Let me give a few examples. I can't type even in poorly lit areas, even in daytime, without a keyboard backlight (I think it, like an SSD, is something you won't do without once you've had it), I've needed my ethernet port at least twice in the last year because of a problem with my wifi card; the port was both the only way I could get net access under a time crunch, and it was also later the way I could download software that was the fix for the wifi card, There are still so many uses for an optical drive - also perhaps more and more rarely, but still essential at times. When traveling - alone or with my wife on vacation - I really like to know I can watch movies I want to see and will not be dependent on the Hotel's Net connection speed or it's Pay Per View offerings, DVDs and Blu Rays are more than worth having for these times along - and even if an external optical drive would work just as well, I for one don't want to have to bring peripheral devices to do simple things (and internal optical drives add less than 0.3 lbs. Oh, and, the optical drive bay on almost all laptops can be converted to house a second HDD or SSD - absolutely awesome where the need arises.

    Again, I guess consumers who do very little with their computers, never have do mission critical work on their laptop, have perfect eyesight and never use their computer in unfavorable lighting conditions and, in my view if they have to sacrifice all 10 in the list, don't travel for their work. Otherwise, the article sounds like it was written by computer company, trying to justify taking all the features out of their new models. I do think that with time some of these features may become increasingly "fringe" features, but it will take some time, and some will actually increase in usage - eg, backlit keyboards. Of one thing I am positive: my computer has 9 of the 10 things you say are unnecessary "today" and I use and depend on every one of them.

  • Candace Says:

    I agree with Eddie. I have a $300 Acer laptop, one of the cheapest laptops available. It has almost all these features on it. I don't see how trying to get a laptop without these features would save you money.

  • Presly Says:

    The last 6 items on this list are not optional even if you buy a configurable laptop. It should be "4 laptop features." Of course, anyone who knows anything about laptops already know those 4.

  • Eddie Says:

    I liked the list until I got to the kensington lock slot and vga port... how exactly does one "skip" these features? a $300 Acer black friday special has VGA, kensington lock, optical, and ethernet... at the other end of the spectrum, the Sony SA, Z1, Z2, etc have all these features as well. Are you saying that I can save money on a Z2 or a $300 Acer by asking for one without VGA, ethernet, and kensington? Am I missing something here?
    Regarding the ethernet port, I am a college student (IMO college students make up the biggest market for laptops), and the only way to avoid bad dorm/apartment internet is to forgo wireless and go wired. So, I don't really see the point of this list... I think if you went to any store asking for a laptop without a kensington lock, they'd laugh at you. If you just wanted to tell everyone what features a Macbook Air lacks, you could have just said so in it's review

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