This will be quick: good laptops under R5,000 don’t exist. Don’t buy them.
Consumers need to let manufacturers know that laptops at this price point are unacceptable by voting with their wallets.
Why are they so bad? Let’s take a look.
Generally, these laptops will have:
1366 x 768 is a common display resolution in this category. It makes everything you look at, look terrible: not sharp, too big, ugly. Avoid.
These are among Intel’s very worst-performing processors, and they are all too common in laptops at the sub-R5k level. The problem is that they are incredibly slow, and booting into Windows, loading applications, or even just opening a new Chrome tab will take much longer than it should. And forget about any workloads more complicated than these. Celerons suck, and they suck hard.
4GB of RAM
Every application uses loads of RAM these days, and when your system doesn’t have enough, your computer has to make up for it by moving data from RAM to your storage device and then back into RAM again. Having only 4GB of RAM hamstrings sub-R5k laptops in such a way that you’ll be drinking a lot of tea, since you’ll be making a lot of it while you wait for anything to happen. Having a really fast SSD mitigates this somewhat, but laptops at this price point tend not to have those. Instead, they have…
A hard drive, not a solid-state drive
Compounding the slow processor and lack of RAM is the storage that typically ships in this category of laptops: spinning platter-based hard drives. These drives offer a fair amount of storage space (good), but they take ages to retrieve information (bad). And when your system is relying on this device to make up for the absence of more than 4GB of RAM, you have a recipe for sloth-like performance.
Say no to slow
Having any one of these components in a laptop is bad enough, but having all four in there at the same time – to keep costs down – results in a laptop that’s just going to make its user mad.
Without a doubt, using these laptops for anything will feel like a chore, even for basic tasks like email and web browsing. If you buy them for your staff, we strongly advise that you don’t keep a coffee mug in the office with your name on it.
And if you buy one for yourself, just to have a computer in the business, we’re confident that it will be doing its best impression of a Russian oligarch’s relationship with nearby windows very shortly after purchase.
So just don’t do it. Save up a bit longer and get something decent instead. You’ll thank us in the end.
So what’s good, then?
Just so that this isn’t all doom and gloom, here’s what to look for in a laptop that won’t make the user want to off themselves:
- At least an Intel Core i3 processor
- A minimum of 8GB of RAM
- A solid-state hard drive. 128GB is okay but 256GB is better.
- A 1080p screen
Sure, you’ll pay more than R5,000, and it still won’t exactly perform like a champ, but you can actually use a laptop with these specs to perform tasks without wanting to pull your hair out. There will be less waiting and more productivity, and that’s important.
Image by brgfx on Freepik