A commonly asked question among many laptop buyers is “what laptop will be the best one for my money?” This question, however generic or simple it may sound is actually a question one needs to take seriously. Another question that is just as important in the laptop buying decision is, “what will I be using my laptop for?” This question is so important because the last thing you want to do is overpay for features you don’t need or underpay and miss out on necessary components that will hurt you in the long run. Due to the fact that there are so many laptops on the market as well as so many different uses for them, I’m going to break down the components of the “best laptop for the money” for the average user.

First things first, we need to address some of the hardware components that make up a laptop such as the screen size, hard drive space, the RAM, and battery followed by the basic software that come with the computer. When building a laptop online or buying it in a store, they both tend to stress that bigger is better. I respectfully disagree and feel that bigger (unless you have the use for it such as a gamer or programmer) is costly and unnecessary. Let’s get started!

I can say from experience that a screen somewhere in the realms of a 15 inch widescreen display is plenty big (and that’s coming from a guy with terrible eye site) and it also cuts down on space when traveling too. When it comes to hard drive, I say anywhere between 150 GB and 250 GB is plenty when it comes to every day computing but DON’T go above 250 GB if you are using this laptop for everyday use, it will be a waste of money! RAM is important because this allows you to have multiple windows open and operating at once without freezing occurring but you still do not need to go crazy. Around 2 to 3 GB of RAM is plenty. Next we have the battery, the gasoline of your laptop hardware and software components. If you are going to splurge anywhere, this is where to do it. Definitely go with a larger battery if you are going to be on the go because the last thing you want is to be on the road realizing your computer is dying and there is no outlet in sight. Save yourself the hassle!

Lastly we need to discuss software. Go with the standard operating system offered, it is the cheapest and comes with good features for the average user as well. Taking the specifications I have listed above and plugging them into some of the major laptop manufacturers such as Toshiba, Dell, HP and Acer, I have come to the consensus that it is a tossup between the best laptops for the money. The two computers I found to be the best deals for the money are the Dell Inspiron 15 and the Toshiba Satellite L500D-ST2543 laptop; both with slightly modified features come to $469.00 before tax. While both of these computers for the most part have identical features, each one varies slightly from the other. The dell does offer 90 GB more of hard drive space at 250 GB as opposed to the 160 GB offered by the Toshiba. Toshiba however makes up for this shortcoming with a massive 12-cell battery which does offer a longer charge than the 9-cell offered by Dell. All in all both of these computers would be a great value for the everyday computer user and definitely the best laptop for the money.

Michael Blumreich is a contributor for the aptly named laptop review site, LaptopReviews.com. He’s currently a university student and lover of all things tech.