If you want a better laptop than the typical Black Friday special, I found just the thing: this Dell Latitude E6420 laptop from Newegg, for $225 (the price is good through Sunday, Nov. 22). It has several things going for it: it comes with Windows 7 Professional, so you can upgrade to Windows 10 when you want and you’ll get the better, more-feature-filled, easier-to-secure Professional version; you can upgrade the memory to 8 GB of RAM, and it comes with a 128GB SATA SSD, so you can drop in a bigger, faster SSD at a later date.
Note: When Newegg sells out of these, which happens occasionally, they’re fairly easy to find on Ebay, though some come with conventional hard drives rather than SSDs.
The downside? It is a refurb, but it’s a business-class machine, and it comes with a 1-year warranty, which is the same as you’ll get with a consumer-grade machine. Business-class machines are generally built with better hardware than consumer-grade stuff, especially stuff designed to meet a price point for a doorbuster sale. You’re much more likely to get five years of use out of a refurbished business PC than out of a consumer machine at a comparable price point.
So I don’t exactly consider it a downside. When I’m spending my own money, I usually build machines, but when I can’t or don’t have time to build a machine, I buy a refurbished business PC and this strategy has served me exceptionally well. The PCs go obsolete before the hardware starts failing.
The nice thing about the Latitude E6420 is that it has a 2.5 GHz Core i5 CPU in it that’s faster than anything else you’ll find for a lower price right now. So the CPU has plenty of useful life in it, and you can add enough memory and SSD capacity to it to keep the machine useful.
My day-to-day laptop at work from 2013-2014 was the very similar Latitude E6400. It’s a well-built machine.
I see no downside to this PC and plenty of upside.