There’s no doubt that choosing the right laptop is crucial – for everyone. Investing big money in a product that’s going to shape your home and, possibly, your work life for the next few years is no easy task. However, near the end of November comes a time when making the right decision could also lead to saving a substantial amount of money.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday land on November 23 and 26, bringing the real possibility of enormous discounts on essential electronics. If you’re already trying to work out which brand of laptop will suit your needs, we’ve written a guide that will help you to make your decision – before making for the Black Friday sales.

My Black Friday budget

It might not surprise you that an Apple Macbook Pro, brand new, is likely to cost you more than a HP or Dell laptop with a similar spec. For instance, a HP Spectre x360, with 256GB storage and 8GB memory, can be around $300 to $500 cheaper than a Macbook Pro matching these specifications. Cheaper still is the Dell Inspiron 113 7000, at only $679.99. This guide to the hierarchy of the average price of each brand’s product gives you an idea of what you may be looking at in terms of cost.

Apple’s desirable range and established design are especially sought after by people who work in the creative industries and provide increased functionality for their needs. Though these laptops each come with a price, last year, even new models were reduced by between $50 and $200 during Black Friday, while older models were discounted even further.

The lifespan of my new laptop

One of the reasons why refurbished Apple laptops are still so sought after is their longevity. With the macOS operating system regularly updated and common chances to upgrade memory, an Apple laptop can last a long time. However, other brands are certainly catching up. Cloud-based software means more room under the hood, and Dell’s Inspirion 15 5000, for instance, comes with 8GB of memory – but can be expanded to a massive 32GB.

The general rule with any laptop is that more money equals more lifespan. If you’re buying for a specific reason, perhaps to last for the duration of college, a slightly older model will still be functional when you graduate. If this is the case, a HP laptop is a great alternative to an Apple Macbook. HP laptops have incredible battery life and generally come with a number of entertainment-centric features to rival Apple – and significantly more than Dell.

Is my new device for home, work, or play?

If you’re not in the creative industries or off to college, the variety of Dell laptops available may interest you. With an incredible range of laptop types including versatile 2-in-1 laptop and table devices, you will find a Dell laptop perfect for home, office work, or both. Dell’s XPS 13, for instance, offers nearly 20 hours battery life, which makes it an ideal workstation for commuters or businesspeople who travel.

If some of your spare time will involve gaming, then you’re probably already aware that a Microsoft operating system is what you need. This means ruling out a Macbook, but choosing between something like a Dell XPS 15 or a HP Pavilion Gaming to suit your gaming needs. With these models, you will have access to a greater wealth of games as well as better performance for a more immersive gaming experience.

What level of service do I need?

Each company takes good care of its customers in different ways. Apple buyers receive one year of warranty benefits, including opportunities to visit Genius Bars for issues and advice, while online assistance is also available with a responsive customer service platform. Hardware and software issues are usually easily resolvable – but can be expensive out of warranty – and three additional years of Apple Care can be purchased with the device, at an extra cost of between $249 and $379.

For users who are already quite tech-savvy, HP provides extensive online information related to its products. This includes a comprehensive forum for fellow tech enthusiasts to discuss problems and solutions, although an experienced HP employee may be harder to reach. If you prefer a comprehensive customer service experience, Dell provides phone support 24 hours a day and will work to resolve your issue, even if doing so takes time.

Which brand should I choose?

While you’re waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to land, work out what you want to spend, what you’re going to use your new laptop for, and how much time you want to spend with it – and on it – if you encounter any problems. Perhaps visit a store and discuss your needs, take note of a few models that meet your requirements – and look out for the Black Friday offers as they inevitably flood in.