Black Friday 2017 sales in Australia: best laptop deals

Laptop PCs are one of the more popular items to grab during these sales and, considering how expensive they usually are, this makes for a great opportunity to save big dollars.

Black Friday 2017 is here, bringing with it a plethora of great deals on laptops of all (shapes?) sizes and configurations. And having to sift through all the deals from top manufacturers and retailers can be quite the chore.

TechRadar's Australian team, however, makes easy work of that by scouring through everything and listing only the sweetest bargains on the best laptops, including 2-in-1s.

If you are undecided on which laptop to buy, you could scroll down and go through our buying guide to help you on your way. 

The best Black Friday 2017 laptop deals

Apple MacBooks, iMacs and Mac minis (10% of)f: The Good Guys is offering a flat 10% off its range of Apple Mac computers with the use of the promo code BFAPPLE at checkout. That includes the latest-model MacBooks (the entry-level 13-inch/128GB MacBook Pro is down to $1,709.10 saving you almost $190, while the higher-end 13-inch version with 256GB and Touchbar is $2,429.10, or $269 off) and 21- and 27-inch iMacs (the cheapest 21-inch iMac with 4K display is down to $1,709.10, again around $190 off, while the mid-range 27-inch iMac with 5K display and 1TB of storage is priced at $2,699.10, or about $300 off). Note that some specific models are already on back-order, but can still be purchased with that 10% discount… provided you’re willing to wait a little longer for delivery.

Samsung Galaxy Book 10.6-inch 2-in-1 laptop (from $849; save up to $300): Samsung wanted something better than the Galaxy TabProS and came up with the Galaxy Book. Boasting a 10.6-inch Full HD display and packing the S Pen in the box, this hybrid weighs no more than 650g, making it extremely portable. You can get the Wi-Fi only version of the Galaxy Book from Samsung for just $849, but if you’d like to stay connected when out and about, the 4G model of the Galaxy Book is on sale for $999 – that’s a $250 and $300 saved respectively.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 5 laptop ($1,499; save $500): Lenovo promises that this lightweight and slim 14-inch laptop is tough, thanks to its carbon-fibre reinforced chassis. With this chassis is housed an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The laptop even features a Full HD display. The latest iteration of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is on sale for $1,499 at Lenovo, saving you $500 on the RRP of $1,999.

Lenovo X1 Yoga (Gen 2) 2-in-1 laptop ($1,699; save $900): The X1 Yoga is a seriously premium 2-in-1 from Lenovo, with the portability, interactability and convenience of a tablet and the processing power and reliability of a laptop. This particular configuration of the 14-inch features an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, with a Full HD multitouch display. You can get the Lenovo X1 Yoga for $900 off the retail price of $2,599 at the Lenovo store, bringing it down to $1,699.

Dell XPS 13 Laptop ($1,599, save $400): If you're not after a 2-in-1 option (deal found below) but you're after the portability and power that comes with it, then Dell's XPS 13 laptop is an excellent choice. With the InfinityEdge display you'll get more screen for less bulk, and considering this laptop is packing a 7th-gen Intel Core processor and 8GB of RAM, it's a veritable portable powerhouse. You can save $400 if you buy the Dell XPS 13 Laptop for $1,599 from the company's own site.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 256GB/8GB/Core i5 laptop ($1,999; down from $2,299): Dell has managed to cram a 13-inch display into a 11-inch chassis by making the screen practically bezel-less. The 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display on the XPS 13 boasts an impressive Quad HD+ (3,200 x 1,800) resolution. It even manages a long battery life and tops our list of the 10 best Ultrabooks of 2017. This configuration features an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, with a $460 discount to boot. Head to Dell's Australian site and this XPS 13 can be yours for $1,839.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 256GB/16GB/Core i7 laptop ($1,079; down from $1,799): If you're keen on watching movies on the go, or taking your design work with you, then you'll be wanting an above-average display size on your laptop — enter the Dell Inspiron 15-inch Laptop. With a seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, this laptop has enough power to keep your everyday operations smooth while a 16GB SSD will give you enough room to work with and speedy boot times as well. Shop from Dell's store directly to get the Inspiron 15 5000 for only $1,079, down from $1,799.

Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 ($799, save $200): Kitted out with a 256GB SSD and running on an Intel Core i3 processor, the Inspiron 13 combines just enough portability and power to balance out your everyday computing. With a Full HD 13-inch touchscreen display and the ability to convert to a tablet at will, this is perfect for the home, office, and everywhere in between. Score yourself the mega-affordable Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 for only $799 from Microsoft’s store.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Laptop ($1,379, save $920): Featuring a brand-new 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD, a Full HD display and an infrared camera for facial recognition, this 15-inch 2-in-1 convertible laptop from Dell usually comes with a premium price tag of $2,299, but head over to Dell’s store and you can save close to a grand on this Dell Inspiron 15 7000, bringing it down to $1,379.

How to find the best laptop deals

We've put this guide together, to help you pick out the best laptop for your specific needs and to equip you with the knowledge you need to weed out the potential bargains and the pseudo sales.

We'll mostly be looking at Windows laptops in this guide but we will touch briefly on the alternatives.

The features to watch out for

Wondering what to keep an eye out for when purchasing a Windows laptop?

First up, the brand name is an important consideration and it rolls both ways. Something like Microsoft’s Surface Book is a very expensive item, and there are definitely much cheaper 2-in-1 laptops out there.

But on the other hand, diving into the unknown with an unheard-of brand that's apparently a 'bargain' could be a disaster. So while you may be saving a good amount on a budget laptop, we'd exercise a good degree of caution when mulling over purchasing a notebook called something like the ‘CubeMaestro FireSpark 5000GT’.

In the long run, from a quality (and tech support) point of view, it’s safest to buy from an established PC manufacturer. By that, we mean the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo or indeed Microsoft – in other words, the common names you’ve heard of.

Of course, our extensive library of laptop reviews is always handy for helping to suss out the best brands and models.

Sizing it all up

It may seem obvious, but you need to consider the overall size of the machine. This is typically dictated by the display size and will be found in common variations such as 13-inch, 14-inch, 15-inch or 17-inch. (There are also slightly smaller and larger laptops out there, but these are the most common sizes.)

Smaller notebooks are obviously more portable, and generally speaking can be cheaper. Larger models offer a bigger screen, as the size of the chassis dictates the size of the display, obviously enough. More space inside generally means more powerful components can potentially be fitted, and a bigger battery (and full-size keyboard) although this is not always the case, so keep one eye on the spec sheet.

If you intend to carry the machine around with you a lot, then a more svelte, compact notebook which is lighter (at least less than 2kg, ideally less than 1.5kg, and indeed the closer to 1kg, the better) is likely to be a good move in the long run.

Process this

Diving into the internals, the most important considerations are the elements that make up the core system of your laptop in terms of performance. These include the processor, system memory, storage, and to a lesser extent – depending on whether you’re looking for a gaming machine – the graphics subsystem. 

Starting with the processor, the majority of CPUs you’ll see will be made by Intel, and the Core i5 model is a decently beefy choice. Core i7 models are the top-end, but most folks won’t need that sort of power (unless you’re into serious gaming, video editing or other heavyweight tasks). Indeed, the entry-level Core i3 is a fine choice for a budget machine that won’t be used for anything particularly taxing.

To confuse matters a little more with Intel’s mobile processors designed for notebooks, these also carry a letter (or two) in the name to indicate the product range and target market. For solid performance in everyday use, look for a ‘U’ model, such as the Core i5-7200U (a very commonly-used mid-range processor).

Adding to the already-confusing nomenclature for processors, there are also ‘HQ’ or ‘HK’ processors (for example, Core i7-7820HQ), which are speedier models aimed at gamers and heavyweight usage. And there are also ‘Y’ models which can run without a fan to cool them, and thus fit into very slim laptops at the expense of processing power (and hence, performance). Note that the Y series chips feature ‘Core m’ models (m3/m5/m7), which you can simply think of as another way of labelling these as slower CPUs.

Further note that the first number in the processor-specific model code – ‘7Y30’ for example – refers to the generation of the CPU. An ‘8’ means the processor is part of Intel’s latest 8th-generation, and a ‘7’ (as present in our example) denotes 7th-gen Kaby Lake, with a ‘6’ referring to 6th-gen Skylake. Any CPU older than that points to a retailer flogging off a venerable old notebook, so steer clear.

At the very bottom of Intel’s processor pile, there are Atom, Pentium and Celeron CPUs. These offer the lowest levels of performance, although you can get by with a Pentium or Celeron in a budget machine. Intel Atom processors are generally found in the truly bargain basement portables, and really, they aren’t ideal for keeping things running smoothly as a result. You’ll manage okay for, say, basic web surfing, but overall this may be a compromise too far for many folks.

Intel isn't your only option however, there's also an AMD APU, an Accelerated Processing Unit which consists of a CPU combined with a GPU (graphics accelerator) on the same chip. These are a budget alternative used in some notebooks, but don’t expect any great shakes in the performance stakes. AMD’s soon-to-arrive Ryzen mobile CPUs may well change this picture considerably, though.

In conclusion, if you're after solid performance, you’re looking for a Core i5-xxxxU (where ‘xxxx’ is the specific model number of the processor), but if you want a super-slim notebook, it’ll likely have a Y model. If you’re looking at the budget end of the market, a Pentium or Celeron CPU is just fine, and indeed often par for the course – and an Atom can still do a serviceable job in a pinch, but we'd recommend against it.

Memory matters

System RAM is a processor's best friend and, as a result, factors into performance as well. Ideally you want 4GB, if not 8GB for future-proofing (and certainly that much for gaming). Although some budget laptops may still run with 2GB, we really don't recommend that for Windows 10 if you want a decently responsive experience. You may see the speed of the RAM quoted in MHz, but don’t worry too much about that; it’s the quantity which is the real defining factor in terms of performance.

Storage selection

Thankfully, most laptops these days will be using an SSD (solid-state drive) for storage, which means very responsive performance (apps will load extremely quickly). Some cheaper laptops will have eMMC drives which use flash memory just like an SSD, but they’re considerably slower. Bear that in mind if you want optimal performance.

Budget laptops often use eMMC because it's an effective way for laptop manufacturers to cut corners and costs. This is often a worthwhile compromise to save some dosh, as these drives are still faster than a traditional hard disk (if only slightly in some cases – but performance of any drive can vary quite widely depending on the exact model and manufacturer).

A traditional hard drive (often referred to as an HDD, or hard disk drive) is the slowest storage medium, but the strong suit here is that you can get far bigger capacity drives (like 1TB) even in budget machines. A speed in RPM may be quoted with a hard drive, and the faster ones run at 7200 RPM, with slower drives pitched at 5400 RPM. The latter may be rather sluggish, as a rule of thumb, but once again, bear in mind that as with SSDs, performance will vary across individual drives.

Reviews are your friend here, so don’t be afraid to Google a particular model and look for an evaluation or two (and again, you can check out TechRadar’s review section).

Graphics and display

Most laptops will have integrated graphics, meaning the GPU is built into the CPU, and as a result performance is always pretty limited. With integrated graphics – referred to as Intel HD Graphics, or Intel Iris, when it comes to Intel processors – you’ll be able to play casual games, but nothing more. And that’ll be fine for the majority of laptop users.

If you're keen on some more performance-hungry functions like video and photo editing, or if you're into gaming, then you'll need what’s known as a discrete GPU, which is just another way of saying a graphics solution that is separate from the processor. As an example, the GeForce MX150 is Nvidia’s current (Pascal-based) entry-level mobile GPU, but you may well need to fork out for something with more oomph than that (for example, a GeForce GTX 1060, although things quickly get expensive with the more powerful GPUs).

A quick word on the screen: many laptops will offer a Full HD display these days, which is a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. However, towards the budget end of the market, you’ll still find plenty of machines with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, and that’s still fine, particularly with a smaller screen (like a 13-inch model). Indeed, a lower resolution can be a benefit of sorts for a lesser-spec laptop, insomuch as there are fewer pixels for the CPU and graphics solution to shift, so things are more likely to run a bit more smoothly on low-end hardware.

This is something gamers should bear in mind, too. That 4K screen might look great, but it will take a serious toll on the notebook’s core components – you’ve got to wonder whether a smoother frame rate isn’t more important than the image quality here. Also remember a 4K display really drains the battery, too, which is a component that can already struggle in a gaming laptop.

Alternative platforms

Oranges aren’t the only fruit – there are apples out there, too. As well as Windows laptops, there are also MacBooks and Chromebooks which may well be heavily discounted come Black Friday.

If you can cope with their lightweight cloud-centric nature, many Chromebooks are already priced very keenly, so can present some truly tempting offers when their asking prices are knocked down further.

MacBooks also present a slick alternative to Windows notebooks, albeit at the other end of the price scale from Chromebooks. But still, there are definite bargains to be had on the Apple notebook front, and we’ll be covering those angles in a separate feature.

Our deal predictions

Microsoft’s pricey Surface Book is a great candidate for a big Black Friday reduction, due to a couple of factors. Firstly, the sequel to the hybrid is (hopefully) not far away, and secondly, following the release of the Performance Base, the entry-level model of the Surface Book has already been reduced to $1,837.

The same fate could well befall the Surface Pro 4, which has been more or less replaced with Microsoft's refresh of the line (simply called, Surface Pro). At present, the entry-level Surface Pro 4 is $899 on Microsoft's official store but we could see a big reduction in price on these so that the suppliers can move some serious stock. 

Naturally, along with all the expected savings in the Surface line, you can expect some reductions on the associated accessories, so keep an eye out if you're after a new Type Cover or Surface Pen.

As we already mentioned, there will probably be some extremely cheap Chromebooks on the go, so definitely keep your eye on them. Last year we saw quite a number of the $200-300 web-surfing laptops get discounted, so keep an eye out for the lower end savings.

Expect some similar super-wallet-friendly notebook deals, and bear in mind these will likely be older models running Intel’s Atom CPU (which we discussed above – but at this sort of price, it’s difficult to complain about the spec).