Don't fall for a cheap laptop con on Memorial Day – get a Chromebook instead

Closeup of a Chromebook
(Image credit: CC Photo Labs / Shutterstock)

Memorial Day 2023 kicks off on Monday, May 29, and there will likely be plenty of Memorial Day laptop sales going live – but you may be better off avoiding a traditional Windows laptop and instead going for a Chromebook.

This is because while there are some brilliant Memorial Day sales, there are also always deals that look too good to be true – because that's exactly what they are.

Often, retailers may be offering huge discounts on laptops with rock-bottom prices. However, while the price might be right, if you look closely, there's quite a bit wrong with those deals.

All about the specs

The biggest red flag for a laptop deal is in the specs, and this can quickly tell you if it's a dud or not.

I've already seen early Memorial Day laptop sales for Windows laptops with a measly 4GB of RAM. While that might be the official minimum spec for running Windows 11, I can't stress this enough: do not buy a Windows laptop with just 4GB of RAM. It will not be a nice experience. The laptop will feel slow as soon as you get it out of the box, and it'll just get worse the more apps you install on it.

You can forget about multi-tasking as well, with 4GB of RAM you'll have to stick with one program open at a time.

I've also seen some laptops coming with just 128GB or 64GB storage options, and again, that should be a sign to stay away. Windows 11 takes around 27GB of storage space. Once additional apps and updates are installed, that can quickly grow, which means you may find yourself quickly running out of space to save documents, photos and other files.

Not only is that frustrating, but hard drives that are almost at capacity can slow down – which isn't great as many ultra-cheap laptops use eMMC storage, which is slower than SSDs that are found in more expensive laptops.

This, again, means that the overall performance could be rather poor. All of a sudden, that cheap laptop that's frustrating the heck out of you doesn't feel such good value any more.

Today's best laptop sales ahead of Memorial Day

Chromebooks to the rescue

While all of those above red flags should give you pause before you buy a super-cheap Windows 11 laptop, they don't really apply to the best Chromebooks, many of which should also be on sale during Memorial Day.

Many Chromebook deals will offer devices with specs I just warned you about, but here's the thing – with Chromebooks, it doesn't matter as much.

Because ChromeOS, the operating system Chromebooks use, doesn't need as much power as Windows 11 or macOS to run, it means it still feels fast and responsive, even when on low-powered or older hardware. So 4GB of RAM and a dual-core processor, which would struggle to run Windows 11, will be fine for a Chromebook.

With lower-powered hardware, Chromebooks can be sold for a lot less than a Windows laptop, and battery life can be much longer as well.

ChromeOS also takes up less storage space, and the apps it uses are usually web-based or extensions for the Chrome web browser (which the operating system is based on), and these, too, also take up less space. Combined with a Chromebook's focus on cloud-based services such as Google Docs and Google Photos, where your documents are saved online, Chromebooks don't need large hard drives.

So, if you're weighing up whether or not to go for a laptop or a Chromebook on Memorial Day - if you want the absolute best value, I'd go for a Chromebook every time.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.