here is some information on how to buy a laptop I thought I'd share the links and the information about laptops that I know below.
These laptop are a few years old new they would have been $1.5k to 2k you can buy them refurbished for anywhere from $300 to $500
Midwest Computer Brokers
100 3rd St. North
Walford, IA 52351
Store: (319) 845-2075
Jeff's, the guy who I've worked with for the last 15 years. Great guy to work with honest. Have nothing but good things to say about him.
Hard drive. Get a solid state's hard drive or SSD. I believe most of them are now.
Get at least 256 Gigs of hard drive space. My last one had that amount of space. My new one has 512 gigs.
8. Gigs of RAM minimum. My last one had that my current one has 16 gigs of RAM.
See if the USB ports have a blue liner around them and or ask if they are USB 3.0 ports since that's the newest technology.
What do you want out of your laptop?
Do you want it to be more portable or do you want more screen space?
The CD/DVD drive is cool but it also adds more weight and another thing that can fail on it versus the external USB CD drive. But then again USB drives can fail. Like my last laptop. Some of those USB drives were really intermittent or not working at all.
How to set it up to maximize privacy and control
When you set it up set it up without using the Internet. That way you can have a local account and it gives you more privacy. Otherwise, when you set it up online the first time you have to give your email address and set up a Microsoft account I would just strongly recommend setting it up as a local account, but to do that I think you have to keep it offline for the initial setup.
Here's a link on how to do that with much more information, screenshots, etc
What to pay
think $300 cash should get you something that hopefully will last at least 4 or 5 years like my last one and hopefully my current one.
Hopefully you found some of this info helpful, interesting, etc. I just feel that it's always good to have some sort of tangible reference. Let me know if you have other questions or anything.