Buying a new laptop is not easy and there are so many things to consider. It can appear very simple as jumping onto Amazon and typing the word laptop then- filter by price, size and customer rating but if you’re spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new laptop you want to make sure you are getting the right computer that has good value for your money.
So today I am going to walk you through 10 things that you need to know in order to choose the perfect laptop. First things first, do you prefer using Windows, Mac OS, or Chrome OS? There is no right or wrong answer and it’s usually best to stick with what you know.
Mac OS is obviously exclusive to Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros which are beautiful machines and really easy to use but they are also relatively expensive. There is not much variety and the latest models have a limited range of ports.
Chromebooks running Chrome OS are very popular with students so if you are on a budget and just doing really basic things like google docs, streaming Netflix, and sending emails then a Chromebook could be ideal. Having a good battery is important.
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Windows is by far the most common platform so you’ve got the greatest range of laptops to choose from. A windows 10 laptop could be your preference because there are just so many more choices. You have a wide price range with the specifications and features that you need. And if you are into gaming then windows computers are pretty much your only option right now.
SIZE AND SHAPE
Do you want a traditional laptop or would you prefer something a little more fancy such as a convertible 2 in 1 laptop with a 360 degree hinge so you can turn the screen around and use it as a tablet or put it in tent mode (standing) which is handy when watching movies. You basically get a touchscreen tablet experience with an all in one laptop thanks to the 360 hinge.
Another choice could be a hybrid 2 in 1 with a fully detachable keyboard so you will have slightly more budget options such as: the Acer Switch 3, or the Surface Book Pro 13 inch screen which you can press a button and the tablet is released from the keyboard. This way you can use it as a normal laptop or remove it from the keyboard to function as a windows 10 tablet. There are also some downsides to the 2 in 1 tablets: Generally these tablets are more expensive than the normal laptops and quite often they will not be as powerful due to size and design restrictions. That is not always the case however, when it comes to the Surface Book 2 which is one of the most powerful non-gaming laptops you can buy but the compromise is the price which starts at $1500 dollars for the 13inch model.
Now let’s talk about size because most laptops have 13, 14 or 15 inch screen sizes. You do have a few 11 inch budget laptops and some huge 17 and 18 inch laptops and generally the smaller the screen size the lighter and more compact the computer is. So 13 inch and 14 inch Ultrabook’s make great travel companions. Anything larger and you will struggle to get work done on trains or planes. The larger 15-inch laptops can be more powerful and often have room for a dedicated graphics card but contain power hungry processors. The good news is that companies are putting larger screens into more compact and travel friendly bodies by trimming the size of the bezel around the screen. If you are going to leave your laptop at home or in the office you may as well go for something a bit more bigger and therefore hopefully more powerful. But if you want something for travel that can barely fit in your backpack then maybe consider is 13 inch Ultrabook. If you can afford a high-end MacBook Pro 15, XPS 15 or Surface Book 215 they are all relatively compact for their size and offer high-end performance.
SCREEN AND VISUALS
The whole time that you spend evaluating the laptop you want to also examine the size by making sure it looks good. Firstly, make sure it has an IPS screen. You can check the technical specifications for reviews to see if the IPS is mentioned. An IPS screen offers much better color accuracy and viewing angles. The alternative is an ATM screen which are still used on some cheaper models and are okay but they can appear grainy and viewing angles are pretty terrible. You should also consider the screen resolution but do not worry about this factor too much because ideally you want a laptop with an HD of 1920 x 1080 resolution.
This topic may seem dull and complicated however, it is super important for knowing what kind of performance you are going to get from a laptop. The three main things to consider consist of the processor, ram, storage and maybe also graphic cards if you are into gaming or intensive workstation applications.
The most important thing is the processor. You will see most mid-range or high-end laptops come with an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. Generally, the higher the number the better the performance you get. Unless you are doing a lot of photos or video editing, or more intensive tasks a core i5 will be just fine. But also look for what generation it is.
Every year the computer chip gets refreshed and improved. The current 8th generation processors now offer 4 core processors rather than 2 core which is better for multitasking. 7th Generation chips are still fine but when possible try to get the latest one.
Some cheaper laptops will come with a Pentium or Celeron processor but unless you are using the computer for more basic tasks or you are on a super tight budget try to avoid these as a rule of thumb.
Usually you will get 4, 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM in a laptop but unless you are going for a basic machine try to avoid 4 gigabytes. The Sweet Spot is 8GB. Now for video editing, rendering or any type of power user, go for 16GB where possible.
Having an SSD or solid-state drive is very important and it makes a huge difference just to understand how fast everything feels from boot up, opening programs, and generally using the desktop. I highly recommend making sure your new laptop comes with an SSD. Some laptops have both 32 or a 128 gigabyte SSD and also offer a second higher-capacity drive. It’s arguably the best of both worlds because you get the SSD speed boost for Windows but you also get enough storage for all your files.
(PORTS AND DRIVES)
USB and HDMI card readers ports are very important and to be honest I would recommend making sure the laptop you purchase comes with at least one USB 3.1 type C port. It is still relatively new but it can do pretty much everything and will definitely “future-proof” your laptop.
But even if the specifications, price and size is right but the keyboard and the touchpad are bad then it’s not going to be very nice to use on a regular basis. And in my experience MacBook’s and MacBook Pros have the best touch pads because they are big and responsive.
For windows laptops try to find a Microsoft Precision touchpad which basically guarantees that the touchpad will be fast and precise. If you are not sure if it has one just Google the laptops name along with Precision touchpad and see if any reviews mention it. Do not worry too much if it does not have one but I would recommend that you try the laptop in the store prior to purchasing it. The same routine goes for the keyboard other than saying because it’s very difficult to describe the keyboard other than saying it’s responsive based upon online reviews. So I would definitely recommend trying it in out in person at the store.
What about battery life? How long should your battery life last? Anything above 6 hours is decent (but since most brands test them at low brightness) if a retailer says 6 hours you can expect more like 4 in the real . The size of the battery, 4K resolution screens, graphic cards, and generation processors all have the biggest impact on battery life. Most reviews you read will tell you how long a laptop battery will last but if you can get one with at least six hours but preferably 8 to 10 hours that will do nicely.
If you are on a tight budget of under $500 maybe consider something that has a core i3. Or if you’re really pushed maybe an intel Celeron or Pentium processor. The Asus Switch 3 has a Pentium and that is fine because it’s backed up by an SSD card with 32 GB of flash storage so for your basic window tasks it makes the biggest difference in terms of performance and how fast everything feels.
But let’s keep things simple. If you have a budget of say $500 to $1,000 dollars then look for a laptop that has an Intel Core i3, i5 with 8 gigabytes of RAM and at least 256 gigabytes storage SSD.
If your budget is over $1,000, then start looking for i5 and i7 processors with up to 16GB of ram and maybe a 512gb storage SSD.