The laptop market is represented by a wide variety of sizes, characteristics, and prices to get confused. To make the right choice, we urge you to determine the goals for which you need this device. We’ll provide you with 9 helpful tips and start by figuring out the needs.
A Guide to Buying a Laptop – 9 useful tips
What do you need a laptop for?
The first thing to do is to decide on the needs. Laptops can be divided into the following categories:
If you plan to use it for a little bit or share it with family members, you might want to consider an inexpensive 15-inch laptop; most likely, most of the time, it will be in a certain place, and the weight here is not decisive. This option does not have a pronounced positioning and is quite suitable for study, work or games, and can take the role of the only computer in the house. If you plan to carry it with you, consider lighter options – from 11 to 13 inches. Depending on the size, RAM, and graphics, you expect to spend between $300 and $800.
Laptops for business:
Laptops with a quiet design (usually matte surfaces, black or metallic, strict lines) and the lack of additional multimedia elements. Perhaps you are a leader or a student, and your main goal is to write and edit texts, operate spreadsheets and create presentations. You prefer a laptop with a comfortable keyboard, a strong design, able to adequately carry the load with active operation, a clear screen and a hardy battery.
Thin and Light Devices. They have style, high autonomy, excellent performance and high price. Have an exquisite design using a variety of alloys, carbon, glass, etc. Unfortunately, the thin case has no room for discrete graphics cards, so you will have to settle for a video accelerator.
Gaming or gamers:
If you’re playing the latest games, you need a laptop with a spectacular design, a powerful processor and graphics card, top-notch discrete graphics, equipped with a large and “fast” high-resolution screen, optimized keyboard, backlit, and powerful gaming acoustics. Such devices are costly and will cost from $1,000 and above.
Laptops for creativity/multimedia:
Have a bright design and functionality, sufficient to perform a wide range of tasks (games, music, presentations), but above all, video or photo editing. These are laptops with a powerful processor, discrete graphics, solid-state drive (Solid State Drive / SSD) and a large high-resolution display (Full HD or above). Be prepared to spend over $1,000.
Easy web surfing /e-mail/ second computer:
Suppose you plan to use a laptop for web surfing on the Internet, browsing e-mail, socializing. Networks, share your laptop with kids or use it as an extra along with the main PC; you can opt for an inexpensive laptop or Chromebook running on Google’s Chrome OS.
Choose the size of a laptop.
You need to determine how much of a laptop you need. Let’s classify the size of the display:
11 to 12 inches:
The thinnest and lightest laptops with screens from 11 to 12 inches often weigh less than 1.3 kg (in this category are many Chromebooks). But for some users, the screen and keyboard will be limited.
13 to 14 inches:
This site provides the best balance of portability and ease of use. Laptops with 13- or 14-inch screens typically weigh more than 1.5 kg and are easily placed on their knees, and the size of the keyboard and screen is acceptable.
This is the most popular size. 15-inch laptops are usually the most affordable and weigh most often from 2.2kg to 2.7kg if you don’t plan on constantly carrying it with you – it’s just for you. Almost all 15-inch models have a DVD drive.
17 inches and up:
If you prefer the maximum screen size possible, the 17-18-inch can provide you with the necessary computing power, support for modern games, or achieve an automated workplace’s performance level. A laptop of this size can be packed with a quad-core processor, a powerful discrete graphics card, and multiple drives. Only it is better not to carry with you, the weight of such a laptop from 3 kg.
Check the keyboard and touchpad.
Even the most advanced features in the world pale if the laptop has bad ergonomics. Ask yourself a few questions to test this important quality: Does the keyboard have steady tactile feedback, and is there enough space between the keys? How does the Touchpad work, are there any dead zones? How comfortable is the mouse to use if it is included?
If you’re buying a laptop on Windows 8.1, check the touchpad to make sure it works well. Apple and Lenovo offer good keyboards and touchpads.
Laptop features such as processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip are confusing for many people, don’t be discouraged if the set of specifications in your head turns into porridge. What you need depends on what you plan to do with your laptop. More resource-intensive tasks, such as supporting 3D games and editing HD video, require more expensive components.
Key components to look out for:
The cheapest laptops on the market are equipped with AMD E Series or Intel Pentium/Celeron processors. They try to solve serious gaming and multimedia problems, but their performance is focused on web surfing, email work and social networking. If you’re buying a system based on an Intel Core processor, make sure you get a fourth-generation Intel Core processor (Haswell) for a better combination of performance and battery life. You’ll know what Haswell is in front of you if the model number starts at 4, such as Intel Core i5-4200U.
If you buy an average computer, don’t settle for less than the Intel Core i3 CPU or AMD A-Series. At the cost of more than $500, count on at least the Intel Core i5 processor – the best option today is to increase the clock speed when you need increased performance. Experienced users and gamers will not be satisfied with a system less than the Core i7, preferably with a quad chip.
As far as RAM is concerned, even in the most inexpensive modern laptops, expect 4GB. And with 8GB, you’ll be better prepared to use high-performance apps and multitasking.
Hard Drive / SSD:
For most users, the drive’s speed is more important than its capacity. The solid-state drive (SSD) is superior to the hard drive (Winchester), providing two to three times the mechanical counterparts’ speed. But SSDs are more expensive and have a much smaller capacity, usually 128-256GB.
If the SSD is expensive for you or you need more volume, it is better to choose a hard drive with a spindle speed of 5400 revolutions per minute, and even better, 7200 rpm. Provided you’re going to keep a few movies and games on a hard drive, you should have 320GB, a 500GB or 750GB drive preferable, but it’s more expensive.
Some ultrabooks and laptops come with a flash cache of 8, 16 or 32GB, paired with a traditional hard drive that promotes performance. But it won’t increase your computer’s speed to the SSD level. Flash cache can help improve the time it takes to install and download data to a large hard drive.
The more pixels you have, the more information you can display on the screen, and the clearer the image will look. Most low-cost and mainstream laptops deliver 1366 x 768 pixels. If possible, choose a laptop with a higher number of pixels: 1600 x 900, 1920 x 1080 or higher. I always prefer the highest resolution available to get the best viewing possible. Full HD panel (1920 x 1080) will cost about 150 dollars more than a typical display, but it’s worth it, especially when it comes to a large monitor.
The touchscreen in the laptop on the Windows 8 operating system adds to the fun of communicating with the gadget. Today, you can buy a touchscreen laptop for less than $500; the price difference between a device with a similar configuration without touch is from 100 to 150 dollars. Keep in mind that touch screens add weight and increase the machine’s energy consumption compared to non-sensory counterparts.
By and large, an integrated graphics chip (the one built into the motherboard) will be good for basic tasks, including web surfing, video viewing and even gaming, and will save your budget. But the discrete GPU from AMD or Nvidia shows a noticeable difference when you run the most discerning games. This processor will have a dedicated video memory. Plus, a good GPU (GPU) can speed up video playback and boost video editing.
As with processors, graphics cards are high and low.50. Nvidia and AMD have a wide range of graphics cards. In general, gaming laptops and those oriented to work with graphics have the best graphics cards and the most expensive of them, even two GPUs.
Modern laptops are less likely to provide optical drives. This is because most programs and videos you can download from the Internet. If you don’t record discs and don’t plan to watch Blu-ray movies, you don’t need to do that. So you can save on their absence about 200 grams of total weight.
- Hybrid 2-in-1 or traditional laptop?
With the launch of Windows 8, several laptops with a hybrid design have appeared, transformed into tablets. Including the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, the case of which is laid out 360 degrees.
If you like the idea from time to time, use your laptop in tablet mode, then folding Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga can be a universal choice. But if you want more flexibility using the device as a standalone tablet, the removable design is better.
- Don’t save on battery.
No one wants to be chained to an outlet, even if it’s within reach. When buying a 15-inch laptop, please note that its battery must withstand at least 4 hours without recharging. If you plan to be mobile enough, focus on models that offer more than 6 hours of battery life, ideally more than 7 hours. The longest-running batteries in business class laptops. They do not recharge for 10 to 20 hours.
To determine the laptop’s battery life, read the reviews of users and third-party analysts, do not focus only on the assurances of manufacturers. The actual battery life varies depending on the screen’s brightness and the nature of the tasks being performed (video eats up more energy than web surfing).
Pay extra for an extended battery; if you have the opportunity, you will not regret it. And note that some laptops (such as MacBook Air) are equipped with non-carrying batteries that you won’t be able to upgrade on their own.
- Choose the price range of the laptop.
You can buy a good laptop for up to 50000, but if the budget allows you to spend more, you’ll get a device with the improved build quality, longer battery life, a sharper screen and higher performance. And now more about each price category.
$300 to $600: For $600, you can get a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 CPU, 4 to 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.
$600 to $800: At a price above 600 U.S., you can see more signs of a premium product, such as a metal shell finish. Also, climbing the price ladder, manufacturers are investing in features such as improved speakers and a backlit keyboard. You can get a flash cache and a screen with a resolution of 1600 x 900 or higher in this range.
More than $800: More powerful and portable laptops await you here. They have high-resolution screens, fast processors and possibly discrete graphics. The lightest, most durable and ultraportable devices, such as the MacBook Air and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, often cost more than $1,000. A top gaming or image laptop easily exceeds 1500 dollars, can reach up to 2500 or 3000 dollars.
- Manufacturer’s Choice
Your laptop is as good as the company behind it. Accurate and timely technical support is of paramount importance, focusing on having service centres in your locality. The author of this article traditionally chooses HP laptops – Hewlett Packard.
- Choosing an operating system: Mac, Chrome or Windows?
It would not be an easy question, especially if you weren’t going to switch from Windows to Mac or have never heard of Chrome OS. Let’s briefly highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.
Windows laptops are generally more affordable than Macs (laptops’ price on Windows starts at $400). Besides, here, you will find a wide selection of design from more than a dozen large manufacturers. Unlike Apple, Microsoft and its partners offer touchscreen laptops or transformer laptops that easily go into tablet mode.
The new Windows operating system has replaced the Start menu with a tiled start screen that is easy to use on a touchscreen. However, Windows 8.1 still has a desktop mode to run all existing apps. The most outstanding improvements to Windows 8.1 are the enhanced search capabilities and the easier multitasking provided by modern apps. A handful of manufacturers still offer an alternative to installing Windows 7.
In general, Windows laptops are equipped with more business-oriented features, including biometric testing, Smart Card technology, and Intel vPro.
Operating system Google Chrome OS
If you prioritize surfing, social media, and checking your email, choose Chromebook. Google’s Chrome OS provides a version of the Chrome browser full of web applications and is internet-oriented. You can buy an 11-inch Chromebook for as little as $200. But the battery life of such devices is very modest.
Apple’s OS Mavericks
Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops offer an easy-to-use OS X Mavericks operating system with Launchpad for your apps, interactive notifications, and Finder tabs for improved multitasking.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops have seen a trend of superiority over most Windows machines in industrial design, touchpad quality, and image. Windows PCs offer a wider range of software, and Apple’s Mac App Store makes it easier to find and install the program. But the price of Apple laptops starts at around $1,000.v