How To Choose A Laptop

It might have happened to you at some point,you buy this shiny new laptop that looks just perfect then when you get home it is all slow and lagging and just frustrating. When getting a laptop it can get tricky to decide what type of laptop to get from the many options so this time on “How to” where going to jump in and look at how to pick one out.

gaming laptop

1.What will you do with it?

This is the number one question you should ask yourself before getting a laptop. Laptops are usually designed to meet the needs of certain markets so lets look at those options:

Business Laptop

this laptop prioritises durability and a good keyboard. They don’t go out of their way to look sleek,but are great for long periods of typing. Because of this they also usually have solid battery life,though it is not a given.

Gaming Laptop

this laptop prioritises high performance in gaming graphics,and will have high performance processor and graphics processing,a high quality display in high resolution and powerful speakers. Because of this gaming laptops are also the bulkiest of laptops packing much more weight in them and thickness. the battery also dies quicker,especially with a high resolution display.

Pro Laptop

this laptop prioritises fast performance in creative software. they have powerful processors,high quality displays and solid state drive storage. Because of the high end components they are very expensive laptops,and are not necessarily suitable for gaming either because of the price,just for making those games.

Desktop replacement

this laptop prioritise low cost and  all round performance balance. it’s a good laptop for light surfing ,emails and the occasional angry birds,without breaking the bank. They should however not be used like pro laptops,or it will expose its limits.

Ultrabooks an Minis

these laptops prioritise portability by being small, thin and light. A side effect is that they cant fit as much performance in them as thicker laptops,and also miss some of the connectivity ports of thicker laptops like HDMI ports an DVD drives. You also pay a premium for the size of the laptop,so the high price might not necessarily translate to super speed like a pro laptop.

2. What Size?

laptop sizes

laptops sizes are determined mostly by the screen size,so a choice here is very important. This will determine how portable your laptop will be.

11-12 inches screen

Thin and light laptops usually fall around this size. Some people find that the keyboard is to cramped and the screen is too small but they are the best choice for easy to carry laptops.

13-14 inch screen

the next step in size is more of a balance of portability and performance. They are usually a bit faster than their smaller brethren,while not being too big.

15 inch screen

Most desktop replacements fall under here,and this is where you start seeing DVD drives as well.Its a good laptop size for those who don’t have to carry it frequently

17 inch screen+

these laptops prioritises largest screen possible  and gaming laptops fall under here. They are quite hefty and large,so if you plan to carry them around all the time it is not a good idea,but they also have the room to pack in serious performance hardware,like quad core CPU’s and 1 Terra-byte storage.

3. Know your specifications

laptop specs

laptop specifications can confuse even seasoned shoppers sometimes,so don’t feel discouraged if it looks like Greek to you. the components to keep an eye out for include

CPU

The least expensive laptops have Intel celeron/pentium CPU’s or AMD E Series ones that handle basic tasks but struggle with more serious productivity. Unless your budget really does not allow,it is a good idea to get at least an Intel Core/AMD A Series processor and pro users and gamers have no business considering anything less than a quad core Intel Core i7. For a more detailed explanation on processors you can also read our article on the topic.

RAM

RAM is where your computer holds currently running programs,so more ram means you can open more things at the same time without lagging. A rule of thumb is to have at least 4GB of RAM,which allows installation of a 64 bit operating system. the user experience is much improved on the switch and less is definitely a bad idea. Pro users gefnitely want to push for 8GB or more,as professional software tends to devour RAM quickly and you may see anything else running alongside it crashing.

Hard Drive

Storage is at a premium with laptops and the choice here is usually between speed vs capacity. Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are rated for either 5400rpm or 7200rpm (the speed at which the “disk” in the drive spins) and it is best to always go with 7200rpm. On the other hand some laptops come with Solid State Drives (SSD) which are 3 – 4 times faster than HDD’s but also cost more and offer lest capacity (usually 128GB-256GB) compared to HDD’s (500 GB-1 TB)   Unless you really need the storage,if you can afford it go with an SSD over a HDD. Another thing to observe is that some laptops come with 320 GB HDD storage,but usually are not cheaper than ones with 500 GB, so no need to deny yourself there.

Display

Windows 8 laptops come with a touchscreen sometimes,but if your laptop is not a hybrid with a rotatable or detachable screen,you can live without touchscreen, and there are significant savings in choosing the non-touchscreen option of the same laptop. Most budget laptops come with  1366 x 768 resolution displays,but if you hav the option,choose a higher resolution such as 1600 x 900, 1920 x 1080 or even higher and always go for the highest resolution you can get. you will be able to view more content on your laptop,open more browser tabs and be more productive.

Graphics chip

majority of laptops will come with integraded graphics in the CPU which shares RAM with it. However if you have the option,always go with discrete graphics from either AMD or NVIDIA. They have their own dedicated memory,and  make a huge difference when playing games,watching video or video editing. Just like CPU’s there are budget and performance graphics processors so for a more detailed explanation on how to pick one out please read our full article on the topic.

Battery life

Nobody wants to be chained to a wall socket by their laptop,so if you are buying a laptop,look for at least 4.5 hours of battery life no matter what. If you are offered the choice pay extra for extended battery it is worthwhile.Some laptops such as Macbooks have sealed in batteries that you can’t upgrade so check on this to be aware before purchase. To determine a laptop’s battery life check online on websites that test laptops themselves such as Laptop Mag

4. Budget

budget calculation

Finding the best deal for your money is  quite easy with the above knowledge. First pick up a newspaper,or check on the website of a laptops store like Ravenzo to determine which models fall in your price range. Once you have the models you can then use a comparison tool like the one on PC Magazine website  to compare all the laptop features side by side. Finally compare the prices of various shops for your best pick choice or look for a good deal online and enjoy your new laptop.

Let us know if this helped you with your purchasing in the comments section below.

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