When purchasing a laptop, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of options. From battery life and screen size to price and warranty, there are many features and aspects to consider – even within one single brand. But laptops, whilst still being a relatively large purchase, are as cheap now as they have ever been. Regardless, you want to make the right choice. Doing that requires an assessment of several crucial factors.
Every laptop buyer must be clear about the equipment and technology options they have. People’s needs are different, so while one may require a more advanced central processing unit, another may place more emphasis on storage capacity. Have a look at four specs to consider:
- CPU (Central Processing Unit): Other than low-end laptops, most computers nowadays should have an Intel Core i5. Getting something with at least an i3 CPU is crucial for performance. Note that Pentium and Celeron processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) C- and E-Series CPUs are usually on older, less expensive laptops. With AMD units, look for a 6-core or 8-core processor.
- Memory and Storage: Random access memory (RAM) is the computer’s main memory and allows data to be accessed randomly and quickly. It’s advised to go well above 4GB as the laptop will run faster if it has more memory. The hard-drive is another thing to consider; while a Solid State Drive (SSD) typically runs more smoothly, it lacks the storage capacity of a hard-drive. Hard-drives typically have 320 to 750GB, compared to 256GB or less for SSDs. For faster data access, go with a 7,200 RPM drive instead of a 5,400 RPM drive.
- Screen and Display: Those who edit videos, play games, and make presentations may want a large screen (over 15 inches) with a dedicated graphics chip. For other users, less resolution and an integrated graphics chip with a small screen works. Pixel count is everything when it comes to resolution, as more content can be displayed with more pixels. Additionally, more pixels offer a better viewing experience. Pixel count ranges from 1366 X 768 in basic form to 1920 X 1080 for higher-quality display. Full high-definition panels cost more.
- Battery: For those who plan to be frequently using their laptop while it’s unplugged, battery life is important. Some of the longest-lasting batteries can run for over 20 hours if properly equipped with a six or nine cell battery (more cells equal longer life). However, standard batteries without upgrades may only run for a few hours.
Linux, Mac, Chrome or Windows
When considering an operating system, you should typically choose the one that’s most familiar. However, it’s easy for a Mac user to get used to Windows and vice-versa. Obviously, if you use a lot of Microsoft products, Windows is the most convenient option. The Mac is better for creative use. Linux is free, but it can be somewhat difficult for the average web surfer; thus, it suits those who have more technical knowledge and want control and flexibility included with their operating system. Chrome is considered solid for online functions, but limited in other features.
Laptops and tablets are portable devices that are meant to be used on the go; bluetooth and a built-in wireless connection are standard and mobile broadband options are common. FireWire, USB 2.0 or 3.0, and Thunderbolt (more advanced) ports are the norm for data exchange with external devices. Other features to look for include an Ethernet port for connecting to certain local networks and VGA (Video Graphics Array) or HDMI (newer and better) for connecting to monitors and high-definition televisions.
Unless you’re purchasing a used device with an expired warranty, check the warranty to make sure you are covered for common hardware problems for at least a year. Warranties for laptops typically range from one to three years.
From budgeting to analysing features and specs, there’s a lot to consider when buying a laptop. Making the right choice is simple as long as you establish a budget, assess needs, and research your desired features beforehand.