Laptops have evolved the way that we use computers these days. There was once a time where a laptop was substantially less powerful than its desktop counterpart, though it delivered in the convenience realm. But those days are long gone. Laptops have the capability to do and be so much more than we have ever known them to be before.
When buying a laptop, there are so many different things to take into consideration that simply "buying a laptop" is not something you should do on a whim. Getting the right specifications for your laptop to fit the things that you do can mean all the difference in the world between a laptop that is simply okay and one that will meet all of your needs and then some.
So, what should you look for when buying a laptop? What features are there to consider? Here is a comprehensive guide to help you along in the buying process based on what your needs might be and what is out there on the market. You will never feel lost when looking for a new laptop again when you have this guide helping you along the entire time.
Finding the right OS
The first and most important question should revolve around which operating system is right for you. There are three out there currently: Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS.
Windows is currently the king for a few reasons. Windows 10 offers a ton of flexibility thanks to a revamped start menu that features live tiles. With a great digital assistant in Cortana as well as the ability to switch between desktop and tablet modes, there is no more flexible option on the OS market. Plus, Windows-based computers are the only ones you will want to use for gaming. Windows-based laptops are perfect for researchers, students, and business users as well.
The MacOS has much of the same functionality as Windows 10 with a little bit of a different look. Where the MacOS differs from Windows 10 is that you can pay for things using Apple Pay and can even take texts and calls from your iPhone. The real detractor for any Mac computer is that there is no touch-screen functionality. That is what puts MacOS behind Windows and limits its overall versatility and functionality.
ChromeOS is a fine quick option, looking like a simpler version of the Windows OS. Chrome is just starting to get itself acclimated in the OS world and makes for a fine device for things like surfing the web, checking email, or using social media from a laptop. Because they are very affordable and portable, they are very popular with parents and schools, though for the flexibility and capability, it still isn't on the same level as Windows.
Two in one?
There is a new function of some laptops that function in a two in one capability. That means that they can switch back and forth between a traditional laptop and tablet mode, making for greater versatility especially when using it on a job site or in a classroom. There are generally two different types of two in one laptop: the detachable kind where the keyboard comes apart entirely and the flexible versions that have hinges that allow for rotating the screen without having to detach the keyboard.
The two in one function is great for those on the go. It doesn't offer the same comprehensive features of a traditional laptop but it does offer a level of flexibility and versatility that some traditional laptops don't generally offer. For example, in the picture above you can see the setup of a two in one computer flipped and is used as a touch screen that is also controlled by wireless mouse and specialized wireless keyboard. You might choose to listen to some music while you work so you should also have a portable speaker. This is a very useful way to set up your laptop so it can be used with the comfort of a desktop and ready to go in a moment notice. If you work in an industry where you need a more portable laptop option as well as something with stylish functionality, a two in one is a great option.
This is one of those components that can leave casual users feeling a bit lost in the weeds. The CPU is essentially the brains of the computer; it is a processor that can have a huge impact on the overall performance of your laptop. But more expensive does not mean that it is necessarily a great fit for what you are doing. Here are a few of the different CPU options that are worth checking out when looking for a new laptop.
Intel Core i7: If you are looking to buy a laptop for gaming purposes, the quad-core setup will allow for faster gaming than ever before. There are different wattages that offer variations on power levels, so you have to dig a little deeper to find the one that will best suit your laptop needs. Gaming can be smoother than ever with an Intel Core i7 processor.
Intel Core i5: If you want something with quality processing power but don't feel the need to go for a high-end gaming CPU, the Intel i5 makes for a great combination of performance and price. Like the i7, the i5 offers a variety of different features that may suit your laptop better than others, so it is important to check out the individual specs before making the leap.
Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron: These are your most common CPUs that are generally seen in laptops that will run you under $400. This is one of the slower options in terms of CPU but it will get the job done for tasks like surfing the web and document editing. If you don't use your laptop for things like gaming or streaming, this is a cost-effective option.
There are two types of storage that you need to be concerned with: RAM and physical storage. The RAM is oftentimes more important because it works in tandem with the CPU to handle tasks set forth in a timely and efficient manner. If you don't have a ton of RAM, you will notice your laptop struggling to handle a variety of tasks, leaving you frustrated. For any laptop, 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum that you want to get, but it is highly recommended that you get 16GB if you can. Gamers and power users will tend to go for the 32-64GB range, but that is overkill in any other scenario.
For physical storage, the game has changed. There was once a time where 120GB was considered a massive hard drive, but now the standard option is right around 500GB. The physical storage aspect is up to you and depends greatly on what it is you do. If you aren't using your laptop for heavy projects or downloading videos or music, the 500GB is more than enough. But if you do download videos and music, a 1-2TB option might be a better fit and help you avoid needing an upgrade or an external hard drive.
Again, this depends greatly on what you are trying to do with your laptop. If you are gaming, you will need a high-powered video card to keep up with the frame rate and resolution of your gaming experience. But if you are not gaming on your laptop, doing high-resolution video editing, or creating 3D objects, you can get away with an integrated graphics card.
If you need more power out of your graphics card, it is important to find out the pros and cons of the more expensive options. Something like a GTX or Nvidia will generally work for gaming or high-res editing, but there is different functionality between each model. Check them out if you want to build something a little more powerful.
This is something of an underrated feature that can fly a bit under the radar in terms of wants and needs. Your laptop can be highly versatile if it has the ports to do so. Making sure that it includes things like ample USB ports for additional storage options, HDMI ports to connect your laptop to televisions or projectors, audio ports, and so on gives you the functionality to bring in other devices.
Not having enough ports to handle your needs can leave you feeling limited and frustrated; your laptop should be versatile enough to handle all of your needs and having enough ports is required to handle those needs.
Depending on how much you use your laptop, it may not be enough on its own to provide maximum comfort and reliability. Adding a few external accessories into the mix can amplify your overall experience with the laptop and make it into the comfortable choice that you have been looking for. Here are a few accessories that definitely warrant your attention.
For some, the touchpad on a laptop can be a bit uncomfortable and unnatural to use, especially if you have only used a mouse before. These days, wireless mouses come with a small dongle to plug into a USB port and provide the reliability of a mouse without the size of a standard PC mouse. You can get a highly mobile and functional laptop mouse that is compact enough to carry around from place to place with little to no hassle. Plus, laptop mouses are built to not use a mousepad, which can be a hassle to carry around.
Having protection for your laptop when taking it to place to place can mean the difference between your laptop lasting for a long time or succumbing to wear and tear. There are different types of laptop carrying cases, some heavy-duty and some lighter and more versatile to use. For the latter, a sleeve might be perfect for you. They will offer basic protection but might not have any additional compartments for carrying accessories around, leaving it limited to others.
A more comprehensive case will offer a main compartment for protecting the laptop but will offer a variety of pockets and compartments to allow for things like cables, a mouse, and perhaps any documents that you might need to carry with you. The point is to give your laptop protection when on the go and to allow you to carry any related accessories with you in a far easier way than ever before.
How do I choose the right laptop?
There are so many options out there when it comes to purchasing a laptop that it can be confusing to know what will best suit your needs. There are different specs for gaming, watching movies, viewing the web, using it for school, and so on. With that many different uses, you can find yourself unsure of just what kind of specs that you may need to get the optimal experience.
If you are a gamer or someone who does high-resolution video editing, it is important that you get a few different things. Having ample RAM and a processor that can handle the workload you will be putting on it is important. You can't have lagging or freezing and a high-powered processor will help to prevent those down moments. Having an ample graphics card is necessary, too, so that you can see everything as clearly as possible and don't miss anything because of a slow refresh rate.
For moderate to casual users, having a quality CPU and RAM is still important to prevent those slow spots but they are not as essential as it is with the gaming experience. You may need something more versatile with a lot of ports that provide greater versatility and functionality for all of the things that you use your laptop for.
Laptops offer a great deal of versatility and reliability even in the cheaper options. Knowing just what you plan to use your laptop for is an important part of the process because you definitely want to have all the specs necessary to fill your own specific needs. It is possible these days to get the exact experience out of your laptop that you are looking for without breaking the bank.
Additionally, even if you don't get some of the functionality out of your laptop that you like -- maybe a sub-par touchpad, perhaps -- you can offset that with the right accessories. The fact of the matter is that your laptop can be everything that you could possibly want it to be if you take the additional steps to tailor your laptop to your specific needs. Today you can find online a variety of laptops produced by different manufacturers and distributed by different vendors.
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