How to Choose the Right Laptop?

How to choose the right laptop? Shopping for a laptop can be a difficult process if you don’t have enough knowledge. Here are the topics to help you review abbreviations, storage options, and extras to find the best one.

Finding the right laptop can be difficult, even if you know what it all means and know exactly what you want. Even navigating manufacturers’ websites just to buy the model you want is ti

 

First, Choose Your Operating System

Before you start looking at laptops, you need to find out which operating system (OS) is best for you. Determining what software you should run and which operating systems the software runs on will help you determine the hardware you need. There are four host operating systems. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Here is an overview of each;

windows

This intrepid OS doesn’t take much of a load anymore, but it gets the job done. It is the best choice if you need Microsoft applications such as MS Office, Access or Outlook. Also, there are more Windows laptops to choose from than other operating systems.

 macOS

Apple’s macOS is a little more beginner-friendly than Windows, but it’s tightly coupled with the company’s hardware. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, it probably wouldn’t be your first choice and your options are limited to MacBooks.

Chrome OS

If you can do most of your laptop tasks in a web browser, Chrome OS is a good choice. Chrome laptops (called Chromebooks) are among the cheapest (and least powerful) you can find. So the operating system is also worth considering if you’re on a tight budget. The problem here is that it doesn’t work in Adobe’s applications such as Creative Suite or Microsoft Office. Some apps, especially Office, have an Android phone/tablet version that you can install on your Chromebook. But it seems that Android apps often don’t work well.

How to Choose the Right Laptop?

Linux

If you don’t need MS Office and don’t mind a learning curve, you can install Linux on almost any laptop hardware ever created. The trick is that popular applications such as MS Office and Adobe’s Creative Suite do not work. However, there are free, open-source alternatives such as LibreOffice, Darktable (replacing Adobe Lightroom), and GIMP (replacing Adobe Photoshop).

Understanding Processor Names (CPUs)

Once you have an idea of ​​what operating system you want and the software to run, you can understand the minimum hardware specifications you need. The first thing we suggest you look at is the processor, also called the chip or CPU.

There are basically two companies that make laptop processors: Intel and AMD.

 

Intel Processors

Intel’s main processors are Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and Core i9. Core i3 is the least powerful, Core i9 is the most powerful. We often omit the word “Core” from the name because it becomes repetitive. In each of these lines of chips, Intel uses encrypted strings of numbers and letters that tell you more about that chip’s capabilities and when it was introduced. Learning to decipher this will help you make better purchasing decisions.

Let’s break it up. The first numbers (“10”) refer to the generation; in this case a 10th generation chip. The i5-9510U will be a ninth generation chip, or possibly a year or so older. The next two or three numbers (“510”) are about performance. The higher these numbers, the more powerful the chip. This only applies within this chip line. The Intel Core i5-10510U is slightly more powerful than the Intel Core i5-10210U, but  much less  powerful than the Intel Core i7-10350U. The i7 chip is always more powerful than the i5, and the difference is greater than any two chips in the same chip line.

The letter at the end of the chip name (“U” in our example) is Intel’s designation for the chip’s purpose. For laptops, the letters you’ll see at the end are Y, U, and H. All you have to worry about are the battery life-optimized Y-series chips. This is fine if you’re often away from a plug for extended periods of time, but this additional battery life comes at the expense of some performance. H chips are optimized for performance and U chips are “power efficient” but not “extremely” efficient like the Y line.

 

AMD Processors

AMD’s chip nomenclature is as difficult to decipher as Intel’s.

Named AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, it’s generation “3” (how old is it; higher is better) and how powerful is “6”. A “6” would make this example a medium strong chip, whereas a 3 or 4 would be weaker (slow). The next two numbers don’t have much of an effect on anything. The “X” at the end indicates high performance. Other letter designations include U for ultra-low power.

Is there a big difference between Intel and AMD chips? … it depends. Generally speaking, an Intel i5 is indistinguishable from a Ryzen 5 outside of very specific benchmarks. They are similar when doing things like browsing the web or editing documents. The same goes for Intel i7 and Ryzen 7 as well as Intel i3 and Ryzen 3.

Graphics performance is the other area where you’ll see a difference. In both benchmarks and real business use, AMD’s integrated graphics tend to outperform Intel’s on graphics-intensive tasks (think video editing or gaming). Intel’s latest line of chips has bridged that gap significantly, but AMD still has an edge. If you’re a video editor or gamer, you might benefit from buying an AMD machine, but most likely what you want is a dedicated graphics card.

 

How Much Processing Power Do You Need?

If you’re a typical user running a web browser, Microsoft Office Suite, and perhaps even some photo editing software, a laptop with an Intel Core i5 eighth generation or later processor should suffice. This will display something like “Intel Core i5-8350U”.

If you can afford it, the Intel i7 chip makes a nice upgrade and will make your laptop feel faster. Extra power often means shorter battery life, so you’ll have to balance that with your needs. A gaming laptop for example uses an i7 (or i9) chip, but an i3 or i5 is usually fine for less demanding tasks.

Similarly, the AMD Ryzen 5000 series should suffice for the average user, but the Ryzen 7000 still gets a nice upgrade at the expense of battery life.

 Are you an Expert User?

If you compile software, edit videos, or work with very large databases, you’re going to want more processing power from all of us. Intel i7 or Ryzen 7 may be good options for this.

Best Processors for Chrome OS laptops

Chrome OS is built around Google’s Chrome web browser and runs most software directly in the browser. That means it doesn’t need big, powerful Intel chips. At least that’s the theory. Chrome OS is the best value you can get with at least one Intel i3 chip or a Chromebook currently with an AMD Ryzen 4000 chip.

AMD Ryzen 4000 series is the best chipset for Chromebooks. This series is powerful enough for most tasks and offers great battery life; this is a combination that is harder to find on Intel-powered Chromebooks.

There are high-end Chromebooks with Intel i5 chips, and there are even some i7 models, but unless you’re really on Chrome OS, you’d be better off buying a more capable Windows laptop.

The cheapest Chromebooks can use Intel’s Celeron series processors. If your needs are extremely low and you’re going to do nothing but lightly surf the web, Celerons will do the trick. But if you’re hoping to run Android apps or install Linux apps on your Chromebook, Celeron processors will struggle and likely disappoint you.

Laptop Selection

What about the Graphics Card?

All laptops technically have graphics cards (also called “discrete” graphics and GPU), but most are built into the motherboard along with the processor. Known as “integrated graphics,” this approach is suitable for most users. You will be able to watch HD movies and even play casual games smoothly.

If you’re a gamer or do a lot of video editing, you’re going to want a laptop with a discrete graphics card with a much more powerful graphics card. AMD and Nvidia make most of the graphics cards you’ll find in laptops.

Most Intel-based laptops will be paired with an Nvidia graphics card in the GeForce line, usually one of the Max-Q cards, which is the power-efficient, laptop-friendly spin on Nvidia’s desktop cards. They’re usually labeled with the card name followed by Max-Q: for example, GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q. (A 2000-level card will be more powerful, but battery life may be worse.) Max-Q cards are typically about 15 to 25 percent less powerful than desktop versions, but are still pretty powerful for gaming and video editing.

AMD’s GPU lineup is called Radeon and ranges from top-of-the-line Vega and RX cards to R-series cards that reflect the Ryzen naming scheme where Radeon R9 is faster and more powerful than the Radeon R7 series.

 

How Much RAM Do You Need?

Random-access memory, known as RAM, is what your laptop uses to hold data while the processor does things with it. Think of RAM as your desk. Everything you are currently working on should be able to fit on your desk. If your desk is too small, things won’t fit on your desk and you won’t be able to work on it. Likewise, if you run out of RAM, you won’t be able to open any more browser tabs or finish compiling your video. Eventually your laptop will freeze and will need to be restarted.

Eight gigabytes of RAM should be enough for the average Windows user, but upgrading to 16GB will make your laptop much more capable (and a must for gaming). One thing you should research before buying is whether the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. You cannot upgrade the RAM yourself if it is soldered.

Again, if you’re programming and compiling software or editing video clips, two tasks that require a lot of RAM, you’ll want a minimum of 16GB. You’ll probably be happier with 32GB.

As with processors, Chrome OS requires less. You can usually get by with 4GB of RAM on a Chromebook, but upping 8GB will allow you to open more tabs in your browser without slowing things down.

Aim for RAM with DDR4 next to it. DDR stands for double data rate. DDR4 RAM is fast. DDR3 RAM is older and less common these days. Most laptops have DDR4 RAM, but manufacturers list the type on their site alongside the quantity, so it’s worth checking before you buy.

SSD Storage or HDD Hard Disk?

The hard drive is where you will store all your data. Think of it as a filing cabinet next to your desk. The most common option these days is a solid state drive (SSD), but some budget laptops still use hard drives.

Go for an SSD drive if you can afford it – 256 gigabytes at least. SSDs are faster, especially if they use an NVMe connection, which moves data in and out of the hard drive much faster than the old standard known as SATA. Occasionally, you will find laptops with an SSD with NVMe to run the operating system, but an older SATA drive for storing files. This gives you the best of both worlds: speed where you need it, but still budget friendly.

The minimum recommended amount of space is 256 gigabytes. If you store everything in the cloud or are looking at Chromebooks, you can make do with less, but it’s good to have the space if you need it. If you plan to install a lot of games or software, or save a lot of photos or videos, this quickly pays off.

You may have noticed that your hard drive doesn’t have the advertised space at all. If a hard drive is labeled 512 gigabytes, only 490 GB may appear available in Windows. You do not lose ground; it just has to do with the difference between binary and decimal byte size calculations. Driver manufacturers use decimal bytes, but Windows uses binary, so they report different sizes. Both are technically correct, but the size of Windows reports is the amount of disk space you can actually use to store files.

 

Ports

While the CPU, RAM, and hard drive will have the biggest impact on performance, the number and types of ports on your laptop are important. Ports are various ways to plug or recharge things like USB devices into your laptop.

You’ll want at least one 1 USB-C, at least one 1 USB-A, and a microphone/headphone jack. You could also look into USB-C charging and an SD reader.

We can recommend laptops that can be charged via USB-C. A laptop should state on the page or in the specs section that it can charge over USB-C. This charging method allows you to use a portable charger if you need more time away from a power outlet. USB-C chargers also tend to be cheaper to replace, and you can already use them to charge your android phone (or high-end iPad). Never buy cheap, no-name replacement chargers. Spend the extra and buy the manufacturer’s charger or a known brand. You can destroy a laptop battery by relying on junk chargers.

If you are a photographer and constantly need to download images from your camera, make sure your laptop has an SD or MicroSD card reader.

 

Webcams and Hinges

Your laptop must have a webcam. For some reason, there are still laptops in 2022 that don’t have them. Most webcams are still 720p, especially on low-end laptops. That’s fine if you don’t use it a lot, but since Zoom is a way of life for many people these days, you might be happier with a 1080p camera.

How is the laptop hinge? This section is difficult to test if you are buying online. If possible, go to a store so you can actually keep the model you’re interested in. Try opening it with one hand. This may sound silly, but being unable to open your laptop with one hand is annoying.

Other points to consider: Can you carry it safely with one hand? Can you put it in your backpack? How big is the screen? Are the keys where you like them? Is the keyboard layout useful?

 

Make your choice

After narrowing the field with a few models, read some reviews and look for things beyond specs like how the hinge holds up over time, how the keyboard feels, the keyboard works, and even how hot the bottom gets. It’s helpful to read reviews like this one because looking at the specs won’t tell you if a hinge is poorly made or if the cover is easily scratched.

Your own feelings are also important. You don’t want to use a device you don’t like. There is nothing wrong with that. Some people hate the idea of ​​a plastic item. Design is both practical and aesthetically important. Using a laptop you don’t like is no fun at all.

How to Choose the Right Laptop? How to Choose the Right Laptop? How to Choose the Right Laptop? How to Choose the Right Laptop? How to Choose the Right Laptop? How to Choose the Right Laptop?

 

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Laptop Buying Guide

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