Laptop Buying Guide

The basics you need to know before you buy

Laptop Buying Guide. Laptops are compact enough to take with you, yet versatile enough to run demanding applications. While standalone tablets and smartphones are always popular, most people agree that anything from writing a research paper to quick videos and games works better on a laptop. So what kind of laptop should you buy? We’ve put together a laptop buying guide to help you out. There is a wide variety of sizes, features and prices that make choosing the best laptop difficult. So you need to find out what your needs are.

 

Quick tips

These are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop;

12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Bigger screens are fine if you don’t travel a lot, and smaller models are great for kids.

Choose for minimum specs: Core i5 or Ryzen 5CPU 1920 x 1080 display 8GB RAM and SSD Storage instead of hard drive.

More than 9 hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere.

If you want to use your laptop as a tablet, consider a 2-in-1 laptop (bend back or detachable), or a standard clamshell laptop might be a better choice.

Chromebooks are good for kids and students, and their functionality is expanding rapidly.

Windows 10 laptops and MacBooks both offer a lot of functionality, which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

Laptop Buying Guide-2022

Windows 10, Mac or Chrome OS?

This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you are not familiar with both Macs and PCs. But this quick overview of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses will help. Most laptops come with one of three operating systems: Windows , Chrome OS or MacOS (for MacBooks only). Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here’s a quick summary of what each has to offer.

Windows 10

 The most flexible operating system, Windows 10, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or MacOS. Windows laptops offer a wide variety of features, from touchscreens to fingerprint readers to dual graphics chips. Windowtables 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, brings a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles, and the Cortana digital assistant.

Since its launch in July 2015, Windows 10 has added a number of improvements, including the ability to use follow-up questions with Cortana, search your email using natural language, and use your stylus to scribble almost anywhere. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers, and business users and are the only machine gamers should consider.

Apple macOS

All MacBooks come with macOS Big Sur, Apple’s latest desktop operating system. Overall, the operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but offers a different take on the interface, replacing Microsoft’s start menu and an app dock at the bottom of the screen for the taskbar. Mac users are getting Siri instead of the Cortana digital assistant. They can also make transactions with Apple Pay, receive calls or messages on their phones, and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch. However, macOS is not made for touch, as no MacBook comes with a touchscreen. The latest macOS Big Sur operating system brings iPad apps to Mac and makes major improvements to both the Safari browser and Siri.

Chrome OS

It is found on inexpensive Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook 3. Google’s operating system is simple and secure, but more limited than Windows or macOS. The user interface is very similar to Windows, with the application menu, desktop and dragging windows feature, but the main application you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline. However, this is changing as all new Chromebooks, including the high-end Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps.

If you need a device for browsing the web and checking email, surfing social networks, and chatting online, Chromebooks are extremely portable and offer good battery life at low prices. It is also extremely popular with schools and parents, as it is difficult to infect children with malware and is more functional than most tablets. If you need a Chromebook , look for one with at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. 1920 x 1080 resolution is preferred and 4K is better, but very rare.

 

Decide If You Want a 2-in-1 Device

Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops, which are hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode, and other positions such as tent or stand modes. 2-in-1 computers usually come in two different styles. Detachable computers with their screens completely removed from the keyboard, and flexible laptops with hinges that tilt back 360 degrees to switch modes.

Many of these systems are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with the rear bends being primarily laptops, and the detachable systems providing a superior tablet experience. However, a traditional clamshell laptop usually offers more performance for your money.

 

Choose the Right Size

Before looking at specs or prices, you need to understand how portable your laptop needs to be. Laptops are generally classified by their screen size;

11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems have 11 to 12 inch screens

13 to 14 inches: Especially providing the best balance of portability and usability.

15 to 16 inches: The most popular size for 15-inch laptops, consider this size if you want a larger screen and don’t plan to carry your laptop frequently. Laptops with 16-inch screens are rare, but Apple can start this trend with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

17 to 18 inches: If your laptop sits on your desk all day every day, a 17 or 18 inch system can give you the processing power you need to play high-end games or maintain workstation-level productivity.

 

Check Keyboard and Touchpad

The world’s most impressive specs are irrelevant if the laptop you buy doesn’t have good ergonomics. If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, the keyboard should offer a solid tactile feel, plenty of key travel (the distance the key goes down when pressed, usually 1 to 2 mm), and adequate space between the keys.

Opt for a precision touchpad that doesn’t give you a cursor and consistently responds to multi-touch gestures like zooming. If you’re buying a business laptop, consider getting a laptop with a pointing stick (aka nub) between the G and H keys so you can navigate the desktop without taking your fingers off the main row of the keyboard.

Laptop Buying Guide

Choose Your Features Correctly

Laptop components such as the processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip can confuse even laptop enthusiasts.

Here are the main components you should pay attention to.

CPU:  The processor, the “brain” of your computer, has a huge impact on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the cheapest model can be good enough.

Intel 11th Gen CPUs : Intel has introduced its 1st Gen Tiger Lake processors that will power the next generation laptops. To sum it up, Tiger Lake — a 10 nanometer chip — offers advanced integrated Iris Xe graphics up to 4.8 Ghz along with Thunderbolt 4 support. The new EVO brand sets the parameters for the best laptops, including at least 9 hours of battery life.

Intel Core i9:  Replacing the Core i7 as Intel’s top-of-the-line CPU, Core i9 processors deliver faster performance than any other mobile chip. Only found in premium laptops, workstations, and high-end gaming rigs, Core i9 CPUs are well worth their high price if you’re a power user who only uses the most demanding programs and applications.

Intel Core i7 : A step up from the Core i5, models ending in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, enabling even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core i7 Y-series chips with lower power and performance. Watch out for CPUs with model number 10 as they are part of Intel’s latest, 10th and 11th Gen Core Series and offer better performance.

Intel Core i5 : If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core i5 CPU. Models ending in U are the most common. Those with Y in the name are low power and perform worse, while models with HQ use more watts and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s latest 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs have quad cores and a host of useful features, including Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 4 integration, and better AI.

Intel Core i3 : Performance is just one step below the Core i5, and so is the price. If you have the chance to upgrade to a Core i5, go for the i5.

Intel Xeon: Extremely powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you’re into pro-level engineering, 3D modeling, or video editing, you can choose a Xeon, but you won’t get good battery life or a lightweight laptop.

Intel Pentium/Celeron : Common in laptops, these chips offer the slowest performance, but can do so if your main tasks are web browsing and light document editing. If you can pay more to get a Core i3 or i5, you’re better off.

Intel Core m / Core i5/ i7 “Y Series:” Low power and low heat allow systems with these processors to run without fans. Performance is better than the Celeron, but a click below the regular Core U series.

AMD Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 : A new chipset designed to compete with Intel Core i5 and Core i7. We found Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 chips that outperform equivalent Intel Core processors. For example, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU offers approximately the same performance as the Intel Core i7 CPU. Not only do they get great performance and durability, Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 equipped laptops tend to be cheaper than their Intel counterparts.

AMD A, FX, or E Series : AMD’s processors in low-cost laptops – the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs – provide good performance for the money that’s good enough for web browsing, media viewing and productivity.

Apple M1: The first of Apple’s proprietary silicon, the ARM-based M1 chip beats the competition when it comes to raw performance and durability. On MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

RAM  : Low-end laptops only come with 4GB of RAM, but ideally you want at least 8GB and 16GB if you can spend a bit more, even on a budget system. For most people, 32GB or more is more than enough, while 64GB and above are for advanced users.

Storage Drive (SSD)  : Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage drive. If you can afford it and don’t need a ton of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) instead of a hard drive because you’ll see a laptop that’s at least three times faster and much faster overall. .

Among SSDs, newer PCIe x4 (aka NVME) units triple the speed of traditional SATA drives. Inexpensive computers, laptops use eMMC memory, which is technically a hard disk but no faster than a mechanical hard drive.

Display  : The more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on the screen and it will look sharper. Unfortunately, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays. But if you can afford it, you should get a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, also known as Full HD or 1080p. High-end laptops have 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800 and even 3840 x 2160 (4K) displays, all of which look sharp but consume more power, reducing your battery life.

Image quality is much more than resolution. IPS panels vary in color and brightness, so read our reviews to find out if the laptop you’re considering has a decent display. We usually look for an sRGB color rating above 100% and great brightness above 300 nits. If you want the best image quality and don’t care about battery life, consider an OLED display. You should also watch out for upcoming display technology that will hit laptops, including miniLED.

Touchscreen  : If you’re buying a regular clamshell laptop instead of a 2-in-1, you won’t see much benefit from the touchscreen and will get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. Touch screens are standard on 2-in-1 devices.

Graphics Chip  : If you’re not playing computer games, creating 3D objects, or editing high-definition video, an integrated graphics chip (which shares system memory) will be fine, especially Intel’s latest Iris Xe graphics. A discrete graphics processor from Nvidia or AMD is essential if you have any of the above needs.

As with CPUs, there are both high-end and low-end graphics chips. Low-end gaming or workstation systems today usually have Nvidia MX450 or GTX 1660 GPUs, while mid-range models have 30-series chips such as the RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 and higher-end models have RTX 3070 or 3080 GPUs.

Nvidia’s rivals, AMD, are Apple’s preferred vendor for graphics cards, but you shouldn’t really be buying a MacBook for gaming. AMD released the Radeon RX 5600M and Radeon RX 5700M GPUs last year. AMD also maintains a list of graphics cards.

Ports  : When choosing a laptop, it’s helpful to get the connections you need directly through the system instead of having to carry around a set of dongles. Most mainstream laptops have USB 3.0 ports and HDMI output for video. However, an increasing number of laptops use USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports that are compatible with USB Type-C.

Getting Type-C is a definite plus because you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks. Other useful connections include SD card slots, headphone jacks, and Ethernet ports (especially if you’re a gamer).

 

Don’t Miss Out on Battery Life

If you’re buying a large, bulky laptop or gaming rig that you’ll only use at a desk close to an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. But if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if you are at home or at work, you should opt for at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine the expected battery life of a laptop, do not take the word of the manufacturer. Instead, read third-party review results from objective sources like our reviews.

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