Are you having trouble choosing the best laptop according to your needs? Is the question, how to buy a laptop bothering you? You are not alone in this. In today’s market, a plethora of options with slightly varying specifications is confusing, to say the least. Especially if this is your first time buying a laptop. Well, cheer up because you do not need to look further. This laptop buying guide will tell you all the necessary things to keep in mind when you search through hundreds of options.
So, how to buy a laptop? First of all, there are some things that you have to be clear on before looking for the right laptop for you. Here is a list of four things that you will decide at the start.
How To Choose a Laptop
The first and foremost thing to be very clear about is the amount of money you can spend. Without having a max limit in your mind, it can get very confusing. Also, if you know your highest limit, you can understand the maximum performance to expect. The budget cannot be viewed as a standalone element. Other things influence it as well. E.g., if you want a gaming machine, you cannot have a max limit of $300. However, for those of us who have a tight budget situation, the max limit narrows it down considerably.
As a very general guide, you can expect an entry-level machine with a budget of up to $500 to $600. For a mid-level device, $600 to $1000 should be kept aside. Anything above $1100 can get you a premium machine in almost any category. The latest gaming machines, however, may cost more than that as well.
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The operating system of the machine you buy is an important thing to consider. You should know what you are relaxed with. Also, each operating system has its specialties. There are 3 of them available in the market these days.
Windows: Probably the most widely known operating system is Microsoft Windows. This is not without reason. Most machines are built optimized for windows. Moreover, the majority of apps are made keeping windows in mind. The latest games are developed in a streamlined way to run on the Windows operating system as well. Newer versions of Windows have included a virtual assistant named Cortana as well. If you are looking for easy day-to-day functioning for your machine, Windows is the best option for you.
Apple’s OS Catalina: The mac operating system has a slightly different outlook. Instead of the traditional taskbar, you get a hub to access all the apps that are installed and usable. Also, like all other Apple devices, the virtual assistant Siri will be at your service. The Apple environment is a little more exclusive. The operating system is not optimized for many commonly used applications. But, Apple is the only company in the market with its operating system, and that is saying something. If you have other Apple devices at your home and iPhones, etc., Mac OS will provide you with an unprecedented level of connectivity. However, Apple is famously expensive, so you might want to keep that in mind.
Chrome OS: A relatively cheaper yet secure system is the Chrome OS. But, it has lesser options available. It is based on the Windows model but uses Chrome to run all apps. The latest versions of it can even run Android apps, adding to the appeal. Devices using Chrome OS usually offer better battery life as well. If you need a laptop just to surf the internet and keep tabs on your social media, Chrome OS is a good option. But, Chrome lacks desktop-based applications. In other words, it has minimal use.
Decide Between a 2-in-1 or a Laptop
It’s an essential step in how to buy a laptop. 2-in-1 devices have an added feature of slate and tablet operations. But, giving such portability to a computer involves a few compromises. 2-in-1s usually excel at tablet mode rather than PC mode. Besides, a 360-degree turn hinge adds considerable bucks to the total price. If you do not have any tablet requirements from your machine, it’s better to go for a regular laptop. A better-performing laptop can usually be secured at a lesser price.
The last but not least point to consider is what you need the device for. Laptops are usually designed for specific customers in mind. But, broadly, you can think of it in two ways. Whether you need a dedicated GPU or not?
Simply, a dedicated GPU is needed if you want a gaming machine. Or, you have tasks that demand high graphics performance. However, if you want a regular computer, a dedicated GPU is not needed. We’ll elaborate on it ahead. For now, just decide whether you need dedicated graphics or not.
Once you have made the above decisions, you are ready to go shopping. But, is that all you need to know to get a suitable computer? Well, not quite. These options provide you with the groundwork. After having made these points clear, now you’ll be looking at points regarding the machine you are buying. Here is a list of five key elements to check when buying a laptop.
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You may have heard that if the performance is ok, the size of the laptop doesn’t matter. The truth could not be farther away than this notion. While buying a laptop, portability is one of the main concerns. After all, why spend extra on a laptop when a PC with the same specs could be half the price. The size of the machine would determine how easily you can carry it with you. Following is a general guide.
11 to 12 inches screens are the smallest available in the market. They have the best battery timings and are the lightest (around 1-1.5 KGs). But, the display may not be as attractive to some people.
13 to 14 inches screen is the mid-range. It is the best combination of portability and size available. Weighing around two KGs on average, it won’t be too much of a burden.
15 to 16 inches screens are the most popular ones when it comes to displaying. But, with weights around 2.5-3 KGs, they might not be the most mobile of devices. You can choose this size if you do not plan to carry your laptop everywhere you go.
17 to 18 inches screens are heavy-duty machines and could weigh up to 4.5-5 KGs. You can see how they may be a problem to carry about. Choose this size if you have a desk available on which your laptop will mostly sit. And, you don’t plan to move around with it much.
While buying a laptop, you need to see whether you can work comfortably on it. The high-end tech and specs would amount to nothing if your hand cramps while typing. Or, you cannot work the trackpad quickly. Make sure the keystrokes give you a nice downward travel and force. 1.5mm of travel and a 70-75gms of actuation force is considered the right combination. You should also see whether you can move your fingers around the complete keyboard without lifting your hands.
As a tip, if you are getting a business laptop, opt for a nub to move your cursor. It’s a small stick between the G and H keys. Also, it allows you to navigate your mouse without having to lift your hand.
Now we get to the technical part of the machine. There are tens of minute details that you could check. But, to keep it simple, we talk about the five main components.
A variety of combinations is available in the market. But, keeping the latest options in view, we narrowed it down to two. A full HD screen with 1920 x 1080 pixel density is a fine display. You get crisp colors and good detail. Also, power consumption is reasonable. The second option is the 4k display with a pixel density of 3840 x 2160. It has more defined graphics but consumes considerably more power. Generally, a full HD display is a suitable option unless you want high-end gaming graphics.
Commonly known as the brain of your computer, a CPU is the central processor. The CPU has a significant effect on the performance of your device. Intel has announced the latest 10th generation of CPUs, but they will be pricey. In terms of processing, we have it narrowed down to three processors. The Core i9 and i7 processors are the fastest in the market. Most gaming machines are running on newer generation i7s or the latest i9s. However, if the latest gaming is not a requirement, the latest generation i5 processor could do the trick for you. It is comparatively inexpensive and still holds its ground. For a mid-level performer, we recommend the core i7. It will run most games and give you excellent overall performance.
In simple words, your RAM decides how many things your system can run simultaneously. Without going into technical details of RAM (Random access memory), you can go for the following. A general-purpose laptop for non-gaming tasks can work fine with 8-12 GBs of RAM. However, gaming machines should carry at least 16 GBs of RAM. If you have even steeper requirements and your pocket doesn’t scream NO, 32 GBs is also an option. The latest RAMs are being built with DDR4 technology, and you should not go below that. A lower memory with DDR4 is better than more space with the old DDR3 tech.
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The hard drive is the storage of your machine. While buying a laptop, you need to see what amount of memory can serve your purpose. Laptops in the market are generally not below 1 TB of memory. However, to cut costs, if you don’t need much storage space you could go for the 512 GBs. Hard drives are being made in two techs. HDD (Hard disk drive) is the regular and robust version. SSD (Solid-state drive) is a fast accessing memory technology but costs almost double as much. SSD will cut your boot timings, and overall performance is faster, but you need to keep the budget in mind.
GPU: The graphics processing unit is the component that works with your computer’s display and graphics. There are two main types. The integrated graphics are not meant for highly demanding tasks. They usually work with basic graphics like videos and displays. But, the dedicated graphics are the real powerhouses. If you want to have a monster gaming laptop, you should make you it has a GPU while buying a laptop. Individually, the GPU may be the most expensive component of the system. So, you need to keep your budget in mind and work a good compromise out.
Several factors affect your battery’s performance. The size and resolution of the screen, the requirement of GPU and processors, are a few. If you are looking for a powerhouse gaming machine, longer battery life should be the least of your worries. But, your battery life has a significant influence on the portability of your device. While buying a laptop, if your battery does not last more than an hour, you can’t move around much. You need power outlets handy to work. General-purpose laptops should at least give you 4-5 hours of working time on battery.
Last but not least, popular brands are popular for a reason. While buying a laptop, you should keep in mind what company is producing it. Even though some less-known companies may be offering you the same performance at lower prices. But, if there is one thing we expect from big brand names, it is quality. As they have a reputation to uphold and provide 24/7 tech support to all the customers around the globe. Your budget may restrict you, but longevity and guarantees are vital while buying a laptop.
In conclusion, we have kept technical details of components out of the way and developed a general laptop buying guide for you. If you keep all these points in mind you don’t have to worry about your requirements not getting fulfilled.