This article is important to laptop buyers. You would be forgiven for feeling a little bewildered by the wide variety of laptops on the market. After all, dozens of manufacturers are launching dozens of new models every year. We are here to explain these options in all categories that matter.
What to look for when buying a laptop
1. Choose portability versus power
Each laptop is a compromise between portability and power, and all vary where you draw that line. A faster and more capable machine needs larger components and more room to keep them cool – which means it will end up bigger, heavier and more stressful than a less powerful computer.
As portable computing power has improved in recent years, this commitment has become a less important issue. Decent processors and graphics chips now slide into very slim notebook frames. However, it is still true that if you want a laptop capable of the most demanding tasks-games and video editing, for example, then it will be relatively chunky.
The other obvious factor that affects portability is the size of the screen, which usually appears first in the specifications of a laptop. Go for a bigger screen, and you’ll have more room for your Excel spreadsheets and Netflix movies; Opt for a smaller one, and you will get something that is easier to slip into your messenger bag. Today’s portable displays range from about 11 to 17 inches.
You can find laptops to fit every point along the portability power scale, so decide what is most important to you. How much of your time will you spend carrying your laptop from one place to another? Will it have to last a long time between the charges of the battery? How much heavy use do you want to get out of it? Answer some of those questions, and you can find the right size range for your needs, which will quickly narrow down the list of suitable options.
2. Choose an operating system
In these days, the argument of Windows against macOS for computers is much like the Android versus iOS one for phones. The main desktop operating systems have lent so much from one to the other that it is not so easy to distinguish them more. Often, it is best to simply stick with any operating system you are familiar with. That being said, you should consider some points before you predetermine the familiar.
With its Windows 10 system, Microsoft continues to drive a unified operating system for tablets and laptops. That means they will offer a more varied range of laptops that can double as tablets and vice versa. From removable displays to clip-on keyboards, you can find Windows 10 machines in all sorts of shapes and sizes, often with touch screens and punches (something Apple saves for its iPads). As for the software itself, it is difficult to make generalizations about millions of computers. In very general terms, Windows still gets the best software first: The development of programs like Google Chrome and Microsoft Office usually surpasses Mac equivalents. On the downside, Windows has a higher threat of malware and viruses to deal with, so Which comes with integrated Windows Defender.
Meanwhile, Apple devices are very Apple-centric. It gets a ton of software for free – OS devices and Apple products in general, but not so well with non-Apple hardware. Like iOS, MacOS is a fantastic software package for people who like the way Apple does things. If you are less of an Apple loyalist, however, you may find it a bit limiting. You’ll also have fewer models to choose from, and you’ll usually have to pay a premium for a macOS laptop versus a Windows notebook with similar specifications.
Ultimately, the two systems share a lot of common ground. Both Windows and MacOS have their own digital assistants (Cortana and Siri), their own cloud storage services (OneDrive and iCloud) and their own default browsers (Edge and Safari).
A final operating system option and S Google Chrome OS and Chromebooks that run it. When Chrome OS was released in 2009, it seemed unnecessarily limiting to have an operating system that was just a browser. But as web applications have become more powerful and Wi-Fi has become easier to find anywhere, Chromebooks are now an attractive option for many laptop buyers. You can not run Photoshop or iTunes or Microsoft Office full on them, but Chromebooks have several advantages.
3. Select your specifications
Go browse through the laptops at your local retailer, and you will see a laptop specifications list. The good news: When it comes to specs, you do not have to worry too much about the fine print. But it still helps to know a bit about what you’re dealing with.
The central processing unit, also known as the CPU or simply the processor, is the brain of the operation, controlling all calculations that buzz through the circuits of your laptop. To find out the CPU capacity of a computer, look for references to a clock speed (in gigahertz), which is the speed with which the thought is done. Also keep an eye out for the number of cores, which are basically mini CPUs in their own right: More cores means more simultaneous thinking.
These specifications are often hidden behind the terms of the mark. Take the Intel labels from i7 and i5: i7s are top of the line, while i5s are mid-range. Beware of chip generation too (Intel’s seventh generation CPUs are showing up in 2017). A new generation means better performance with less battery drainage. That’s why, when a new generation of processors arrives, you’ll often see updated notebook ranges across the board.
Another important specification is the RAM, which essentially controls how much your laptop can think at any time. More RAM means more support for many browser tabs, larger images, more open applications, etc. Basically, RAM allows you to have a lot more going on without forcing your machine to come to a grinding stop. 4GB is the absolute minimum these days, although if your needs are even a little fussy, you probably want to go above that.
Next: The graphics processor, or GPU, is basically a CPU dedicated to graphics. This is important for gaming and video editing, but it is not that important to anything else. If you are a dedicated player or have to edit videos on your laptop, make sure you keep an eye on the GPU. These laptop buyers should also check the resolution, which is measured in pixels. More pixels means a sharper screen (and unfortunately more than one drain on the battery). If you see a decent looking machine for a relatively low price, the discount may be because the screen resolution is not the best. How important this is for you really depends on how much time you are going to spend squinting at fine details on the screen.
There are some other specifications to consider. Hard disk size indicates the amount of space a computer provides for files and applications. If you are planning to keep your videos, photos and music on your machine (instead of storing them in the cloud), make sure that the hard drive you buy can handle all your data with available space. Also, pay attention to the number of ports of entry and exit offered by a laptop. If you plan to connect many peripherals, such as an external hard drive, mouse, or wired speakers, choose multiple ports that accommodate all at once. Finally, different machines offer different special features, such as the touch bar in MacBook Pro, so stay tuned to the advantages that suit you.
4. Do not forget the price and practical appeal
The only important factor in your decision that we have not yet talked about is the price. If you are on a budget, then this is another way to quickly reduce the choice of laptops. To save some cash, look for old models that have been replaced by something new. This is a particularly good option if you know that you will not be taxing your laptop too hard and therefore you will not need best laptop brand.
Two final tips: Use laptop reviews in technology publications to get an idea of what machines are currently more impressive than others, and actually walk into a store to handle some sample laptops. This can give you a feel for screen sizes, build quality, and so on, even if you intend to buy online. Enjoy your shopping!