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What to Look for When Buying a Laptop: A Complete Guide

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Are you looking to purchase a new laptop but aren’t sure which one to choose? Purchasing a new laptop is a big decision.

A new laptop can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, so you definitely want to make sure you choose the right one.

What should you look for when buying a laptop? How do you know which laptop is right for you?

Check out this guide to learn what to look for when buying a laptop.

Consider How You’ll Use Your Laptop

The first thing you need to consider is how you plan to use your laptop. Here are the different usage scales to consider:

  • Light Usage: You use your laptop for general web browsing, paying bills online, browsing social media, emailing, and sharing and organizing digital photos
  • Medium Usage: You use your laptop for streaming and storing music and movies and work tasks like creating documents and spreadsheets
  • Heavy Usage: You use your laptop for editing photos and videos, playing video games, creating graphics, and multitasking between programs

If you’re a more demanding user, you’ll want to invest in a laptop with a more powerful processer, a higher screen resolution, a larger hard drive, and more system memory. You’ll want to invest in something with all of the bells and whistles, and you’ll probably need to opt for a more expensive laptop.

If you’re a light user, then you can get away with purchasing an affordable, bare-bones laptop.

Consider the Operating System

There are hundreds of laptop models available, and narrowing your selection down to just one can feel like a daunting task. We recommend starting your search by choosing an operating system.

Here are the three main operating systems you have to choose from:

Mac

The Mac operating system is exclusively installed on Mac computers. The Mac operating system is known for being easy to use and boasting an elegant design.

Mac laptops come with an impressive battery life and a sleek aesthetic. Historically, they come with far fewer viruses and malware issues than other operating systems. However, Macbooks start at a higher price point than other laptops.

If you purchase a new Macbook, you’re looking at paying at least $1000. Also, none of the current Macbooks come with touch-screen functionality, although that may be something we have to look forward to in the future.

Windows

Lenovo, Dell, and HP all run on Windows operating systems. Windows offers an intuitive touchscreen interface, but you can also operate your Windows laptop with a traditional keyboard and mouse.

Instead of logging in with your password, Windows allows you to log in through touch or facial recognition. Many people enjoy Windows laptops because they come with a suite of built-in apps, including Microsoft Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint, Outlook, Publisher, and Access.

While Windows laptops are easy to use, they don’t come with as strong of security as Macbooks. They also don’t offer as sleek of a design.

Chrome

Chrome is the operating system that was built by Google. Chromebooks come integrated with the Google Play Store, which means you can run all kinds of apps through your laptop, including document creation apps, gaming apps, and photo editing apps.

Chromebooks also come with a compact design, and they’re generally way more affordable than Macbooks and Windows laptops. They also have a very long battery life, lasting between 9 to 11 hours before needing a recharge.

However, Chromebooks don’t offer a lot of storage, so they’re not the best option for heavy users. The highest amount of storage you can currently get is 32 GB. Also, if you’re offline, there’s not that much you can do with your Chromebook. Google Suites (Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.) need a Wi-Fi connection to operate.

2-in-1 vs Traditional Laptop

You also need to think about whether you want to purchase a 2-in-1 laptop or a traditional laptop. A 2-in-1 laptop is a laptop that’s combined with a tablet. Basically, you get two devices for the price of one.

While this may sound like a lucrative deal, there are pros and cons to 2-in-1 laptops that you need to consider before purchasing. Here are some of the benefits of a 2-in-1 laptop:

  • It’s often more affordable than buying two separate devices
  • Most come with bigger screens than traditional tablets
  • Some come with 4K screens
  • Many come with kickstands so you can angle the screen however you like
  • Some new 2-in-1 models come with Trusted Platform Modules, which are built-in security chips

There are downsides to 2-in-1 laptops that you need to consider, including:

  • Some are thicker and heavier than traditional laptops
  • Some end up costing more than buying two separate devices
  • Inexpensive models don’t come with strong battery life or a lot of processing power
  • Some come with ergonomic issues, making them less comfortable to use than traditional laptops or tablets
  • Some models don’t allow you to adjust the screen angle
  • They generally have a lack of strong security features

However, there are many different models to choose from, so it isn’t hard to find a 2-in-1 model with the features you need. Also, you need to consider whether you really need a 2-in-1 laptop. If you’re not a graphic designer or you don’t need to use a laptop for creative projects, then a traditional laptop may be better for you.

Consider the Screen Size

Another major thing you need to take into consideration is the size of the laptop screen. Generally speaking, laptops come with an 11 to an 18-inch display screen.

Here’s what to consider for each screen size:

  • 11 to 12 inches: The lightest and thinnest system available, usually weighs 2.5 to 3.5 pounds
  • 13 to 14 inches: Offers the best usability and portability
  • 15 to 16 inches: The most popular laptop size, usually weighing between 4 to 5.5 pounds

You can also opt for a laptop between 17 to 18 inches. If you plan to keep your laptop on your desk each day, then this size might be right for you. Keep in mind that the larger the screen size, the more you’re going to pay for your laptop.

Consider the Processor

The processor is basically the brain of the laptop. It works in combination with the system memory. The power of the processor determines how many programs you can have open at the same time, the complexity of the software you can run, and how fast your programs will run.

Most laptops come with either an AMD or Intel processor.

Intel Processors

Intel processors offer the widest range of display options, form factors, and laptop choices. Intel offers a series of multicore processors. These include the:

  • Core i3: This is an entry-level processor that’s suitable for internet browsing, everyday emails, and productivity tasks
  • Core i5: This is a mid-grade processor that can handle most computing tasks and multitasking, meaning you can stream a show while browsing emails
  • Core i7: Graphic designers, gamers, photographers, and videographers typically opt for this processor level, as it allows for multitasking and multimedia creation
  • Core i9: This is the top-tier processor that allows for high-demand content creation and high-quality video gaming

Intel also offers Celeron and Pentium processors, which are adequate for internet browsing, basic email, and listening to music.

AMD

AMD processors come with healthy battery life, stunning visual performance, and multitasking capabilities. You can choose between the:

  • Ryzen 3: This allows you to perform basic office and school tasks and enjoy some streaming
  • Ryzen 5: This allows for multimedia performance and streaming 4K videos
  • Ryzen 7: This allows you to run demanding applications, edit videos, and perform intensive tasks
  • Ryzen 9: This allows for high-quality gaming and content creation

Apple also comes with a processor called the Apple M1 chip. This processor is specifically designed for Macbooks, and it can be found in the latest generation of Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros.

Consider the Memory

Last but not least, you need to consider how much memory you need. If you only plan to perform basic computing tasks, then you can probably get away with 2 GB of storage.

If you’re into advanced photo or video editing, or you work as a graphic designer, then you’ll probably need at least 12 GB of storage. Most laptops come with 4 to 12 GB of pre-installed memory, but some come with up to 64 GB. If you think you might need more memory later on, choose a laptop model that allows you to expand the RAM.

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop: Are You Ready to Buy?

Now that you know what to look for when buying a laptop, it’s time to start shopping. The right laptop can help you complete your daily tasks and make your life more enjoyable, so shop wisely.

And be sure to check back in with our blog for more laptop buying tips.

Written by Casim Khalid

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