A Laptop Buying Guide: 8 Essential Tips You Need to Know

Do you know the best guide or way to buying a laptop? The laptop is small and portable but powerful enough to run the most complex applications. A notebook is the perfect tool to do serious work and play, regardless of whether you’re at home, on the move, or in the classroom. We’ve created lists of the top laptops for business and college, along with our ranking of the most popular laptops.

Despite the popularity of smartphones and tablets, many people now realize that a laptop is better for everything. From typing research papers to watching videos to gaming, to even playing games on them. What laptop should you purchase? Our laptop buying guide is available.

There are many options when it comes to the size, features and price of laptops. Before you buy a laptop, determine what your needs are. You might also consider purchasing a refurbished laptop.

These Are Some Quick Tips

These are the top factors to consider when buying a new laptop. Below are more details.

  • The best compromise between portability, usability, and usability is a screen that measures 12.5″-14″. Larger screens are best for those who don’t travel often. Smaller models are better for children.
  • Consider these minimum specifications if you spend more than $600: Core i5/ Ryzen 5 CPU 1920×1080 screen 8GB RAM, SSD storage, instead of a hard disk.
  • A battery life of at minimum 9 hours is recommended if you intend to carry your laptop around.
  • A 2-in-1 laptop is a laptop that can be used as a tablet. It comes in either a feedback model or a detachable version. If you don’t have a clamshell notebook, a clamshell notebook might be a better option.
  • Chromebooks are great for students and kids, and their functionality continues to expand rapidly. Both the MacBook and Windows 10 laptops offer a lot of functionality. It is up to you which platform you prefer.

1. Select a Platform: Windows 10 or Mac?

This is a difficult question to answer if you don’t know much about both Macs or PCs. These brief overviews of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform should be helpful.

A laptop usually comes with one of the following operating systems: Windows OS, Chrome OS, or MacOS (for MacBook only). While it is personal preference, here is a brief overview of each operating system.

Windows 10

Windows 10, the most flexible operating platform, is available on more laptops than Chrome OS and MacOS. Windows notebooks range in price from less than $150 to several thousand, and offer many features such as touch screens, fingerprint readers, dual graphics chips, and more. Windows 10, Microsoft’s new operating system, offers many improvements over Windows 7 or 8. These include the ability to switch between tablet mode and desktop mode, revamped Start menu, Live Tiles, and Cortana digital assistant.

Windows 10 also has many improvements since its July 2015 launch. These include the ability to ask Cortana follow-up questions and search for your email using natural languages. Windows 10 laptops can be great for business users, students, and researchers. But they are not the only machine gamers should consider.

Apple MacOS

Every MacBook comes with Apple’s new desktop operating system, macOS Big Sur. This operating system is similar to Windows 10, but instead of Microsoft’s taskbar and Start menu, it has an apps dock at bottom of screen. Mac users have Siri and Cortana. Apple Watches are also able to be used to make Apple Pay payments, send text messages or make calls directly from their phones, as well as unlock their laptops.

macOS doesn’t have a touch screen because no MacBook has one. MacOS Big Sur now supports iPad apps (and iPadOS apps on M1 Macs), and there are improvements to Siri and the Safari browser.

Chrome OS

Chromebooks, such as the Samsung Chromebook 3, are affordable and offer this feature. Although Google’s OS seems simple and secure it has a few limitations. The main application is Chrome browser. There are an app menu, a desktop, and the ability to drag windows around. Many of the web apps you use are not compatible with offline. All Chromebooks, even the premium Google Pixel Book can run Android apps.

Chromebooks can be used to surf the Web, check emails, browse social networks, chat online and are portable. They also offer a long battery life and a low price. They are popular among parents and schools because they are more functional than other tablets and are harder for children to infect. If you require one, make sure it has at least 4GB RAM and 16GB storage. A resolution of 1920×1080 is the best, while 4K is a better choice, but it’s very rare. Consider a 2-in-1 if you intend to use Android apps.

2. If You Are Looking For a 2-in-1, Make a Decision

The majority of PC laptops are 2-in-1 laptops. These hybrid devices can switch between traditional clamshell mode and tablet mode. There are two types of 2-in-1 laptops: Flexible laptops with hinges that can bend 360 degrees to switch modes; and detachable laptops with screens that completely remove from the keyboard.

These systems work better for one purpose than the other. Detachable tablets offer a superior tablet experience while bend-backs serve as laptops first. If you don’t plan to use your laptop for a tablet, you will get better performance using a traditional clamshell notebook.

3. Be Sure to Get The Right Size

Before you look at pricing or specs, you must first determine how portable your laptop needs to be. The size of laptop displays is usually what makes them unique:

  • The screens of the thinnest and lightest systems weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds and have a range of 11 to 12 inch.
  • 13-14 inches: This size provides the best balance between portability and useability, especially if it is less than 4 pounds.
  • The 15-inch laptop is the most popular size. They weigh between 4 and 5.5 pounds. If you don’t intend to carry your laptop around much, and want a bigger screen, consider this size. Apple’s 16 inch MacBook Pro could be the start of a new trend thanks to its 16-inch display.
  • 17.- to 18.-inch laptops: If you have a laptop that sits at your desk all day, a 17- or 18-inch system could give you the processing power you need for high-end gaming and workstation productivity.

4. Verify The Keyboard and Touchpad

It doesn’t matter what specifications you have, if the laptop that you are shopping for isn’t ergonomically designed. If you intend to spend a lot of time on your computer, ensure that the keyboard provides adequate tactile feedback and sufficient key travel (the distance the key travels when the key is pressed), as well as enough space between the keys. Make sure your Windows laptop has Precision touchpad drivers.

A touchpad should not give you a jumpy cursor. It should respond consistently to multitouch gestures like pinch-to zoom. A business laptop should have a nub (or pointing stick) between the G- and H keys. This will allow you to navigate the desktop without lifting your fingers from the home row.

5. Select Your Specifications

Even notebook enthusiasts can get confused by components like processor, hard drive and RAM. Don’t be discouraged if your specs look like an alphabet soup.

Pay attention to these components:

CPU This is the most important component of your computer. However, depending on the task at hand, even the cheapest model might be sufficient. These are the basics.

Intel 11th Gen Processors: Intel introduced 1st Gen Tiger Lake processors to power the next generation laptops. Learn more about these processors. The 10-nanometer Tiger Lake chip offers enhanced Iris Xe graphics and Thunderbolt 4 support. EVO defines parameters for the best laptops, including a minimum battery life of 9 hours.

Core i9 : Core i9, Intel’s most powerful processor, replaces the Core i7. It is faster than any other mobile processor. If you are a power user and use the most complex apps and programs, Core i9 CPUs will only be available on high-end laptops and workstations.

Core I7: This is a step up from the Core i5, models that end in HQ or K have more power and four cores. It allows for better productivity and gaming. Core i7 Y series chips also have lower power and better performance. The latest Core Series CPUs from Intel have a model number of 10 and 11 and offer superior performance.

Core i5 If you want a mainstream laptop that is affordable and has the highest performance, then an Intel Core i5 processor will be your best choice. The majority of models end with U. Most models end in U. The Intel 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs are four cores and offer a variety of useful features including Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 4 integration and better AI.

Intel Core i3 – Price and performance are just a few steps below Core i5. We recommend upgrading to a Core i5.

Intel Xeon High-powered processors for large portable computers. If you are involved in professional engineering, 3D modeling or video editing, you might need a Xeon. However, you won’t get a good battery life and a lightweight laptop.

Intel Pentium/ Celeron: While they offer the lowest performance, they can be found in laptops under $400. They are good for web browsing and light editing. Core i3 and i5 are better choices.

These processors, the Intel Core m/Core I5/Core II7 “Y Series”, are low-power and high-heat. This allows for fanless systems. Although the performance is superior to Celeron, it is still a little below the regular Core U series.

Ryzen 5000 and AMD Ryzen 4000: These new chips are designed to compete with Intel Core i5/Core i7. There is no comparison between Ryzen 4000, Ryzen 5000, and equivalent Intel Core processors. AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processors, for example, deliver similar performance to Intel Core i7 processors. Laptops with Ryzen 4000 or Ryzen 5000 processors typically offer better performance and endurance than those with Intel processors.

Low-cost laptops can have the AMD A, FX and E series processors. AMD’s APUs (which it calls CPUs rather than APUs) provide decent performance that is good for web surfing and media viewing.

Apple M1 The first custom silicon chip from Apple, the ARM-based M1 chips is the best in its class. It offers superior endurance and raw performance. This feature is available on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

RAM: While many laptops below $250 have only 4GB RAM, you should get 8GB for a budget system and 16GB if your budget allows. For most users 32GB is sufficient, 64GB is for the power user.

Your storage drive’s performance is more important than your CPU speed. A solid state drive (SSD) is more efficient than a hard drive and will give you a faster laptop overall.

The speed of PCIex4 (also NVME) SSDs is triple that of traditional SATA drives. eMMC memory is a solid-state SSD that can be used in laptops under $250. However, it is not as fast and reliable as a mechanical hard disk.

Display The larger the number of pixels, the better the display will look. Budget laptops have 1366×768 displays. Some business laptops also have this display. If you have the budget, upgrade to a panel with 1920×1080 resolution, also known full HD or 1080p. Laptops with screens larger than 3200×800, 2560×1700, or 4K may look great but use more power. This can reduce your battery life.

The display quality is more than just resolution. IPS displays are available in a range of colors and brightness. We recommend that you read our reviews to find out if the laptop is suitable for you. Typical results should have a sRGB color rating exceeding 100% and a brightness rating above 300 nits. If you aren’t concerned about battery life but still want to get the best picture quality, an OLED display is a good option. You should also keep an eye on upcoming display technology for laptops such as mini LEDs.

Touch Screen A regular clamshell laptop is better than a 2-in-1. You’ll also get less battery life and a shorter battery life. Touch screens are standard in 2-in-1s. If you are looking for a touch screen, check out our top touch screen laptops.

Graphics chip: An integrated graphics chip that shares system memory (that is, one that does not create 3D objects or edit high-definition video) will work just fine. If you need any of these things, it is important to have a Nvidia or AMD discrete graphics processor.

There are high-end and lower-end graphics chips. Gaming and workstation systems use Nvidia MX450 and GTX 1660 GPUs. Midrange models use RTX 2050 and RTX 2060 GPUs. High-end models use RTX 3270 or 3280 GPUs. Nvidia keeps a list of all its graphics chips, from low-end to high end.

AMD, Nvidia’s competitor, is Apple’s supplier for graphics cards. However, you shouldn’t use a MacBook for gaming. Last year, AMD released Radeon RX5600M and Radeon RX5700M GPUs. AMD also keeps a list of all its graphics cards.

Ports Although a lack of ports is not usually a problem when buying a laptop it’s nice that you have all the connections right there and not having to carry around a lot of adapters. Most mainstream laptops include USB 3.0 ports and HDMI video outputs. Many laptops now have Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, which are compatible with USB Type C.

Type-C can be used to connect to universal docks and chargers. Get Type-C USB 4 will soon be available. It promises faster transfer speeds and the ability to daisy chain 4K monitors. Other connections that are useful include SD card slots and headphone jacks.

Connectivity If your notebook will be used on the move, you should consider one with 4G LTE and 5G support. Although the data subscription plan is expensive, it will let you access the internet without a router. If you are looking for the best connectivity options, make sure to get a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 has a theoretical throughput that is greater than 802.11ac and is also more stable.

We recommend you also look for a laptop that supports Bluetooth 5. This allows for better connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices like headphones and mice.

Optical drives: Laptops don’t usually have optical drives because all movies and software can be downloaded. We have been looking for laptops with DVD drives. You can buy an external USB drive for $20 if your laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive.

6. Battery Life is Important; Don’t Skip on It

You shouldn’t be concerned about the battery life if you buy a bulky notebook or gaming device that won’t be used far from an outlet. You will need at least 7 hours endurance, with 8 being the ideal, even if you plan on using your laptop at home. Do not rely on notebook manufacturers’ claims regarding the battery life. Instead, look at third-party reviews, such as ours, from objective sources.

7. Plan According to Your Budget

Today’s market allows you to buy a laptop that is usable for less than $200. However, if you have the money you will get a better system with better build quality, better performance and a better display. These are the options available for each price range.

  • Between $150 and $250: Chromebooks are the cheapest notebooks. They run Google’s browser-centric operating system. Or low-end Windows systems such as the HP Stream 11 or the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. These can be used as secondary computers, or given to your children.
  • You can find a laptop with an Intel Core i5/AMD A8 CPU, 4-8GB RAM and a 500GB hard disk for as low as $350-$600. These are all good specs. Most notebooks at this price don’t come with an SSD, full-HD displays, or long battery life. Notable exceptions are the Acer Aspire E 15 or Asus Chromebook Flip c434.
  • Prices range from $600 to $900. Designs become more expensive as you reach $600. Manufacturers add additional features to increase the price of their products, such as SSDs and higher resolution displays. The IdeaPad 530s by Lenovo and the ZenBook UX333FA by Asus are two excellent examples of laptops with all these perks for a much lower price.
  • More than $900: At this price, you can expect notebooks that are more powerful and portable. Expect higher resolution screens, faster processors and discrete graphics. Ultraportables that are lightest and last the longest, such as the Apple MacBook Air or the Dell XPS 13 cost over $1,000. However, you can still get the Dell for less if your preference is not touch screens. The cost of a high-end gaming system or mobile workstation can reach upwards to $1,500 or as high as $2,500 or 3,000.

8. Keep Your Brand in Mind

The company behind a laptop’s performance is as important as its quality. Tech support must be timely and accurate. Laptop Mag’s annual Tech Support Showdown evaluates all major brands. The top three ranked brands in the Tech Support Showdown were Apple, Razer, and Dell.

A notebook brand’s support is just one aspect. You should also consider how the manufacturer ranks against the competition in terms design, value and selection as well as review performance. In our report on the Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2020, HP was ranked first followed by Asus (and Dell). We also ranked gaming laptop manufacturers, with MSI taking first place and Alienware and Acer rounding out the top 3.

You may also be interested in checking out a few other notebooks that are also capable of running current PC games well:

2 thoughts on “A Laptop Buying Guide: 8 Essential Tips You Need to Know”

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