Laptop buying guide

These days, standalone tablet computers and tablets are incredibly trendy. However, most of us understand that everything from working on a research paper to editing a movie and even gaming works much better on a notebook. So which sort of notebook should you purchase? We put together a notebook purchasing guide that will aid you.
You must determine your requirements to get the best notebook for yourself.

Quick Tips
These are essential points to consider when selecting a new notebook.

  • Choosing the right CPU: The CPU is the main component that acts as your laptop’s brain. Intel and AMD are the major brands in the CPU business. Usually, more powerful processors consume more power. The later the processor generation, the better is the performance, and the less is the power consumption.
  • Screen Size : 12.5 into 14-inch displays give you the ideal balance between reliability and usability. Bigger displays are useful if you do not travel much, and more compact versions are fantastic for children.
  • Weight : The laptop weight is significant when it comes to portability. Generally, a weight of around 1.5kgs or less is preferred if you are a frequent traveler.
  • Battery Life : 8 hours of battery life is perfect if you intend to take your notebook anywhere whatsoever.
  • Chromebooks are great for children and students, and their performance is getting better. Consider a 2-in-1 notebook only if you would like to use your notebook as a tablet. Otherwise, a typical clamshell laptop might be a better option.
  • Windows notebooks and Apple Mac Books are the general norms when it comes to laptops.

1. Pick a Platform: Mac, Windows or Chrome OS

It isn’t a simple question to answer, particularly if you’re not acquainted with Macs and PCs. However, this quick summary of each of their strengths and weaknesses should provide help. Most notebooks come with one of three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS, or MacOS. Selecting the best one is an individual taste, but here is a quick overview of what each provides.

  • Windows PC: Windows, the flexible operating system, runs more notebook versions than Chrome or Mac OS X. Windows laptops vary in price from under $150 to a few thousand dollars. It has a broad selection of features, from touch displays to fingerprint readers to dual graphics. Windows 10, the most recent edition of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, provides quite a few improvements over Windows 7 and 8, such as the capacity to change between desktop and tablet modes, including a revamped Start menu using live tiles along with the powerful Cortana digital assistant.

Since its launching in July 2015, Windows 10 has added many improvements, including the capacity to utilize follow-up queries and Cortana, hunt your email utilizing natural language, and then use the stylus to scribble virtually everywhere. Windows 10 laptops are fantastic for students, researchers, and business consumers, and they are the only machines gamers must consider.

  • MacBooks: All MacBooks include Apple’s most up-to-date desktop operating system, macOS Catalina. It is similar to Windows 10 on performance. Still, it uses a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock in the base of the display for Microsoft’s Start menu and taskbar. Rather than the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They’re also able to perform transactions with Apple Pay, and receive texts or take calls on their phones and unlock their notebooks using the Apple Watch. But, macOS is not created for touch since no MacBook includes a touch display. The most recent macOS Catalina platform gets iPad apps over to Mac, in addition to secondary screen support for iPads and brand new accessibility features.
  • Chrome OS: Google’s OS is simple and safe but more restricted compared to Windows or macOS. The user interface seems much like Windows using a program menu, a desktop, and the ability to drag windows across, but the main program you use would be the Chrome browser. The drawback is that lots of these “net apps” you use will not work well offline. But that is changing as nearly all Chromebooks; for instance, high-end Google PixelBook can now operate Android Apps.

Should you require a device to browse the internet and check email, browse social websites, and talk online, Chromebooks are exceptionally useful and portable. They tend to provide decent battery life at lower prices. They’re also very popular with parents and children since they’re not easy to infect with malware and much more practical than many tablets. If you want a Chromebook, start looking for one with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Even a 1920 x 1080 resolution is fair. Pay extra to receive a 2-in-1 when you’re planning on using Android apps.

2. What screen size would best suit you?

Before you take a look at specs or pricing, you want to precisely work out how mobile you want your notebook to be. Their screen sizes often categorize laptops:

  • 13 to 14 inches: gives the ideal balance of usability and portability, especially if you receive a notebook that weighs just under 4 lbs.
  • 15 to 16 inches: The hottest size, 15-inch notebooks generally weigh 4 to 5.5 lbs. Consider this dimension if you would like a bigger screen, and you are not likely to take your laptop around frequently. Laptops with 16-inch screens are infrequent, but Apple may find the fad began using its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
  • 17 to 18 inches: In case your notebook remains on your desk each day daily, a 17- or – 18-inch system can supply you with the type of processing power that you want to play high-end games or perform workstation-level productivity.

3. Which Keyboard and Touchpad you are comfortable with?

When you plan to work a lot on your computer, you need to have a keyboard that offers comfortable feedback. It should have plenty of key travel (i.e., the distance the key goes when pressed, usually 1 to 2mm) and should have enough space between them. If you’re buying a Windows laptop, make sure that it has a Precision touchpad driver installed.

Start looking for an accurate touchpad that does not provide you some jumpy cursor and reacts consistently to multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom. If you are purchasing a notebook for a business, consider taking one with a pointing stick between the H and G keys, so it’s possible to browse around without even lifting your hands from the keyboard.

Notebook components such as CPU, RAM, storage, and graphics card can even confuse techies, so don’t worry if you don’t understand them entirely. Before you purchase a new laptop, consider below points to make an informed decision.

4. Choose the best CPU for yourself

CPU is the brain of your computer. The CPU also referred to as the processor is the main component that significantly influences performance. Depending on what work you want to do, sometimes even the less-expensive models may prove to be very good. Below is a list of different processors:

10th Generation Intel processors: Comet Lake vs Ice Lake: Intel introduced two new variants of the 10th Generation Intel processors – The Comet Lake and Ice Lake. In short, the Comet Lake is a 14-nanometer chip that gives a raw performance. An example is the powerful six-core Core i7-10710U. Whereas the Ice Lake is a thinner 10-nanometer chip that offers improved integrated Iris Plus graphics.

Intel Xeon: It’s a powerful and pricey chip for large portable workstations. If you need to do professional-grade 3D modelling, video editing, or so, then you may need a Xeon processor in your laptop. However, you will not find a decent battery backup or a lightweight laptop.

Intel Core i9: Superseding the Core i7 as the new top-of-the-line CPU from Intel, Core i9 processors provide faster performance than any other processor. It is available only on premium laptops, workstations, and high-end gaming systems. You can consider core i9 CPUs if you use the most demanding apps and need premium performance.

Intel Core i7: The powerful Core i7 is superior to the Core i5, and use higher wattage, have four cores that are better for improved gaming and multitasking ability. There is a variant of Core i7, i.e. the Y series chips which have slightly lower power and performance than the standard ones.

Intel Core i5: This standard processor is the best combination of price and performance. The variants that end in U (ex: Core i5-7200U) are the most common. Then there is a variant that ends with the Y, which uses low power and has lower performance than models with an HQ that use more wattage and appears in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s latest 10th Generation “Ice Lake” CPUs have four cores and have useful features like the Thunderbolt 3 integration, Wi-Fi 6 support, and better AI.

Intel Core i3: Performance of Core i3 is merely a step below Core i5 and is more economical. If you can extend your budget for Core i5, we strongly recommend it.

Intel Pentium / Celeron: These processors have the slowest performance but maybe fit in case your most important tasks are net browsing and light record editing. If you can pay more to receive a Core i3 or even i5, you would be much better of.
Y Series Intel Core m / Core i5 / i7: Low-power and less heat generation enable these systems to be fan-less. Their performance is much better than Celeron but a notch lower than the standard Core U series.

AMD Ryzen 4000: It is a new processor series designed to compete with the Intel Core i5 and Core i7. It can even outperform an equivalent Intel Core chip. For example, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU has the same performance as an Intel Core i7 CPU, if not better. These processors are relatively more economical than their Intel counterparts.

AMD FX, A, or E Series: Found on low-cost notebooks, these AMD’s chips that the company calls APUs instead of CPUs, provide decent performance for the price. They are good enough for internet browsing,  watching movies, and everyday use.

5. How much RAM should you need?

Some affordable notebooks come with just 4GB of RAM, but ideally, you need 8GB to work smoothly. If you need to run intensive applications, you need to spend more and get an additional 8GB RAM, making the system memory 16GB.

6. Which storage drive is better for you?

It is more important to know about the storage type you want to get than you might have heard. It can be a bottleneck to the overall performance of your PC. Even if you get a powerful CPU, but your storage drive is not fast enough, you will experience a slower PC.
Suppose you have the budget and do not require a great deal of internal storage. In that case, we strongly advise obtaining a notebook that has SSD storage instead of a hard disk as you’ll experience quick boot time and a much faster notebook in general. One of SSDs, the more recent PCIe x4 (aka NVME) units, provide upto three times access speed than the standard SATA drives. Cheaper laptops utilize eMMC memory, which can be called solid-state but not quicker than the mechanical hard disk.

7. Which display is the best for you?

The more resolution you have, the better and the sharper your display will look. Regrettably, some budget notebooks nevertheless possess 1366 x 768 screens, so do some company laptops, however, if you’re able to afford it, then paying some extra bucks for Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080) is worth it. Higher-end laptops display 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800, and 3840 x 2160 (4K) resolutions, which look sharp but at the same time consume more electricity, lowering the battery life.

Apart from resolution, IPS panels range in colour and brightness, so look for an sRGB colour rating of over 100% and brightness greater than 300 nits. Consider an OLED display if you have the budget if you want the very best picture quality and don’t care about battery life. Keep an eye out for upcoming display technologies for laptops.

Touch Screen: If you are buying a standard clamshell laptop instead of a 2-in-1, you are not going to get much benefit from a touch screen, and you will get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. On 2-in-1s, touch screens come standard.
If you are purchasing a standard clamshell notebook, instead of a 2-in-1, you won’t gain much from a touch display, and you’ll get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. On 2-in-1s, touch screen comes as a standard feature.

8. Do you need a dedicated Graphics?

Graphics Card: Intel’s latest Iris Plus graphics is an integrated graphics chip suitable for everyday tasks. It works fine if you’re not creating 3D objects, playing heavy games, or editing high-resolution videos. In case you have some of the needs mentioned above, a dedicated graphics chip from AMD or Nvidia is vital.
There are both entry-level and high-end graphics cards available. Graphics cards from Nvidia like MX250 or GTX 1650 GPUs provide good value for entry-level performance, while the mid-segments like RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 offer better performance a reasonable price. The high-end models like RTX 2070 or 2080 GPUs provide superior performance.
Nvidia’s rival is AMD also provide dedicated graphics cards. Check out the list of the latest graphics by AMD. Click here.

9. Essential ports to look for in your notebook

The most important ports that should be on a good laptop are USB 3.0 or later, HDMI out for the video, USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. Apart from it, SD card slots, headphone jacks, and Ethernet ports are indispensable.

10. Which connectivity options should you look for?

If you are a frequent traveller, choose a laptop with a 4G LTE support. You need to pay for a data subscription plan to access the internet using the 4G. You can also look if your laptop supports the latest Wi-Fi 6. It provides a more stable connection than 802.11ac. For Bluetooth connectivity for your wireless devices like wireless headphones, keyboards, and mouse, look for a Bluetooth-5 enabled notebook.

11. Do you need an optical drive?

DVD/Blu-ray Drives: Nowadays very few laptops come with an inbuilt optical drive like DVD or Blu-ray disc since it bulks up the notebook and adds more weight to it. You can always use external drives in case you ever need it.

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