TOP 10 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A LAPTOP

TOP 10 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A LAPTOP

The web is full of top-10 lists of laptops that serve as a quick reference to the best work laptops on the market at a point in time. However, such lists cannot always be referenced to make your buying decisions because the laptop market regularly has new entrants with better specifications.

In addition, many such lists and buying guides contain sponsored content, so the opinions in such blogs cannot always be trusted. So if you have limited technical knowledge, selecting a laptop can be a difficult task, especially since there is a multitude of options available.

Thankfully, this laptop buying guide is designed to help you zero in on a laptop that is perfect for you, keeping in mind hardware, software, and budgetary constraints.

Here are the top 10 things to consider when buying a laptop:

1. FORM FACTOR

Form factor refers to the size, shape, and other physical specifications of the laptop. The most common or traditional laptop form factor is the clamshell. It has a hinge, which can be rotated up to 180 degrees) connecting the keyboard and the screen.

Touchscreen laptops are laptops that have touch-sensitive screens. This allows users to interact with the laptop using their fingers or a stylus, similar to a tablet. Touchscreen laptops are popular for their versatility and ease of use and can be used for a wide range of tasks, from general computing to gaming and graphic design.

2-in-1 laptops, also known as convertible laptops, are laptops that can be used in different modes. They typically have a hinge that allows the screen to be rotated and folded back, so the laptop can be used in tablet mode. These laptops are versatile and can be used for drawing and note-taking in addition to general computing.

Convertible and touchscreen laptops tend to have a higher price point. So at any price point, you can get a set of more competitive specs in a clamshell compared to a touchscreen or convertible laptop. Another thing to note is that owing to the added mechanical and software complexity, convertibles are more prone to software errors.

Apart from the cost, your choice of form factor depends on the kind of work you do. If your work involves drawing things, taking notes, etc. and you use a tablet for such tasks, then a convertible makes sense because you will have to carry one less device. 2-in-1 laptops can be used while on the move or while standing. But clamshells have a better balance on the lap.

So, if your work requires carrying a laptop and a tablet, then a convertible is a good option for you. Otherwise, the clamshell laptop is the way to go.

2. SIZE

Portability is probably the most important feature of laptops. Smaller laptops with displays from 11 to 13 inches are more portable but are more difficult to work on for extended periods of time. Larger laptops with displays from 14 to 17 inches are more comfortable to work on but are less portable.

Because less space is available in smaller laptops, their hardware specifications are also limited when compared to larger laptops. Laptops with 15-inch displays are generally recommended, as they provide a comfortable working area without being too large and cumbersome.

3. DISPLAY

The display is an important factor to consider when choosing a laptop for work. The type of display you choose will depend on the specific tasks you need to perform. For design, development, and coding, a high-resolution display with good color accuracy is important as it will allow you to see fine details and work with multiple windows and documents at the same time.

When it comes to screens, bigger isn’t always better. Screen size is simply the physical dimensions of the display. A more crucial element in determining the quality of the display is screen resolution, which refers to the number of pixels and their density projected onto your display. The higher the resolution, the more pixels there are and the sharper the image displayed on the screen.

It is important to pay attention to screen resolution because it impacts how much information you can see on the screen at once. The higher the resolution, the more information you can see, so the images and texts will be sharp and clear. On the other hand, if the resolution is low, text and images will appear blurry at the edges, fuzzy, and hard to read, leading to eye strain.

While there are a number of display options such as High Definition (HD), Full HD, Ultra HD, 4K, and 8K resolutions available, for general office work, a full HD (1920x1080) resolution display is sufficient.

Another thing about displays to consider is their type. Currently, there are three types of displays for laptops, namely, Twisted Nematic (TN), In-Plane Switching (IPS), and Organic Light-emitting Diode (OLED). TN displays are cheap, offer high refresh rates, and minimal motion blur but have poor color reproduction and even worse viewing angles. On the other hand, OLED screens offer excellent viewing angles, excellent color reproduction, accuracy, and contrast, but are very expensive. IPS screens offer the middle ground between quality and cost.

4. OPERATING SYSTEM

When it comes to the operating system for laptops, Windows, macOS, and Linux are the common options. ChromeOS is another relatively new operating system developed by Google, but it is primarily designed for use with web-based applications and cloud storage and it is not as versatile as the other operating systems.

If you decide to go with macOS, then there isn’t much choice in the hardware and other specifications. You only have to pick your device from a few available models with fixed specifications. macOS is known for its intuitive design and seamless integration with other Apple products, but it is expensive and has limited compatibility with many software and hardware as well as a lack of customization.

Windows is the most widely used operating system for laptops. It offers a wide range of features and compatibility with a variety of software and hardware. Windows offers a good balance of performance and flexibility, making it a good choice for most types of work. It is also less expensive compared to macOS.

Linux is an open-source operating system that is developed and maintained by a community of volunteers. It is generally considered to be highly customizable and secure, but it is not as user-friendly as the other operating systems and requires a fair degree of knowledge for effective use. Therefore, it is not recommended for the average office user.

Overall, Windows and macOS are generally the most popular options for laptops used for work, but Chrome OS and Linux may also be worth considering depending on your budget and requirements.

5. STORAGE

HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid-state drive) are the two main types of storage used in laptops. An HDD uses spinning disks to store data, while an SSD uses non-volatile memory chips. SATA SSDs and PCIe SSDs are two specific types of SSDs that differ in their performance and pricing.

A SATA SSD connects to the motherboard using the SATA interface, which is a standard interface used for storage devices. A PCIe SSD, on the other hand, connects to the motherboard using the PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) interface, which is a high-speed interface designed for data-intensive devices such as GPUs and SSDs.

PCIe SSDs offer much faster performance than SATA SSDs, as they can take advantage of the higher speeds of the PCIe interface. However, they are also more expensive, so they may not be an option for all users. Additionally, PCIe SSDs also tend to use more energy and drain battery life faster, if the laptop is constantly reading and transferring data.

SATA SSDs offer faster performance than HDDs, but they are generally slower than PCIe SSDs. SATA SSDs are also less expensive than PCIe SSDs, making them a good option for users on a budget.

In general, the type of storage you choose will depend primarily on your performance requirements but also on your budget. If your work involves demanding tasks or the use of applications that require fast storage, a PCIe SSD may be worth considering, but it will come at a higher price.

For most office work, a SATA SSD or even an HDD may be sufficient, as they will offer faster performance than an HDD without breaking the bank. However, we do not recommend HDD for laptops because they have a much higher failure rate than SSDs.

6. RAM

The amount of RAM (random access memory) in a laptop is an important factor to consider when selecting a laptop for work, as it impacts the performance of the computer and the speed at which it can run different applications. In general, more RAM allows the computer to run more programs and perform more complex tasks simultaneously without slowing down.

For resource-intensive tasks such as graphic design, video editing, etc., a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM is recommended, as this will allow the computer to handle large files and complex tasks without slowing down. For general office work, 4GB of RAM is usually sufficient.

One of the main causes of “slow laptops” is insufficient RAM. With every passing year, the applications get more features, files become larger, and new more demanding technologies emerge. All this puts greater demand on your RAM. So, if you need a device with 8 GB RAM today, it is very likely that you will need 12 GB in a couple of years.

So, when purchasing a laptop, think in terms of its useful life. Most experts believe that laptops have a useful life of 3-5 years. The laptop you purchase today should be able to handle your work during its lifespan. So it is a good idea to invest in a device with a little more RAM than you need so that your device stays efficient throughout its lifespan.

7. PROCESSOR

The processor (or CPU) is the brain of a laptop. It is responsible for executing instructions and performing calculations. When selecting a laptop for work, it is important to choose a processor that is powerful enough to handle the tasks you need to perform.

For most general office work, a mid-range processor such as an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 should be sufficient. However, if you need to do demanding tasks such as video editing or 3D modeling, you may want to consider a more powerful processor like an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7. It's also worth considering the number of cores the processor has, as more cores can improve performance for certain types of tasks.

A processor with multiple cores is essentially multiple processors in one and can improve the performance of the computer for certain types of tasks. Each core can handle a separate task or thread, so a processor with more cores can handle more tasks simultaneously without slowing down. This can be particularly beneficial for multitasking and running multiple programs at the same time, as well as for certain types of workloads such as video editing and coding.

However, not all tasks will benefit equally from multiple cores, and some may not benefit at all, so it's important to consider your specific needs when choosing a processor with multiple cores.

In general, tasks that can be divided into multiple independent parts can benefit from multiple cores, as each core can handle a separate part of the task. This can include tasks such as video editing, complex coding, and certain types of simulations and calculations.

On the other hand, tasks that are not easily divided into independent parts may not benefit from multiple cores, as they may be limited by other factors such as memory or disk access. This can include tasks such as basic word processing or web browsing, which may be limited by the speed of the processor but not necessarily by the number of cores.

8. GPU / GRAPHICS CARD

A GPU (or "graphics processing unit") is a specialized type of processor that is designed to handle the complex calculations required for graphics rendering and video processing. In a laptop, the GPU is typically integrated into the main processor or included as a separate, dedicated chip.

For most office work, a basic GPU is typically sufficient, as it will handle the graphics requirements of common office tasks such as word processing and web browsing. For more demanding tasks such as video editing or complex graphics work, a more powerful GPU may be necessary. In general, NVIDIA and AMD are the two main manufacturers of GPUs, and their higher-end GPUs are typically considered the best for demanding tasks.

For video editing and graphics work, some examples of GPUs include the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 and the  AMD Radeon RX 6700. These GPUs are designed to handle the demanding workloads of professional video editing and graphics work. They offer fast performance and support for advanced graphics features such as real-time ray tracing. However, they are also more expensive than basic GPUs, so they may not be necessary for all users or applications.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs provide excellent overall performance, but they are also very expensive. If your work does require a GPU, and the RTX 30-series doesn’t fit your budget, you can go with a GTX 2060 or RTX 2070 instead.

9. BATTERY LIFE

Battery life is an important consideration when choosing a laptop for work, as it will determine how long you can use the laptop without needing to recharge it. Longer battery life is especially important for people who are frequently on the go and don't readily have access to a power outlet.

When looking at battery life, it's important to consider the rated battery life of the laptop as well as how long the battery will last in real-world use. The rated battery life is the maximum amount of time the battery is expected to last under ideal conditions, but in real-world use, it will last less time depending on how you use the laptop.

Factors such as screen brightness, processor speed, and the type of tasks you perform all impact battery life. It's also worth considering the type of battery the laptop uses, as some types of batteries may last longer than others. In general, lithium-ion batteries are the most common type and offer good battery life, but there are other options such as lithium-polymer batteries that may offer even longer life.

The most common type of battery used in laptops is the lithium-ion battery, which offers a good balance of performance and longevity. Lithium-ion batteries tend to last longer than other types of batteries, although their lifespan can vary depending on factors such as how they are used and how well they are maintained.

Another type of battery that is sometimes used in laptops is the lithium-polymer battery, which is similar to a lithium-ion battery but uses a different type of electrolyte. Lithium-polymer batteries tend to be lighter and thinner than lithium-ion batteries and offer longer battery life. However, they are usually more expensive and not as widely available as lithium-ion batteries.

For most users, a lithium-ion battery will offer good performance and battery life, but for users who need the longest battery life possible, a lithium-polymer battery may be worth considering.

10. PORTS

Laptops typically have a variety of ports that allow you to connect external devices and peripherals. The most common type of port on a laptop is a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port, which can be used to connect a wide range of devices such as mice, keyboards, printers, and external hard drives.

Most laptops have multiple USB ports, and they may also have USB-C ports, which are a newer type of USB port that supports faster data transfer speeds and can also be used to charge the laptop.

Another common type of port on a laptop is an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, which allows you to connect the laptop to a TV or monitor. This can be useful for watching movies or giving presentations. Some laptops also have VGA (Video Graphics Array) ports, which are an older type of video port that is still commonly used with projectors and older TVs.

Some laptops also have Ethernet ports, which allow you to connect the laptop to a wired network. This can be useful if you need a stable, high-speed connection for tasks such as streaming video, transferring large files, or playing games online.

Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface that is used to connect external devices to a computer. It is similar to the USB interface, but it is faster and can support a wider range of devices. Thunderbolt ports are typically marked with a lightning bolt symbol, and they can be used to connect devices such as external hard drives, displays, and docking stations to a laptop.

Some laptops have Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are the most recent and fastest version of the Thunderbolt interface and can support data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt ports are generally considered to be a useful feature to have on a laptop, as they can allow you to connect to a wide range of high-speed devices and expand the capabilities of the laptop. However, they are not as common as USB ports and not available on all laptops.

In general, the specific ports available on a laptop will depend on the model and manufacturer, so it's important to consider your specific needs and requirements when choosing a laptop. Having a variety of ports is useful for connecting to a variety of external devices, but the number of ports also impacts the size and weight of the laptop. More ports generally add to the overall bulk of the laptop.

CONCLUSION

The plethora of options available on the market makes choosing the perfect laptop a daunting task. However, by keeping in mind your specific needs and budget, as well as considering factors such as processing power, screen size, portability, ports, etc. you can easily narrow down your options and find a laptop that will meet your needs and help you be productive.

It is also important to do your research and read reviews from other users as it helps you to make an informed decision. But most importantly, remember to consider the elements listed above and how they impact your work. With the right laptop, you can take your work to the next level and enjoy a smooth and efficient computing experience throughout the lifespan of your laptop.

$ads={2}
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

facebook-f messenger twitter pinterest linkedin flipboard instagram youtube whatsapp email

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post