Laptops are designed to be portable enough to carry around with you, and powerful enough to handle high-end applications. It’s widely accepted as the best tool for doing serious computing work or for entertainment.
Selecting the perfect laptop for your computing needs can be a serious challenge because there are a wide variety of sizes, features, and prices. That’s why you need to know the specific one that will be perfect for you.
After you know every spec from your next laptop you should try using Laptop Finder Tool, it will help you to pick the best one for your given specs.
Below is a list of the essential features that you need to consider when buying a laptop.
What to look for when buying a new laptop
1. Choose an Operating System: Mac, Windows, or Chrome OS?
This question can be quite tricky, especially if you are not familiar with these operating systems. The first vital thing you need to know is that most laptops come with one of the three platforms; Mac, Windows, or Chrome.
Windows is still regarded as the most popular one, but it all depends on personal preference.
It is arguable the most versatile operating system, and you will see it on a lot of laptops than Chrome OS or Mac OS X. In terms of price, you can get a Windows laptop for as low as $150 and as expensive as you can imagine. It all depends on the features and the specifications.
Windows 10 was released in 2015 with a lot of improvements and new exciting features, which makes the OS to be perfect for almost everyone, including students, professional gamers, business people, and corporations.
This operating system is basically for Apple products, and it provides similar features to Windows 10. However, the macOS interface is unique and more exciting.
For example, Windows 10 comes with the popular Cortana digital assistant, while macOS comes with Siri. Other exciting Apple features include the Apple Pay that you can use to perform transactions easily.
However, macOS is not designed for touch and it’s not surprising that there is no MacBook computer with a touchscreen.
Chromebooks are perfect for people that do not want to spend much on a laptop. The operating system is simple and secure, although not as powerful as Windows or macOS.
The only drawback is that most apps will not function properly if you are not connected to the internet. However, Chromebooks are perfect for anyone looking for a cheap laptop that is good enough to browse the web, check your emails, social media platforms, and carry out other minor computing tasks.
If you like to buy a Chromebook, I will advise that you go for one with at least 4GB memory size and 16GB storage capacity. In terms do display, a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 will be good enough.
2. Decide If You Want a 2-in-1
Most recent laptops are designed to be multifunctional, you can now use most laptops as a traditional clamshell mode, or you can switch it to a tablet mode.
These new laptops come in two designs; there are detachable ones that allow you to entirely remove the screen from the keyboard, and there are flexible ones that come with hinges that you can turn in 360 degrees to change modes.
However, most of these 2-1 laptops are more suitable for one purpose than the other. The detachable ones are perfect for the ultimate tablet experience, which is perfect for watching movies. The traditional clamshell offers better value for money, so it all depends on your computing needs.
3. Pick the Right Size
This is another important factor that you need to consider even before checking the price tag. You will have to decide how portable you want your laptop to be.
Laptops come in different sizes, and they are normally categorized according to the display size:
11 to 12 inches: If you are looking for an ultra-slim lightweight laptop, then 11- to 12-inch screens are the lightest that you will see around, and they usually weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
13 to 14 inches: The best combination of portability and usability, and you will definitely get a good one that weighs less than 4 pounds.
15 to 16 inches: The is the most popular range, if you want a moderately large screen and you are not planning to carry your laptop everywhere, then you will see a decent 15-inch that will weigh around 4 to 5.5 pounds.
17 to 18 inches: If you are looking for a laptop that you will hardly carry anywhere, a 17-inch laptop is perfect for gamers and programmers.
4. Check that Keyboard and Touchpad
If you will be using the laptop for major computing tasks like programming, data entry, and photo editing, you need to make sure that you are getting a laptop with a good ergonomic keyboard. For example, if you are going for a Windows OS laptop, make sure that it is equipped with Precision touchpad drivers.
5. Pick Your Specs
Picking the right laptop hardware components like processor, hard drive, RAM, and graphics chip can be a daunting task. Below is a list of the vital components that you need to look out for.
CPU: This is basically the core component of your computer; the processor has an enormous influence on the overall performance of your system. Let’s talk about the major processors that are available now
Intel 10th Gen CPUs – Intel has launched two new types of 10th Gen processors that will handle the processing aspect of the next generation of laptops to deliver enhanced integrated graphics. The two processors are Ice Lake (a 10-nanometer chip) and Comet Lake (a 14-nanometer chip).
Intel Core i9 – You can only find the i9 processors in the recently produced high-end laptops. These processors are designed to handle the most demanding programs and apps easily.
Intel Core i7 – the i7 processors are a step higher than the Core i5, there are some models of the i7 with numbers that end with HQ and K that offers enhanced gaming and productivity.
Intel Core i5 – If you need a decent laptop that offers excellent value for money, you should look for one with an Intel Core i5 CPU. The most common ones end with the letter U and are quite better than the models that end with Y.
Intel Core i3 – In terms of performance and price, the i3 is just a step below the i5. This type of laptop will be just enough for a regular use like watching movies or browsing.
Intel Xeon: Designed for the high-end workstations, if you are looking for a laptop that can handle high-end programming, gaming, or 3D modeling, you should look for one that is powered by an Intel Xeon. The only drawback is the battery life.
Intel Pentium / Celeron: These models come with the moderately decent laptops; they offer the slowest performance level and will only be able to handle minor computing tasks.
AMD Ryzen 4000: This is a different set of processors designed to offer a slightly higher level of performance than the Intel Core i5 and Core i7.
AMD A, FX, or E Series: You will find these types of processors in cheap laptops. They are known as APUs and not CPUs. They are powerful enough to handle minor computing tasks.
RAM: Most laptops around the $250 price tag come with 4GB of RAM, but some cheap laptops come with 8GB and 16GB, although you will need to spend a bit more. 32GB is the most common memory size, while 64GB is for the high-end machines.
Storage Drive: This is another vital component that you need to consider. It’s always better to go for an SSD drive if you have the money. This is because SSDs are at least three times faster than the normal hard drive.
You can check out the new PCIe x4 (SSD) units, which are quite faster than SATA drives. Most of the budget laptops come with eMMC memory, which is also SSD but not faster than the mechanical hard drives.
Display: The higher the pixels of your display, the sharper it will look. However, some budget laptops sport the 1366 x 768 displays, which is quite disappointing. If you have the money, I will advise that you look for a laptop that runs at 1920 x 1080.
Some high-end laptops come with a display that runs at 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800, or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), which produces an amazing picture quality but can also affect your battery life.
Touch Screen: If you are going for a regular laptop, you will hardly enjoy the touch screen because it will always drain your battery quickly; touch screens are basically for 2-1s.
Graphics Chip: If you are not interested in a laptop that can handle power demanding programs and apps, an integrated graphics chip will be fine, especially if you can get one with the Intel’s latest Iris Plus graphics.
However, if you are planning to run high-end apps and programs, you will need to look for a laptop with a decent graphics card from AMD or Nvidia.
Ports: You should also look out for ports because they can be quite important except if you want to be carrying a slew of dongles. Most modern laptops are equipped with USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out for video.
However, some new laptops now come with USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports that work with USB Type-C, which allows you to connect your laptop to universal chargers and docks. Other essential features include SD card slots, headphone jacks, and Ethernet ports.
Connectivity: If you are always using your laptop while traveling, I will advise that you buy a laptop with 4G LTE support. Although it means you will need to pay for a data plan, it will also allow you to have access to the internet even when you are not at home or in the office.
For the best connectivity options, a laptop with a Wi-Fi 6 support will be perfect and also make sure that your laptop comes with a Bluetooth feature.
DVD/Blu-ray Drives: Nowadays, you will hardly a new laptop with an optical drive. This is because you can now download all apps, programs, and media files from the internet.
However, if your preferred laptop does not come with an optical drive and you really need one, you can always get an external one for under $20.
6. Don’t Ignore Battery Life
If you are looking for a laptop for your gaming setup that you will always use on your desk near an outlet, you do not need to worry about battery life.
However, if you in interested in a laptop that you can carry around, I suggest that you look for a machine with at least 7 hours of battery life. To know the actual battery life of your laptop, read comments from those that are using it already, do not trust the word of the manufacturer.
7. Plan Based on Your Budget
You can actually get a good laptop for under $200, but if you are willing to pay more, you will be able to buy a laptop with better design, more robust performance, and a sharper display.
$150 to $250: With this price range, you will be able to get Chromebooks or low-end Windows laptops that will just be good enough to handle minimal tasks, and they are also perfect for kids. You can check out the HP Stream 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000.
$350 to $600: For this price range, you will be able to own a laptop equipped with an Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 CPU, with a memory size that is around 4 to 8GB and a 500GB storage capacity. However, do not expect an SSD drive or a long battery life. You should check out the Acer Aspire E 15 and Asus Chromebook Flip C434.
$600 to $900: If you are willing to put down $600 and above, you will be provided with higher-resolution screens, decent performance levels, and SSDS. I’m sure you will be impressed with the Lenovo IdeaPad 530s and Asus ZenBook UX333FA.
Above $900: If you are looking for a laptop at this price range, you can expect a decent combination of portability and usability. You will be provided with machines equipped with exciting components which include fast processors, amazing graphics cards, and high-end screen resolutions.
For example, you will need to pay around $1000 if you are interested in the Apple MacBook Air or the Dell XPS 13, most high-end laptops can cost up to $2500 or $3000.
8. The Brand
The brand is one of the major factors that you need to consider. The reputation of a company is always important. An excellent customer support system is essential, and that’s why you need to read customer reviews.
Visit tech blogs to know the current laptop producers that are reliable and know the ones that are dropping off; this will give you an idea of the brand that you can trust.