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Laptop Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Laptop to Meet Your Needs?

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LAPTOP?

Whether you are planning to buy a laptop to work from home or attend online classes, finding a good laptop requires proper insight of must-have features and specifications. Even if you know what everything means, and know exactly what you want, finding it can be difficult. Laptops offer many advantages. They are small and light enough to be portable, yet still powerful enough to run complex, demanding programs. They offer capabilities and a degree of usefulness not found in even the best tablet or smartphone. A laptop is an essential tool for everyone, be it a college student or an IT professional. While there are laptops available based on various technological needs, it is still a difficult decision in case you are not aware of the specifications and models. Before buying a laptop, you should fix a budget in your mind. This will make sure that you stick to it and try to find out the best laptop in that range. 

Below is a section on every major component you’ll want to know about when you browse for your next laptop. We break down the jargon and try to explain things on a practical level. Prepare a list of the features that you expect from your laptop and this buying guide will help you in choosing the perfect laptop based on your requirements.

Select Your Operating System

Before you begin to look at laptops, you must figure out which operating system (OS) works best for you. Thinking through what software you need to run and on which operating systems that software runs will help you determine the hardware you need. The OS is an important bridge that manages the hardware & software resources of a laptop. The operating system is responsible for providing a rich user experience . It lets you contact your software on your laptop, and it is a bridge between you and your laptop. The operating system can manage all the hardware, software, files, documents, and memory present on your laptop. There are four major computer operating systems. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Here’s an overview of each:

Microsoft Windows

Windows seamlessly supports third party programs and games. Most popular OS in the world. Latest version is Windows 10. The most flexible operating system, Windows 10, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or MacOS. It’s the best choice if you need Microsoft apps like MS Office, Access, or Outlook. There are also more Windows laptops to choose from than any other OS. Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever. It comes with built-in protections for your data, your equipment, and your people, securing business information and personal identities even on lost or stolen devices. Business essentials—like firewall, secure boot, and file-level information-loss protection—come standard on every device. Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles and the Cortana digital assistant. Easy to use, intuitive GUI, an ideal platform for work or study use. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers and business users, and they’re the only machines gamers should consider.

 

Apple macOS

Apple’s MacOS is a bit more beginner-friendly than Windows, but it’s tightly coupled with the company’s hardware. It probably isn’t your first choice if you don’t own an iPhone or iPad, and your options are limited to MacBooks. The operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but with a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock at the bottom of the screen for Microsoft’s Start menu and taskbar. Instead of the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They can also perform transactions with Apple Pay, take calls or texts from their phones and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch. It’s why there’s nothing else like a Mac. macOS is the operating system that powers every Mac. It lets you do things you simply can’t with other computers. That’s because it’s designed specifically for the hardware it runs on—and vice versa. macOS comes with an entire suite of beautifully designed apps. It works with iCloud to keep photos, documents, and other items up to date on all your devices. It makes your Mac work like magic with your iPhone and other Apple devices. And it’s been built from the ground up with privacy and security in mind. This Mac OS is present in Apple laptops they are known as Macbooks and iMac, and we all know about the Apple ecosystem and it is the most secure OS and smooth performance OS. Latest version is macOS 10.15 ‘Catalina’, Simplified user interface, Ease of multitasking for robust users and Less vulnerable to security lapses. MacOS is popular amongst artists, editors, designers, animators.

LINUX

Linux is one of popular version of UNIX operating System. It is open source as its source code is freely available. It is free to use. Linux was designed considering UNIX compatibility. Its functionality list is quite similar to that of UNIX. The biggest success of Linux is Android(operating system) it is based on the Linux kernel that is running on smartphones and tablets. Due to android Linux has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems. 

The main advantage of Linux, is it is an open-source operating system. It is network friendly and flexibility of Linux is high. In terms of security, Linux is more secure than any other operating system and also maintain the privacy of the user. The performance of the Linux system is much higher than other operating systems. It allows a large number of people to work at the same time and it handles them efficiently. The software updates in Linux are easy and frequent.

It is not very user-friendly. So, it may be confusing for beginners and has small peripheral hardware drivers as compared to windows. it supports wide range of programming languages for coders, reliable and does not compromise performance. Linux is the choice of many coders, IT professionals.

Chrome OS

If you can do most of your laptop tasks in a web browser, Chrome OS is a good choice. Chrome laptops (called Chromebooks) are also among the cheapest (and least powerful) you’ll find, so the OS is also worth considering if you have a limited budget, and only need basic computing functionality, Chrome may be the way to go. . Chrome is a more lightweight operating system. So, while it gives you a full range of Google apps for both online and offline use, it doesn’t offer you the same number of features, or the same range of compatible applications Windows and macOS do.

If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents because they are hard for kids to infect with malware and more functional than most tablets.

Processor (Intel or AMD)

Once you know which operating system you want and have some idea of the software you’re going to run, you can figure out the minimum hardware specifications you’ll need. The first thing we suggest looking at is the processor, also referred to as the chip or the CPU. The processor is like the heart of any device, Processor selection generally depends on the kind of applications you wish to run and your general usage pattern. Any small or big task in a laptop is performed by the Processor. Processor means processing the Raw data and gives us the desired output from the machine (laptop). If your laptop processor is more powerful than the performance of that laptop will doing be good for every task. 

There are 2 major chip manufacturers for Computers and laptops in the present market, they are Intel and AMD. Both of them are manufacturing good enough chipsets for the computers and laptops right now.

Intel Processors

Intel has mainly 4 series of Processors based on the Price and specifications. They are Intel core i3, core i5, core i7, and Core i9 chipsets in the market. Within each of these chip lines, Intel uses cryptic strings of numbers and letters that give you more information about that chip’s capabilities and when it came out. Learning to decipher it will help you make better buying decisions. (Here’s Intel’s guide to its model naming). The Core i3 is the least powerful, the Core i9 is the most powerful. Intel’s Core i5 processor family is an ideal choice for general computing use, while the Core i7 and Core i9 processors are better options for more demanding environments with heavier workloads. With many of the latest (8th Gen to current) Intel processors also including support for Thunderbolt 3, Intel Optane Memory, and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Intel continues to push the limitations of performance and reliability in both desktop and thin-and-light devices.

Quick Guide:-

  • Movies, Music, Internet, Email:: Core i3 (Up to 8th Gen) or Core i5 (Up to 6th Gen)
  • Office Use, Student Use, Basic Gaming, Multitasking:: Core i5 (7th Gen+)  or Corei3 (9th Gen+) 
  • High End Gaming, 4K Editing, Multitasking, 3D Animation:: Core i7 (9th Gen+)  or Core i7 (9th Gen+) 

AMD

AMD is also providing great Processors in the budget after they launched their new Ryzen Series Processors. Before that, they had AMD A-series, but now AMD Ryzen Series is more popular and powerful in computer and laptop Processors of their higher performance at lower prices. AMD has out-of-the-box capabilities that Intel does not. An example of this is overclocking, the ability to increase speed once the processor is in use. AMD also offers better onboard graphics.

AMD’s integrated graphics tend to perform better than Intel on graphics-intensive tasks—think editing video or playing games. You may benefit from buying an AMD machine if you’re a video editor or gamer, but what you most likely want is a dedicated graphics card. Intel’s most recent series of chips have closed that gap significantly, but AMD still has an edge. The Ryzen 5 and 7 processors are AMD’s competitive counterparts to Intel’s i5 and i7. AMD Ryzen processors also have 4 Series, they are AMD Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9 chipsets in the present market.

Quick Guide:-

  • Movies, Music, Internet, Email:: A3, A6, A9, Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 3  pro
  • Office Use, Student Use, Basic Gaming, Multitasking:: Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 5 pro
  • High End Gaming, 4K Editing, Multitasking, 3D Animation:: Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9 

How Much RAM Do You Need?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is mainly useful to open the apps quickly and store them in recent apps for quick access. Try to choose the latest version of RAM Type i.e., DDR4 or new DDR5(DDR stands for double data rate). Choose minimum DDR4 RAM for better multitasking, ignore DDR3 RAM in 2021. And also cache plays a key role in opening the apps and software, so try to choose more cache in your budget. The RAM configuration defines how lag-free your usage experience will be, especially when dealing with multiple applications simultaneously.

A higher RAM configuration corresponds to smoother performance. So try to choose more ideally you want at least 8GB on even a budget system and 16GB if you can spend just a little more. If you want to buy a laptop for light usage purposes then 4GB is enough for you. If you are a heavy gamer or video editor or running heavy software then choose a minimum of 8GB RAM and you can choose up to 16 or 32GB also in your price range. One thing to investigate before you buy is whether the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. If it is soldered you won’t be able to upgrade the RAM yourself.

Storage (HDD or SSD or SSHD)

Storage is also a major thing to consider in a laptop, because everyone has something to store in a laptop like files, documents, software, videos, photos, and some large files like movies, etc. A laptop’s storage is where data is kept when said data is not in use. The traditional, and still viable, storage option, in most cases, is the hard drive (hard disk drive or HDD). Hard drive is a mechanical device with spinning plates, it is at a greater risk of failure. And it is a limiting factor in a laptop’s overall performance. Even when performing optimally, it is much slower than the computer’s memory or processor. ‘

A solid state drive (SSD) may be a better option for you than a hard drive, despite a somewhat higher initial price point than its HDD counterpart. Unlike a hard drive, SSD has no moving parts. Your drive speed will increase by a factor of three or more, it will boot up much more quickly, applications will load faster, and your laptop’s performance will be greatly improved. The most common choice these days is a solid state drive (SSD), although some budget laptops still use spinning drives. A hybrid (SSHD)  option might be your best bet. Choosing the right storage configuration for your laptop largely depends on your storage requirements.

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

HDD is a normal storage hard disk in any computer or laptop. It is a normal storage drive and the cost is less compared with SSD, so they can provide huge HDD drives like 1TB or 2TB HDD storage on some laptops. The performance and speed of HDD are decent but are not as great as SSD drives. If you want to store so many files and not to do heavy tasks using large files and performance is not a matter to you, then HDD is good for you.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

SSD storage is less in amount, but speed is 10 times faster than HDD storage & it is 5 times costlier than HDD storage. Go for an SSD drive if you can afford it—at least 256 gigabytes. SSDs are faster, especially if they use an NVMe connection, which moves data in and out of the hard drive much quicker than the older standard, known as SATA. SSD help in better performance on a laptop, faster boot time, Doing heavy work using large data files more than 1GB (Easily transfers the files).  Don’t need more storage in their laptop, the minimum amount of space we recommend is 256 gigabytes. If you store everything in the cloud or are looking at Chromebooks, you might be able to get by with less, but it’s good to have the space if you ever need it.  If you can afford it and don’t need a ton of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a hard drive.

SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive)

SSHD means a combination of both SSD and HDD, in the above 2 cases, you must compromise between great performance or more storage. This SSHD is an option for you to choose storage for both performance and more storage. You’ll find laptops with an SSD with NVMe to run the operating system but an older SATA drive to store files. This gives you best of both worlds: speed where you need it but still budget-friendly. A hybrid option might be your best bet. With a hybrid drive, the SSD boots your operating system and startup applications, and the hard drive is used mainly for data storage. SSHD comes like 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD, etc on some laptops & computers.

GPU or Graphics Card

Graphics cards are a must in computers & laptops for high-performance tasks like gaming, editing, running heavy software, etc. Many laptops now incorporate an onboard GPU. This is not the same component as a graphics controller. The GPU offloads many display and multimedia-related functions from the CPU. 

All laptops technically have graphics cards (also called “discrete” graphics and GPU), but most are bundled into the motherboard with the processor. This approach, known as “integrated graphics” is fine for most users. Integrated graphics means the Graphic card is included in the processor itself. This integrated graphics is not as powerful as dedicated graphics cards, but now the companies are giving decent integrated graphic cards like AMD Radeon Vega Graphics. These integrated graphics are majorly seen in low-level laptops. You’ll be able to watch HD movies and even play casual games without issue.

If you’re a gamer or do a lot of video editing, you’ll want a laptop with a discrete graphics card—a separate and much more powerful graphics card. Pairing a GPU with the CPU can lead to greater display-related performance and quality.  Dedicated Graphics cards are majorly useful for heavy performance tasks like gaming, video editing, etc. This Graphic card is similar to RAM, in the specs sheet. And the company mentions the size of the graphic card like whether it is a 2GB or 4GB or 8GB dedicated graphics card. 

AMD and Nvidia make most of the graphics cards you’ll find in laptops. Most Intel-based laptops will be paired with an Nvidia graphics card in the GeForce line, usually one of the Max-Q cards, which is the power-efficient, laptop-friendly spin off of Nvidia’s desktop cards. Nvidia still holds a robust position within the market, but AMD’s newest graphics cards have made the landscape more competitive. Nvidia’s GTX 1060 remains the foremost popular graphics card. RTX 2080 Super and 2080 Ti, are expensive.

AMD’s GPU line is called Radeon and ranges from the top end Vega and RX cards down to R-series cards that mirror the Ryzen naming scheme, where the Radeon R9 is faster and more powerful than the Radeon R7 series, which is more powerful than the Radeon 5 series. AMD’s cards don’t support real-time ray-tracing, but often offer higher horsepower than their Nvidia counterparts at equivalent price points.  The 5700 XT can run the latest games at high or ultra graphics settings, but again, it doesn’t support ray tracing.

Always keep your favorite games in mind when choosing a card.

Choose the Right Display and Its Size

Display and size also matter a lot for those who watch movies, and for those who travel more with their laptop. You must choose a minimum of  1080p or Full HD + screen in 2021. And the display size also matters in traveling, etc. Most, if not all, considerations regarding laptop display revolve around two factors: screen size and resolution. Screen size refers to the diagonal measurement of the screen. Today’s laptop buyer can choose from a number of screen sizes, ranging from 11.6″ to 17.3″. But, for a number of reasons, a bigger laptop display is not always better. A larger screen means a larger, heavier laptop. Traveling with it, or lugging it through crowded airports every week, could get old quickly. You will probably want a larger screen if you enjoy high-end gaming, or if you work as an architect, engineer, video editor, or graphic designer. For tasks such as word processing and general Internet use, a larger screen is not as important.

Screen resolution is a deciding factor in determining how your display will look. Screens use pixels to display images. The number of pixels, both horizontal and vertical, determines the screen resolution. A resolution of 1024×768 means that a display has 1024 pixels across the horizontal plane and 768 vertically. Laptop resolution choices range from 1366×768 to 3840×2160, aka Ultra-High Definition (UHD). Realistically, you should never choose a resolution below 1920×1080 aka Full HD (typically referred to as 1080p). 4K equals a 4096×2160 resolution. UHD refers to a resolution of 3840×2160..

 A smaller screen may have a 1024×768 resolution. A larger one may have the same resolution as the smaller one. But the larger screen in this scenario will have a lower quality display. A higher resolution means a sharper image. If you quite often along with your laptop then try to buy a small size display.

  • 11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens.
  • 13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability
  • 15 to 16 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4 to 5.5 pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often.
  • 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.

Battery Life

Battery plays a key role in every electronic gadget because, without a good battery backup, there is no sense in using a laptop or any other gadget. A bigger battery means more hours of usage. So try to choose a laptop with good battery backup and also fast charging. One of the main reasons people invest in a laptop is to be able to use their computer in a highly mobile state. This makes the battery a vital laptop component. You don’t want to be tied to a wall outlet or worried that your battery will quit on you and leave you unable to keep working.

If you’re buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. Regardless of battery quality, a number of factors cause it to drain faster, including size and amount of RAM, and the degree to which the processor is being used.

Ports

A variety of ports and slots are available on most laptops. At least 2 USB ports, an HDMI port and an audio port are recommended for basic use. Additionally, you can look for USB Type-C ports, Thunderbolt ports, memory card slots, ethernet ports, or VGA ports based on your connectivity requirements.

An Ethernet port is used to connect the laptop with your local wifi network (LAN), it is also useful to us to get connected to the internet through wires. Most mainstream laptops will have USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out for video. However, an increasing number of laptops use USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports that are USB Type-C compatible. Getting Type-C is a definite plus because you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks.

You will want at least one 1 USB-C, at least one 1 USB-A, and a microphone/headset jack. Look into USB-C charging. I recommend laptops that can charge via USB-C. A laptop should say it can charge via USB-C on the page or in the specs section. This method of charging allows you to use a portable charger if you ever need extra time away from a power outlet. USB-C chargers also tend to be cheaper to replace, and you may already use them to charge your android phone.

While the absence of ports is usually not a deal-breaker when choosing a laptop, it’s helpful to get the connections you need right on the system, rather than having to carry a slew of dongles. Make sure your laptop has an SD or MicroSD card reader if you’re a photographer and need to constantly download images from your camera. Otherwise you’ll need to carry a dongle.

Connectivity

The vast majority of laptop users want to connect to the Internet. Many in a business environment need to also connect to a local-area network (LAN). There a few different connectivity options for laptops today.

Wi-Fi (Wireless):: Wi-Fi has expanded greatly in popularity over the last several years. It’s now the default Internet connectivity option. Most, if not all, new laptop models will come equipped with Wi-Fi built in. If you want a laptop with the latest and greatest connectivity options, find one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 offers increased theoretical throughputs and a more stable connection than 802.11ac. 

Ethernet (Wired Networking):: This method of joining a laptop to a LAN or the Internet requires a physical Ethernet cable connection.

Bluetooth:: This is a wireless networking standard that is typically used to connect remotely, without wiring, to peripheral devices. It can connect wirelessly to the Internet by tethering to a wireless phone. Look for a laptop with Bluetooth 5, the latest standard that offers improved connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices, like mice and headphones.

Cellular:: There may be times when you need to connect to the Internet but have no Wi-Fi or Ethernet option available. Some laptops have a cellular connectivity allowing you to access the Internet with an activated cellular plan.

Additional Features

Not only the above features but also some minor and useful features are there to consider before buying a new laptop. They are given below.

Build Quality :: Build Quality also matters for those heavy users and also for travelers, because they use the laptop in various conditions and sometimes it also falls into the ground. A laptop with a strong build quality will feel sturdy and durable, not weak and flimsy. A poor build quality will affect the outside of the laptop and may be indicative of other problems. The body material used determines the durability and the weight of your laptop. Entry level laptops are generally made of ABS plastic, while mainstream laptops are mostly made using aluminum. Premium laptops integrate materials such as carbon fiber, leather or textile for high quality finishes.

Keyboard :: Keyboards come in a variety of sizes and types. Usually, laptops equipped with a numeric keypad, adding some convenience. Premium and gaming laptops often integrate backlit keyboards to add some style and functionality. The backlit keyboard can be very helpful for those who use the laptop for editing as well as professional works like typing, etc. The backlit keyboard may be helpful for those at night times.

Fingerprint Reader :: With the growing number of security breaches as well as privacy and data security concerns across the globe, laptops have integrated various security features to protect users. A fingerprint reader adds a layer of authentication to secure your device and data in a local environment. Fingerprint scanners are mainly helpful for security purposes and also we can unlock the laptop very easily and quickly.

DVD or Disc Drive :: Play a lot of games or use software that is available only on discs? If so, opt for a laptop which has an optical drive. Laptops with an extremely thin form factors generally do not include a disc drive. However, if you really need to read/write discs and your laptop of choice doesn’t come with a built-in DVD drive, you can always buy an external one that connects via USB.

Webcams :: Most webcams are still 720p, especially on lower-priced laptops. That’s fine if you’re not using it much, but with Zoom being a way of life for many folks these days, you might be happier with a 1080p camera. Additionally, laptops offering higher-quality webcams and microphones can aid in improving a user’s video conferencing experience.

3.5 mm Audio Jack and Speakers :: This is the world’s most common audio jack, and it is found on most laptops. It’s compatible with most headphones and computer speakers. Speakers also play a key role in watching movies or streaming video content online. Pick a laptop with stereo speakers for good sound performance. In recent times we all are using these laptops for online classes and video conferences, so having a good speaker on our laptop is a nice thing to say.

Conclusion

Your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it read more about Top 10 Laptop Brands.

I think you get full knowledge about the laptop buying guide by reading this article. If you consider all these things before buying a new laptop, then you will definitely get the best value-for-money laptop for your purposes.

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