Laptop Buying Guide | How To Choose The Best Laptop For Yourself: Depending on your computing needs and requirements, there are several factors need to consider before deciding which laptop is best suited for you. So here we are going to discuss on complete Laptop Buying Guide & how to choose the best performing laptop for yourself within your budget.
The most important parameters you need to consider while buying any laptop are :
- Operating System
- Ports & Connectivity
- Design & Other Features
The first thing to start when it comes to buying a laptop is its usage i.e., for what purpose you going to use the laptop?
Whether you use it casually, or you are a student and you going to use it only for study purpose, or you travel much often so you need light weight laptop with long battery backup or you are a hardcore gamer and want a top performing gaming laptop?
Once you’ve decided on a usage, you can move on to the next step, which are the laptop’s specifications.
Laptop specification helps us to define its performance capacity, storage capacity and much more.
Performance should be one of your key concerns when looking for a laptop. The key is to match your computing requirements with the kind of the power output you needed.
The performance of your laptop depends on the following components :
- Processor or CPU
- Storage type
- Graphic Card or GPU
i) Which Processor or CPU To Choose?
As with any computer, the CPU carries out most of the processes and tasks. Any time the computer needs to access or change data, the CPU executes that task. Better CPUs will be able to process more data at quicker speeds.
CPU contains cores such as dual core, quad core, octa core etc., which are the processing units within the CPU. The more the cores, the more powerful is the processor and the more faster will be its performance.
Starting with the processor, for the casual laptop user, a Gen i3 processor is more than enough if all you need it for is casual browsing, viewing videos and running lite software.
But If you’re a student and are hoping to play a few light games, then an Intel Core i5 processor or above will comfortably let you play games and work with more software.
Core i7 and i9 processors are high end processor and offer the best overall performance, but they come with a heavy price. Go for these only if you know you have CPU intensive software like video editing, motion graphics or want the best gaming experience.
The latest offerings from Intel are its Core i3, i5, i7 & i9 series in the present generation models.
AMD’s latest chips are its third-generation Ryzen CPUs, though they are a bit more difficult to find in laptop offerings.
When it comes to picking a laptop based on its CPU, new generation CPU is almost always better. Try to avoid buying a laptop with a CPU that’s a few generations old.
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ii) How To Choose RAM?
The amount of RAM decides on how smooth and lag-free experience you will get on your laptop. The higher the amount of RAM the better it is.
A minimum of 4GB RAM is must for a lag free experience across daily used applications like office apps, browsing, video, multimedia etc. For running heavy applications like image/video editing and for running the games at decent settings you need higher RAM for a lag free experience.
If you’re going to play lite games then 8GB of RAM will work decently, but if want to play moderate to high end games or you are using it for video editing/rendering software, then at least 16 GB of RAM is must for a lag free experience.
Almost all laptop manufacturers provide at least 4GB of RAM along with one additional slot for upgradability. The more the RAM, the smoother your laptop will perform when it comes to multi-tasking.
There are a few interesting terms that you might see when looking into RAM specs. Alongside the brand and capacity of any RAM stick, you’re going to find the letters DDR.
For example, the Gigabyte Aero laptop has two 8GB sticks of DDR4 RAM. This acronym stands for “Double Data Rate” and the number that comes after it refers to the Generation of component design.
The most recent generation of RAM hardware is DDR5 RAM.
As a rule, higher numbers are better than lower numbers here and most motherboards can only support certain generations of RAM. The number that comes after the DDR designation is the transfer speed.
Similar to the clock-speed on a CPU, this number measures the default theoretical maximum transfer speed. Higher speed means stuff happens faster.
Another detail to note here is whether or not the RAM in your laptop is single or dual-channel. A laptop with dual-channel is generally more desirable than one with an equivalent amount of single-channel memory clocked at the same transfer speed. This is because dual-channel RAM is able to transfer a greater amount of data at once.
iii) Which Graphics Card Do You Need?
Next, you look at the graphics card or GPU. A graphics card generates the images that a program needs to display on the screen. With most laptops, its graphics chip will come integrated into the motherboard.
If you’re a casual user, then you needn’t consider this and can make do with an integrated GPU. However, if you plan on playing games or using rendering software, you will need a dedicated graphics card.
To comfortably play most games at moderate settings, we recommend going for a laptop that has at least an NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti Graphics card. To experience high end games with high to extreme settings, you will need an NVIDIA RTX 2070 or higher GPU. The RTX 2060 GPU is a decent mid ground if your budget is tight but still want good graphics, at least on Full HD displays.
Both Intel and AMD powered laptops come with an integrated graphics chip. They are weaker than dedicated GPUs but let you run normal tasks smoothly. A dedicated graphics card is essential if you want to play the latest demanding games or do high-resolution video editing. Like CPUs, graphics cards also come in high-end and low-end variants.
NVIDIA and AMD are the primary vendors for discrete mobile graphics. NVIDIA’s latest series is the RTX 20-series, including the RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080. These will be in the most expensive, most powerful gaming and business-class laptops, though some recent models may be using the slightly older 10-series or the GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060.
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iv) Which Type of Storage is Best?
Storage capacity for your laptop depends on storage space and speed of storage for fetching data.
Laptops fall under three storage configurations- HDD, SSD, and Hybrid (HDD+SSD). If you can afford it and don’t require a lot of storage space, a laptop equipped with an SSD is a good choice.
1. Solid State Drives (SSD) feature flash storage without any moving parts, and hence are less prone to mechanical failure compared to traditional hard drives. They also offer faster read/write performance and response/boot time, and consume less battery too. The only problem is that SSDs don’t offer as much capacity. This means that SSD storage is often more expensive in terms of dollars-to-gigabytes than traditional hard drives. You’ll be stuck with a drive that’s either 128GB, 256GB or 512GB in size, but costs a lot more than one with a 1TB or 2TB hard drive would.
2. HDDs have the advantage of offering high capacity storage at comparatively lower price. Most entry-level laptops feature HDDs. Hard drives used to be all the rage, but these days they’ve mostly out of favor, especially for thin and light laptops. This is because they can be slow, bulky and produce noticeable heat and noise.
3. Many OEM’s these days offer hybrid drives which include both HDDs and SSDs, offering better performance than a standalone HDD at a slightly higher price. To compensate, many laptop and PC OEMs now pair a smaller SSD with a larger hard drive. This allows consumers to get the speed benefits of keeping their operating system on SSD storage while also having adequate storage space for the rest of their data.
If you opt to go for something with this two-pronged setup, you’ll generally want an SSD with a minimum of 256GB of storage and a secondary drive with no less than 1TB. Alternatively, if your laptop only has a single SSD drive, you’ll want to make sure if includes no less than 512GB of storage space.
The newest, fastest laptops also have NVMe SSDs which are even faster than traditional SSDs but also more expensive.
2. Which Laptop Display is Best?
Laptop display plays a very important role because a good quality display enhances your experience and let you to do your task in a comfortable manner. The display you choose will largely affect your computing experience, because it’s what you’ll be looking at the entire time.
There are several factors to consider when evaluating a laptop’s display:
i) Types of Laptop Display
There are two basic technologies used in LCD panels for laptops: TN and IPS.
- TN (Twisted Neumatic) panels are the most common, as these are the least expensive and tend to offer faster refresh rates which is very good for gaming. TN panels have some disadvantages, including narrow viewing angles and poor color quality.
- IPS (In Panel Switching) panel offers higher color ratios and wider viewing angles. However, these screens tend to cost more, have slower refresh rates, and are not as suited for gaming or fast video.
- OLED is another technology showing up in some laptops. It has been used for high-end mobile devices such as smartphones for some time. The primary difference between OLED and LCD technologies is that OLED doesn’t require a backlight. Instead, pixels generate light from the display, which gives these screens better overall contrast ratios and color.
While purchasing a laptop, one should also check if the display surface coating is glossy (reflective) or matte (anti-glare). Glossy displays offer higher clarity and vibrant colors, but also show reflections from sunlight and bright light sources. Anti-glare displays are a practical choice for easy viewing and preventing reflections, but make colors appear slightly dull.
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ii) Display Resolution
Higher resolution allows you to fit more content on the screen while making texture (text and images) sharper and crystal clear like water.
Display resolution are of different types like HD resolution (1280 x 720 Pixels), Full HD Resolution (1920 x 1080 Pixels), and 4K Resolution (3840 x 2160 Pixels).
iii) Display Size
Screen size is measured diagonally in inches and the one you should opt for depends entirely on your usage. Laptops come in various display sizes ranging from 10″ to 18-inches. A 15-16-inch laptop offers larger screen, and is ideal for those who need to carry their laptop around only occasionally. Those who prefer even bigger screens for gaming or video editing should consider getting a 17-18-inch laptop.
If portability is your priority, you can go for a smaller-sized Windows laptop. They tend to be thinner and lighter. Look for laptops that have a screen that is either 12.5-inches or 13.3-inches in size, and a weight between 1kg and 1.5kgs.
However, keep in mind that smaller-sized 13.3-inch laptops often don’t support the same high-end CPUs or discrete graphics cards you’ll be able to find in their 15.6-inch counterparts. Most of the time, they’ll also feature a less-robust selection of ports.
iv) Refresh Rate
A faster refresh rate can often provide competitive advantage in online games, as it enables a smoother and more responsive play experience.
However, as your use-case becomes more specific, you might want to consider certain things, like screen refresh rates, and AMD Free Sync and NVIDIA G-Sync support, which depend on the GPU. Most laptops come with a refresh rate of 60Hz, but you will find gaming laptops with refresh rates of 144Hz and above
3.Which Operating System To Choose?
These are the main operating systems found on commercial laptops :
Windows: The latest version of Microsoft’s OS is Windows 10. It offers various features like the Cortana digital assistant, Windows Hello authentication and touchscreen support. A majority of laptops in the market are powered by Windows OS, and they are available across all price bands.
Mac OS: The latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system is macOS High Sierra. macOS features a different UI, but offers the same functionalities as Windows 10. However, it offers better security than Windows and smooth integration with Apple’s mobile platform, iOS. macOS tends to be preferred by content creators, writers and graphic designers.
Chrome OS: Laptops running on Google’s Chrome OS are called Chromebooks. Users get access to a large number of web apps, but the functionality is restricted when offline. Chrome OS devices also tend to offer limited storage, and hence are ideal for school usage. It also features Google’s in-built malware & virus protection.
UBUNTU & DOS: Laptops that ship with Linux-based, open-source, operating systems or DOS operating systems are suitable for programmers and coders. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux-based operating system that has an appealing graphical user interface. Laptops that come with Ubuntu can be used for basic applications like web browsing and media consumption.
The type of operating system which you should choose depends upon your requirement and budget.
4. What Ports & Connectivity Type To Prefer?
Thinner laptops are known to compromise on ports, you need to keep this in mind while making your decision. Try to figure out beforehand what ports you will need on your laptop.
Some things you should consider are whether the laptop has USB 3.0 or 3.1 ports, and even if they have the required type you need, such as Type-A or Type-C. Newer laptops have a USB-C port, a much more advanced version that can power up devices, transfer high definition video, and move lots of data at once. A more advanced version of USB-C called Thunderbolt 3 may also be available on some laptops, which increases connection capabilities even more. If you want to connect your laptop to a larger display or TV, then you need a HDMI or Display Ports.
Most laptops come with audio ports, but you need to keep in mind whether you want a laptop with both a headphone and microphone jack or a uni-jack. For people who use cameras or other devices that use media cards, you can consider a laptop that has a media card slot.
As thinner laptops usually compromise on ports, one which is commonly missing from such laptops is the Ethernet port. This might be a problem if you plan to game online and prefer a more stable, wired connection. Otherwise, consider laptops with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and up to 5GHz standards.
If you’re looking for Bluetooth support to connect audio devices or wireless peripherals, then look for notebooks with Bluetooth 5.0 or Bluetooth 4.2 if necessary.
5. Design & Other Features
Some of the most attractive looking laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo and ASUS fall into a premium price bracket. They usually flaunt a metal chassis that looks and feels premium. Cheaper laptops tend to feature a lackluster look and feel.
i) Form factor
Laptops come in two types of form factors – standard clamshell and 2-in-1 convertible. A standard laptop is ideal for everyday usage. 2-in-1 devices can be used in various form factors. Convertible laptops come in two styles – detachable ones like the Microsoft Surface where the screen can be detached entirely from the keyboard, or a rotating hinge model (Lenovo Yoga, HP Specter, etc.) that can be used in various modes including laptop, tablet, tent and stand. Convertible laptops come with touchscreen functionality and stylus support, thus working both as laptop and tablet. The choice of form factor depends on the user’s needs and usability.
Ultrabook tend to favor a slim and lightweight form-factor over high-end performance. Convertibles laptops (also known as 2-in-1 laptops or 2-in-1 PCs) expand on this by adding the ability to fold away (or remove) the keyboard and use your new laptop in tablet mode.
Laptops with touchscreen displays enable scribbling on screen to edit documents directly with the help of a stylus or screen scrolling, zooming and other such controls using your fingers. This makes your laptop experience similar to that of a smartphone or tablet.
iii) Backlit Keyboard
Backlit keypad makes typing easy when using the laptop in low-light and dark environments. Backlit keypads are mostly preferred by gamers. Some laptops offer backlit keypads with RGB light which looks much prettier.
iv) Battery Life
Battery life is the most important parameter you should consider while purchasing a new laptop. Laptop with long battery life is important because every time you don’t have charging facility in your surroundings mostly when you travel.
A number of variables affect battery life like screen brightness, screen resolution, number of applications you have running in the background plus whether or not you actively remain connected to Wi Fi networks or Bluetooth devices.
The operating system a laptop runs on can also play a major role in determining battery life. It’s for this reason that ultra-books and convertibles running on Chrome OS tend to offer superior battery life than those running on Windows 10.
If you run programs that need lots of processing, stream lots of online video, play graphics-intensive games or if you transfer lots of files over a wireless network, then your battery will drain a lot sooner than what the vendor has quoted.
A good practice here is to look at the rating of the battery in Watt-hours (Wh) or milliamp-hours (mAh). The larger these figures are, the longer the battery can last.
Another key thing to look for here is fast-charging. Much like modern smartphones, many new laptops also support fast-charging, which is always good because it charges your laptop faster even you are working on it.
Final Thoughts :
Purchasing a laptop is not an easy task. You need to plan everything according to your purpose and you need a lot of research.
If you don’t have any knowledge about laptop parts/functions then you may find it difficult to choose the best laptop that fits your purpose. But after reading this article you must have gain some important knowledge on how to choose a laptop for you according to your usage and requirements.
Thanks for Reading !!
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