The task of buying a new laptop often appears burdensome to many buyers as there is an overwhelming array of laptops to choose from. If you head over to your local tech market in search of a laptop, it’s possible that you find a broad variety of options that will suit your budget and serve all your computer needs. Oftentimes, this poses a difficulty of choosing from the surplus of options that the market has got to offer. Consequently, a huge chunk of potential buyers will rather compare brands while choosing a laptop. Unfortunately, it’s much vital that you consider a decent number of features regardless of your desired laptop brand. For starters, there is no absolute answer to the question of the best laptop to buy. That’s why it is important to figure out what you want in a laptop. To get you started, below are the 10 things to look out for when splurging on a new laptop.
#1 The Size and Weight
If you value portability in so great a measure, then you ought to consider going for a lightweight laptop. Needless to say, the size of a laptop is constant: it can neither be reduced nor increased and this is why you have to carefully select the size that’s suitable for you.
Basically, laptops come in various display sizes which often range from 11.6-inches to 17.3 inches. In selecting a very portable laptop, you can consider the one that weighs around 1.5kgs with a screen size of 13.3 inches.
While ASUS, HP, Acer, and many other top brands produce laptops in three display sizes (15.6-inches, 13.3-inches, and 17.3-inches), the larger displays usually translate to more weight.
Most 15-inch laptops often weigh around 2.3 kilograms while the gaming laptops could weigh as much as 3.6 kilograms. Advisably, be certain that the small-sized laptop you’re deciding on will live up to your expectations since the discrete graphics cards on the high-end Intel Core i7 CPU that is available in a 15.6-inch laptop might not necessarily be present in the smaller 13.3-inch counterpart.
If your everyday use of the laptop demands stand-alone graphics power, you may have to select a 15.6-inch variant in spite of its size.
However, if you’re craving for laptops that combine both portability and power, consider trying your hands on notebooks such as HP’s Envy x360 and Dell XPS 13. The downside: These devices are way more expensive than others in the similar category.
Nonetheless, if you favor portability above high-end performance, you can choose from a variety of ultrabooks including Lenovo’s Yoga laptops and ASUS Zenbook.
#2 Screen Quality
The screen quality is indispensably important since it is the gateway for interaction between the user and the laptop.
Most laptops sport a 13, 15, or 17 inches display while the smaller notebooks range between 10 to 14 inches.
A few manufacturers also equip their laptop display with touchscreen capabilities. Probably because they make certain tasks easier, touchscreen laptops are considered top-notch but again, they may develop shiny screens which will likely result in reflections.
Obviously, these reflections can mar your viewing experience especially while editing images, watching videos or playing games. Then again, it’s down to individual preferences.
For display quality, the pixel resolution of a laptop determines clarity and sharpness. Perhaps a laptop with a Full HD screen pegged at a resolution of 1920×1080 will be a suitable option for most tasks including reading and watching movies.
If you’re a videographer or photographer, you’ll likely need to use your laptop in editing and creating exceptional contents and by reason of this, opting for a laptop with a 4K resolution might be a great idea. Such laptops don’t come cheap but offer great value in return for the heavy cost.
Also if you’re keen to have a laptop that offers excellent photography, do well to choose the one that packs HDR standards, supports wider color gamut and delivers exceptional color accuracy. Over and above this, ensure you opt for a laptop that packs IPS technology if you’re really keen to enjoy excellent viewing angles. Put simply, this IPS technology enables the laptop’s screen to deliver the widest viewing angles best suited for your viewing pleasure.
Nowadays, hard drives are not as common as they used to be in the past and they have been largely replaced by Solid State Drives (SSD).
Traditional hard drives are notorious for noise, heat, and are slightly bulkier and less inefficient than their new generation counterparts. SSDs, on the other hand, are far more efficient, operate more quietly and facilitate quick boot-ups, and faster programs loading. It’s also notable that due to their sizes, hard drives tend to add to the weight of laptops whereas SSDs can be installed in a form factor ensuring they add only little to the overall weight.
As such, SSDs have several benefits above hard drives but, as expected, are more expensive. Another downside is that our they offer low storage capacities. An SSD capped at 256GB will be thrice as expensive as a 1TB hard drive.
In making up for these deficiencies, dozens of PC and laptop OEMs are now pairing a bigger hard drive with a lower SSD. This way, users will enjoy the dual benefits of sufficient hard drive storage and the speed and efficiency of the SSD.
#4 RAM Size
Nowadays, having a high-end laptop invariably implies that your laptop features, at least, 8GB of Random Access Memory.
RAM size is important not only for the quick processing of enormous data but also for running multiple applications at a time. Whether you’re an avid player of high-end games or a professional who uses laptops for high-quality editing of videos and photos, you’ll likely need a considerable RAM space. In the past, 4G of RAM was usually enough for all the high-end tasks you needed your laptop for but today, many laptop users can affirm that 4GB of RAM won’t offer the best experience as regards running multiple applications simultaneously.
While 16GB is presumably the recommended RAM size for power users, you can still opt for an 8GB RAM as the minimum option. However for the best experience, particularly if you’re craving for high-end gaming, going as high as 32GB of RAM could be the perfect option.
#5 Connectivity Ports
The latest trend dictates that top-quality laptops should have various connectivity options and sport at least one USB 3.0 port. A laptop with several USB ports (alongside a USB 3.0) is worth spending your bucks.
On the tech side, USB 3.0 is far more efficient and faster than its 2.0 counterpart. By using a USB 3.O port today, you’ll obviously spend less time in transferring data compared to the 2.0 counterpart that is about ten times slower.
Some laptop makers have pushed the limits further by releasing laptops with USB 3.1 ports. While it’s a nice option to favor these laptops with USB 3.1 ports above the ones with USB 3.0 ports, you can always choose to invest in the best by going all the way for devices with USB Type-C.
There are other connectivity ports that you should consider including:
• HDMI port: Necessary for outputting to a TV or larger screen
• SD card slot: Useful for copying images from your digital camera to your laptop
• Thunderbolt 3 port: They offer a whopping data transfer speed of 40 gigabits per second
• Ethernet port: For internet connectivity
• Headphone jack
#6 Battery Life
Of all the available considerations, battery life is perhaps the most crucial when scouting for a laptop that will usually be on the go.
Unfortunately, a laptop’s battery life cannot be entirely predicted with the information provided by the manufacturer.
Real-life usage, coupled with processing demands, and a myriad of several other factors including the Wi-Fi status (whether connected or unconnected), the number of background apps, the graphics demands of a running program or game, internet connectivity, screen resolution and the level of screen brightness are the determinants of battery longevity.
If a laptop manufacturer quotes a certain battery capacity, don’t expect an absolute usage time since the numbers that the laptop makers quote often apply to light usage with a reduced screen brightness.
Also, compared to the systems operating on Windows 10, convertibles and ultrabooks operating on the Chrome OS often deliver more fuel since the operating system has a much-improved power management system.
Ultimately, you can evaluate the battery capacity of a laptop by simply checking the battery rating in mAh (milliamp-hours) or Wh (Watt-hours) as indicated on the specs sheet. Provided you’re opting for a battery with a rating of 44Wh or above, you’re very much likely to enjoy an average battery life.
#7 CPU (Central Processing Unit)
Perhaps Intel offers the most excellent Core-based CPUs out there and interestingly, there is an array of impressive options –including Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 –which you can simply choose from if you crave to perform excellent multimedia tasks coupled with amazing multitasking. Many of the mainstream computers out there are equipped with Core i5 while entry-level systems often pack Core i3 processors.
If you’re hell-bent on experiencing the best performance, a laptop packed with Core i7 is likely the perfect match. However, the downside is that you may have to worry about the heat emanating from the bottom of the laptop if you’ll be placing the device on your laps for long periods.
For high-end gamers, laptops that support Ryzen Mobile CPUs are likely the prettiest options as these CPUs often come with AMD’s Vega graphics chipsets. Compared to Intel-designed onboard graphics, these Vega graphics chipsets are much better as they deliver excellent gaming experiences.
#8 Build Quality
It’s important that a laptop should be able to withstand drops and certain unfavorable environmental conditions, uses, etc.
By chance or nature, laptops can fall off our hands or find themselves stuck in the middle of unpleasant situations but provided they’re strongly built, they would be able to withstand the consequences associated with these situations.
While some laptops are strongly designed for use in harsh educational environments, certain others are ruggedly built to withstand splashes of water and specks of dust.
Essentially, the ones designed to weather harsh environments are often backed by military-grade protection and certifications.
Apple MacBook’s are compact enough for mobility and famous for their premium look and build. Unsurprisingly, Macs are shielded by metallic casings, thus accounting for their inherent ability to withstand extreme conditions compared to other brands.
#9 Keyboard Quality
Well, there is no need emphasizing that a good laptop should have an easy-to-use keyboard. Your entire user experience will be impaired if a laptop doesn’t offer good tactile feedback. The comfort of typing, plus the ease of locating keys, should be your top priority while checking the keyboard of your desired laptop.
Basically, a good keyboard should have a little space around the arrow keys.
It should also offer an easy-to-use layout fitted with full-sized keys. Most importantly, the keyboard should feature a backlight that enables you to type conveniently in poorly lit conditions.
#10 Security Features
Adequate security is a significant feature for a laptop if you’re concerned that your sensitive data could be vulnerable to others, especially those who might want to use your laptop in your absence.
Certain laptops are built with these concerns in mind and are factory fitted with fingerprint scanners and eye readers to offer the much needed extra protection.
Interestingly, the latest Windows 10 OS comes with a technology –Windows Hello System –that further utilizes fingerprint readers and backend encryption for safe transfer of data.
There are lots of features to take into consideration, but it’s equally essential that your needs are met without running out of the budget.
While some devices may pack all the high-end capabilities that you’d expect, they might come in at a higher cost. Others may fall within your price budget but fail to fulfill your minimum computer needs.
In the end, if circumstances demand that you sacrifice a few features, in order to align your budget, endeavor to favor your pressing needs above others.