What to Look For When Buying a Laptop

When asking yourself “what to consider when buying a laptop,” there are a few things to keep in mind. They’re great pieces of mobile hardware that fit a variety of needs, from personal to professional. Like their PC counterparts, laptops are different based on their specifications. Some are lightweight for ease of transportation, some are designed for long battery life. Others are designed with powerful hardware for gaming and/or multimedia use.

By CompUSA
Alarm icon Jul 15, 01:04 pm

When asking yourself “what to consider when buying a laptop,” there are a few things to keep in mind. They’re great pieces of mobile hardware that fit a variety of needs, from personal to professional. Like their PC counterparts, laptops are different based on their specifications. Some are lightweight for ease of transportation, some are designed for long battery life. Others are designed with powerful hardware for gaming and/or multimedia use.

There’s a laptop for everyone, so it’s a matter of establishing criteria for what you need.

What to Look For

You have a lot of choices when it comes to laptops, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. You have to decide on different factors like price range and specifications. Do you need 8GB of RAM? Is 500GB of HDD space enough, or, maybe you should go for the 120GB SSD? What if you only need it for work? What if you want to play the most graphic-intensive games?

Whatever the case, you need a reliable laptop. Your hardware should serve its function to your satisfaction without underperforming or you having to overspend.

Laptop Types

As you begin your search, it’s important to know there are different laptop types. Generally, they determine the laptop size, specifications, and purpose. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll break down four of the most common.

Chromebook

Chromebooks are affordable, compact options for consumers running google’s Chrome OS or the Linux OS. They are generally used for work and personal functions, not intended for running memory-intensive programs. Still, they’re capable of streaming and watching media, and a great basic option if one simply needs a working laptop for a low price.

2-in-1 Laptop

2-in-1 laptops refer to laptop types serving dual functions: as a laptop (of course), and also as a tablet with touchscreen functionality. Given their purpose, they’re typically pricier than the average Chromebook model, but inexpensive models can also be found.

These laptops are great for designers, such as graphic artists, who can make use of an included stylus. You can also expect better utility for professional work. This is a great mix for those who want a mobile solution for personal and professional use.

Ultrabook

As the name implies, ultrabooks are designed with performance in mind and sit on the higher end of both expenses and hardware specifications. They’re often associated with gaming machines or used for other hardware-intensive processes. In addition, they’re extremely thin, under 1” thick, and have a very “premium” feel and build.

Touch Screen Laptop

Touch screen laptops serve the same function as your all-in-one use laptop but allow for touch use too. This means the user can tap the screen to open and access software, similar to a tablet. Touch screen laptops are flat and foldable for ease of transportation, so they’re good for personal and professional uses.

Now that you have a general idea of laptop types, we’ll break them down even further. To help you along, we’ll keep our recommendations to three essential categories: work, gaming, and school.

So which laptop is best?

The “right” answer to this question depends on your use case and your budget. See below for our selections.

For Work

Work laptops – when not provided by your employer – should fulfill a range of functions. They should perform fast enough where project files are easily accessible and transporting them is easy. Whether you’re performing remote work, projects on the go, or work from home, take those factors into consideration.

You also need to consider security as one of the most important qualities of a work laptop. For instance, a TPM (trusted platform module) laptop can offer enhanced security functions. In this era of growing cybersecurity threats, especially for businesses, this is essential.

The best work laptop is also a model that has an extended battery lifespan for long term performance. This is also because you should be running work essential programs which, depending on the software, don’t cause excessive power drain.

For Gaming

The best gaming laptop comes down to personal taste and what you intend to use it for, but, there are some essentials to always look for. Laptops are tricky because unlike a desktop they’re harder to upgrade, and often what you purchase is what you get. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure the selected hardware can play your chosen media (and future games) for many years.

Naturally, every laptop should come with a graphics card, the higher graphic memory the better. For example, a built-in GPU with 4GB of virtual memory can run games at higher settings. Because of the size of modern games, you’ll also want a lot of storage space to, at least 1TB worth. If you want even faster performance, an SSD is recommended for speedy boot and load times.

A high-speed processor is also essential if you intend to play the newest games. It keeps performance running smoothly and allows you to keep graphic settings at their highest settings. Other factors to consider are your screen. We recommend a 1080p monitor for HD quality with a 144hz refresh rate for the smoothest gaming experience.

It’s worth noting these specifications will run a higher price, so prepare to have a budget for it. If you’re looking for a cheap gaming laptop, you’ll want to look for different specifications. This is good if you don’t plan on playing the latest games or plan to use the laptop for emulation purposes or playing titles at low to medium settings.

For School

Whether it’s for college, high school, or otherwise, a laptop for school is a powerful tool to enhance your productivity and stay on top of assignments. Fortunately, school laptops are quite affordable and versatile, suiting a range of needs.

A good school laptop should perform well whenever used and have enough storage space for schoolwork and project files. Since class types vary (like programming classes for college work) the more space, the better. Students should also invest in a portable laptop for note-taking or working on the go. Netbooks are a decent option for that reason.

If students are taking graphic design courses, then 2-in-1 laptops with a stylus are also an ideal choice. For those, higher specifications are recommended so running graphic programs like PS5 or Clip Studio Art is easy and performs smoothly.

Also, the laptop should be compatible with Microsoft Office. The Office suite offers a range of powerful programs and storage options, all of which are necessary for schoolwork like PowerPoint presentations and essay documents.

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