If you don’t consider yourself to be very tech savvy, you may find yourself a bit confused on what to look for when finding a laptop. You probably say things like, “What processor do I need?”, “how much RAM should I get”, “What’s an SSD”, and most importantly, “Am I getting a good deal?”. All of these things can be overwhelming for a novice laptop shopper. The purpose of this post is to alleviate any confusion you have when laptop shopping.
The most important factor you need to think about is what you will be using the notebook for. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself:
Will I be traveling frequently with this laptop?
If so, you will most likely need something light and portable. You may be more interested in smaller laptops that are 15.6 inches and under. There are many 13.3, and 11.6 inch laptops that are under 3 pounds. A 15.6 inch is a happy medium between larger screen size and portability. Luckily, there are some 15.6 inch laptops that are under 4 pounds and are designed for travel. If you are a heavy traveler, you should really consider getting an a 13.3 inch or a 11.6 inch size because they have a very small footprint and are easy to throw in your bag on the go.
What will I be using the laptop for?
There are a multitude of different tasks people use laptops for. Here are a few of the most frequent uses:
Browsing, word processing, and other basic tasks
If you are planning on using it for basic tasks like browsing, word processing, watching netflix, and social media you can probably get a lower end laptop in the sub $500 range. You can also consider getting a chromebook. Chromebooks are great for surfing the internet, and using office programs online. The processor and amount of RAM are not hugely important here since pretty much any processor can handle these very basic tasks.
If you plan on moderate to heavy gaming, you will want a something with a higher end graphics card, faster processor, and at least 8GB of RAM. Many laptops come with integrated GPUs that are not really designed for gaming. Anything with an Nvidia GTX card should handle games smoothly. Luckily, for you there are notebooks out there designed specifically for gaming.
If you plan on doing a lot of video editing, laptops that can handle heavy gaming may fall in line with what you need. You should aim for 16GB of RAM and a high end GPU.
You may need a big hard drive if you are going to be storing lots of media. These are typically larger file sizes and they can add of very quickly. If you fall in this category, consider getting a laptop with at least 1TB of hard drive space.
Snappy and Smooth Performance
If you are someone who heavily favors quick load times with programs and snappy boot up times, you would be smart to find a laptop with an SSD. SSD stands for Solid State Drive. Traditional drives involve a spinning disk which can increase load times. SSDs have near instant load times with programs and you can expect boot times in 30 seconds or less. They also make everything else you do seem incredibly snappy. All that said, you should probably avoid an SSD if you are planning on storing lots of files. If you really want to take advantage of the snappy speed AND a large amount of hard drive space, you can just get an external USB drive for storing your larger files.
Note: SSDs can usually be bought separately and added to the hard drive bay on your laptop.
Other Things to Consider
Now that we’ve covered the basic uses, you should consider extra features you might want.
Most sub $500 have a 1366×768 resolution. 17.3 inch laptops that are under $500 usually have a 1600×900 resolution. These two resolutions are considered to be fairly low in terms of the amount of pixels shown on the screen, but suitable for most people. Multitaskers who tend to have many windows opened side by side should consider getting a 1920×1080 resolution at the very least. There are laptops now that have 4k resolutions. They are much more expensive, but it does make a considerable difference in the quality of the display and the amount of windows you can have up side by side. For example, the new Dell XPS9343’s have a resolution of 3200×1800. You can expect newer high end laptops to have high resolutions since they are increasing in demand. You can see reviews of the Dell XPS 13 XPS9343-7273SLV are heavily favoring the higher resolution. This is definitely a stand out feature that really increases the value of the laptop.
This is a feature that can improve the overall experience, but many people will find they don’t really need to use it. It really comes down to whether you want this feature or not. It’s almost purely a personal preference.
Will you be using this laptop frequently in low lit conditions? If so, this feature may be high priority for you. It really does improve the experience when typing in the dark.
DVD drives are becoming a thing of the past. That said, many people still find the need for them. With cloud storage, streaming, and mobile computing becoming more and more popular, the need for a DVD drive isn’t nearly as high as it was in the past. You just need to ask yourself: Will I need a DVD drive? What will I use it for? If you can’t think of anything, you can probably skip out on this feature and save yourself the added weight. If you only need a DVD drive sparingly, you should just consider getting an external USB DVD drive.
10 key number pad
This is something that many people tend to overlook. So if you plan on doing lots of number entry, this may be a higher priority for you.
2-in-1 Convertible Design
If you want a tablet, but don’t want to sacrifice the workflow a laptop provides, you should take a look at a 2-in-1. These can easily fold back and forth between tablet and laptop mode. So if you’re chilling out on your couch, you may want to use tablet mode. When you need to get work done, you can easily flip it make to laptop mode.
When doing a device search such as this one, it is important to consider all these factors so you will be satisfied with your purchase without any regrets. Just remember to think about your primary use for you laptop and make your decision heavily based on that. Then, decide which extra features you would like to have or may find useful in the future.