How To Research a Laptop Before Buying

laptop-research

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.

Gaming

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.

Video Editing

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.

Media

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.

Resolution

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.

Touchscreen

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.

Backlit keyboard

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 Drive

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.

Summary

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.

 

What You Need to Know About the Intel Broadwell Processors

Dell XPS 13With the Q1 release of the new Intel Broadwell processors, you might be wondering if it’s worth the price difference compared to the 4th Gen predecessors.

In short, if you are just planning on using basic applications like Word and Excel, the 5th gen processor does very little extra in performance.

However, if you plan on running 4k resolutions and want to have better performance from the graphics chip, then the 5th gen processor definitely packs a punch. Some of the higher end laptops that include the Broadwell chip also have a 4k resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This means that users can watch 4k video without the need of adding an external graphics card. However, if you are looking to do some high end gaming, you will need much more than the Intel HD 5500 that it comes with.

In addition, there is also significant improvement to battery life. Dell has listed the XPS 13 laptops having 15 hours of battery life. Enough to last through an entire days worth of computing on a single charge.

Because if the delay of the Broadwell processors, it will likely be sort-lived compared to previous chipset releases. Intel has already been promoting Skylake which promises improved performance gains and a ‘wire free’ experience to laptops. This means wireless everything. Including, charging and external displays.

It is unlikely that tablets will get the Intel Broadwell U chip because they typically run on less than 10 watts of power. The 5th generation Broadwell chips run at 15 watts.