Laptops are a modern necessity. From office work, school work, gaming to running businesses, laptops have a major role in the daily life. With more specs beginning to be accommodated in portable vessels, laptops have gained a superiority even on desktop PCs. Choosing a laptop is often hard with all the variants and increasingly inviting specs as you scroll down the list. Many people tend to pay more for excessive specs that will never be used at all. So depending on your work requirements, this is how you should choose laptops:
Decide how you want to use the laptop:
- Light use: Surfing the Web, paying bills online, email and social networking, organizing and sharing digital photos.
- Average use: Storing and streaming music and movies, tasks like spreadsheet and document creation or office work.
- Demanding use: Multitasking with multiple tabs and programs, sophisticated graphics and photo editing, and video production.
- More demanding users will want to invest a bit more in a higher resolution screen, a faster processor, more system memory, and a larger hard drive.
Choose your OS:
The operating system is the heart of your laptop. It manages all software and hardware, including files, memory and connected devices. Most importantly, it lets you interact with your laptop and your programs in a visual way (otherwise, you’d be typing a bunch of computer code to get anything done).
Installed exclusively on Mac computers, OS X boasts an elegant and easy-to-use interface to complement Macs’ sleek aesthetics and impressive battery life. Macs have historically had fewer issues with viruses and malware. However, MacBooks start at a higher price point than other laptops, and no Mac model to date includes touch-screen functionality.
Windows is designed specifically around an intuitive touch-screen interface (though it can be used with a traditional mouse and keyboard), expanding your navigation options. The integrated Windows Hello feature lets you log in quickly using a look or a touch instead of a password, while remaining enterprise-grade secure. It also offers an updated task manager, streamlined file management and a suite of built-in apps.
How to choose:
If you are looking for office work or school work, a Windows laptop is the best choice. But if you like to go fancy as well, you might want to opt for a Mac but I would really not prefer it due to its limits. If you want to go for gaming, then forget about the Mac. Games are best played on Windows OS, Windows 10 being the most compatible version up-to-date.
Laptop screen sizes range from about 11 to 17 inches, measured diagonally. A larger screen is ideal for gaming, watching movies, photo and video editing, and viewing documents side by side. Keep in mind, a big screen can increase the overall size, weight and power consumption of a laptop.
About 15-inches are enough for office work or school work though many do not feature a number pad. For movies or gaming, always go for the 17-inch variants. 11 or 12.5 inches tend to be quite small and they are generally not preferred.
Higher resolution equals better picture quality. Laptop screens come in a range of resolutions (measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical):
- 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2560 and 3840 x 2160 resolutions boast four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.
- QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively, the extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and sharp text, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
- Retina display: 2304 x 1440, 2560 x 1600 and 2880 x 1800 resolutions are found in Apple’s 12″, 13.3″ and 15.6″ laptop displays, respectively.
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
- HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
- HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. Good for Web-surfing, email and basic computing tasks.
4K UHD, QHD, and QHD+ are most commonly used for gaming or graphic designing. Laptops for office work are great from HD to FHD. If you want to buy a laptop for your office, opting for QHD or UHD would be quite excessive as well as expensive.
Your laptop’s processor is like its brain. Working in combination with system memory, the power of the processor determines the complexity of software you can run, how many programs you can have open at the same time, and how fast those programs will run. Most laptops feature an Intel® or AMD processor.
Variances exist within processor classes. Laptops designed for exceptional battery life often incorporate an ultra-low-voltage version of the listed processor, which usually sacrifices processing speed.
For heavy graphics work or gaming, choose a laptop with a dedicated graphics card and video memory. Having separate resources for your graphics allows for faster, smoother processing while you’re watching movies, playing games or multitasking.
Intel’s processors are at the heart of every modern MacBook and the majority of Windows laptops. Most prevalent are Intel’s Core™ series of multi-core processors:
- Core X-Series: Intel’s ultimate processor for gaming and virtual reality experiences. The Core X-series family offers up to 18 cores and 36 threads to power through the creation, editing and production of 4K or 360° videos, high-resolution photos and high-quality audio.
- Core i7: A popular choice for “power users” like hardcore gamers, graphic designers, photographers and videographers. It excels at serious multitasking and high-demand multimedia creation for projects in 3D or high definition.
- Core i5: Mid-grade Core processor is powerful enough for most computing tasks, and multitasks well so you can stream the big football game while looking up stats and sending emails.
- Core i3: The entry-level Core processor, more than adequate for everyday email, internet and productivity tasks. It’s also fine for common activities like listening to music.
In value-priced laptops, you’ll also see Intel’s Pentium® and Celeron® processors. These are adequate for basic email, internet and productivity tasks, but their speed and multitasking capabilities are limited relative to those of the Core family.
AMD provides a range of advanced processors for virtually every task.
AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics: From work to play, these processors deliver multitasking performance, stunning visuals and healthy battery life while allowing for a sleek form factor. Options include:
- Ryzen 7: The performance you need for intensive tasks, including editing videos, running demanding applications, and playing the latest games and e-sports with smooth frame rates.
- Ryzen 5: All-around multimedia performance for streaming 4K videos, light video editing, and e-sport gaming.
- Ryzen 3: Responsive and efficient to maximize battery life while providing performance for school and office tasks as well as entertainment.
AMD FX and A Series: These families of processor are designed to boost productivity, enhance multimedia and improve energy efficiency.
- FX, A12 and A10: Advanced features combine powerful processing with power efficiency to provide a great PC experience, including smooth online gaming and enhanced HD streaming capabilities.
- A9, A6 and E2: These processors prioritize value and are geared toward your everyday productivity tasks.
Random-access memory, or RAM, is important because it helps your processor tackle multiple tasks at once. A minimum of 2 GB is required for basic computing, but 8 GB or more is recommended if you’re into graphics and advanced photo or video editing. Most laptops have 4–8 GB pre-installed, and some have up to 128 GB. If you think you might need more memory later, choose a model that lets you expand the RAM. If you want one for office work, 4-8 GB is recommended. But if you want to buy a gaming laptop, get an 8-64 GB variant. If you have enough budget, go for 128 GB.
Traditional hard disk drives offer larger storage capacities, but add to a laptop’s weight and thickness while generating heat and noise. Alternatively, solid state drives (also known as SSDs or flash storage) are much lighter, faster, cooler and quieter than hard drives — but they’re also much more expensive per GB, so typically provide less storage space. Some laptops feature a hybrid drive, which combines a hard drive with a solid state drive for the benefits of both.
Hard Disk Drives
Traditional, mechanical hard disk drives are the most common type of storage because they’re relatively inexpensive and offer huge capacities. However, they also add significantly to a laptop’s weight and thickness, and generate both heat and noise. They come in two standard speeds: A 5400 rpm drive is sufficient for day-to-day Web surfing, emailing and document creation, but a 7200 rpm drive transfers data more quickly and may be worth considering if you regularly work with large files.
Solid State Drives
Solid state drives, also known as SSDs (or, in Apple’s case, “flash storage”), are many times faster than hard disk drives, but typically offer far less capacity. SSDs also offer tremendous advantages in physical size, weight and power efficiency, along with negligible heat production and noiseless operation, making them an ideal choice for ultra slim, ultra lightweight laptops. And unlike hard disks, SSDs have no moving parts to wear out.
Some laptops employ an SSD for all storage. Others dedicate a smaller SSD to house the operating system and applications (enabling faster start-up) and add a traditional hard drive for general data storage.
There is generally no preference between HDDs or SSDs if you do not mind loading times. In fact, HDDs are more economical in such cases.
Manufacturers’ battery-life claims range from just a few hours up to 12 hours or more.
Laptop enhancements — such as increased processing power, larger and higher resolution screens, faster hard drives, or the addition of an optical drive — will drain your battery more quickly. If you want a gaming laptop, always opt for larger batteries despite the fact that you will most likely keep it plugged-in. Office laptops do not use much battery but hey, bigger is always better right?
Note: If you want desktop power, you need a desktop replacement. With screen sizes of 16- to 18.4-inches, weight as heavy as 6 kilograms and average battery life of less than three hours, these behemoths are not for people on the go. However, they can accommodate a wide range of performance parts and are just right for power users of all kinds — especially gamers. Here, as far as cost is concerned, start at around USD 1500, and the sky is the limit. The most expensive one to date is the gigantic Acer Predator 21X at USD 14,000.