LAPTOP BUYING GUIDE

laptop buying guide

IN THIS BUYING GUIDE,
YOU WILL FIND INFORMATION ON THE FOLLOWING;

BUYING A LAPTOP...

The buying decision for a laptop is not necessarily a tough one if you know why and what you need a laptop for. Here is a list of important features to consider before making your buying decision.

HOW DO YOU INTEND TO MAKE USE OF THE LAPTOP?

Just for a moment, take a step back from the whole excitement/pressure of getting a new laptop and note what kind of user you’ll be. Ask yourself how you intend to make use of the laptop; Light, Average, or Heavy. Light: a light user will use a laptop for minor activities like web surfing, social networking, emailing, etc.

Average:
an average user would take it a step further by streaming and storing of movies and music, document creation (word, excel, power point etc.) Heavy: a heavy user on the other hand would run more programs and multitask, make use of sophisticated graphics, photo editing, video processing etc. Also you’ll need to decide want you want in a laptop based on the following features:

laptop buying guide

TYPES OF LAPTOP

Ultrabook

Ultrabooks are very portable, thin and light laptops. Typically what separates an Ultrabook from a regular budget laptop is material quality and a few premium components. These machines are thinner and lighter, usually with some kind of stronger chassis made of aluminum or magnesium. They’ll have a more stylish look than budget laptops as well.

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Business Laptops

The best business laptops often boast impressive hardware designed to run a slew of professional software, whether the user needs to edit video footage, assemble a presentation, or simply host a conference call. Business laptops exhibit long battery life, as well as a sturdy frame and often omit a touchscreen and other niceties.

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Gaming Laptops

Designed specifically for high-performance games and tasks on the go, gaming laptops provide boosted power and beefed-up features. Advanced processors and graphics cards allow for faster, smoother gameplay, while enhanced speakers and larger screen sizes help bring the game to life. Some gaming laptops also include programmable keys, color-coded backlit keyboards and additional ports for convenient connectivity.

However, these resource-intensive features often heat up the laptop while cutting down on battery life, so it would do you good to choose a laptop with a cooling system. Gaming laptops also tend to be bulkier, typically to accommodate better hardware and larger screens. All this is to say that gaming laptops are not as convenient for travel as other laptop types.

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The 2-in-1 Laptops

The 2-in-1 (also known as "convertible" or "hybrid") laptop combines the convenience and ease of a tablet with the utility of a keyboard. These devices provide the functionality of touch-screen laptops with versatile displays that shift or detach into a tablet, that is, either the two are attached but the keyboard can fold behind the touchscreen, or the tablet side can be fully detached from the keyboard. So, If you like the power of a laptop but also need the portability of a tablet, consider a 2-in-1 laptop. There is an assortment of 2-in-1s whose displays can twist, fold, hang or lock in place, providing the perfect angle for presenting at work or even catching up on your favorite show.

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Budget Laptops

When you are not particularly loaded with cash but still need to get a reasonably good laptop, the budget laptops are here for you. Typically featuring, Intel’s Celeron, dual core, quad core, Pentium or the AMD E- series, these laptops are good for basic day to day activities such as surfing the web, social networking, emailing, etc.
Do not expect a solid state drive or 1080p display, but you can still get some amazing features for a pretty good price like 1 TB hard drive, the lowest Intel core series (core i3), an average processor and up to 4GB of RAM.

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SCREEN SIZE

The screen size of your laptop to a large extent determines the laptop size. It can vary from as little as 11.6 inches to as much as 18 inches.
Laptop screens basically come in 11.6in, 12.5in, 13.3in, 14.1in, 15.6in, 17.3in, 18in.

  • 11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens and typically weigh 1.13 to 1.5 kg.
  • 13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, and weighs about 1.8kg
  • 15 inches: The most popular size is the 15-inch. 15inch laptops usually weigh 2 to 3 kg. You can consider this size if you want a larger screen and you're not planning to carry your notebook around often.
  • 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.
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RESOLUTION

Simply put, the more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look as well. To break it down further, higher resolution equals better picture quality.
Laptop screens come in a range of resolutions (measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical):

  • HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. Good for Web-surfing, e-mail and basic computing tasks.
  • HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
  • 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.
  • 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-definition movies and games.
  • 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 resolution boasts four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics
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GRAPHICS

A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a single-chip processor primarily used to manage and boost the performance of video and graphics. The GPU generates the images that a program needs to display on screen.

There are two types of graphics; dedicated and integrated. An integrated GPU doesn't use its own RAM, it utilizes the system's memory, whereas a dedicated, or discrete, GPU has its own independent source of video memory, leaving the RAM your system uses untouched. If you're into gaming, a dedicated GPU is your best option.

The most important uses for a video card are gaming and modeling, in which figures, often three dimensional, need to be rendered. NVIDIA and AMD are the primary vendors for discrete or dedicated mobile graphics. So, if you like to game or do heavy multimedia and creative tasks, pay attention to what GPU is in your laptop.

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DISPLAY TYPES

Choosing a display type is pretty basic, different display technologies yield different colors and brightness levels. Many laptops employ LED backlighting, which can display bright colors without draining the battery. If you plan to use your laptop to watch movies and shows with a friend, choose a display with an IPS panel for wider viewing angles. Also, screens with a glossy finish generally provide richer colors and darker blacks, while matte displays will reduce glare if you frequently work outdoors or near windows.

TO TOUCH OR NOT (TOUCH SCREENS)

Basically, Touch-screen laptops make navigating on your computer more intuitive. If you're buying a regular clamshell laptop, rather than a 2-in-1, you honestly won't get much benefit from a touch screen laptop and you will get 1 to 3 hours less battery life. On 2-in-1 laptops, touch screens come standard because it is very useful in tablet mode.

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OPERATING SYSTEM

The operating system of your computer manages all its software and hardware. You might like to refer to it as ‘the heart’ of your system. It lets you interact with your laptop and programs in a visual way. Basically, there are three common operating systems. Microsoft windows OS, OS X or Mac OS, and google chrome.

MICROSOFT WINDOWS

Microsoft windows is the most flexible operating system. It appears on many more laptops than the chrome or Mac OS. The latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system Windows 10, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with live tiles and the powerful Cortana digital assistant to aid your navigation. 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. It also features a new task manager, streamlined file management and a suite of built-in apps.

MAC OS

Mac OS is exclusive to Apple’s Mac computers. Overall, the operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but with a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock at the bottom of the screen for Microsoft's Start menu and taskbar. Instead of the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They can also perform transactions with Apple Pay, take calls or texts from their phones and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch etc. However, Mac OS isn't made for touch, because no MacBook comes with a touch screen. Mac OS 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.

CHROME OS

Also exclusive like the MAC OS, it is featured in the Chromebook line of mobile computers. Google's OS is simple and secure, but limited. The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around. This OS runs custom apps and cloud-based programs rather than traditional software. It's great for surfing the Web, keeping up with your e-mail and social networks, and sharing your photos with friends and family, rather than more data-intensive tasks like video editing and hardcore gaming. The main app you use is the Chrome browser.

FreeDOS

When a laptop is said to be FreeDOS, this means that it has a free operating system for IBM PC compatible computers. Unlike MS-DOS, FreeDOS is composed of Free Software and open-source software, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Therefore, its base distribution does not require license fees or royalties and creation of custom distributions is permitted. A typical example of an open source operating system is LINUX.
LINUX
The Linux open source operating system, or Linux OS, is a freely distributable, cross-platform operating system based on Unix that can be installed on PCs, laptops, netbooks, mobile and tablet devices, video game consoles, servers, supercomputers and more.
Linux is distributed under an open source license and enables you do the following,

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
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PROCESSORS

From the beginning of this guide, we likened the operating system to the heart. In the same light, the processor is more like the brain of the computer. It works in combination with system memory. Most laptops feature either an Intel® or AMD processor.

Intel® Processors

Intel's processors are at the heart of every modern MacBook and a majority of Windows laptops. Most prevalent are Intel's Core ™ series of multicore processors:

  • Core i7: Intel's top-of-the-line consumer processor. The choice of "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. Models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity.
  • Core i5: Mid-grade Core processor and one of the most common Intel processors currently in use. The best combination of price and performance. Powerful enough for most computing tasks, and multitasks well.
  • Core i3: The entry-level Core processor, more than adequate for everyday e-mail, Internet and productivity tasks. It's also fine for common activities like listening to music.
  • Core M: A processor designed for ultra slim devices, providing plenty of power for day-to-day surfing and e-mailing without being a major drain on battery life. In value-priced laptops, you'll also see Intel's Pentium® and Celeron® processors. These are adequate for basic e-mail, Internet and productivity tasks, but their

AMD Processors

AMD has two categories of processors that are most common: FX and A-Series: Like Intel's Core chips, these processors include a graphics processor built into the same chip. In order from top-of-the-line to entry level, they include:

  • FX: exclusive powerhouse for serious gaming and heavy multitasking
  • A10: AMD's flagship chip, with blazing quad-core speed and exceptional graphics performance
  • A8: Improved graphics performance enables immersive 3D gaming in HD
  • A6: Smoother video streaming and enhanced photo quality
  • A4: Responsive performance for music, photos and video E-Series: Similar to Intel's Celeron and Pentium processors, these are value-oriented chips with limited speed and multitasking capabilities. They're appropriate for basic com puting tasks like e-mail, Web surfing and word processing.
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RAM (MEMORY)

laptop buying guide

Random-access memory (RAM), is important because it helps your processor tackle multiple tasks at once. A minimum of 2GB is required for basic computing, but 6GB or more is recommended if you're into graphics and advanced photo or video editing. Most laptops have 4GB–8GB pre-installed, and some have up to 32GB. If you think you might need more memory later, choose a model that lets you expand the RAM.

INTERNAL STORAGE

Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage drive. 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.

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PORTS AND CONNECTIVITY

Laptops typically provide several options not only for staying connected to the Internet but to other devices as well. Most laptops provide the latest wireless standards plus Bluetooth capabilities so you can easily sync your smartphone, speakers and other portable devices.

If you are a frequent traveler, consider a laptop that connects to the 4G LTE network so you can access the Web even when you're not near a Wi-Fi hotspot. Keep an eye out for the following ports that are commonly used for connecting to TVs, cameras and other devices:

  • USB 2.0: Connects external drives, gaming controllers, smartphones, MP3 players and other accessories.
  • USB 3.0: Transfers data faster than USB 2.0, but only when used with USB 3.0 devices.
  • USB Type-C: Provides blazing speeds and versatile power, featuring connectors with identical ends that plug in upside down or right- side up. Adapters allow for video as well as backward compatibility.
  • Thunderbolt: Ultra-high bandwidth for fast data transfer between devices featuring a Thunderbolt or Mini Display Port connection.
  • HDMI: Connect a projector or display HD media on your flat-screen TV.
  • Media-card slots: Transfer photos from your digital camera or camcorder.
laptop buying guide
NOW THAT YOU KNOW BETTER!
You can choose better,
from our collection of laptops