Laptop buying guide: Know a few important tips before buying

Laptop buying guide: Know a few important tips before buying


Although they are portable, laptops are flexible enough to handle demanding programmes. When working or playing seriously, whether at home, on the go, or in a college classroom, notebooks are the ideal tool. Due to these factors, we have created lists of the best laptops for businesses and colleges in addition to our best laptops for most users rankings.


Even if standalone tablets and smartphones are often used, most people are aware that a laptop is the best device for doing anything from drafting a research paper to processing movies to playing games. What kind of laptop should you get, then? To assist you, we put created a shopping guide for laptops.


The best laptop might be difficult to choose because of the huge range of sizes, features, and pricing available. You must ascertain what your demands are as a result. Additionally, you could want to think about if you ought to get a reconditioned laptop.


Important Tips for Buying laptop


These are the most crucial factors to take into account when selecting a new laptop. Check out the areas below for a lot more information.


·         The most useful screen size for mobility is between 12.5 and 14 inches. If you don't travel much, larger displays are good, while smaller versions are wonderful for youngsters.

·         Aim for the following basic specifications if your budget exceeds $600: 1920 x 1080 screen, Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and SSD storage in place of a hard drive.

·         If you want to take your laptop anyplace at all, it should have a battery life of at least 9 hours.

·         If you wish to use your laptop as a tablet, take into account a 2-in-1 laptop (either a bendback or detachable). In such case, a typical clamshell laptop could be a better option.

·         Children and students benefit from using Chromebooks, and their usefulness is continually developing. Both MacBooks and Windows 10 laptops have a tonne of capability; your preference for one over the other depends on your preferences.

Pick a platform: Windows 10 vs. Mac vs. Chrome OS?

Answering this question is challenging, particularly if you are unfamiliar with both Macs and PCs. But this brief analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each platform should be useful.


The three most common operating systems for laptops are Windows, Chrome OS, and MacOS (for MacBooks only). A short explanation of what each offers is provided below. The best option is a matter of personal choice.

Windows 10


Windows 10, the most adaptable operating system, operates on more laptop models than either MacOS or Chrome OS. Windows laptops come with a broad range of features, including touch displays, fingerprint scanners, and dual graphics chips, and can cost anywhere from $150 to several thousand dollars. In comparison to Windows 7 and 8, Windows 10 offers a number of enhancements, such as the ability to convert between tablet and desktop modes, a new Start menu with Live Tiles, and the Cortana personal assistant.

Windows 10 has also made a number of enhancements since its release in July 2015, including the capacity to utilise follow-up queries with Cortana, do natural language email searches, and scrawl practically anywhere. The only laptops that gamers should take into consideration are Windows 10 models, which are excellent for researchers, students, and business users.


Apple macOS


Apple's most recent desktop operating system, macOS Big Sur, is preinstalled on every MacBook. Overall, the operating system is functionally comparable to Windows 10, but it has a new user experience that replaces Microsoft's Start menu and taskbar with an applications dock at the bottom of the screen. Mac users get Siri in instead of Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant. Additionally, they may use Apple Pay to make purchases, receive calls or messages on their phones, and use an Apple Watch to unlock their computers.


Because no MacBook has a touch screen, macOS isn't designed for touch. In addition to bringing iPad applications to Mac (and allowing iPad and iPadOS apps to run natively on M1 Macs), the newest macOS Big Sur operating system also makes significant enhancements to the Safari browser and Siri.


Chrome OS


discovered on low-cost Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook 3. Although more constrained than Windows or macOS, Google's OS is straightforward and safe. Although the main programme you use is the Chrome browser, the user interface resembles Windows quite a bit with an application menu, a desktop, and the ability to move windows around. The drawback is that a lot of the "web applications" you use don't function effectively when used offline. All brand-new Chromebooks, including the premium Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps, so that is beginning to change.


Chromebooks are very portable, frequently have long battery lives, and are inexpensive if you need a device to browse the web, check email, traverse social networks, and talk online. Because they are more useful than other tablets and difficult for children to infect with malware, they are also very well-liked by schools and parents. Look for a Chromebook with at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage if you need one. The ideal resolution is 1920 x 1080, while the best but less popular option is 4K. If you intend to utilise Android applications, spend more to buy a 2-in-1.


Decide If You Want a 2-in-1

Many PC laptops are 2-in-1 laptops, hybrid machines that can flip between tablet form, the more common clamshell configuration, and other positions in between like tent or stand mode. Detachables with displays that completely separate from the keyboard and flexible laptops with hinges that fold back 360 degrees to change modes are the two main kinds of 2-in-1s.


The majority of these devices are significantly more effective at one use than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachables providing a better tablet experience. However, if you don't feel the need to utilise your notebook as a slate, a conventional clamshell laptop will often offer better performance for your money.


Select Size

Determine how portable you need your laptop to be before looking at specifications or costs. Display sizes are a common way to group laptops:


·         11 to 12 inches: Systems with 11 to 12-inch displays and average weights of 2.5 to 3.5 pounds are the smallest and lightest available.

·         13 to 14 inches: Offers the ideal mobility and usefulness balance, especially if you get a laptop that weighs less than 4 pounds.

·         The most common size, 15 to 16 inches, weighs 4 to 5.5 pounds in most cases. If you want a larger screen but don't intend to carry your laptop around frequently, think about this size. Although 16-inch laptops are uncommon, Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro might spark a trend.

·         A 17- or 18-inch machine might provide you the processing power you need to play demanding games or do workstation-level productivity if your laptop is left on your desk all day, every day.

Check that Keyboard and Touchpad

If the laptop you're buying for lacks decent ergonomics, even the most astounding specifications are worthless. Make sure the keyboard provides good tactile feedback, sufficient of key travel (the distance the key moves down when pressed, typically 1 to 2mm), and adequate space between the keys if you anticipate using your computer for a lot of work. Make sure the Windows laptop you're purchasing has Precision touchpad drivers.


Look for an accurate touchpad that responds consistently to multitouch actions like pinch-to-zoom and doesn't produce a jumpy cursor. Consider purchasing a business laptop with a pointing stick (also known as a nub) between the G and H buttons so you can use it to traverse the desktop without taking your fingers off the home row of the keyboard.

Pick Your Specs

Here are the main components to keep an eye on.

CPU: The processor is the "brains" of your computer. It has a significant impact on performance, although depending on what you want to do, even the cheapest model could be adequate. Here is a summary:


·         The first-generation Tiger Lake processors from Intel's 11th generation were released, and they will power the following generation of laptops. More information about these processors is available here. In conclusion, Tiger Lake, a 10-nanometer processor, has enhanced integrated Iris Xe graphics with up to 4.8Ghz rates as well as compatibility for Thunderbolt 4. The new EVO brand establishes requirements for high-end laptops, including a need for a battery life of at least 9 hours.

·         Intel Core i9: Core i9 processors offer faster performance than any other mobile chip, dethroning the Core i7 as Intel's top-of-the-line CPU. Core i9 CPUs are only economically viable if you're a power user who runs the most resource-intensive software and apps. They are only available on high-end laptops, workstations, and high-end gaming rigs.

·         Intel Core i7: An upgrade from Core i5, models with model numbers that finish in HQ or K utilise more power and feature four cores, enabling quicker productivity and gaming. Additionally, there are Core i7 Y series CPUs with less power consumption and performance. Because they are a part of Intel's newest 10th and 11th Gen Generation Core Series and offer superior performance, keep an eye out for CPUs with a 10 in the model number.

·         Intel Core i5: Opt for a laptop with an Intel Core i5 CPU if you're searching for a mainstream model that offers the best value and performance. The most prevalent models have a U at the end. Models with a Y in the name are low power and perform poorer, whilst those with an HQ consume more power and are found in bulkier gaming and workstation systems. The most recent 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs from Intel contain four cores and a variety of practical features, such as improved AI, Thunderbolt 4 integration, and support for Wi-Fi 6.

·         Intel Core i3: Both the price and performance are only a notch below Core i5. We advise upgrading to a Core i5 if at all possible.

·         Extremely pricey and powerful CPUs for big mobile workstations are called Intel Xeon. You might want a Xeon if you perform professional-level engineering, 3D modelling, or video editing, but you won't get a lightweight laptop or outstanding battery life.

·         Intel Pentium / Celeron: Found frequently in laptops priced around $400, these CPUs provide the slowest performance, although they are adequate for web browsing and light document processing. You would be better off if you could spend extra money to obtain a Core i3 or i5.

·         Core m/Core i5/Core i7 from Intel, "Y Series:" These CPUs enable fanless systems due to their low heat and power consumption. Performance is a notch below standard Core U series, but better than Celeron.

·         New CPUs from AMD called Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 are intended to take on Intel Core i5 and Core i7. The Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 CPUs beat comparable Intel Core processors, according to our research. For instance, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU performs about on par with an Intel Core i7 CPU. In addition to offering excellent performance and longevity, laptops with Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 processors are frequently less expensive than those with Intel processors.

·         A, FX, or E Series AMD: AMD's processors, which the company refers to as APUs rather than CPUs and are typically found in budget laptops, offer reasonable performance for the money that is sufficient for web browsing, media consumption, and work.

RAM: While it's preferable to have at least 8GB of RAM on even a cheap machine and 16GB if you have a little more money to invest, some sub-$250 laptops only have 4GB of RAM. Most people need 32GB or more, while heavy users should only utilise 64GB or above.


Storage Drive (SSD):The performance of your storage drive is even more crucial than the processing power of your CPU. Get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) rather of a hard drive if you can afford it and don't want a tonne of internal storage since you'll experience at least three times the performance and a significantly speedier laptop overall.

The newest PCIe x4 (also known as NVME) SSD devices offer three times the speed of older SATA drives. Although eMMC memory is theoretically solid-state, mechanical hard drives are still quicker than it in sub-$250 laptops.


The more material you can fit on the screen and the better it will seem, the more pixels you have. Sadly, some business laptops and economy laptops still feature screens with a resolution of 1366 x 768, but if you can afford it, we suggest spending additional money for a panel that operates at 1920 x 1080, often known as Full HD or 1080p. High-end laptops offer displays with resolutions of 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800, or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), all of which appear brilliant but use more power, reducing battery life.

Resolution is only one aspect of display quality. Read our evaluations to find out if the laptop you're considering has a nice display. IPS screens vary in colour and brightness. Usual criteria include results with a sRGB colour rating of over 100% and brightness greater than 300 nits. Consider an OLED panel if you want the finest visual quality and don't worry about battery life. Additionally, keep a look out for emerging display technologies like miniLED that will be used in laptops.


Touch Screen: A touch screen won't be very useful if you get a standard clamshell laptop rather than a 2-in-1, and the battery life will be reduced by one to two hours. Touch displays are typical on 2-in-1s. Visit our best touch screen laptops page if you insist on having a touch screen.


Graphics Chip An integrated graphics processor (one that shares system memory) will work just fine if you aren't editing high-resolution videos, playing PC games, or designing 3D objects. This includes Intel's most recent Iris Xe graphics. However, a standalone graphics processor from Nvidia or AMD is necessary if you have any of the aforementioned requirements.


There are high-end and low-end graphics processors, similar to CPUs. Nvidia MX450 or GTX 1660 GPUs are often found in low-end gaming or workstation systems nowadays, whereas RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 GPUs are found in mid-range models and RTX 3070 or 3080 GPUs are found in high-end models. From entry-level to high-end, Nvidia has a list of its graphics processors.

Apple prefers AMD over Nvidia's competitors for graphics cards, but you shouldn't actually purchase a MacBook for gaming. The Radeon RX 5600M and Radeon RX 5700M GPUs were introduced by AMD last year. A list of AMD's graphics cards is also available.


Ports : While a laptop's lack of ports is typically not a deal-breaker, having the connections you require on the device rather than having to carry a variety of dongles is useful. The majority of common laptops will offer HDMI video output and USB 3.0 connections. The USB Type-C connector or the Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports, which are USB Type-C compatible, are used by a growing number of computers.


Having Type-C means you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks, which is undoubtedly advantageous. If you have the patience, USB 4 will soon be available, offering quicker transfer speeds and the option to daisy-chain 4K displays together using a single connection. Headphone jacks, Ethernet ports, and SD card slots are other handy connectors.


Connectivity: Consider purchasing a laptop with 4G LTE or 5G capability if you need to use it on the move. Although a data subscription plan will cost money, it will let you access the internet without a router. Find a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6 if you want the newest and best networking possibilities. In comparison to 802.11ac, Wi-Fi 6 delivers higher theoretical throughputs and a more reliable connection.


Additionally, we advise searching for a laptop that supports Bluetooth 5, the most recent standard that provides better interaction with Bluetooth-enabled devices like mouse and headphones.


DVD/Blu-ray Drives:  Since all software and movies can be downloaded, very few laptops come with optical drives, but we have kept note of the models that do. However, if your preferred laptop doesn't have a built-in DVD drive and you absolutely need to read/write discs, you can always spend less than $20 on an external DVD drive that connects by USB.


Battery Life

You don't need to worry about battery life if you're buying a big, clunky notebook or a gaming setup that you'll solely use on a desk next to an outlet. However, you'll need at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being optimal, if you want to use the laptop on your lap, whether it's at home or at work. Don't rely just on a notebook's maker to tell you how long the battery should last. Read independent research from reliable sources, such as our reviews, as an alternative.


Plan Your Budget

A functional laptop can now be purchased for around $200, but if you have more money to spend, you'll get a device with superior build quality, more powerful performance, and a nicer display. What is available in each price range is shown below.


·         $150 to $250: The cheapest laptops are either low-end Windows systems with less storage and slower CPUs, such the HP Stream 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000, or Chromebooks, which run Google's browser-centric OS. Give them to children or just use them as secondary computers.

·         $350 to $600: A laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 CPU, 4 to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, all reasonable specifications, can be had for far under $600. However, the majority of laptops at this price point lack an SSD, a full-HD display, and a lengthy battery life. Acer Aspire E 15 and Asus Chromebook Flip C434 are a couple of prominent outliers.

·         $600 to $900: As the price rises above $600, more upscale designs, such metal finishes, start to appear. As you move up the pricing scale, manufacturers also start to include extra features like SSDs and higher-resolution screens. Excellent examples of laptops that provide all these benefits at a lower cost include the Lenovo IdeaPad 530s and the Asus ZenBook UX333FA.

·         Above $900: You should anticipate more powerful, portable laptops in this price range. Expect speedier CPUs, better quality displays, and maybe separate graphics. The cost of the lightest, most durable ultraportables, such as the Apple MacBook Air and the Dell XPS 13, typically exceeds $1,000 (although the Dell may be purchased for less if you don't want a touch screen). Mobile workstations and high-end gaming systems often cost more than $1,500, sometimes even $2,500 or $3,000.

Mind the Brand

Your laptop's manufacturer determines how good it is. Laptop Mag examines each major manufacturer in our yearly Tech Help Showdown because quick and accurate technical support is crucial. Last year, Apple won the top spot, followed by Razer, the big news of the year, and Dell to complete out the top three.


Support is simply one factor that contributes to a notebook brand's value. You must also take into account how the manufacturer compares to the competitors in terms of design, pricing, and selection, as well as other factors like performance. HP came out on top in our research on the Best and Worst Laptop Brands for 2020, followed by Asus and Dell. We also ranked gaming laptop brands, with MSI coming out on top, followed by Acer and Alienware.


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