It’s the back-to-school season, and for many college students, that means finding the perfect laptop. Ideally, the laptop you choose will be light enough to take to and from class, but functional enough to play movies, music, and games.
Whether you’re buying a new laptop for school or you just want a new computer upgrade, we’ve got the information you need. To help you make an educated decision on your next laptop purchase, make sure you take into account all of the following qualities:
What are you using your laptop for?
If you plan on throwing your laptop into a backpack and running around campus all day, then you’ll need it to be as portable as possible. Obviously, you want a laptop that doesn’t weigh a lot, but you also want your laptop to be sturdy. You don’t want to spend $1,000 on your new laptop, only to have it fall apart after a week of bouncing around inside your backpack.
On the other hand, if you’re not going to be moving your laptop around a lot, then you can focus on other features. You might choose an ultra-powerful desktop replacement laptop, for example. These laptops are not as portable, but they’re incredibly powerful.
How much keyboard space do you need?
Keyboard size varies from laptop to laptop. Some laptops have a number pad built-in to the right hand side of the keyboard ,while other laptops feature ‘micro-keyboards’ which are slightly smaller than a traditional keyboard. If you plan on typing a lot, make sure the laptop you choose has the right type of keyboard.
This is where buying a laptop gets interesting. Your laptop performance needs will vary according to what you’re using your laptop for. If you plan on using your laptop for Facebook, Twitter, and word processing, then performance power doesn’t really matter. But if you plan on running resource-intensive programs like PC games or AutoCAD, then you’ll want to choose higher levels of performance.
Obviously, the more performance power you have, the more expensive your laptop will be. Here are the most important hardware components to consider when judging the performance power of a laptop:
-CPU: Today, most laptops feature Intel or AMD CPUs. Intel is generally the more popular brand of CPU, and its current line includes i3, i5, and i7 processors. All of these processors are powerful, although the higher the number is, the better it will be at processing data.
-GPU: The GPU, or video card, is mainly important if you want to play PC games. If you’re not a gamer, then don’t bother shelling out the extra cash for a discrete GPU. Instead, the integrated graphics (say, the Intel HD 3000 graphics card) will be more than enough for your computing needs.
-RAM: RAM is very important, regardless of whether you use your PC for Facebook or the latest PC games. The more RAM you have, the smoother your programs will run. If you want to listen to music while browsing the internet, then RAM will help you do that with a minimum number of slowdowns. Today, good laptops feature 8GB of RAM, and try to choose a laptop with at least 4GB to experience as few slowdowns as possible.
-Hard drive space: Some people use their laptops to download lots of music, movies, games, and more. If you plan on putting a lot of files on your laptop, then you’ll want a big hard drive. Today, laptop storage includes SSDs (super fast hard drives) or traditional HDDs (hard disks that are slower).
Choosing the right screen
Screen size matters. Today, most laptops run at a resolution of 1366×768, although higher-end laptops will feature full HD resolutions of 1980×1080 (aka 1080p). If you need a lot of screen space, then you’ll want to choose a full HD laptop. However, full HD can often add several hundred dollars onto the price of your laptop, and the larger screen size could also make it less portable.
It’s also important to note that screen size and resolution are two entirely different things. Screen size is the diagonal length of your monitor from one corner to the other. Laptops can feature screen sizes anywhere from 10” to 21”. Resolution, on the other hand, is the number of pixels included in that screen. Both small and large screens can feature HD resolutions. If you’re willing to pay the premium price, then HD resolution laptops look significantly better than those at lower resolutions.
Some tech companies are better than others when it comes to accessories. While Apple’s laptops have lots of useful accessories, Apple sells these accessories at an extremely inflated price and it doesn’t allow other manufacturers to develop products for their systems. In other words, Apple has a monopoly on the MacBook accessories market, so users should prepare to shell out a few hundred dollars if they want to do basic things like connect their laptop to their TV or protect their keyboard.
Most laptop PC manufacturers, on the other hand, feature hardware that can be used by any type of accessories. There are hundreds of different PC accessories manufacturers on the market today, and that benefits consumers in two different ways: greater selection and more affordability. If you want to have the best access to accessories, then laptop PCs are the way to go.
It’s easy to say that buying a laptop comes down to personal preferences, but that’s not the entire truth. If you want to choose the best laptop, then you’ll need to weigh all of the above factors carefully before you make your decision.