When shopping for a new laptop it can be a fun, yet strangely stressful experience. If you choose the wrong one, you will stick with it for a while. And no one likes a slow, unreliable laptop.
However, you do not have to settle. And you don't have to spend a fortune to get a laptop that's right for you. You just need to know what to look for so that you can find the perfect laptop that meets your requirements.
What to look for in a laptop
There is a lot to keep in mind when searching for a new laptop. First, let's look at the different aspects of a laptop. Think of this as a cheat sheet, and feel free to use it as a refresher later:
- Operating System: Windows laptops are all machines and are available in all price ranges. MacBooks runs macOS and are premium machines for Apple fans and professionals. Chromebooks run Chrome OS and are more suitable for entertainment or browser-based work.
- Size and Portability: Small laptops are obviously more portable than larger ones. But super-thin and powerful laptops can be expensive. Try to find a balance between portability and power, and look at some 2-in-1 laptops or Surface tablets.
- Internal Specifications: We suggest notebooks with at least 8 GB of RAM, an i5 CPU (or better) and an SSD (they are faster) instead of a hard drive. If you want a Chromebook, you get one with at least 4 GB of RAM. Chromebooks also work best with Intel CPUs, but an ARM processor is good for easier tasks (like web browsing).
- Display quality: 4K and OLED displays are nice, but they are expensive, and 1080p displays just look good. Either way, make sure your monitor is around 250 nits and has a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
- Ports and Devices: We recommend that your laptop contains at least one USB-C port. USB-A ports, SD card slots, HDMI ports and DVD drives are all a matter of personal preference. In most cases, a USB-C hub eliminates the need for extra ports and drives.
- Battery life : Avoid laptops with terrible battery life. We recommend that you look for one that offers at least four hours.
Now is the time to get to the good looking. First, you need to find out which operating system you want, because it dictates which laptops you can buy, and what specifications you should focus on.
Windows, macOS or Chrome OS?
As you probably know, an operating system (OS) is the primary software that manages your computer. Each one has advantages and limitations, but not all operating systems work best for you.
Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each operating system, and why you might prefer one over another:
- Windows : Especially good for players or professionals, Windows also works well for everyday work , homework assignments, watching videos or surfing the web. But you also need an excellent antivirus program because Windows is vulnerable to malicious software.
- macOS: This clean, trouble-free operating system is ideal for artists, programmers and professionals. It is a particularly good choice if you already own an iPhone or iPad. Just remember that Macs are not good for gaming, and a new MacBook costs about $ 1,000. If you're thinking about a MacBook, you can definitely check out Apple's handy MacBook comparison page.
- Chrome OS: A lightweight operating system that is perfect for watching videos, browsing the web, or doing web-based school work. But it does not work with most professional software. Compared to Windows, Chrome OS works extremely well on low-cost (about $ 150 or less) computers, and it's fast on laptops in the $ 450 + range.
Now that you know what operating system you want, it's time to think about physical form and portability.
(As a side note, some laptops have Linux operating systems. It's a great platform, but it's best left in the hands of programmers and computer professionals.)
Physical Form and Portability
Portability and price go hand in hand. Ultra-thin and 2-in-1 laptops tend to cost a lot of money – especially if they are loaded with high-speed processors and stylish displays. So, before looking at the specifications, decide how you want your laptop to look.
If you want a MacBook, feel free to skip this section as all of them are incredibly thin. Likewise, if you don't care much about your laptop's size or weight, you can move on to specifications and quality. But if you haven't decided, here are some things to consider when it comes to laptop size:
- Thick: These laptops tend to be relatively inexpensive, even when covered with powerful hardware. They usually have multiple ports (USB, Ethernet, etc.), reliable keyboards and durable plastic shells.
- Ultra-thin: They look fantastic and are super portable, but these laptops are usually more expensive. Some also think thinner laptops have bad keyboards. Due to their limited size, they usually have only a few USB ports. They can also sometimes overheat when performing intensive tasks (such as a hard core, 10-hour gaming session, not homework).
- Small screens: Some people swear by machines with only a 10 or 11 inch screen. These small laptops work well with Chrome OS, but Windows laptops with these small screens are almost always understated.
- 2-in-1: While these are practical, we suggest you avoid the cheap models. Again, thin laptops are more expensive to make than thicker models. This means that cheap 2-in-1s are usually full of unreliable components. Avoid Windows models that are cheaper than $ 400 and Chromebooks under $ 200.
Remember that ultra-thin and 2-in-1 laptops with fantastic specifications tend to cost a lot. If you want better value for your money, check out thicker, smaller laptops.
Now that you know what form factor you want, it's time to think about specifications.
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The speed and performance of the laptop depends on the specifications, and although you may be tempted to get a cheaper laptop with dirty (or random) specifications, we suggest you look for something that will work Good for the next few years. Just a little more money can lead to a much more reliable, future-proof device.
Again, MacBook fans have it easy, there are only a handful of different MacBooks on the market, and it's easy to compare their specifications.
People who prefer However, Windows or Chrome OS must make an effort. To help, we've compiled a list of computer specifications to help you choose the right laptop:
- CPU (processor): The brain of your laptop, CPU running software. It is partly responsible for the speed (or lack of it) of your laptop. For Windows and macOS machines, an Intel i5 CPU or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU should work well. If you want extra horsepower, look for an Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 CPU. If you want a laptop with Chrome OS, an ARM processor is good for most everyday tasks, but an Intel processor will be nicer.
- GPU: Most laptops have on-board graphics processors, which is good for everything except hard-core games, 3D rendering, or multi-monitor settings. If you are planning to do any of these things, you can hunt a laptop with a 3 or 4 GB GPU. If you are planning to get a Chromebook, you should not worry about it.
- RAM (memory): This is what allows your laptop to juggle various tasks. We suggest a Windows laptop or MacBook with at least 8GB of RAM, or a Chromebook with at least 4GB. If you plan to do lots of multitasking, you get a drive with an additional 4 to 8 GB of RAM.
- Storage: Buy a laptop with an SSD. Hard drives are good if you need to store lots of data (and they are cheap). But your computer will boot and load much faster with an SSD.
- Battery life: There is no point in buying a laptop unless it has a real battery life of at least four hours. Manufacturers often provide the best case with battery life specifications, so check out some reviews to get an idea of what it really is. You can also search for the name of the model you are interested in using the term "battery life" on Google for more information.
If you are planning to use your laptop for resource-heavy applications, such as games or 3D rendering, you should also consider thermal performance. Again, just search the name of the laptop you are interested in along with "thermal performance" on Google. See if anyone has had problems with the overheated laptop during games or other heavy applications. This is mostly a problem with ultra-thin laptops, such as the MacBook Pro or 2-in-1 as the Surface tablet.
So now the hard part is done. You know what operating system you want, you have a form factor and you have your specifications lined up. Now let's consider screens and ports.
4K or OLED display?
You will spend a lot of time staring at the screen of your laptop, so it's worth making sure you like what you see.
However, it is not the same as a TV. On a laptop, the latest and greatest screen usually costs more than it's worth. If you are not an artist or quality association, a basic 1080p LCD should be good. It is not the latest technology, but it is cheap, it looks good and it works well.
Of course, resolution is not the only thing. Here is a list of things to keep in mind about your laptop screen:
- Brightness: Expressed in nits, this is what makes the screens look sharp and beautiful. It also makes them easier to see outside or during a glare. In general, a screen of 250 to 300 rivets is ideal. Screens with more than 300 nits sometimes look washed out.
- Update (frame): Most laptops have a refresh rate of 60 Hz, and for most, it is good. But if you are a player, a 120 Hz screen can make your games feel more engaging and immediate. Players should also look for laptops with G-Sync or Freesync tech, which eliminates hacking and stuttering (this is usually a package deal with all laptops containing an NVIDIA graphics card).
- Resolution: Again, a basic 1080p LCD is good. Sure, you can get a 4K screen, and you'll probably love what it looks like – especially if you're an artist. But 4K monitors are expensive, and manufacturers tend to slow down on refresh rates to keep costs down. If you want a 4K laptop monitor, make sure it's 60 Hz too.
- OLED: This screen type does not use backlighting. Instead, it controls lots of LEDs individually, resulting in a high-contrast, super-sharp image. Players tend not to like these because the images look blurred with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. But for everyone else, they look fantastic! But they are definitely more expensive than an LCD screen.
- Touch Screen: These are most useful on 2-in-1 laptops. But you can always turn off the touch screen functionality if you don't like or need it.
Now, what USB ports do you need on your laptop, and how many do you want?
The Best Overall Chromebook
Asus Chromebook Flip C434 2 in 1 laptop, 14 "touch screen FHD 4-way NanoEdge, Intel Core M3-8100Y processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, All-Metal Body, Backlit KB, Silver, Chrome OS, C434TA-DSM4T
ASUS Flip is a large mid-range, 2-in-1 Chromebook. It has an Intel processor, 4 GB RAM and a clean 14 "screen.
Ports and devices add bulk to a laptop, so we encourage shoppers to adopt the "less is more" strategy. All you need is a few USB-C ports.
USB-C is the modern standard for power and data transfer. It transmits video signals (like HDMI), audio signals (like a headphone jack) and charges devices faster than USB A. You can also add a variety of ports to your laptop with a USB-C hub.
Of course, it's hard to make the jump to USB-C right now. If you don't want to use a hub, we suggest looking for SD card slots and USB-A ports.
Some ultra-thin laptops, such as the MacBook Pro, do not have Ethernet ports. If you need it, you may want to look at chunkier laptops or get a USB-C hub.
Where to Buy
While you can only go into a Best Buy and ask a clerk to help you find a laptop that fits your specifications, it is much easier (and cheaper) to search online.
Sales websites have filters that you can use to determine your laptop's dreams. We suggest that you keep your searches broad and check different websites for great deals.
Here are some websites that sell laptops:
- Best Buy : The site is easy to navigate and you can even schedule to get your laptop today in the store in your area. Renovated and showroom laptops are also available at reduced prices.
- Newegg : This company has a variety of laptops (including refurbished models).
- Amazon : Oh, of course. It is difficult to navigate the Amazon laptop market, but it is usually full of good deals. We suggest you use Amazon as a price checker.
- Apple Store : This is not always the cheapest place to buy MacBooks, but the "compare" page is very useful for determining the MacBook of your dreams.
- Google Store : You can buy Chromebooks directly from Google. And although you can find them cheaper on other websites, Google makes it easy to compare different models.
Now you're ready to buy your new laptop.
We suggest you check in a laptop before you buy It. This allows you to see the screen, feel the touchpad and make sure the keyboard feels right. The most popular laptops are usually on the showroom floor of Best Buy or Walmart.