Personal electronics have never been so personal! Our devices are tailored to our experience, and computers are no different. It’s understandable that purchasing a new laptop can be such a daunting experience!
The shopping process can be exciting, but also confusing and frustrating due to the expanding size of the market.The varying prices of laptops don’t help, either. As with any personal electronics purchase, the process can be made much simpler by asking oneself, “What do I plan to use this computer for?” Knowing what you’re going to use the computer for can help to weed out unnecessary components, features, and configurations rather quickly.
As an example, the thinnest, lightest laptop with high-end parts isn’t the best choice when it won’t often leave the home. Integrated graphics are a poor choice for gamers who want to enjoy the newest titles. If you have a constant internet connection, you probably don’t need a DVD drive. This guide will explain many of these features, and help you determine what you need in a laptop that suits your lifestyle.
It’s Easier Than Ever to Shop!
The laptop market has exploded in recent years. More consumers are using mobile electronics than ever before. Computer manufacturers are attempting to serve more types of customers. This can make finding a new laptop frustrating, but it also helps the consumer in several ways.
No single manufacturer can suit every user’s needs. Companies such as Dell, HP, Toshiba and Lenovo have a reputation in the business market. They offer sleek computer designs that are aimed towards productivity. Razer, MSI, and Asus continue to lead the gaming market, pushing the limits of the hardware that can be packed into compact computer.
There’s a lot of overlap between the offerings of all major computer manufacturers. Anyone searching for a new laptop would benefit from simply browsing the specialties of several of these companies. For example, Dell has its Alienware gaming lineup in addition to its more affordable, simpler computers.
Your computer’s CPU is its beating heart. It will determine how well you can multitask, and the types of applications your computer can run.Intel’s Core-series processors are far and away the most popular. A Core i5 or i7 will yield a lot of flexibility in your new laptop, and will be required for more complex tasks.
Intel’s Atom and Core M processors are often found in Chromebooks and tablet computers. While they’re far easier on a computer’s battery, they fall behind in capability. Those who like to browse the web while streaming video will want to opt for a stronger CPU, while gamers and graphic designers will want the strongest.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Though some laptop computers feature RAM that is soldered to the motherboard, most still allow the use to change and upgrade the type and amount of RAM used. Random Access Memory is what the computer utilizes when assigning application tasks.
More RAM allows the computer to perform better and handle more applications at once. Demanding programs such as Adobe Photoshop, as well as many newer games, will require more available RAM.
Data Storage (HDD and SSD)
Two primary types of data-storage solution are available in the current market: hard-disk drives and solid-state drives. Hard-disk drives (HDD) typically offer more storage space at a more affordable price.Solid-state drives (SSD) offer less space and cost more, but tax the battery less and operate much faster.
Each type carries its benefits, but more and more manufacturers are choosing to include SSDs in their laptops. Some laptops even offer both—an SSD for the laptop’s operating system, and an HDD for media storage.
A few laptop configurations offer dual-drive options, such as a combined SSD and HDD. These are becoming less frequent as more users choose SSD storage drives.What type of storage drive you decide on should be determined by what you plan to use the laptop for. Simple word processing, e-mail, and web browsing will be fine with an HDD. Gamers and graphic designers will benefit from an SSD’s speed.
Video Memory (Integrated vs. Dedicated)
Video memory makes a huge impact on a laptop’s price. It’s strange, then, that it’s one of the least advertised features. Video memory determines the computers imaging and video potential, from work in programs such as Adobe Photoshop to computer games. A quick glance at system specifications will reveal which type of memory a computer is using.
Integrated graphics memory is shared with the computer’s on-board CPU. Simple tasks such as word processing and web-browsing will carry out just fine with integrated graphics memory. Productivity suites such as Microsoft Office and Apple’s iWork rarely utilize video memory. Since integrated memory is shared with the CPU, attempting to run more intensive graphics applications can cause damaging amounts of electrical heat to generate inside of the laptop.
Dedicated graphics memory is separate from the computer’s CPU. Professional photography work and new computer games that demand heavy amounts of 3D graphics rendering will require a dedicated graphics processor.This type of video memory is frequently built to be heat resistant, and sometimes has its own ventilating fan built into the laptop. Dedicated graphics memory is also more expensive, and will cost significantly more than a computer without it.
Which is right for you? It all comes back to that beginning question: “What will I use this computer for?”
Screen measurement is most frequently used to measure a laptop’s overall size, and will tell you whether a laptop is too big or too small. Laptops with a 13”-14” screen are built for travel and mobility.Plastic and lightweight metal makes them less cumbersome to carry around. 15” models can be heftier for regular transportation, but offer more screen space. 17” and larger models certainly exist, but their size and weight makes them far less ideal for daily routines. Gaming laptops and the strongest multimedia laptops often fall within the 17” screen size category
Though a larger screen may seem better for many reasons, it’s important to consider how often you’ll be traveling with your new laptop. An extra pound or two added to a computer’s weight might not seem like much on paper, but will become quite apparent when it’s on your shoulders. Additionally, media workflow such as photography editing and entertainment such as video streaming or gaming will benefit the most from enhanced screen size.
The larger the computer, the less expensive it is to include strong components. Bigger laptops can sometimes fit more than one storage drive. They can also offer better ventilation and stronger graphics options. It often costs more to fit stronger hardware into a smaller laptop, but they’re certainly more portable. Looking at a computer’s screen size can tell you a lot about its purpose!
At one point in time, Apple and Windows were in fierce competition. While competition still remains, both companies’ operating systems are capable of running most types of software, even though they function quite differently.
Windows is the most widely used operating system, and is an equally good choice for work and gaming. It offers the broadest offering of software, and will give you the most freedom in your computing. Windows also operates on a wide variety of laptops from different manufacturers.
Apple’s Mac OS is built to function exclusively on Apple’s computers. This limits its availability, since it will only come on an Apple computer.Though Mac OS is equally as good as Windows at productivity tasks, it’s far less suited to gaming.
Apple computers will often cost significantly more than Windows machines, as well. A comparison between the hardware in each type of computer will frequently reveal that you’re paying less for the same components in a Windows machine. That said, many users still prefer the sleek, hip appearance and reliable speed of Mac OS.
Purchasing a New Laptop
Shopping online has become the preferred method of sourcing and buying a new laptop. It’s far easier to browse various computers and their specifications in an online store. Think of the number of laptops that you can view on the web, in the amount of time that it would take to travel to a store. Most consumers also find that shopping online brings them the exact type of computer they want, at the price they want. Shopping in a store forces you to compromise on what’s available on the shelf.
Many manufacturers sell laptops through their own stores. Some, such as Dell, allow users to “custom build” a laptop by selecting the parts and features that they want. Though this is more time consuming, it’s a great way to ensure that you’ll be happy with your purchase!
Online retailers such as Newegg.com and Tigerdirect.com offer less customization than manufacturers, but carry a diverse spread of new laptops. These types of retailers often feature their own return policy separate from the laptop’s manufacturer.This can offer you an added layer of protection to your purchase, as well as the opportunity for better savings and sales.
Shopping for a new laptop can carry with it the nuance of shopping for a new room for one’s home. However, breaking down the features of a computer helps consumers to narrow the field and make smarter purchases. The first step must always involve deciding what sorts of activities the new laptop will be used for.
Knowing this, it becomes a simple thing to decide which components and functions are necessary, and how certain features can be better acclimated to the individual’s budget. In our connected world, a laptop is an extensions of one’s own work and interests, and with a minimal amount of research, your new purchase can reflect that.