Laptop Buying Guide

Whether you are planning to buy a laptop for daily work or gaming, finding the best laptop requires a proper understanding of the required features and specifications.

To make your search easier, here is a laptop buying guide that can help you identify the most suitable laptop for your needs.

These 5 things should be considered while buying a laptop as follows:

Performance

The performance of the laptop is based on 5 pillars, i.e. processor, RAM, Storage, graphics card & battery.

1.Processor:

Powerful processor= Faster Work.

The processor is the brain of your computer.

Processors have a core, thread, base, and turbo speed and cache memory:

Core & Threads:

The core is a real hardware component whereas the thread is a virtual component that manages tasks.

While threads divide the physical core of the CPU into virtual multiple cores, i.e. if the CPU is dual-core (i.e. 2 cores), then it will have 4 threads.

There are 6 types of central processing units – single-core, dual-core, quad-core, Hexa-core, octa-core, and deca-core CPU.

Cache Memory:

This chip-based feature allows you to access some information more quickly than you can access it from your computer’s hard drive.

There is three common cache memory:

L1 cache or primary cache is very fast but relatively small.

L2 cache or secondary cache is often larger than L1 but slower than L1.

L3 cache or tertiary cache is the largest and slowest.

Processors are mainly made by two companies – Intel and AMD.

Intel has the Pentium, Celeron, and Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 series of processors, while AMD has the A, FX, and Ryzen series of processors.

Ryzen performs better than intel but uses an extra battery.

Intel processors:

AtomCeleronPentiumCore i3Core i5Core i7Core i9
Cores1-4 cores 2-4 cores 2-4 cores 2-4 cores 2-4 cores 2-6 cores 8 cores
Clock Speed1.3 GHz- 1.6 GHz 1.1 GHz- 3.7 GHz 1.2 GHz- 3.7 GHz 1.9 GHz- 4.0 GHz 1.9 GHz- 4.0 GHz 2.4 GHz- 4.0 GHz 2.4 GHz- 5 GHz
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AMD processors:

AMD E2AMD A4 & A6AMD A9, A10 & A12AMD RYZEN 3AMD RYZEN 5AMD RYZEN 7
Cores2 cores2-4 cores 2-4 cores 2-4 cores 4 cores 6 cores
Clock Speed1.8 GHz- 2.8 GHz 1 GHz- 2 GHz 2.4 GHz- 3 GHz 2.0 GHz- 2.6 GHz 2.0 GHz- 3.2 GHz 2.2 GHz- 3.3 GHz
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2.RAM:

More RAM = Better Multi-tasking.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory, which stores all the open apps, files, and games you play.

Usually, laptops come with 4, 8, or 16GB of RAM and there are mainly two types of laptop RAM – DDR4 and DDR3.

DDR4: Fast, efficient power consumption.

DDR3: Older, slower and consumes more power.

Over time, the applications and operating systems need to be upgraded to newer versions and will require more RAM.

Then upgrading the RAM can keep the laptop usable for a longer period, especially if you just bought a laptop with 4GB RAM.

3.Storage:

More Storage= Better speed & performance.

Internal storage is also known as the hard drive size or capacity of the laptop.

Storage is where operating systems (such as Windows or Mac OS) are installed and all other documents, photos, apps, games, and movies are stored.

Without enough storage, you will not be able to store anything, and it will affect the performance and speed.

For the tight-budget buyers, HDD is a better option while for gaming or media editing, it is better to choose an SSD.

Generally, there are 3 types of laptop storage – HDD, SSD, and SSHD.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD):

A mechanical hard disk drive offers you plenty of capacity but is considered slow because it has moving parts that spin to read data.

Solid State Drive (SSD):

A solid-state drive is a type of drive that is quicker, but more expensive than an HDD.

They are further classified as SATA SSD and NVMe SSD (NVMe SSD is super-fast than SATA SSD).

SSD is 10 times better than HDD.
Solid-State Hybrid Drive (SSHD):

SSHD is a combination of HDD and SSD, which means you will get bigger storage space and everything will load faster.

Example: A 128GB SSD can be combined with a 512GB or 1TB HDD in an SSHD unit.

4.Graphics Card:

Higher Graphics = Smooth gaming, video experience.

A graphics card is a chip inside your laptop, which is responsible for the quality of the scenes you see on your display.

Generally, there are 2 types of graphics cards – integrated and dedicated.

Integrated graphics card:

Most laptops have integrated graphics cards that are perfect for watching movies or doing very light photo-editing.

Typically, Intel and AMD processors have integrated graphics that is sufficient for everyday needs.

Dedicated graphics card:

A dedicated graphics card is an individual piece of hardware that has its own memory.

Heavy gaming, photo, and video editing require dedicated graphics cards as they are more powerful than integrated graphics cards.

They are sometimes also called video cards or discrete graphics.

Nvidia and AMD are 2 popular companies making dedicated graphics cards.

Nvidia graphics cards Uses
MX450, MX350, MX330, MX250 Normal gaming.
GTX 1050, GTX 1050Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1650, GTX 1660, GTX 1660 Ti. Casual gaming & photo editing
GTX 1070, GTX 1070Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1080Ti, RTX 2060, RTX 2070, RTX 2080, RTX 2080Ti, RTX 3070, RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3090, RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3060. Heavy/hardcore gaming
AMD graphics cards Uses
AMD RX 550, AMD Radeon RX 560, AMD Radeon RX 570, AMD Radeon RX 580, AMD Radeon RX 590. Casual gaming & photo editing
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid-cooled, AMD Radeon VII, AMD Radeon RX 5700, AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT 50th Anniversary & AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT 50th. Anniversary Heavy / hardcore gaming

5.Battery:

More WHr = more battery life and a bigger battery usually mean a heavier laptop.

The battery keeps your laptop running when it’s not plugged into a power outlet measured in watt-hours (WHr).

Fast charging is also a useful feature when you need to charge your laptop in the shortest amount of time.

Display

When choosing the right display for your laptop, you’ll need to decide on the right screen size and the right resolution for your use.

1.Display size:

Screens come in many sizes, all measured diagonally.

The most common screen size is 15.6 inches, but there are 11 inches, 13 inches, and other screen sizes can go up to 17.3 inches.

Large screen size is ideal for gaming, movie watching, photo or video editing, and complex data visualizations, while the smaller screen size is lighter and easier to carry around.

If you need to carry your laptop around a lot, consider a laptop with an 11- to 14-inch display. 

2.Display Resolution:

Higher screen resolution = Sharp, clear, and rich visual experience.

Screen resolution is measured as the pixel count in horizontal and vertical pixel counts.

The most common display resolutions are HD Ready, Full HD, and 4K.

HD or HD ready:

This resolution is available in entry-level & budget laptops, this display has a 1366 x 768-pixel count.

It is sufficient to watch movies, basic graphic games, or work on documents.

Full HD or 1080p:

This resolution is available in high-end laptops, this display has a 1920 x 1080 pixel count, which is 2 times the HD resolution.

They offer a sharper visual experience to enjoy HD movies or graphic-rich games.

Ultra HD and 4K:

This display resolution is 4 times the Full HD resolution, therefore known as 4K with 3840 X 2160 pixels.

They are ideal for high-resolution video editing, watching 4K videos, or graphics-intensive gaming.

Other factors you should consider while selecting the display are as follows:

3.Screen Type- IPS vs. Non-IPS:

IPS stands for In-Plane Switching, a type of LED (a form of LCD) display panel technology.

IPS panels are known to have the best colors and viewing angles among other main types of display panels.

4.Refresh Rate:

The refresh rate is the number of times an image is changed per second on a laptop screen, measured in hertz or frames per second (FPS).

The standard refresh rate for laptops is 60Hz.

5.Bezels:

The bezels are the border that surrounds the screen of your laptop.

They may not look very pretty, but they protect your screen from accidental damage.

6.Matte (Antiglare) vs Glossy Screen:

A matte (textured) display is an electronic display with a matte surface whereas a glossy display with a glossy (smooth) surface.

Matte displays have a light-scattering antireflection layer, which reduces reflection, contrast, and color intensity in low-light situations.

7.Touch Screen:

These are generally seen in 2-in-1 laptops.

The touchscreen display permits editing immediately on the display with the help of a stylus or screen scrolling, Zooming, and other controls using your fingers.

This makes your laptop expertise similar to that of a tablet or smartphone.

Operating System (OS)

The operating system controls the hardware of the laptop and allows other software to communicate with the hardware.
There are mainly four types of OS – Windows, macOS, Chrome books, and Linux.

1.Windows:

It is the most commonly used operating system, however, not all laptops may come with Windows preinstalled.

2.Mac OS:

All Apple laptops come preinstalled with Mac OS.

The software and hardware on the MacBook are designed by Apple to work in sync for providing smooth performance.

3.Chrome OS:

Chrome OS is the fast, simple and secure operating system that powers every Chrome book.

4.Linux:

It is an open-source operating system commonly used by programmers, however, it is not as spontaneous as Windows and it is not advisable for most normal users.

5.DOS:

A disk operating system is an operating system that runs from a disk drive.

Ports & Connectivity

The ports and connectivity define what you can connect to your laptop.
You will need these to charge a pen drive, external hard disk, mouse, projector, TV, headphones, or even your phone.

Make sure your laptop has enough ports to connect multiple devices at once.

There are various types of ports as follows:

1.USB Type-A:

These ports are used to connect regular USB devices like mobile phones, pen drives, etc.

A higher number indicates faster speed. (Example: USB 3.1 is faster than USB 3.0 which is faster than USB 2.0)

2.USB Type-C:

These ports provide faster data transfer and smaller charger sizes than the USB Type-A ports.

You can use these to connect universal chargers and docks.

3.Card reader:

This port directly connects a micro SD or SD memory card to copy data to and from your DSLR or phone.

4.HDMI:

With this connector, you can connect your laptop to LED TV or projector.

5.VGA Port:

This is an older type of connector for TVs, monitors, and projectors.

6.Thunderbolt:

This is the latest and fastest type of connector for laptops.

Thunderbolt is a combination of a Type C connector and Display Port that allows for charging, connection with peripherals, or displays with a single port.

Design & Other features:

Basic laptops have a traditional clam-type design with a screen that folds over the keyboard and mouse pad.
These are the most common and affordable laptops for most users.

1.Thin and Light Laptops:

These laptops weighing less than 1.8 kg and usually have a display size of 14 inches or less.

Thin and light laptops are generally considered innovative in their design as they pack in top-end specifications in a thin and light body.

2.Lid and body:

The lid and body made of plastic or aluminum should be sufficiently flexible and lightweight.

3.Keyboard:

Chiclet or Island Style keyboards generally have flat and shallow keys that allow for easy typing.

The spacing and depth of the keyboard should allow for comfortable typing.

Many laptops come with a backlit keyboard, so check this feature if you want to use your laptop in the dark.

4.Fingerprint Reader:

Fingerprint-based login is useful when laptop access and security are a concern.

Conclusion:

These are the best laptop buying guide that you should consider while buying the best laptop for general use, professional use and gaming.