It’s no secret that laptops are expensive, as buying a laptop is not a decision to take lightly. That being said, it is important to do as much research as you can before you begin laptop shopping. While I am no laptop expert, I have created a laptop buying guide – 8 essential tips to help you make the most informed decision possible before investing in a laptop.
Tip #1 – Decide your intentions for your new laptop
You are most likely buying this laptop with a specific use in mind, so it is best to establish this early on. Do you need this laptop for work/school? Do you need it for minimal tasks such as browning the internet and responding to emails? Do you need a gaming laptop? What your laptop will be used for plays a large factor in what kind of features you will need to look for in a laptop, so make sure to distinguish your purpose for your laptop purchase early on.
Tip #2 – Create a Budget
Any financial advisor will tell you how important it is to set a budget before you begin to shop for any item. Creating a rough budget sets boundaries over products you can and can’t afford and will help narrow down your search initially. With the advanced technology we have nowadays, there are laptops that have some pretty cool features for a hefty price tag. Remember, your budget should only reflect what you absolutely need in a laptop, not what would be cool to have, but isn’t essential.
Tip #3 – Decide what operating system you prefer
You may already be familiar with a certain operating system based on previous experience. The big 3 operating systems are Mac, Windows, and Chrome. Mac is run through Apple and is perfect for people who already have Apple products they want to sync up. Windows is the way to go for a 2-in-1 or touchscreen laptop and is the most commonly used operating system, as HP laptops are a favorite among many. Chrome is less complex than the other operating systems, but this also means it does lack some of the features that the other two have, so it is better for people who only need to use the laptop for simple daily tasks. Most electronic stores will have samples of all 3 in stock, so you can play around with each system and see which one feels most comfortable to you.
Tip #4 – If you will be traveling with your laptop, go for a smaller screen size.
Many people struggle with what screen size is best for a laptop. 14 or 15 inches is a happy medium and works well for most people, but if you are someone who will be traveling with your laptop a lot, you may want a smaller screen, as this typically correlates with a lighter weight as well. Anything above 15 inches is typically recommended for gamers, videographers, or anyone who plans on keeping their laptop in a stagnant location.
Tip #5 – Avoid Ultra 4k Resolution
Unless you are a gamer or video/photo editor, you do not need the fancy-schmancy Ultra 4k resolution on your computer. Many laptop salesmen will try to get you to buy the latest in technology, a 4k resolution that offers extremely high-quality visuals. While this is true, it isn’t worth the extra $$$ when you can still get HD or Retina Display picture quality in most modern laptops.
Tip #6 – Get at least 16 GB of memory on your laptop
Random-access memory (RAM) is the ability for your laptop to multitask and memorize the data in your computer. For the most basic of laptop users, you will need at least 16GB of RAM to last you a few years. However, if you are someone who will be using this laptop a lot and are admittedly that person with a million tabs open at once, you will need to opt for more RAM (somewhere between 32GB and 64GB). I also want to clarify that memory is not the same thing as storage, so you will also need to make sure you have upwards of 64GB of storage, with those needing to store large data files getting closer to 750GB.
Tip #7 – Get a laptop with, at a minimum, a USB port
On the side of every computer, you will see openings for plug-ins called ports. Every laptop at least has a charging port, but many have other ports such as USB ports, HDMI ports, and headphone jacks. A USB port is one of the most common plug-ins people need and if you know you will need to connect your laptop to another device at some point, it is imperative you have a USB port. There are converters you can buy if your laptop doesn’t have the exact port you need, but it’s best to do your research on what ports you may need to use for work or personal use before you start shopping.
Tip #8 – Don’t forget to check the charge time of potential laptops.
It’s no secret we all want a long-lasting laptop battery and the common person will look for long battery life in a laptop. What some people often forget, however, is that charging time is a very important factor too, that is, how long a laptop takes to charge from completely dead to full. Especially for people who aren’t always near a charging outlet, having a fast-charging laptop is just as crucial as having a long battery life.
While there are probably 100 other laptop shopping tips out there, the information above gives you all the basic knowledge you need to start making your buying decision. Remember to keep your buying intent at the forefront of every decision you make, and never be afraid to ask too many questions, as there are a ton of tech-savvy laptop experts that can assist you throughout your laptop buying process. Whether you need a laptop you can travel with or a new laptop for your first day of college, remember to keep these 8 tips in mind and you will end your shopping day with the perfect laptop and a huge smile on your face.
Written by Cassidy Beshel