You may be asking yourself “what should I consider when buying a laptop”? Buying a new laptop is no easy decision, as laptops come with a pretty hefty price tag. When making a big investment in a laptop, it is imperative that you be informed of all the factors to consider before making your purchase. Keep reading to learn about laptop basics, terminology, questions to ask yourself, and a ton of information you may have never thought you needed to know!
Before you get carried away with cool, high-tech features and other added perks of high-end computers, you should create a budget. Obviously, budgets are completely personal and there is no right or wrong budget, but some budget factors to think about are the size of the computer you want, the RAM you need, and the storage you need, as the price will increase along with these factors. It’s fair to say any decent laptop is at least 600 dollars, with many laptops closer to the 1000 dollar threshold.
Considering most of us already have experience with a computer, whether it be through a job, school, or personal use, you are most likely already familiar with a certain operating system. The main operating systems are Windows, Mac, and Chrome. You may already have a preference for one system over another, but it doesn’t hurt to go to a store and play around with the different systems to see which one you like best. Most operating systems have pretty similar features, but to give a brief summary, Windows is the most commonly used system and is super flexible, Mac is a product of Apple and has apps users can download to perform tasks, and Chrome is a product of Google that is very simple to use, but more limited than the two alternatives.
Size and Weight
Laptops are usually categorized by their screen size, typically from 11 -18 inches. With an increase in screen size comes an increase in weight as well, though some models are made specifically to be lightweight (such as the MacBook air). A 15-inch laptop is pretty typical, though some prefer a larger screen for gaming/watching videos or a smaller, lightweight laptop to travel with.
Windows are notorious for their touchscreen laptops, so if this is a feature that is important to you, you may want to go the Windows route. Play around with a few touchscreen computers to see what feels right, as you don’t want an overly sensitive touchscreen. Same with other features like the touchpad or keyboard, as we each have different levels of hand motion and applied pressure when using a laptop, and you need to find what is most comfortable for your fingers. As far as display settings go, computers with higher resolutions have a higher quality picture. HD, Retina Display, and Ultra 4k offer various levels of picture quality. Obviously, everyone wants decent screen quality, but you often don’t need to pay the extra bucks for 4k or super high resolution unless you plan on watching/editing a bunch of videos and pictures.
RAM and Storage
RAM or random-access memory allows your computer to multi-task. If you are someone who needs a million tabs open with split-screen and uses apps that take up a lot of energy, you will need a lot of RAM (think 32GB or 64GB). If you simply just need the internet and to check email every once in a while, 16GB should be sufficient. Storage is similar, but it is how much information you need to store on your laptop (files, documents, pictures, videos, songs, etc.). With the evolving concept of “the cloud”, many people need less computer storage and instead store things directly into the cloud. Typically, a person will need about 64GB of storage, with upper wards of 750 GB for people who need to store large files and are planning on keeping the same computer for a long time.
Ports are the holes on the sides of the computers that allow you to connect to other devices. Every computer will at least have a charging port, but other common ports needed are USB ports, media card slots, HDMI ports, a headphone jack, etc. Luckily this isn’t a big deal because you can typically buy converters to plug in that allow you to get a port the computer may not come with. However, if you know you need to connect your computer to a certain device a lot for work, make sure to shop for computers with that port.
This goes without saying, but battery life is important! Make sure you compare the battery life of computers, as well as how long the computer takes to charge from completely dead to full battery, as this is a factor people often overlook. Again, battery life is as important as you need it to be based on your estimate of how long you will need to use the computer each day and how available an outlet or charging station is to you at certain times.
What will the laptop be used for?
A good first question to ask yourself is “what will I be using this new laptop for”? Do you need a basic laptop simply for checking email and surfing the web? You can find a low-storage, small-screen laptop for a cheap price. Do you need a laptop for work or school? Think about the software you will be using for your work and pick a laptop that will have enough storage for all your projects. Are you someone who does a lot of design, video editing, or gaming? You probably need a high-resolution, widescreen with lots of storage to save your products, so keep this in mind when creating your budget and shopping for a computer. Laptop shopping is not about what’s biggest and brightest, it’s about finding what fits your needs and neglecting anything extra.
There are quite a few factors to take into your laptop decision, and it can be overwhelming at times. That being said, nobody knows your needs better than yourself, so make sure to continue to do your research, talk to tech professionals, and make note of the laptop considerations found in this article. With so many great choices, you really can’t go wrong! Happy laptop shopping!
Written by Cassidy Beshel