Choosing a Laptop: What to Look for When Buying a New Notebook

The laptop market is an industry worth more than seven trillion rupees. If you’re going to invest in a new computer, you want to make sure you’re finding the best machine out there. But choosing a laptop can be tricky, especially when there are so many to decide between.  Riya, an engineer and writer from ECD India, outlines the best tips for picking the perfect laptop.

modern male customer choosing laptop in the computer store

Smart modern male customer choosing laptop in the computer store. difficult decision

What Will You Use It For?

The first question any laptop buying guide needs to cover is use and functionality. What are you using your computer for? Your answer makes a big difference. 

There tend to be two main groups of laptop users. In the first group, you have gamers and designers. These are people who use a lot of software programs and require strong multitasking abilities.

Video and photo editing programs need a lot of power from your computer’s processor. The same goes for graphic design software and games with advanced graphics. If you want to have multiple programs open or stream for long hours, you will need a gaming laptop that can keep up. 

On the other side of the spectrum are people who use their devices for basic day-to-day tasks. They may do a lot of multitasking, but their primary tasks are document writing and editing. If that’s you, you can opt for a smaller CPU.

Think, too, about where you’ll use your laptop. If you need a powerful machine but want to carry it around with you, you’re going to have to strike a balance between function and size. This leads us to our next point of consideration.

Screen Size and Style

Screen size is another consideration when deciding which laptop to buy. If you want a computer that you can take everywhere, try an 11 or 13-inch device. If you need a little more screen space as you work, a 14 or 15-inch computer is likely more your size.

Keep in mind that smaller machines may not be able to support more powerful processors. Larger machines tend to have more space for all the bells and whistles.

You’ll also want to consider the number of pixels in your screen’s resolution. A higher pixel count means you’ll have a crisper image. But it will also drain your battery faster.

On the higher end, you’ll find laptops with pixel counts upwards of 3840 x 2160. On the lower, counts of around 1366 x 768. For the best results at a decent price, look for a 1920 x 1080, or a 1080p screen.

Finally, consider whether you want a touchscreen. This capability is more common with convertible laptops. You can find it on some standard clamshells as well.

Operating System

It’s the age-old question: are you a Mac person or are you a PC (Windows OS) person? Well, there are a few others to add to the mix, too! 

First, the operating system in your computer like your computer’s heart. It makes sure all the systems in your computer keep running.

This includes hardware, software, and basic functions like turning on and off. It keeps track of your Bluetooth connections, runs the user interface, and so much more. 

For computers, Windows OS (PC), macOS, and Linux are the most popular operating systems. You also have lower-capacity systems like ChromeOS

It all comes down to preference and performance. Some people prefer macOS for its unique user interface. They love the seamless connection between devices. 

Others prefer Windows for its system-specific applications and usability. Linux is a different experience for most but a popular choice among programmers. ChromeOS is great for those wanting a fanless device for internet-based tasks.

So first, decide on the best laptop operating system for you. Then you can move forward with picking your processor.

Processor, RAM, and SSD

Remember when we were talking about CPU? We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of it now. If the operating system is the computer’s heart, the central processing unit is the brain.

That’s why it’s important to get a computer with a processor that can keep up with your tasks. For the avid gamer or designer, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is one of the best on the market.

For standard users who want a powerful device, Intel’s Corei9, i7, and i5 are great options. Mac’s recent M1 chip is a great alternative for Apple users but is still working out its kinks. 

You want to make sure your computer has enough storage to handle the programs you’ll install. A minimum of 12GB of RAM will be sufficient for most.

Try to get at least 64GB of internal storage (like SSD). That will cover those who do most of their work online and through the cloud. If you’re downloading games, videos, or doing a lot of file saving, consider between 256GB and 512GB of internal storage. 

Don’t Forget Battery Life

No Mac or PC buying guide would be complete without talking about battery life. As much as we like to think that there’s a high-functioning computer with 15+ hours of battery life, the truth is it just isn’t realistic. 

The strongest batteries on the market have a starting usage of around 10-12 hours. Mid-line devices will last about 6-8 hours and lower-end devices around 4-6. 

Keep in mind that batteries will have a lower lifespan as time goes on. The more “cycles” a battery goes through, the more capacity they lose. One cycle equates to when a battery reaches 0% and is fully recharged.  

Choosing a Laptop

Choosing a laptop can be an in-depth process that requires time and research. But it will be well worth it when you bring home a device that suits your work perfectly.

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