What to look for when buying a new laptop
Buying a new laptop can be exciting but ensuring you get the right one suited to your needs is important.
What use would a laptop with little storage space be if you have lots of data? If you’re going to be travelling around lots you wouldn’t want a bulky laptop or one which can’t hold its charge for long periods of time.
The choices can be overwhelming so it’s extremely useful to make note of what features are most important to you. Below we have listed key points to take into consideration before you commit to purchasing a new laptop.
Laptops usually come in two main screen sizes – 15 inch and 17 inch. There are also some smaller ones which are less than 15 inches but they can sometimes be tricky to find, especially if you’re looking for an overall powerful machine.
Remember screen sizes are measured diagonally across the screen, so measure correctly!
• 11 or 12 inches: These are usually the lightest type of laptops.
• 13 or 14 inches: Provides the best combination of portability and usability.
• 15 inch: The most popular choice as it’s a medium sized option.
• 17 or 18 inches: If your laptop is not going to be leaving your desk go for a bigger screen size like 17 or 18 inch. Be aware that this is not practical if you’re on the go and need to transport your laptop around frequently.
Are you planning to use your laptop on the commute to work? Or perhaps you travel between appointments?
Weight is an important factor and should be practical for you, don’t put yourself through the strain of carrying around a heavy laptop. If you’re going down the route of getting an Apple Mac it’s worthwhile looking at an Apple MacBook Air as these are slim, sleek and lightweight.
HDD or SSD
SSDs offer optimum performance. They’re renowned for being fast as they read and write data much faster than a HDD (hard disk drive).
One of the main elements of an SSD which differs from a HDD is that they do not contain any moving components. This factor in itself effectively makes SSDs less susceptible to damage as there is no spinning components.
It’s also worth mentioning if you opt for an SSD and it’s soldered onto the motherboard then you cannot upgrade to a bigger SSD (without replacing the entire motherboard, which would not be economical or advised!)
However some SSDs are not soldered to the board so it’s worthwhile checking with the place you’re buying from if that’s a concern to you.
Check the size of your current drive and find out how much space you’re using. On a Windows computer you can check this by going into This PC or My Computer (depending on whether your machine is Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 or below) and it should say how many GB you’ve used up and how much space you have remaining. For Mac users you can check by going into Disk Utility.
If you use your laptop to store lots of photos and documents look at getting a 1TB or 2TB hard drive. On the other hand if your laptop will just be for basic use such as internet browsing and you don’t plan on storing much data on it then you may prefer to look at laptops with a 500GB hard drive.
The most common processors are i3, i5 and i7.
On the lower end of the scale is i3, this is the most basic option and not advised for work use. Laptops which have an i3 processor is probably the best option if you’re not using the machine for everyday use.
For everyday and work use i5 is best as it’s mid-range between the two and will offer a good and reliable overall performance.
If you’re seeking something super rapid then i7 is for you. This is the highest end of the scale. Gamers should only consider i7 as the lower specs will not be powerful enough to run games. If you’re also planning to use the laptop heavily for work purposes then i7 will give you the best possible performance.
If you won’t be using your laptop for gaming then look at laptops which have 8GB – 16GB RAM. On the other hand, if your laptop is for gaming use then look at 16GB – 32GB.
If the RAM is built onto the main board it cannot be upgraded at a later date so ensure you have the adequate amount of RAM before committing to buying the laptop.
If you’re intending to use your laptop for gaming you will need an advanced graphics card which can handle the use.
For use with VR (virtual reality) you’ll need a minimum spec of 1050 GTX.
For general gaming something like 960M is sufficient.
Be aware that most laptops have the graphics card built on-board therefore they cannot be upgraded at a later date. Ensure you go for a sufficient specification for your needs prior to making a laptop purchase.
If you’re solely planning to use your laptop for document typing, internet browsing and emails then you don’t need an advanced graphics card.
How many USB ports do you need? Will you have a mouse or printer that needs to be connected straight to your laptop? If you’ll need to connect your laptop up to a screen then ensure it has a HDMI port.
Most laptops no longer come with a built-in CD drive, therefore if this feature is a necessity for you make sure you check before you buy. The other option is to purchase a USB CD drive which you can plug directly into a USB port on your laptop. You can then use this on an as-needed basis.
If you’re planning to use your laptop in the evenings then a backlit keyboard will certainly help in those darker hours. Others will simply fall in love with a backlit keyboard for cosmetic purposes. With some laptops you can even change the backlight colour to whatever you like!
A backlit keyboard can greatly increase the price of the laptop but if it’s an important feature to you and you’re willing to pay the extra cost go for it.