How to choose a laptop that’s right for you

It’s easy to get confused as to which laptop to buy. There is a myriad of options that claim to be the best. To make matters worse, there may be a host of technical jargon and picking the right gigahertz, SSDs or refresh rates can be pretty frustrating.

Close-up of Laptop Keyboard

Knowing what to look out for will take a lot of the hassle out of the shopping experience. To make the process simpler, let’s break down what you need to consider when buying a laptop.

Google’s recently launch PixelBook

What will you do with it?

This is the first and the most important question you need to ask yourself. Are you a light user with minimum requirements like browsing the internet, sending emails, sharing photos or paying bills online? Do you have an average use case where you stream movies and create spreadsheets? Or are you a heavy user who multi-tasks, does graphic designs and video production?

Silver and Black Laptop Computer

If you can zone in on what you’ll do with the device on a day-to-day basis, you will have a much easier time wading through the sea of laptop choices.

Choosing the right Operating Systems

The operating system runs the show on your laptop. It manages all the hardware and software and allows you to interact with the device. Without an OS, your device would just be a pile of useless plastic or metal.

Windows

Related image

Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system that runs on many brands of computers. It offers compatibility with a wide array of peripherals. Windows also offer devices with touch screens and 2-in-1 PCs that can be used as tablets. Windows PCs are available at various price ranges and many often come bundled with software like Microsoft Office that can help with productivity tasks. Windows PCs are also customisable. You can swap out RAM and SSD or hard drives and upgrade your ageing device.

The Dell XPS 15-inch model is a Windows-based PC with a great design. (Photo: BestBuy)

macOS

Image result for macOS

This operating system is exclusively for Apple computers. It offers a colourful, easy to use interface that goes with Apple’s hardware designs. The OS has had fewer virus attacks compared to Windows devices. MacBooks (Apple’s laptop line) tend to cost quite a bit more than Windows PCs and none of the products has a touchscreen to date.

The Hardware

Choosing the hardware components should be much easier if you’ve figured out what you’ll be doing with it. Even so, the choices are still vast.

Screens

If you want a touch-screen, get a Windows laptop. If you’re a little more flexible, there are a few more things to consider.

  • Screen Size – Laptop screens come in various sizes. There are screens measuring less than 12-inches. You can also get laptops up to 17-inches or more. The smaller the screen, the lighter the laptop will be. And no, a bigger screen doesn’t mean better performance.
  • Resolution – The resolution refers to the number of pixels packed into the display. More pixels equal a sharper image with more detail. 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2560 and 3840 x 2160 resolutions) panels offer up to 9 million pixels for your viewing pleasure. FHD 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) displays are good for watching movies and playing games, while HD (1600 x 900 and 1366 x 768) displays are best for casual video watching, sending emails and surfing the internet. But know this, the higher the resolution, the more it will drain your battery.
Apple’s MacBook line offers beautifully designed laptops that run macOS.

Processors

The CPU (central processing unit) is the brains of the operations. It does all the calculations and works with the system memory to regulate the speed and intricacies of the software. Most laptops come with an Intel or AMD processor.

For years, Intel beat AMD in performance by miles and became the “default” choice for those who wanted performance. However, back in 2017 AMD blindsided Intel with a slew of high-performance Ryzen processors that offer high multi-core performance for those who do a lot of video editing and graphic design. Since then, Intel has been playing catch-up. However, Intel is still king when it comes to gaming.

In addition, AMD processors are typically less expensive than Intel’s product offerings.

The Intel Core i7 processor paired with an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card.

Other things to consider

  • RAM – The more RAM you have, the better your laptop will perform.
  • Storage – SSDs are faster than traditional hard drives.
  • Ports – Choose a laptop with the ports you need, like USB-C or an SD card slot.

— Written by Renor C.