Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Necessity of Laptops
There was a time when people used to carry large 5MB hard drive just to perform a single computational task and then swap it out for a second one. I have no idea what their reaction would have been had Adam Osborne presented them with Osborne 1, the very first laptop ever created. Fast forward to 2019 and we have a plethora of laptops to choose from. Desktops are now majorly used for competitive and casual gaming and rendering or editing high-quality videos. Even the laptops have now been designed to handle AAA games, thanks to their insane processing and graphical power. But the very thought of carrying large power bricks and gaming-on-the-go might put a lot of gamers off.
Having said that, let us summarize a few points why a laptop would be beneficial for you, all things considered.
Portability: Needless to say, portability is the finest USP of laptops. If you are someone who must travel to places and would want to work on-the-go, laptops are your best bet.
Integrated Keyboards: You can most definitely argue that a large tablet can easily replace a laptop but typing on a keyboard has its own feels. Moreover, typing on a keyboard is effortless for many compared to typing on a large on-screen keyboard.
Varieties: Another selling point for laptops is the varieties from which you can choose. There are a ton of laptops out there, curated for everyone. Whether you are a little low on budget or want the best of everything, you have the liberty to choose from thousands of products.
Things to Consider Before Investing in a Laptop
Before you run across the street to a nearby Dell or an HP store (Apple Store, anyone?) and start dishing out that hard-earned money, here a few things that you need to consider if you want to invest in a laptop that will last you for a very long time.
Size: Size does matter. At least when it comes to buying a laptop. Laptops are ranging from 13-inch to massive 17-inch models. If portability is what you are looking for, you should consider the 13 or 15-inch models. The 17-inch model does mean that you will have more screen size and a bigger keyboard with trackpad to play with but might be too heavy for you to carry around everywhere. If you are willing to sit around and edit and render videos, a 17-inch model is highly recommended.
Screen Quality: The Screen will be your primary mode of interaction. It is highly recommended that you take a thorough look at the screen from different angles and positions to suit your needs. For most tasks, a standard LCD panel with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 would suit you just fine. If you are willing to opt for a 15-inch or a higher model, you can browse models which have a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. These screens have a better resolution and pixel per inch, which smoothens most of the content on screen. If your primary necessity is to create video content or edit them or standard gaming, you might want to look at models over 1080p, such as 2K or even 4K. These, however, might cost you a fortune.
Processor and RAM: If the screen forms the skin of the system, these will be the brains of
the laptop. Rightly so, the processor and the subsequent RAM will entirely depend on the needs of the laptop. You should note that Intel chipsets have always been great at running basic and heavy computational tasks, processor-intensive things. AMD, on the other hand, has been great at handling GPU-intensive tasks, thanks to its superior integrated graphics. If you are into basic or medium computational tasks such as surfing, creating and editing light and medium documents, you can opt for i3 or i5 chipsets. If your necessities include medium or heavy content creation, you can opt for the improved AMD Ryzen chipsets, which have some of the best-integrated graphics on the market.
Note: If you are into overclocking, AMD chipsets will be a better buy, since not all Intel chipsets allow the users to manually overclock. However, overclocking is something that I would not consider doing on a new laptop.
Dedicated Graphics Card: This is one area where the buyer will be tempted to try out a laptop with dedicated graphics. Integrated graphics are the ones that are built-in to the motherboard of the system. Dedicated Graphics Card is another component, which is superior to the built-in graphics. They are fitted in a different pre-determined slot, which powers all the graphical content on your screen. If you are into hard-core gaming on your laptop, you should consider one with a dedicated graphics card. It should also be noted that the ones with these cards can cost significantly more than the standard ones with integrated graphics. If your laptop has a Thunderbolt-3 port, there is a high chance that you can connect an external GPU (eGPU) to your laptop to reap all the benefits of a dedicated graphics card.
Storage: This is where things get interesting and confusing at the same time. There are two different types of storage options to choose from - Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid-State Drives (SSD). The Hard disk drives are mechanical drives and are made of magnetic tapes, spinning at a pre-determined rpm (7200 rpm). These are bigger than the SSD and have slower read and write speeds. The SSD is a flash drive with no mechanical or moving parts. They are smaller and have very high read and write speeds (6 GB/s). The SSD can open applications and booting the entire system in a matter of seconds, something that the HDD cannot. But, SSD alone is an expensive component and depending on the type of SSD that you choose (SATA, PCIe, M.2, U.2), your budget can easily go through the roof. Laptops nowadays come with a hybrid slot, which blends the best of both worlds. The operating system is stored on an SSD, while heavy stuff (such as movies, games, or big videos) can be stored on a bigger HDD. For most of your use, a hybrid slot will serve you nicely, unless you intend to blow your budget on a high-end SSD for maximum performance.
6. Battery Life: Battery Life is largely dependent on the computational tasks and the native screen resolution. It becomes a critical aspect when you are always on the move and working on your laptop. Some of the best laptops which have high battery life are:
Lenovo ThinkPad T480
HP Envy x2
Dell XPS 13 (2019)
Apple MacBook Pro (2019)
HP Spectre x360
If you are into heavy gaming on your laptop, I am afraid that you cannot juice out a long battery life from any of the laptops, no matter how big the number of cells gets.
Miscellaneous Things to Look For:
Having mentioned some of the top things to consider, let us see some of the nuances of laptops.
Laptops are now offered in clam-style designs, where the laptops fold down to a keyboard and a trackpad. Pretty cool stuff, right? This can be fun but will set you back by quite a few bucks.
It is important to analyse the keyboard before you buy a laptop since key travel can be a nuisance for people who love typing quick.
Connectivity is another aspect to look into. Make sure that your laptop has the latest Wi-Fi version, which is Wi-Fi 5 (Wi-Fi 6 coming soon) and preferably Bluetooth 5 (BT 4.2 is great as well). Brand value is equally important for a good after-sales service. Not going to name anyone but buy laptops from brands that have previously proved their dominance on this front.