There are numerous factors you need to consider when buying a laptop and they vary depending on your intended purpose. When it comes to what is best for you, there is no definite answer. Instead, what I can offer you are guidelines to help you make an informed decision.
With laptops, there are all kinds of models in the market offering amazing capabilities, and they come at varying prices. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you, depending on the use. As such, I will offer you a checklist showing what to look for before making the buy.
Of course, general factors such as your budget play an essential role in this decision but before we get there, let’s deal with the basics first.
How big is the laptop?
When it comes to laptops, size has an impact on its suitability. Supposing you travel a lot and are in need of a computer that you can lug around conveniently, pay close attention to how much it weighs.
For people to whom weight is a concern, notebooks are the best options. They come with a small yet efficient screen, and they weigh close to nothing. Go for models that fall in the ultrabook category as they come in light and slim designs.
Your ideal weight should be between one and one and a half kilos, and the screen should have dimensions in the regions of between 12.5 to 13.3 inches. For people to whom portability is not an issue, you have lots of options at your disposal.
Our pick: The Dell XPS 13, weighing a meager 1.2 kilograms with a screen size of 13.3 inches.
How good is the keyboard?
For writers, the travel distance matters a lot as it affects how fast their typing sessions are. If you know that you will spend lots of time typing, go for a comfortable keyboard. The best keyboard would be one that has its number pads squished in one corner and one that does not have every key in the history of computers.
Full sized keys make it easier to type, and spacing around the arrow keys comes in handy so that you need not fumble when using the keyboard. The responsiveness of the keys once you let go also comes into play. The faster it is, the better for you.
A backlit keyboard helps you work in dimly lit environments. The best way to go about purchasing a laptop when your focus is on the keyboard is to try it out before handing over the money.
Our pick: Try out the Lenovo L470 which boasts of a 1.9mm travel distance.
If you are looking to have a laptop with some of the highest processing speeds in the market, think Intel Core. Their CPUs perform excellently for various uses ranging from gaming to typing to watching movies.
The Cores vary, and your choice should depend on how often you use the laptop. The downside of Core 17 systems is that they tend to overheat when used over prolonged periods and as such, they may not be ideal for you if you spend lots of time working on your laptop. In such a case, the i3 would be perfect.
Our pick: With the Dell XPS 15, you can reach processing speeds of 3.8 GHZ.
The higher the storage space on your laptop, the more the applications you can run simultaneously. With this in mind, go for a computer with at least 4GB of storage space as it will help you get the most out of your system.
A higher RAM also makes access to data simple which is useful when running applications such as photo editing which require a lot of responsiveness. Before the coming of the solid-state drives, also known as SSDs, people relied heavily on hard drives which proved to be cumbersome and noisy. They also overheated at fast rates.
When compared to a hard drive, an SSD offers much more convenience in that it is faster and runs silently. Manufacturers also install the drives in a way that does not profoundly impact on the weight of the laptop.
The downside to these drives is that their capacity has its limits and you will often end up with a 128GB or 256GB drive. Another downside to these drives is that the 256GB SSD can be pretty unforgiving to your pocket.
With a 128GB SSD drive, you will enjoy high speeds in loading programs and in accessing your data. Unless there is a reason why you must have storage space of up to 256 GB, the 128 GB SSD will serve you well.
If you want something that will blow your mind regarding speed and storage space, go for a model with an NVMe SSD. Be ready to splurge some money on this kind of storage space though as it does not come cheap.
Our pick: We know that the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin will not disappoint you when it comes to storage capabilities.
The life of the battery
A laptop with a battery which lasts for a few hours before it needs recharging can be problematic especially when it comes to the issue of portability, as you will always be in search of sockets to plug it in. Manufacturers often quote hours that are not indicative of how long the battery can last. Many factors come into play in battery life ranging from screen brightness, connectivity to Wi-Fi, the resolution of the screen and the tasks you are running.
As such, if you run a lot of processes at the same time, your battery will run out of charge sooner than indicated by the manufacturer. Make a point not to focus on the hours, but instead look at the rating given in watt-hours or milliamp hours as these show you what to expect.
The larger the rated hours, the longer a battery can last and vice versa. Supposing you opt for an ultra-book with a rating of 44-watt-hours to 50-watt-hours, you will have made a significant purchase.
Our pick: The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 averages about 45 watt hours and would be an ideal choice.
The quality of the build
Leave alone how attractive the exterior is. What matters is what the build. Now and then, we drop our laptops and mutter our prayers, hoping that the damage done is not that much. As such, having a computer built to withstand impacts and environmental elements will save you a lot of money about repairs in the future.
Our Pick: The Asus Zenbook UX310UA comes with a sturdy aluminum body, designed to last ages.
As you go through the checklist, remember to keep in mind how much you are willing to spend as well as your needs because those two are what matter most in the end. Good luck!