There are always tons of laptops on the market, and almost all of those models are available in multiple configurations to suit your performance and budget needs. So it's no surprise that when you're looking for a new laptop, you can feel overwhelmed by all the options. To simplify things, here are the main things to consider when you start your search.
For most people, the search for a new laptop starts with price. If the statistics thrown at us by chipmaker Intel and PC makers are correct, he'll be using his next laptop for at least three years. If you can stretch your budget a little to get better specs, do it. And that's true whether you spend $500 or $1,000 or more. In the past, you have been able to save upfront costs for future memory and storage upgrades. But laptop manufacturers are moving further and further away from making components easily upgradeable, so again, it's best to get as much of your laptop as possible from the get-go.
Generally speaking, the more you spend, the better your laptop will be. That could mean better components for faster performance, a better display, sturdier build quality, a smaller or lighter design with high-end materials, and even a more comfortable keyboard. All this increases the cost of the laptop. As much as we'd like to say that you can get a powerful gaming laptop for, say, $500, that's simply not the case. Right now, the sweet spot for a reliable laptop that can handle average work, home office, or school tasks is between $700 and $800, with models suitable for creative work and gaming at around $1,000. that's all. The key is to look for discounts on models in all price ranges so you can buy more laptops for less.
The choice of operating system depends on personal preference and budget. For the most part, Microsoft Windows and Apple's MacOS do the same thing (except for games, where Windows wins), but they do it differently. Unless there is an OS-specific application you need, use the application you are most comfortable using. If you're not sure which one is right, go to the Apple Store or your local electronics store and try them out. Or ask a friend or family member to try a little. If you have and love an iPhone or iPad, you might also love MacOS.
But when it comes to price and variety (and, again, PC gaming), Windows laptops win. If you want MacOS, you'll buy a MacBook. Apple's MacBook always tops best lists, but the cheapest one is the $999 M1 MacBook Air. It's regularly discounted to $750 or $800, but if you want a cheaper MacBook, you should consider an older refurbished one.
Windows laptops can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and come in a variety of sizes and designs. Admittedly, you'd be hard-pressed to find a $200 laptop that I can wholeheartedly recommend. But if you need a laptop for online shopping, email, or word processing, those laptops exist.
If you're on a budget, consider a Chromebook. ChromeOS is a different experience than Windows. Before you take the leap, make sure the applications you want have Chrome, Android, or Linux apps. However, if you spend most of your time roaming the web, writing, streaming videos, or using cloud gaming services, these are for you.
Remember to consider whether a lighter, thinner laptop or a touchscreen laptop with longer battery life will be more important to you in the future. The size is mainly determined by the screen (it's a law of physics). Additionally, the battery size, laptop thickness, weight, and price are taken into account. Also keep in mind other physics-related characteristics, such as an ultra-thin laptop not necessarily being lighter than a thicker one, and smaller or ultra-thin models not offering a wide range of connectivity.
When deciding on a screen, consider things like how much you need to display (resolution is surprisingly more important than screen size), what kind of content you'll see, and whether you'll display it at all. There are countless things to consider. Use for games and creative work.
You really want to optimize pixel density. In other words, it is the number of pixels per inch that can be displayed on the screen. There are other factors that contribute to sharpness, but generally the higher the pixel density, the sharper the rendering of text and interface elements. (If you don't feel like doing the math, you can easily calculate the pixel density for any screen with our DPI calculator, and you can also find out what calculations you need to do there.) At least 100 pixels A dot pitch of is recommended. A good rule of thumb is expressed in units per inch (ppi).
Because of the way Windows and MacOS scale to fit your display, you may often be better off using a higher resolution than you think. You can always make it bigger on a high-resolution screen, but you can't make it smaller on a lower-resolution screen to fit more content into the view. So while a 4K, 14-inch screen may seem like an unnecessary overkill, it might not be if you need to view extensive spreadsheets, for example.
If you want a laptop with relatively accurate colors, a laptop that displays as many colors as possible, or a laptop that supports HDR, you can't simply rely on the specs. Not because manufacturers are lying, but because manufacturers usually don't provide the necessary context to understand their specs. The specs they cite mean. Our Monitor Buying Guide for General Purpose Monitors, Creators, Gamers, and HDR Viewing details considerations for using different types of screens.
The processor, also known as the CPU, is the brain of your laptop. Intel and AMD are the leading CPU manufacturers for Windows laptops. Both offer an amazing selection of mobile processors. To complicate matters further, both manufacturers have chips designed for different laptop styles, such as power-saving chips for ultraportables and faster processors for gaming laptops. Their naming convention tells you which type is used. You can visit Intel or AMD's site for instructions and get the performance you need. However, generally speaking, the faster the processor and the more cores it has, the better the performance will be.
Apple makes its own chips for MacBooks, which makes things a little easier. However, just like Intel and AMD, you need to pay attention to the naming convention to know what kind of performance you can expect. Apple uses M-series chipsets in Macs. The entry-level MacBook Air uses an M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU. Current models feature M2-series silicon starting with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU and up to M2 Max with a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU. Again, generally speaking, the more cores you have, the better your performance will be.
The graphics processor (GPU) not only handles all the work of driving the screen and generating the display content, but also speeds up many graphics-related (and increasingly AI-related) operations. For Windows laptops, there are two types of GPUs: integrated (iGPU) or discrete (dGPU). As the name suggests, the iGPU is part of the CPU package, while the dGPU is a separate chip with dedicated memory (VRAM) that it communicates directly with, making it faster than sharing memory with the CPU.
The iGPU splits space, memory, and power with the CPU, so it is constrained by those limits. It can make your laptop smaller and lighter, but you won't get the same performance as a dGPU. In fact, some games and creative software won't run unless they detect a dGPU or enough VRAM. However, most productivity software, video streaming, web browsing, and other non-technical apps will work fine on the iGPU.
More power-hungry graphics needs, such as video editing, gaming and streaming, and design, will require a dGPU. The only real companies that make these are his Nvidia and AMD, with Intel offering their CPUs based on his Xe brand (or older UHD graphics brand) iGPU technology. doing.
For memory, we highly recommend 16 GB of RAM (8 GB absolute minimum). RAM is where the operating system stores all the data for currently running applications, and it can fill up quickly. It will then start swapping between RAM and SSD, slowing it down. Many laptops under $500 come with 4GB or 8GB, which, when combined with a slow disk, can make your Windows laptop experience frustratingly slow. Also, many laptops now have memory soldered to the motherboard. Most manufacturers disclose this, but if your RAM type is LPDDR, consider that it is soldered and cannot be upgraded.
However, some PC manufacturers solder the memory and leave an empty internal slot for adding a RAM stick. To find out, you may need to contact your laptop manufacturer or search online for your laptop's full specifications. Also, check out the user experience on the web. Slots may still be difficult to access, may require non-standard or hard-to-obtain memory, and may have other pitfalls.
Although budget laptops still have cheaper hard drives and gaming laptops still have larger hard drives, laptop hard drives have largely been replaced by faster solid-state drives (SSDs). Masu. It can make a big difference in performance. However, not all SSDs are equally fast, and cheaper laptops usually have slower drives. If your laptop only has 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM, you'll end up swapping to that drive, which can slow down your system quickly while you work.
If you buy what you can afford and need to use a smaller drive, you can always add an external drive or two or use cloud storage to enhance your small internal drive. The only exception is gaming laptops. I don't recommend using his SSD less than 512GB unless you really like uninstalling games every time you want to play a new one.