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Inclusive Buying Guide for Modern Laptop

Many years have passed, and we witness a lot of significant changes in the laptop computer world. It includes its software, hardware, and design factor.

This technology is no longer limited to the office and business purposes. Instead, it is regularly can be found as well at school, college, in the coffee shops, and even on the road.

While the smartphone and tablet also develop rapidly, but still, most of us realize that a notebook even can do much better in some cases.

A complete and best one for a consumer is based on what he needs and sometimes cost availability. But, since there’re numerous notebooks in the market, one can only suggest lists, features, and specs for them.

To that end, in this post, we’ll cover some significant steps concerning how to buy a laptop computer, especially for the latest notebook computers in the last few years.

CONTENTS

  1. How to buy a laptop computer
  2. Choosing an operating system and laptop brand
  3. Laptop specs and potential
  4. Design and build quality
  5. Screen features & quality
  6. Brand criteria
  7. Research

1. How to Buy a Laptop Computer


When it comes to the modern laptop, there are different types that available today.

Plus, each one of these offers ranges of uses, and it includes portability, features performance, and some others.

So, it is one of the crucial things to think first, especially for new buyers that plan to find a laptop for a desktop replacement.

Perhaps, there are some of you asking why is that so important?

Well, unlike a desktop, laptops only have a limited number of upgradable hardware. Several thoughts usually come in mind which are related to this matter. So, let’s begin with these first.

Topic Content

1. How to buy a laptop computer

1.1. Identify & decide what you need
1.2. Laptop capability
1.3. Budget calculation
1.4. Laptop drawbacks

MORE:

1.1. Identify and decide what you need for a notebook

The portable computer impacts constructively in today’s industries. So, there are a wide variety of choices produces in the last decade.

It includes school, gaming, creative content, business, programming, college, and many others. So, what do you want the laptop to do for you? This question may sound simple for some of us.

However, in this matter, it is good to think carefully, because most people made a long term investment when it comes to a laptop.

Moreover, the modern notebook offers multiple functions with some extent of capability. Therefore, you might not want to miss that part.

1.2. How capable the laptop can perform

How will you utilize your notebook is also essential. It doesn’t matter what kind of user and profession you’re in (gamer, designer, etc.), you’ll most certainly find that there’s a broad range of laptop’s capability.

Generally, there are three significant groupings that the experts always talk about. It includes general uses, mid-tier performance, and high-end laptops.

So, each one of the laptop types (e.g., gaming) is defined and rated by this class.

For example, if you’re a student and casual gamer who only play a couple of games with acceptable graphics, you don’t have to buy an expensive or high-end gaming rig.

A mid-tier laptop should be good enough for your needs. While, there’s a kind of processor that is more powerful than these ranges, which is called overclocking CPUs.

These CPUs are meant for virtual reality, intense gaming experience, and any high-quality production, modeling, and editing.

1.3. Budget calculation

Calculating your budget is crucially important. It does not just help you to estimate what you can afford, but as well to rebalance your needs.

Besides, a smart end-user certainly knows how to manage their budget and priority.

There is a broad range of notebooks these days, and you’ll find many different configurations available in the current market.

Therefore, decide what the most essential laptop’s element to you and how it suits your budget and use.

Remember that there is only a couple of part that upgradable for a laptop computer (i.e.RAM and Storage). So, if you face the budget limit issue, you have options to cut some capacities to reduce the cost.

1.4. Aware of the Disadvantages

Most of us realized there are some downsides in the world of the laptop, but these things might not gonna affect your desire to having one.

However, it’s good to think of it first sometimes before buying one.

Laptop technology advances rather rapidly, there are more awesome things that may come after. So, it’s hard to keep pace with it, and you may possibly attract to some latest products even after you just bought one.

Additionally, even though a notebook offers excellent mobility to its user, it doesn’t have something called customizable.

Unlike a desktop computer, the significant hardware like CPU and GPU are non-upgradeable.

Not all laptops can last long enough to serve its users daily. It depends on the battery capacity unless you’re always working near to the power outlet.

2. Choosing an OS (Operating System) & Brand


OS and brand are also crucial when it comes to a laptop. The most popular operating system is Windows of Microsoft and macOS from Apple.

Many notebook brands today use Windows, while macOS restricted to Mac computers.

Concerning the laptop brand, it’s not just built quality, design, and laptop specifications, but its technical support, reputability, and many others. While OS is the platform for the application to operates.

These days, other than these most well known OS (Windows and macOS), you also can try Linux. It’s free to use and offers many programs.

However, Linux usually used by the advance or more techy-savvy person. While Chromebook is an affordable option for Windows and macOS laptops, and it’s rapidly growing today.

This notebook is entirely different, as this machine runs the ChromeOS from Google.

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2. Choosing an OS & brand

2.1. OS and brand familiarity
2.2. Microsoft Windows
2.3. macOS
2.4. ChromeOS

2.1. OS and brand familiarity

If you’re already familiar with the notebook brand, you must know the quality of the manufacturer as well. This is an advantage for a user in terms of researching, as it can save time since you’re very friendly with the services.

It’s the same goes to an OS (operating system). Since you used to the system and already know how to operate, it will be easy and time-saving with a familiar interface of an OS, programs, and also for customization.

2.2. Microsoft Windows

Since there are many laptop producers uses Windows operating system, there’s intense rivalry between these company. So, Windows notebooks are the most well-known device that delivers a broad scope of configuration options.

Besides, you’ll most certainly find that this category (Windows laptop) delivers a variety of price points.

Therefore, with the multiplicity of notebook design, built, and features, it helps you to set-up your budget which suits to your needs.

The latest Microsoft Windows (Windows 10) offers additional customizable options and features too.

So, if you have not used the Windows operating system for quite some time, this system distinguishes and significantly improves.

Windows laptop is idle for most type of users. macOS and Linux increasingly grow for apps and games, but Windows still supports most of them.

Up to this day, it’s the best option for the gamers and e-Sport enthusiasts.

2.3. macOS

Apple’s Mac computers are the only devices that used this operating system.

It provides the same basis to the Windows 10 with some differences on the interface and visual like the apps dock and the menu bar.

In the laptop world, macOS boasts a stylish and most user-friendly interface. macOS also considers as unique since it’s only used by the Macbook.

Plus, this system has an excellent security system, as it has fewer issues with malware and viruses.

You can also use Windows on a Mac computer by using its Boot Camp (only a valid copy of Windows allowed).

Macbooks generally have higher prices compare to Windows and still doesn’t come with touchscreen capability.

2.4. ChromeOS

Google’s ChromeOS can only be found on the laptops called Chromebook, and it based on the Google Chrome browser. It is another alternative for affordable machines besides the Windows notebooks.

It’s fast, secure, and built to runs Google web apps like Google Drive, Google Maps, Gmail, and many others. On the earlier generations, many web apps can’t work well offline, but it’s already changed.

Chromebook is suitable for emails, movies or video online, web surfing, social network, and Google Docs for word-processing.

It is more functional than most tablet even though it’s significantly less capable than Windows and macOS.

3. Laptop Specs & Potential


There are two major aspects to highlight when it comes to modern notebooks.

It includes its performance, which contains the internal laptop hardware (CPU, GPU, etc.) and the machine’s form factor (size, portability, and etc.).

Occasionally, some users pick the design first over its specs, but a laptop potential and features are pivotal for a notebook, as it determines the efficiency of all tasks.

As long it offers mobility, durability, and reliable battery life, that suffices enough.

Since the laptop speed and performance depends on its internals, take your time and look carefully at every notebook’s technical specs.

So, it can make sure that the device you choose has the capacity you need.

Topic Content

3. Notebook specs

3.1. CPU/Processor

3.1.1. Basic system
3.1.2. Standard system
3.1.3. Higher-end system
3.1.4. Overclock processor

3.2. Graphics Card
3.3. RAM/Memory
3.4. Hard Drive/Storage
3.5. Connectivity
3.6. Optical drive

3.1 Check the CPU (Central Processing Unit) or processor

The processor or CPU is the most critical part of internal hardware for every computer. It’s the brain for these devices in which a CPU plays as a primary element on almost every aspect of PC’s potentialities.

Completing tasks, how good the system runs, battery performance, and many others are related to the processing capability and capacity.

Unlike the older CPU model, today’s processors are no longer defined by the clock speed alone.

Instead, the multi-core CPUs are usually faster and more reliable on running today’s least and most demanding applications and games.

The Intel Core and AMD Ryzen are the most famous processor when it comes to modern laptops.

These CPUs barely to be found in the lower-end categories. Pentium, Celeron, and Atom offer the slowest performance of the Intel processor.

While AMD models like C- or E series and some A model are for the low-cost notebooks.

3.1.1. For general & everyday uses

  • From a personal viewpoint, the best entry-level CPUs today are Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3. These processing units may presume as all-around performance for minor usages of web surfing, productivity, and basic modern games.
  • Besides, you can do blogging, simple photo editing, and watch videos online as long there’s only a few, and a minor load of the app runs simultaneously.
  • It plays some favorite games with applicable graphics and framerate settings if paired with discrete GPU.
  • While, CPUs like Intel Pentium, Celeron, AMD FX, and C- series are also entry-level system, and it’s the most inexpensive ones.
  • However, these CPUs only good at handling the most basic loads and tasks either for productivity and entertainment.
  • You can expect them only for media viewing, online (with a couple of browser tab open), emails, and simple productivity like word-processing.
  • So, Core i3 and Ryzen 3 are the best so far if you need a basic CPU system.

3.1.2. Modern productivity and gaming standard

  • Best average performance for today’s laptop equipped with Intel Core i5 U series, as it balances between the capacity, price, and battery life.
  • The U series of Core i5 is an excellent option and most balance CPU for mid-tier notebooks.
  • The U series example of the Intel Core i5 model: Intel Core i5-8520U.
  • This series designs for ultraportable devices since it requires more degree of portability and longevity battery. The Core i5, which comes with Y series (e.g., Intel Core i5-7Y54), utilizes less power and performs much slower.
  • Besides, you can find mid-tier machines that focus on graphical usages and a more powerful version of Intel Core i5, which is the H and HQ model. However, these CPUs consume more energy and cost more.
  • While the AMD delivered to the world the Ryzen 5 to handle all-around multimedia performance. It can also do demanding tasks like gaming, 4K quality video streaming, and light video editing.

3.1.3. High-end chips for power users

  • Generally, most high-end machines equipped with Intel Core i7, which is a step further than Core i5. These processors are suitable for power users like gamers, designers, video editing, and creative multimedia.
  • However, these kinds of users demanded a greater extent compared to average users. The Core i7 has the U series as well for less power consumption and prices, while the H and HQ model delivers better performance and graphics.
  • Although the Y series of Core i7 is significantly less capacity than others. For another option, Ryzen 7 from AMD provides acceptable performances as well as the Core i7.

3.1.4. Intel Xeon and overclock CPUs

  • The professionals always work with a large mobile workstation. This type of laptop is special and design to utilized and handled pro-grade production programs.
  • So, the Intel Xeon line CPUs are amongst the best around.
  • For even more intense and extreme gaming experience, the latest 10th generation of Intel and Core i9 processors are good enough.
  • Besides, you most certainly find that there are Core i7 with the HK model (unlocked multiplier) for overclock.

3.2. Consider a dedicated GPU or graphics card

A dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is also known as a video card and graphics card. Most modern CPU has an integrated one which sufficient enough for regular and necessary uses (display, games, videos, etc.).

Unless you’re users that are always working with production software, e-Sport games, and many other similar programs, a dedicated or discrete GPU is a must.

Moreover, it’s non-removable and attached to the motherboard.

In short, a laptop GPU is non-upgradable, so choose carefully. There are only two successful brands when it comes to a dedicated GPU, and it’s the Nvidia and AMD.

A video card defined and measured by its memory capacity (GB/gigabytes).

3.3. Quantity of memory or RAM (Random Access Memory)

The amount of RAM or memory is crucial for a laptop, as it is the second element that required after the CPU for its performances.

This part used to store particular information on apps for easy access and instant launch.

It also determines how many programs or applications a device can run at once, and generally measures by GB (gigabytes) in these days.

The more amount of memory installed on a laptop, the more numbers of applications it can handle.

Today, a notebook with 4 GB of memory is adequate for general uses like emails, photo viewing, online, and many others. While an 8 GB RAM is a minimum requirement for gaming and other latest productivity software.

You can get 16 GB or more for heavy loads applications. However, having a large amount of RAM drained the battery life faster than usual.

Fortunately, this part is one of the upgradable elements for some laptops.

3.4. Hard drive or internal storage type and capacity

Choosing internal storage for a notebook had never been complicated as these days, as we only concern on its size and rotational speed.

But today, as technology rapidly evolves, there are a few types of drives like SSDs and SSHDs emerges.

So, these two type drive plus the traditional HDDs (hard disk drives) are the most well known internal storage for today’s notebooks.

Since the style and how they work are quite different, it required considerations before choosing the right one.

It includes form factor, price, performance, capacity, and power efficiency. SSDs are the fastest and thinnest drive around, but expensive.

HDDs offer many options and large capacity, inexpensive, and easy to find. Although the HDD is significantly slower than SSDs and SSHDs.

MORE: How to choose between HDD, SSD, SSHD

While SSHD is a combination of these two drives and often used by a particular type of gamers and some other users. It’s not as fast as SSDs, but better than HDDs.

Similar to RAM (Random Access Memory), most laptops today can upgrade their internal storage or hard drives.

3.5. Comprehensive Connectivity

Most modern notebooks came with adequate built-in networking capability to stay connected to other devices, gadgets, and the internet.

So, these laptops usually provided with the current 802.11 Wi-Fi and integrated Bluetooth.

As for the interfaces or ports, it depends on what peripherals you want to connect to your machine. Some users like to work and often play with external devices.

It includes an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, speaker, touchpad, and many others.

Some people likely to use those not too often. It’s based on your comfort and how you utilize it. So, these following ports below commonly used and available for connecting to the peripherals.

USB Type-A

  • There are two kinds of USB Type-A, and it’s 2.0 and 3.0. The USB 3.0 is faster for data transfer than USB version 2.0 if it uses the same type of 3.0 connector.
  • Used to connect an external drive, joystick, keyboard, mouse, and many others.

HDMI (High-definition Multimedia Interface)

  • Used connecting your laptop to compatible external monitor and projector to display HD media and sound.

USB Type-C

  • The USB Type-C is the smaller version of the standard USB port (USB-Type A).
  • It delivers faster transfer rate and versatile capability, in which it can handle video output,
    downward compatibility with standard USB, power, and more.

Thunderbolt 3

  • The most exclusive port for today’s notebook and it has similar designs as the Type-C.
  • It features the highest bandwidth of transfer rate, as it speeds up to 10 Gbps.
  • It connects and works up to two 4K displays, and some can handle External GPU.

Card Reader Slot

  • Useful for photographer and videographer to transfer videos and photos from the SD card of your camcorder or digital cameras.

Audio Jack

  • Almost all laptop has this thing. It’s for audio output like headphones and speakers.

3.6. Optical Drive

Some laptops come with the optical drive, and it is suitable for CD burn, install software, game, OS, and watching movies from an optical disc.

However, most notebooks with ultraportable build and design don’t feature an optical drive. It’s because the providers want to keep those machines light and thin.

If the laptop you pick or your PC doesn’t have it, you can always buy an external DVD drive and use it whenever you want to use it.

The external Blue-ray drive is also available today for the blue-ray video quality.

4. Design & Build Quality


Some experts and enthusiasts today said that Design is King, as this factor improved and offers a multiplicity of style these days.

Therefore, a notebook is no longer defines only by its specs but the form factor as well.

Modern notebooks design are not limited only to a couple of element anymore like the previous laptop’s technology.

Somewhat it is rapidly become more crucial, as this tool required to almost industries these days.

To that end, there are several design tweaks and new inventions been made by the providers. The 2-in-1 laptops are one of the significant innovations you’ll find these days.

Topic Content

4. Design & build quality

4.1. Laptop size

4.1.1. Desktop replacement (DTR)
4.1.2. Standard laptop & netbook

4.2. Laptop durability
4.3. Design features

MORE:

4.1. Choose relevant screen size

For a laptop design, the size plays a vital role as it based on your comfortability and uses. Generally, laptops categorize into three classes.

It includes a desktop replacement computer (DTR), standard notebook, and netbook. Most laptop screen sizes available generally from 11 to 17 inches, which are measured diagonally.

Broader screen sizes have more potential to affect the device’s battery life or power consumption, weight, and overall design of a machine.

Although, most of the laptops that featured larger screens are reliable for heavy loads, high-end tasks, and offered an excellent visual display.

It’s usually used for desktop replacement in which to handle the latest favorite gaming and high load programs.

However, as the advancement grows in the laptop world, there are more few types invented like ultrabook and laptop-tablet devices.

These types also offer various sizes and concepts, which can influence your needs and choices.

4.1.1. Desktop replacement computer (DTR)

It’s a laptop computer that offered a similar capability of a desktop computer, and these laptops commonly have a bulky design.

You can do almost everything, including demanded e-sport gaming with it. But, the featured weight and size might be too much for some people to carry around.

Nowadays, these machines range from 15 to 17 inches, but most of them come in the 17-inch category. It still has mobility even though not as compact as the others.

Some modern hybrid notebooks provided powerful hardware too, but it’s only to specific degrees, as it to keep its portability. Also, there is some model that offered upgradability for the graphics card to a limited extent.

Moreover, the new Alienware Area 51m provides upgradable both CPU and GPU, which completely rare for a mobile computer.

However, a DTR laptop usually has a short battery life, considering the hardware features.

4.1.2. Standard laptop and netbook

For average sizes, it’s generally from 13 to 15 inches class, and these sizes featured acceptable weights. Since laptop tech advances rapidly for the last several years, some 17 inches units delivered an acceptable weight and thin.

Most ultrabook and hybrid notebook also come in these sizes, as these laptops balances between performance and portability. There are many high-end units falls in these categories too.

While the netbooks are the mini version of a notebook. It includes 13 inches size and below. These devices are very lightweight, longevity battery, and compact for its design, but lack performances.

Plus, the keyboards may not feel comfortable and suitable only for most basic tasks.

4.2. Laptop durability

Durability is always related to product design, build, and material. Today, most thin and lightweight notebook designs should be sturdy and light than typical ones.

Plus, there are some laptops designed with military-grade quality, and the Asus ZenBook 13 is one of them.

The used material like plastic and aluminum chassis truly impacts the premium feels of a laptop. Some argue that the plastic-made case has less strength than the metal case.

However, from our viewpoint, as long it feels well built and rigid, the material doesn’t matter. So, it’s only a matter of view in terms of durability. Take a look at the notebook’s keyboard and hinges too.

4.3. Design features

Design features may be a personal taste, but it can provide some benefits to its user to some extent. The first world’s full view design is MateBook X Pro from Huawei.

At the time it released, this notebook delivered portability without abandon much screen view, as its bezels are so thin and offered a full display on a 13.9-inch laptop.

Plus, you’ll most certainly find a few laptops that use dual-screen like HP Omen X 2S and Asus Zenbook Pro Duo.

While the gem cut and cut edges design of HP Spectre X360 both 13 and 15 inches sizes. ZenBook and VivoBook model and some other Asus laptops featured an innovative trackpad called the Screen Pad.

5. Display Quality & Features


There are several laptop screen types. Each of those built with varied display technologies which offer different quality, brightness, and color.

Today’s one of the most famous notebook display is featured with IPS (In-plan switching) panel.

It’s suitable for content sharing, as it produced an excellent viewing angle, a more natural image, and realistic colors.

Additionally, the LED (Light-emitting diode) backlit delivered bright colors without affecting the battery. This combination meant to maximize users’ experience when it comes to displays.

Some laptops used matte display, hence makes it minimizing glare effect in which good for outdoor uses. The glossy type display coating delivered more vivid color and contrast, which have intense color and darker black.

Topic Content

5. Display quality & features

5.1. Screen resolution
5.2. Touchscreen

5.1. Display Resolution

Higher-resolution offers a better visual image on the screen and produced impressive details of contents. Generally, most laptops used 768p (1366 x 768 resolution), and it’s good enough for everyday uses.

So, 768p quality is likely the least of HD quality for today’s requirements.

You may rarely find a laptop with 900p HD+ (1600 x 900) quality these days on smaller sizes, as it usually suits for movies and casual gaming.

The Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) display offered better image and content details for gaming and movies, and so on.

If you have an advance graphics card, the QHD, QHD+, and 4K (Ultra HD) delivered more details of color and image on your laptop’s screen.

5.2. Touchscreen

The new touchscreen capability provided different experiences when working with your notebook. It brings you an entirely new level of navigating style, as it’s accurate, quicker, and uses less effort.

By just using your fingers and stylus pen, you can do things like drawing (best for 2-in-1 notebooks), drag items, tap to select, swipe to switch and scroll, and many others.

However, it’ll cause the cost and price to jump a bit higher.

The touchscreen feature can be accessible and find on the majority of Windows laptops and some selected Chromebooks. At the same time, Apple still doesn’t produce any Macbook that is utilizing this screen feature.

6. Consider some Brand Criteria


Some people stick to a brand for some reason, as they satisfied with the services they’ve got. Apple received the most constructive feedbacks for its programs, supports, and security.

Unfortunately, Macbook only used MacOS. However, the Windows operating system used by many laptop brands for almost a decade ago.

So, if you’re someone who needs Windows as the preferable OS, it is something good for you to do some research about this matter.

The product design, feature, price, technical support, popularity is the most important criteria for a laptop brand. Microsoft, Dell, Asus, and HP are among reputable brands today.

While Huawei rapidly growing in this industry as well. Besides, there are some brands famous because of a particular style of use and configurations.

For example, a Microsoft 2-in-1 or hybrid laptop has a variety of specs and well-known for this kind of laptop.

As for gaming, you must be familiar with Asus ROG (Republic of Gamer), MSI, Alienware, Razor Blade, Acer Predator Helios, HP Omen, and many others.

Moreover, the laptop warranty may vary depend on the manufacturers.

7. Devote Some Time for Researches


Either you buy a laptop online, or from a computer store, each one of us needs information as much as we can.

This will help us to confirm and get all the requirements that we looking for a laptop.

Moreover, perhaps you might come across a store or website that offers some good deals, either accessories or cost promotion.

Therefore, devote some of your time to do some researches, as it’s good for some cases.

These days, the internet mostly has an abundance of information on products, so try to search on the internet first. If you plan to buy a laptop at the computer store, you can try and give a test to it before deciding.

Read other consumer or user reviews if you buying it online, as most of the online store provided a particular section, which is only for customer feedbacks on a specific product.

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