Laptops today have pretty much replaced the traditional desktop computers we have grown use to for a better part of two decades. Existing desktops that is still being used today come in a form of a gaming system or a powerful workstation (iMac desktops included) . Reason for this trend is very simple,laptops have advanced in hardware that rivals any desktop computer you see on the market today, and design of the laptop today are ultra-thin,so thin some models can be mistaken for a tablet ( Ala the new Macbook 2015) which makes for great portability.
With that said, when shopping for a laptop,is not always easy as just putting up money for what you might think will be your best choice. There are several things you need to consider when shopping around for a laptop. Are you using this laptop to just web surf or just using it to engage in social media activities,then more than likely the best option is the cheap option. Plan on gaming with your next laptop or do some video editing,your best bet is the high price option. Will the hardware in the laptop of my choice hold up? What about the display,is it sharp enough? What about the battery,will it last long? So many questions with lots of provided answers.
Whether you're upgrading from a old laptop or buying your first,here's several key factors you need to take into account before you buy that new laptop.
Know The Hardware
The specs listed on any laptop such as,the CPU,RAM,hard drive and graphic chips can appear to be very confusing to the average consumer, so don't feel to bad if the spec sheet looks like an algebraic equation. The type of hardware you are seeking all depends on your overall need. Intense tasks such as 3D gaming and video editing would require more expensive hardware. While mundane ordinary task such as web surfing doesn't demand heavy duty top notch hardware.
Here's three main components you need to focus on when buying a laptop.
CPU: Mid-level laptops( the least expensive) on the market will usually have these type of processors,AMD E series or the Intel Pentium. Both of which will struggle a tad bit when handling a great deal of productivity or handle media tasks such as video trans coding. Usually laptops that have these types of processors are just tools for web surfing.
Laptop hybrids like the Windows Surface Pro often enough will use an Intel Core M processor which is not great but decent as far as speed goes but they're known for not generating a lot of power,thus extending the life of your battery.
If you're looking for a beastly performance out of your laptop,then you'll need to be looking at the Intel Core i3,i5 and i7 processors. If you plan on spending $400-$500 for laptop,my suggestion is to look for one that at least has the Intel Core i5 processor. Power users such as hardcore gamers or video enthusiast should not in any shape or form settle for a any laptop that doesn't have a Core i7 processor with a quad-core chip. This type of processor is great for multitasking without any compromise to system performance.
RAM: For the most part manufacturers today do a pretty good job at installing laptops with a decent amount of memory. Even low cost option notebooks have at least 4GB of RAM. I myself lean towards getting a system with 6 to 8GB. Like underwear's and socks,you can never have a enough of em. The same applies to system memory,you can never have enough RAM.
Hard Drive: For some strange reason, laptop manufacturers today still install hard drives that run at 5,400-rpm,which in my opinion is not good and awfully slow. Look for the laptop that has the hard drive that runs at 7,200 rpm, which is a big boost in system performance because the rotational speed is much faster. As far storage capacity goes it all depends on what you plan on storing on your hard drive. If you plan on downloading a lot videos,then you'll need a hard drive that has at least 500GB or more in storage capacity. Videos takes up a great deal of space on a hard drive. You're starting to see laptops today with 1TB of storage space yet still be reasonable in price,partly because spinning hard drives are much cheaper now than there were 5 years ago.
Today most of your high-end laptops like the ultra-books come with an SSD (solid state drive). These drives for the most part are still rather pricey than your traditional hard drive that's in most laptops on the market, that's why you'll see laptops with solid state storage have an expensive price tag. The big trade off when buying laptops with SSD's is the storage capacity which at best will come in at 125-250GB. Though you'll have minimum storage according today's standard,the biggest advantage in owning a laptop or any computer for that matter that has a SSD is speed. You'll have faster boot times and applications will load a lot faster.
Those Battery Cells
When buying a laptop, pay close attention to the battery power specs. You need to know how many cells your laptop battery has. The more cells it has, the longer battery can last on a charge. For an example, a 12 cell battery will last a lot longer than a 6 cell battery. Other battery specs you want to closely examine is the listed Watt-Hour rating, WHr for short. A high WHr rating means longer lasting battery power.
About The Graphics
Most mid-level laptops will have integrated graphics chip ( that's the actual chip that shares system RAM) which is decent enough for basic tasks,such as surfing the web,viewing videos online like YouTube. If you're looking for a laptop that's capable of displaying high quality HD video,then you'll need a laptop that has a discrete graphic processor that is branded by NVIDIA and AMD,both graphic processors have their own dedicated video memory which means it doesn't share it with the RAM. Discrete graphic chips puts out better performance in accelerated video playback and gaming. You'll more likely see discrete graphic chips in high-end laptops.
More pixels within your laptops display means more content you'll be able to fit right across your screen, and importantly the images will look very sharp with intense clarity. Most budget laptop displays that's on the market sports a 1366 x 768-pixel count on average. For me I almost always go with the laptop that has a very high pixel count that usually falls in the 1600 x 900/ 1920 x 1080 range.
Other things to consider
As you can see I tried my best to cover all bases in making shopping for a laptop a lot easier, but there is other things you need to also consider like your plan budget. I always say buy a laptop based on your overall need which translate to how much are you willing to spend. If you're looking to just browse Google Chrome all day nothing else, my recommendation is stay within a $300-$400 budget. You get some pretty good laptops believe it or not at that price range, with decent hardware. If money is no object you have that kind of bank go all out and pay the max which usually around $3,000. For that price,you get nothing but the best of the in hardware.