When you’re in the market for a new laptop, several factors involved in your purchasing decision can seem overwhelming.
With so many brands and styles to choose from, you may find yourself biting the bullet and just buying something, anything, rather than spending hours researching something you don’t quite understand.
Luckily, there are only five things you need to look for when buying a new laptop.
Decide on these details first and then choose your purchase from the much smaller pool you’ve created for yourself.
Size and Weight
If you are traveling a lot with your laptop, you want it to be light.
Gone are the days of lugging around a 10-pound box with you wherever you may roam: if you are a traveler, your laptop should weigh less than 4 pounds at the bare minimum, but ideally less than 3 pounds.
Anything more substantial will start to feel unbearable after having it slung over your shoulder for a few hours.
Don’t pay much attention to how thin a laptop is. Whether it’s a quarter-inch thick or an inch thick, it’s the weight that you’ll notice. The thinness of a computer is purely a design aesthetic.
When it comes to size, look mostly at the size of the screen, but also pay attention to the entire dimensions of the unit.
If your screen is 13 inches, that’s a great size, but if the panel’s full size is 15 inches, that means there’s a 1-inch thick bezel on all sides.
In that case, you’re buying a 13-inch laptop, and getting one physically much bigger than that.
There are three main screen aspects you need to decide on: touch or non-touch, matte or gloss, and resolution.
Think these over carefully, because all you will be doing with your laptop is looking at the screen. You want that experience to be the best it can.
Aside from the MacBook, every dominant laptop model has a touch-screen option. If you don’t have a touch-screen now, you may think you don’t need one.
But as the years go by, more and more apps and features of laptops will rely on having touch-screen abilities. If you know you don’t need a touch-screen, then save some cash by getting a non-touch option.
But when in doubt, get a touch-screen.
The difference between a matte screen and a gloss screen is glare: matte screens fight glare, and gloss screens do not.
If you spend a lot of your time in brightly-lit areas or outside, you definitely should focus on matte screens.
If you are mostly indoors under controlled lighting, glossy will be better for you.
Finally, while the resolution seems unimportant, you will notice a difference as you spend more time staring at the screen.
Most laptops are at least 1,080p, which is good, but there are still some 720p ones out there.
Do not go lower than 720p; a 480p laptop is a complete waste. 1,440p (sometimes called QHD or QHD+) and 2160p (commonly called 4K) will give you an incredible visual experience but at a higher price. 1,080p is the sweet spot.
No one likes dongles, so to save yourself from having to lug a bunch of adapters with you wherever you go, pick a laptop that has the ports you need.
If you give a lot of presentations, find yourself a laptop with an HDMI port on it. If you hook up a lot of peripherals like portable hard drives, a mouse, etc., make sure you have enough USB ports to accommodate.
Don’t assume that the laptop you like will have the ports you need, and don’t expect that if it doesn’t have the right ports that you can just buy a dongle. If you need a port, make sure your laptop has it built right in.
Many buyers forget that cloud storage has come a long way.
Years ago, you wanted to have a laptop with as much space as possible for all the photos, movies, and programs you were going to put into it.
With streaming media and free cloud storage for your photos the norm, there is no reason to have a laptop with terabytes of space.
Most people find that 256 GB of space is more than enough for the operating system, their programs, documents, and media. And if you can stay within that range, it makes it easier to afford a solid state drive rather than a traditional hard drive.
The benefits of solid state over hard disks are many, namely less power consumption (which equals more battery life), faster processing speeds, less heat, less weight, less chance of malfunction, and less noise.
Unless you need terabytes of space on your laptop, there is no reason to pick HDD over SSD.
Although RAM is a factor in how fast your laptop operates, the processor is the big kahuna.
If you have 16 GB of RAM but a slow processor, your computer will seem sluggish. But if you have half as much RAM and a top-of-the-line processor, you’ll feel the speed. Always go for the fastest processor you can afford!
Besides, if you need to add RAM, most laptops can easily receive RAM upgrades. You don’t even need to take it into a shop; you can usually do it yourself with only a screwdriver.
Keep these five things in mind when you’re making your next laptop purchase.
You might be tempted by back-lit keyboards, fingerprint scanners, high-resolution webcams, and other details product pages will emphasize.But these five things are what will matter to you a year down the road with your new machine.