Laptop Buying Guide(2020) : 5 Essential Tips To Buy The Perfect Laptop

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Are you confused regarding which laptop to buy, I have listed down the most important properties you must look for before buying a laptop.

This Laptop Buying Guide will sure help you choose the laptop that suits best for you.


1. Performance

Before even looking at the options available in the market one must ask this question to themselves “How will I use this laptop?”. Half of the problems will finish there.

Performance of a Laptop depends on 5 major factors.

  1. Processor 2. RAM 3. Graphic Card 4. Internal Storage 5. Battery

Each laptops performance is based on these 5 characterestics.


1(a). Processor

  1. The processor is the brain of your Laptop. The smarter the brain the better the performance of the laptop tends to be.
  2. Better the processor the faster it will work.

Types of Processor:

  • The majority of the market is dominated by two leading companies
    1. INTEL
    2. AMD
  • Intel has Atom, Pentilium, Celerion, Core i3, i5, i7, and i9.
  • AMD has A, FX and RYZEN series of processors.

Here is a breakdown of all the processors used by Intel and AMD.

Core i3Core i5Core i7Core i9
General Perfomance<<<Highest
UsageBrowsing, watching videos, editing images, MultitaskingEverything i3 can do + light gaming, Video editing, heavy usage of excel.Everything i7 can do + Professional photo editing, Heavy gaming etc.Capable of performing heavy tasks like 3D model rendering etc.
Cores2-42-42-68
Clock Speed(GHz)1.9 – 4.01.9 – 4.02.0- 4.02.40 – 5.00
Here I have not mentioned ATOM, PENTILIUM AND CELERON because most users wont consider buying them.

AMD Ryzen 3AMD Ryzen 5AMD Ryzen 7
General Performance<<Highest
Usagewatching movies, streaming and multitaskingMultitasking, Gaming and content creation.Hardcore gaming and content creation
Cores2 – 4 46
Clock Speed(GHz)2.0 – 2.62.0 – 3.22.2 – 3.3
I have not included few AMD processors which are outdated and most people wont consider investing in them.

1(b). RAM

More RAM = Better Multi-tasking.

  • RAM also known as Random Access Memory is what stores all of your data like files, games, media etc.
  • More RAM promotes multi-tasking more efficiently.
  • Laptops comes with 4, 6, 8GB of RAM.

RAM type :

  • DDR4 : Faster, efficient power consumption.
  • DDR3 : Older, slower and consumes more power.

Upgradability :

  • With time, the applications and operating systems that one uses requires updates/upgrades and thus will consume more RAM.
  • I would suggest people to go for 8GB of RAM, however if you have budget and are supposed to do heavy gaming, heady editing and run heavy softwares on your laptop go for 16GB.

Buy a DDR4 RAM as they are faster, consumes, less power and are more likely to sustain in future unlike DDR3.


1(c). Internal Storage

  • Storage are where your Operating System(windows, Mac etc) are stored, your data, media, games etc everything are also stored here.
  • Without sufficient storage your laptop can have performance issues.
  • These days there are 3 variants of internal storage available in the market,
    1. SSD – Solid State Drive.
    2. HDD – Hard Disk Drive.
    3. SSHD – Solid State Hard Drive.

INTERNAL MEMORY TYPES

HDD(Hard Disk Drive)SSD(Solid State Drive)SSHD(Solid State Hard Drive)
1. A mechanical Hard disk drive(known as HDD) provides you with lot of storage capacity in a low budget.
2. HDD provide large storage but are relatively slow.
1. SSD are Solid State Drives which provides you a a drive that is faster than HDD as well as costlier that HDD.

2. Applications stored inside SSD will perform faster.
1. SSHD gives you benefits of both SSD and HDD which means you get a storage which has high capacity as well as executed programs faster.

2. They are much more costly that SSD and much better.

3. One can store Operating System in their SSD(usually applications that you need to be executed fast) and heavy applications in HDD.
SSHD are dominating the market these days the reason being that they are really a better choice when compared with HDD and SSD but it all comes at a higher cost.

1(d). Battery

More Battery = More time your laptop will Run.

  • Battery is what keeps your computer working.
  • Usually laptops come with differnent battery variations.
  • Laptops designed to give more productivity will have a greater battery, Gaming Laptops will have a descent battery life but they will drain quicker as gaming and other heavy work drains batter faster.

1(e). Graphics

  • Graphics are dedicated chips inside your computer which are supposed to improve the visuals you get on your screen.
  • Just like RAM, the more GB your graphic card has the better visuals you will get while playing games and during video editing etc.
  • If you want to play heavy modern games you have to invest in laptops with good graphic cards.

Integrated Dedicated
1. Integrated graphic cards are available in most laptops and allows you to watch movies or very light editing.
2. Usually Intel has an integrated graphic chip which is nearly enough for everyday needs.
1. Dedicated graphic cards are required for more heavy gaming, heavy photo and video editing and they are much faster than integrated.
2. NVIDIA and AMD are two companies making dedicated graphic cards

Unless you do not plan to use your laptop for gaming and to run heavy software, Intel integrated cards will serve your purpose.


2. Operating System

  • The Operating system of your device controls the hardware inside the device and allows software to interact with the hardware.
  • It lets you interact with your device, its hardware and software in the most simplest way possible.
  • There are several OS available on the market, you have the task to decide which one to choose, every OS has some flaws and some benefits.

Here are some OS and detailed description

WindowsMacChrome OSLinuxMS DOS
UsageIt is one of the most commonly used operating system around the globe because of its good interactive ability with the user.
However in some laptops we have to install windows ex. A DOS laptop.
All apple laptops are installed with Mac OS and it is known to provide smooth performance in the laptop. Works on chromebook.
While there are some offline apps, it requires good quality internet connection as it is primarily cloud based.
It is an open source operating system most commonly used by programmers.
However it is not intuitive and not advised to be used by many.
Most Basic software and one has to install windows or linx to work in it.
Compatible SoftwareAny software installed in the laptop has to be compatible with the Operating system. Most windows software areAny software installed in the laptop has to be compatible with the Operating systemAny software installed in the laptop has to be compatible with the Operating systemAny software installed in the machine has to be compatible with the linux distribution. Compatible software options are more limited than for windowsFirst windows/linux has to be installed then software will be compatible.
Preinstalled SoftwareTrial Version of few software are available in windows. Laptops with pre-installed MS office has to be called out separately by the user.Some applications like Mac’s own pages and keynotes are pre-installed.
However MS office has to be separately bought.
Limited Software are available and other are available in the form of apps from google play store.
Google provides its very own anti virus system for these laptops.

May vary by Linux distribution.
There are however easily downloadable open source softwares like VLC, Libreoffice etc.
NONE

3. Display

  • While deciding the right laptop to buy, you have to decide the right screen and the right resolution to choose.
  • Correct size is very important because the companies do charge you for the screen as well so why waste money buying a laptop with larger screen size when you do not even need a larger screen.

3(a). Screen size

  • Screens come in several sizes and all of the sizes are measured diagonally.
  • The most common screen sizes are 15.6 inch, however there are sizes like 11 inches, 13 inches and even 17.5 inches in some hardcore gaming laptops.
  • A larger screen is suitable for work like gaming, video and photo editing, 3D modelling whereas it is also heavier and is tough to carry.
  • A smaller screen is lighter and more suitable for typing jobs, business meetings etc. They are also lighter to carry.

3(b). Screen Resolution

Higher Screen resolution = sharper, clearer image rendering on the screen.

  • The most commonly available screen resolutions are 4K, Full HD etc.
  • Screen resolution is determined by the pixel count which is given by horizontal and vertical pixel counts.

DISPLAY RESOLUTION

HD or HD READYFull HD or 1080pUltra HD or 4k
Available in entry level and budget friendly laptops, this display has 1366 x 768 pixel count.

Sufficient to watch movies, play basic games or working on documents.

It is a cost efficient display.
Available in high end laptops, the display has 1980 x 1080 pixel count.

The provide a sharper visual experience which is perfect for streaming movies and playing high games.
With the pixel count of 3840 x 2160, they are 4 times Full HD, thus known as 4K.

These produce the sharpest images and are ideal for watching 4K movies, playing very high resolution games etc.

with super sharp display, it is also the costliest display.

There are some more factors to be considered while buying a laptop.

  1. Screen type : IPS( In-plane switching) vs. Non IPS(In-plane switching).
  • IPS displays show like-life colors, the way they are meant to be while allowing 2-3 people to huddle around your screen without any loss in brightness.
  • For those who are looking for the best display possible, one should go for the IPS display.
  • For those who are in budget, and do not care about a sharp display can go for Non-IPS display.

TIP: For most non creative work, A non IPS display will work more than fine, but however if you are into creative work go for IPS display.


2. Touch Screen:

These are normally seen in 2-in-1 laptops. Touchscreen display enables editing directly on the screen with the help of a stylus or screen scrolling, zooming and other such controls using your fingers. This makes your laptops experience just like smartphone usage.

Laptops with 2-in-1 display are costlier than your regular laptop. Thus if one is on a budget 2-in-1 laptops would not be a great option.


3. Refresh Rate :

  • Refresh Rate is the number of times the image changed per second in the laptop screen.
  • They are measured by a unit called Hertz or FPS(frames per sec).
  • For gaming laptops, one should look at frame rates more carefully.
  • For other non gaming laptops, go for standard 60hz frame rate, they would be more than enough.

4. Bezels :

  • Bezels are the black border that surround the screen of their laptop.
  • Bezels serve a very important purpose that is to protect your laptop from accidents.
  • Like smartphones, laptops today are going no-bezel to provide maximum screen size and give better display.
  • This gives a bigger display without increasing the size of the body.

5. Matte vs. Glossy Display :

  • Glossy display is very common among laptops as they make the colors pop on the laptop screen. This also means they have reflections.
  • Matt display have started to be used by many because using this sort of display would not give you reflections. They are used by content creators etc. They however cost more than glossy display.
  • Matte display provides a premium finish to the laptop.

4. Ports And Connectivity

  • The ports and connectivity options on your laptop tells you what you can connect to your laptop.
  • You need these to connect external devices like mouse, pen-drive, hard- drive, projectors even to charge your phone.
  • Make sure your laptops have enough connectivity options so that you can connect multiple devices at once.

Different ports provide different purposes, here are some of the most common ports which you must have.


1. USB type – A

  • These ports are usually used to connect regular USB devices like mobile phones, tablets, pen-drives etc.
  • A high number of USB indicates faster connectivity.
  • Ex. USB 3.1 is faster than USB 3.0 which is then faster than 2.0.

2. USB type – C

  • These ports provide faster data transfer and smaller sized chargers compared to USB – A.
  • You can use these to universal chargers or docks.
  • As Notebooks and laptops are getting slimmer, USB C is being preferred over USB A.


3. Thunder Bolt – 3

  • Although this port is identical to the regular USB-C port, they operate on different protocols. Basically, the ThunderBolt 3 is a USB-C port that supports higher and faster transfer speed of up to 40 Gbps, four times that of regular USB-C Gen 2.
  • Also, all ThunderBolt 3 ports can function as a USB-C port but not all USB-C ports have ThunderBolt 3 features. 

4. HDMI port

  • A High Definition Media Interface (HDMI) port permits the transfer of audio and video signals between your laptop and other devices like laptops, digital cameras, monitors, game consoles, projectors etc.
  •  About HDMI versions, the latest is the HDMI 2.1 while older versions are the HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4.
  • The HDMI 2.1 come with better audio and visual capabilities and features then the HDMI 2.0, and likewise the 2.0 betters the 1.4.

5. VGA port

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Video Graphics Array (VGAconnector is a three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector. The 15-pin VGA connector was provided on many video cards, computer monitors, laptop computers, projectors, and high definition television sets. On laptop computers or other small devices, a mini-VGA port was sometimes used in place of the full-sized VGA connector.
  • They are often used in schools, businesses, and homes when multiple monitors are being run off one VGA port, or if the cable between the monitor and the computer will be excessively long (often pictures appear blurry or have minor artifacts if the cable runs too far without a booster). VGA extenders are sometimes called VGA boosters.

5. Design

Which design should I choose?

Basic Laptops : For Everyday usage

  • Basic laptops have a clam-type body, with a design that folds down onto keyboard and mousepad.
  • They are generally less expensive than 2-in-1 laptops.
  • They are affordable when compared to other laptops.

Thin and Light Weight laptops :

  • These laptops are light weight about 1.8 kgs or so, they are also known as ultra book.
  • These laptops usually have a display less than 14 inches.
  • These laptops are small, lightweight and powerful. They are best for people who want to pack light but expect high productivity.

Gaming Laptops :

  • Gaming laptops are usually packed with a powerful hardware, sturdy design, IPS display and a dedicated graphic card.
  • Gaming laptops are heavier and bulkier than other laptop but with all that extra space manufacturers are able to fit powerful processors, larger battery and GPUs.
  • One can go for such laptops if they are buying laptop for gaming, 3D editing, high level video editing etc.

Touch Screen :

  • Touch screen laptops enables scribbling on the screen and enable editing documents using a stylus or screen zooming and other such stuff using fingers.
  • This makes laptop experience similar to that of a smartphone or a tablet.


2 – in – 1 laptops :

  • These are laptops that can function both as laptops and tablets.
  • They are of two types :
    1. Detachable
    2. Convertible

1.Detachable Laptops 2-in-1 :

  • With detachable laptop, the display actually detaches itself from the keyboard. That means you can use it as a tablet.
  • Some detachable have limited space, processor and battery capacity. Thus less powerful than the convertible ones.
  • Some detachable actually solve this problem by including two processors or by including two battery, one small and another large where larger one is used when it is connected with the keyboard.

2.Convertible 2-in-1 :

  • In a 2-in-1, convertible laptop the screen is not detachable.
  • Instead the screen can rotate 360 degree, meaning the screen goes on top and display to the bottom.
  • The resulting is a thicker laptop which in most cases a better option than detachable 2-in-1 when considering raw performance.
  • However reviews can vary person to person.

Few other points to look for while buying a laptop.

  1. Lid and Body:
  • One must research carefully the material using which the laptops are made. The reason being the user experience is very different.
  • Mostly laptops either have a plastic body or a aluminium body.
  • Some may prefer plastic, some may prefer aluminium built.
  • The other thing to look for is the degree of rotation, some rotate till 90 degrees increasing the chances of breaking. Hence go for laptops having 180 degree of rotation.
  • One can also choose a convertible 2-in-1 laptop as they have 360 degrees of rotation.

2. Keyboard :

  • The keyboard on a laptop may seem like something you can ignore but I highly advice not to.
  • Some keyboards have number keys whereas some do not. Be careful while choosing it.
  • The spacing among keys should also be looked upon as they make your typing experience comfortable.

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