Looking for a new laptop? If you know what type of laptop you are looking for, if you understand what's under the hood, what they mean and how they benefit you, then you know the bare essential things.
If not, that's okay. It's simple, really. You just need to know what the parts are, what they do, and how they will benefit you. By the time you're done reading this, you'll be tech-savvy, boosting your confidence and growing some well needed knowledge. Who knows, you'll even surprise yourself.
So, here's a quick guide on things you need to know before buying a laptop.
Types of Laptops
There're three types.
So when you're looking for a new laptop, keep in mind there are these three types of laptops available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Now we move on to the hardware specs. It's essentially a list of components that a laptop has so that you know what's 'under the hood'. This may get a little complicated, but let's keep focused, okay?
OS (Operating System)
You are familiar with Windows 7, 8, or 10, right? That's basically what it is. It's the pre-installed operating system that lets you run other programs. So if it lists 'Windows 10 Home' it means your operating system is Windows 10 Home.
The most widely used operating systems are Windows and Chrome. Windows from Microsoft is pretty much installed in most laptops and desktop computers.
Chrome, developed by Google, is an operating system installed in Chromebooks and uses the Chrome web browser as the main user interface. Make sure that an operating system is installed into your laptop before you buy one.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
A GPU, included in your laptop, helps to display items on the screen, so that you view and read images on the screen. There're two types: Integrated and Dedicated/Discrete.
Integrated GPUs uses the existing system memory to function, depending on what software or app is running. If you see it listed 'Intel HD Graphics XXX' under graphics, the GPU is most likely integrated. It's mostly included in budget or mid-range laptops.
Dedicated GPUs has its own source of memory to use in order to function so it doesn't use the system memory. It is most likely found in brands such as NVIDIA GeForce or ATI Radeon, which is good for gaming.
If you want a laptop to do normal everyday work, get one with an integrated GPU. If you want a laptop for gaming and other complex tasks, get a laptop with a dedicated GPU.
Internal Disk Storage
The windows operating system, documents, media files and other apps are stored in a laptop's hard drive. There are two types: Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid-State Drive (SSD).
HDD uses magnets to store and retrieve data using rotating plates. This is the most common type on both laptops and desktops. The benefit is that it's capable of storing up to 2TB's (terabytes), 2 terabytes = 2000GB (gigabytes) of data and info, depending on storage capacity, and can be used for backup purposes.
SSD uses flash memory chips to store and retrieve data and info with no use of moving parts, making accessing data faster. They are commonly used in thinner laptops like Chromebooks and 2-in-1 types. The benefit here is that SSDs load apps faster, but are available in less storage capacity, as they currently go up to 512GB (gigabytes), 512 gigabytes = 512 000 mb (megabytes).
In this case, if the laptop specs reads '256GB SSD' then is an SSD. If it reads '1TB HDD' then it's an HDD. You would have to decide if you want a laptop with more storage space, but slower loading time or an SSD with fast access to data and loading times, but less storage capacity.
Do you notice the Intel logo sticker on laptops? That indicates what processor the laptop comes with. It's basically the 'brains' of the laptop because it controls and does everything. It loads up programs, turns on your laptop, manages the hardware and other complex tasks.
There're different types and differ according to processing power and price. For instance, if a laptop has an Intel Celeron, i3, or i5 processor, it has low to mid-range processing power, but cheaper. If a laptop has an Intel Core i7 - i9 processor, it has high processing power but more expensive.
The two main brands are Intel and AMD. Intel processors range from entry-level Celeron, Pentium, Atom, to mid-range core i-series (i3 and i5) and the top-range core i-series: i7 and i9.
AMD processors range from entry-level E-series, and mid-range A-series. Then they have high performance processors from the FX to the Ryzen RX series.
So, you would have to make a choice: get a budget laptop with low processing power, mid-range or a top-range laptop that's more expensive but with high processing power.
Display, Screen size, Resolution
The screen size is measured in inches, ranging from the small 13-inch to a large 17.3 inch. The smaller screen laptops are more portable, lightweight, and consume less power, whereas large screen laptops are better for viewing work documents, watching videos or viewing media files, and best of all gaming, at the cost of it being more heavy and consuming more power.
With the display resolution, it affects clarity and level of detail onscreen. The higher the resolution, the more clearer and detailed the quality of the display.
Here's a list to help you identify the right resolution for your ideal laptop.
|1366 x 768||HD, Standard display quality, good for daily everyday tasks and web browsing.|
|1600 x 900||HD+, Improved display, emphasis on casual gaming and video streaming.|
|1920 x 1080||Full HD, Improved display, emphasis on viewing Blu-ray movies, gaming, photo and video editing.|
|3840 x 2160||4K, Improved display with high emphasis on clarity and detail. Ideal for extreme gaming and for higher quality photo and video editing.|
|IPS Display||In-Plane Switching, Offers high quality color reproduction and wide viewing angles. Ideal for creative professionals.|
If you spot the above numbers listed, it shows the resolution of the display. So choose the right resolution display for you.
The system memory inside a laptop or computer works by storing info that the computer is actively using so that it can be accessed fast. The more programs you load up, the more system memory used.
For budget laptops, make sure it's at least 4GB of RAM (Random Access Memory). For mid-range to top-range laptops, it must be at least 8GB of RAM or higher.
Input Ports, Network, Connectivity
These are the inputs ports for your USB external or USB flash stick, HDMI, SD card, audio jack, MicroSD slots and ethernet. These are located on the left or right sides of a laptop.
If you didn't know this, you can use the HDMI to connect to an HD monitor or HDTV, USB or MicroSD to get more storage space and ethernet to connect online using a network cable. It is standard nowadays for a laptop to also have a WiFi and bluetooth for cordless connection.
This here was just a guideline to help you find a laptop, understand the jargon used, and to compare laptops. If a budget laptop is what you're looking for click here, for top-range, which are usually gaming laptops, click here.
I hope you found this helpful. That's all from me for now. Stay safe. Take care until next time.