18 Things To Consider When Buying A Laptop (Read This Before Buying)

Purchasing a new laptop is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. However, with a broad range of models to choose from this can quickly turn into a stressful reality.

There is no single best model out there simply because there is no single kind of user.

Doing extensive research and figuring out what your needs are before stepping foot into a laptop shop may be a good idea since most of the retailers would usually be more interested in selling their most expensive products.

They will most likely not give the best advice when it comes to helping you choose the perfect computer that suits your needs most.

two gray laptops placed on the office table

There are plenty of things to consider when buying a laptop. Choosing the right product will also depend on different factors.

Whether you are using your laptop for school, college, work, gaming or everyday tasks only, there is a large variety of products available without having to spend a fortune.

What to Consider When Buying a Laptop – 18 Suggestions to Help You Decide

In this article, we will discuss a list of things that you must consider when buying a new laptop and we’ll try to give you a few tips on how to make an informed decision.

With there being so many different types of laptops this should help you out.

1. Budget

While it may be tempting getting the most powerful laptop available in the market, money could be an issue.

Nowadays you can buy a cheap budget laptop for just under $200, while a higher budget may get you better quality and more performant system. Here’s a quick overview of the different types and what you can get for each price range.

Basic Budget Laptops

This range of laptops is designed for everyday use. They’re capable of performing simple tasks such as browsing the internet, doing video calls, creating documents, and video streaming.

Their performance will drastically drop if working with heavier applications.

Who is most suited for budget laptops:

  • Students
  • Casual personal use
  • Everyday home use

You can read great reviews on the best $400 budget laptops right here.

Mid-Tier Laptops

This range of laptops offers a good budget/performance compromise. If you’re looking for what’s the best value for your money, choosing a mid-tier laptop might be a great idea.

Mid-tier laptops can be used by students and businessmen for managing day-to-day business activities. They are equipped with decent hardware, capable of light graphic and video editing.

Who is most suited for mid-tier laptops:

  • Students
  • Business people
  • Teachers
  • Office workers

If you are considering buying a mid-range laptop, you should read our guide on the top laptops for less than 700 dollars.

High-Performance Laptops

These laptops are usually equipped with discrete graphics cards, capable of entry-level to mid-range gaming. Other models have fast and powerful processors designed for heavier tasks, including but not limited to content creation.

Razer gaming laptop with green backlit keyboard

Who is most suited for mid-tier laptops:

  • Students
  • Business people
  • Content creators
  • Gamers
  • Designers

If you need a high performance model, you should check out the report of the best laptops for under $1000.

Top of the Line Laptops

These top rate laptops are an upgraded version of high-performance laptops with added premium features and monster hardware. They will handle everything with ease which should be expected at these prices.

They are equipped with extreme processing power, capable of whatever tasks you may want to throw at them.

All these benefits come with a high price tag though. If you are planning to purchase one of these high spec machines, be ready to empty your wallet.

Who is most suited for mid-tier laptops:

  • Enthusiasts
  • Hard-core gamers
  • Streamers
  • Professional content creators

Here is our awesome guide on the top laptops for less than 1200 bucks if you are looking to buy a high-performance model.

2-in-1 Laptops

2-in-1 laptops are just like your regular laptops but with reversible display hinges. They’re similar to a tablet with the functionality of a computer. More like a convertible PC. 2-in-1 comes in different forms.

acer 2 in one black laptop with detachable keyboard

The hybrid laptops allow you to remove the keyboard from the main body of the system and use its display as a tablet. 2-in-1’s include a wide variety of options, from budget-friendly systems to more professional-suited ones.

Who is most suited for 2-in-1 form factor laptops:

  • Users who prefer lightweight systems and higher versatility
  • Tablet users who want similar functionalities of a laptop

Should you be leaning towards buying a hybrid, here is the seven best 2 in 1 laptops at around the $800 mark.

Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are mainly Intel’s version of notebooks, designed to have more raw processing power and, at the same time, consume less power. Ultrabooks and laptops are the same product.

This is just an Intel trademark with the exact functionality of a common laptop. The purpose of this is to compete with Apple’s more popular MacBook Air.

2. Operating System – Choosing the Right Platform

The operating system is one of the most important things to consider when buying a new laptop.

Amongst all operating systems in the market, the most popular are Mac OS and Windows. On the other hand, Chrome OS is also seeing an increase in demand.

But the question is, how well do you know these different platforms? Is choosing one platform is better than the others? We will find out.

Microsoft Windows

As of today, the latest Windows operating system available on the market is Windows 10. You may find that older laptops may be equipped with older versions of this OS such as Windows 8.1.

We would suggest avoiding these products because of the outdated hardware they usually come with. On the other hand, if you are still using Windows 7, it may be worth noting that this product has reached its end-of-life support.

Windows-based laptops are popular because of the wide selection of available systems ranging from entry-level to high-tier gaming machines. They offer a friendly and easy-to-use interface.

Because of its popularity, most software developers are constantly focusing on this platform to cater to a massive amount of users, providing superior software compatibility when compared to other platforms.

 Talking about drawbacks, Windows systems are usually prone to malware.  Precisely because of the larger user-base, a bigger effort is made to constantly develop new malware able to access the everyday user’s system files.

macOS

Next in line in terms of popularity is Apple’s macOS. This OS is specifically designed for Apple computers and is not cross-platform compatible. macOS has been around for a long time now, establishing its name in the industry.

The latest version of macOS available is macOS Catalina. Upgrading an Apple system is completely free, provided that your device meets the minimum system requirements.

mac os x lion desktop view

In terms of features and functionality, macOS provides a user-friendly environment. They offer unmatchable system stability, providing good protection against malware.

On the downside, macOS computers are usually more expensive than their competitors.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system developed by Google and is mostly found in Chromebooks. Chrome OS devices typically look like a laptop but with the functionality of an Android device.

While a Chrome OS device may look like a regular laptop, it does not have the full capabilities of a Windows laptop and Apple MacBook.

If you are shopping for a machine for everyday use only, we wouldn’t recommend buying a Chrome OS device.

3. Size

If you’re thinking of buying a laptop, portability and versatility are what you’re probably looking for. While it may be easier to carry around a small format laptop, a smaller display may have a negative impact and limit, to a certain degree, your productivity.

This is what you should consider when picking your next laptop.

Laptop Size

The laptop industry has seen a big generational leap in the last decade. We all remember the days when these systems used to be thick, heavy, and uncomfortable to carry around.

It is now common to see ultra-thin, lightweight designs capable of heavy tasks, including gaming.

The industry has somehow managed to reduce component size, making it easier to fit more power into a smaller chassis without compromising airflow.

Screen size

The screen size is one of the top things to consider when buying a laptop. While the most common display size for a laptop is approximately 15.6″, other smaller and bigger variants are also available, including 14″ and 17.3″.

Choosing a laptop with a smaller screen may impact your productivity. On the other hand, a larger screen will contribute to the final weight of the laptop. Furthermore, not all screens can produce the same image quality.

4. Screen Quality

Modern laptops are capable of producing excellent image quality. However, a few factors will affect the overall image quality of a laptop screen.

Screen Resolution

A higher resolution translates into sharper images. Budget laptops tend to have a 720p display regardless of their size, while higher-end laptops capable of displaying 1080p resolutions and beyond.

We would highly recommend you pick a laptop capable of producing at least a 1080p resolution. If the budget allows for it, a 1440p resolution would be a game-changer.

Panel Type

Laptop screens come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: an LCD panel. Some are better for gaming while others offer better contrast and colors. Here we’ll take a look at which technology is better for you.

Most screens come with either an IPS, VA, or TN panel type, with the TN (twisted nematic) panel being the cheapest among the three and having the least color quality and viewing angle. However, this panel is capable of higher refresh rates with a staggering 144-240Hz range, which is more than suitable for competitive gaming.

Next in line are IPS (in-plane switching) panels. IPS offers the best quality in terms of display. They produce the best color accuracy and viewing angles. However, these usually compromise on the refresh rates and response times. While IPS displays with lower response times and higher refresh rates can be found on the market, they usually come at a very high cost.

On the other hand, cheaper options can be adequate for professionals and graphics designers for which response times don’t matter too much.

VA (vertical alignment) panels are also available on the market. VA has better color reproduction and viewing angles when compared to TN panels but fall short against IPS panels. This panel type is the best option for mid-range monitors.

Touchscreen Technology

Although having a laptop with touchscreen support may not be strictly necessary, this technology can come in handy in certain situations.

Photo editors may find it helpful to directly interact with their project by being able to zoom in and out, rotate and touch up any image on the screen with a quick movement of their fingers.

navigating intel ultrabook with touch screen technology

On the downside, it may be time-consuming having to constantly clean up the fingerprints marks from the screen.

5. Keyboard Quality

Laptop keyboards can come in different sizes, formats, and features. One of the first questions you should ask yourself when choosing the appropriate keyboard size is: do you need a Numpad?

If you are planning on spending most of your nights in front of your laptop you may also want to consider spending more money on a keyboard with backlit keys.

Some gaming laptops also come fitted with mechanical keyboards which provide additional value to the system. Others have spill-resistant keyboards as an added feature.

6. CPU

Having already extensively talked about aesthetics, it is now time to address the most important side of a computer system, it’s components. Starting from the brain of the machine, the CPU, we’ll work our way through each piece of hardware.

intel CPU processor with golden pins

Choosing the right processor for your system is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to take when buying a new laptop. With a large set of options currently available on the market, it may be hard to understand what’s appropriate for your needs and what’s not.

Both AMD and Intel offer a broad selection of processors, able to fulfill every user’s needs. In this section, we are sorting their CPU range into three bands for ease of comparison.

Entry-Level CPU

This particular band is designed to cater to users on a tight budget. These chips are suitable for everyday tasks, including web-browsing watching online videos, working with Microsoft Office package, etc.

Intel’s entry-level CPUs range from Celeron to Pentium, while if you’re choosing AMD, you’ll probably be looking at APUs or Athlon product lines.

Mid-Range CPU

While entry-level CPUs are capable of performing day-to-day tasks, mid-range CPUs, have the ability to execute heavier tasks and applications, including gaming and light photo or video editing.

They offer good performance at a reasonable price. They may range from an i3 to i5 for Intel’s blue team to a Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 for AMD’s red team.

High-End CPU

High-end CPUs are usually intended for enthusiasts, hard-core gamers, and professionals. With similar performance to a high-end gaming PC, these will allow buyers to execute CPU-extensive applications while providing a future-proof system.

7. System Memory

You may already know that system memory, or RAM is one of the most important components of your system.

Having already talked about system memory in one of our previous articles, we’ll quickly go over a few things you should absolutely consider when buying a new laptop.

For more detailed information on this topic, please read our “does RAM affect FPS, and what does it do for gaming?” article.

The first thing to consider when talking about RAM is how do you plan on using your system and what type of applications and tasks do you need to perform.

If you also want to play games, checking out the manufacturer’s minimum and recommended specs could be a good idea.

While it’s now become common for budget machines to come with at least 8GB of RAM, mid to high-end machines often have 16GB or even 32GB of memory.

How about a 16GB system memory? Having 16GB of RAM is considered a sweet spot for most gamers and content creators. This is sufficient to smoothly run all your applications.

8. Graphics

If you want to play games while still being able to carry your rig around, buying a gaming laptop may be a wise choice. While entry-level and mid-range laptops usually come with integrated graphics cards, gaming laptops must have their own dedicated GPU.

Its specifications will determine your system’s overall gaming performance.

Modern laptop’s gaming graphics cards range from the cheaper NVidia GTX 1650 to the more powerful RTX models. On the other hand, integrated graphics cards such as the Radeon Vega or Intel’s graphics offer decent performance for light gaming titles.

9. Storage

Computer storage options, including SSDs and traditional HDDs, have seen a big development in the last decade.

While it was common for most laptops to only come with a hard disk drive installed and the option to upgrade to an solid state drive for the operating system, most modern systems include at least an SSD for your machine.

The question, at this point, should be about the size of the hard drive themselves rather than their technology or speed.

How Much Storage do I Need?

For regular use, such as saving documents, images, video, and audio files, we highly recommend having at least a 240GB SSD for both your operating system and storage purposes.

If you see yourself as a hardcore gamer, having an additional 1TB HDD may be extremely useful for being able to play more than a single game at a time.

10. Battery

The main reason you’re thinking of buying a laptop is because of its portability and versatility. For this reason, investing in a model that has an excellent battery life is an ideal choice.

With most modern laptops commonly being fitted with non-removable batteries, it is worth making sure that the average battery life of your system is in line with your expectations.

10. Touchpads

A good touchpad will surely boost your productivity without needing an extra peripheral.  where the use of a mouse is essential. With a broad range of touchpad technologies currently available on the market, it is worth taking the time to select the one that best fits your needs in terms of responsiveness to inputs.

11. Fingerprint Scanners

Ever had your laptop taken by a friend only to notice they’ve taken control of your Facebook account and put you in a funny situation? A fingerprint scanner is an excellent way to add a little extra security to your laptop.

prompting the user to register the finger print on a mac book pro

Although fingerprint scanners may not be essential, this optional feature may be worth your money.

12. Wi-Fi Connectivity

Almost every modern laptop on the market has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. On the other hand, if you are constantly traveling, it may be worth considering purchasing a laptop with pre-built 4G LTE technology. These are mostly used in 2-in-1 laptops, and data plans are available from different service providers.

13. Ports

Having a broad set of ports can be a huge advantage. You will find that your laptop has several connectivity ports on either side.

Let’s begin with the most common of any laptop or computer ports, the USB port. These are responsible for transferring data between devices. They can also serve as charging points for devices such as smartphones.

different ports used in a laptops for input and output devices

All modern laptops come with at least one USB 3.0 port (usually colored in blue or turquoise), while more expensive devices offer USB 3.1 and USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 access, providing more connectivity options. You may notice USB 2.0 ports, colored in black or grey, in older machines.

Although most laptops come with WiFi-enabled features that allow them to access the internet without using wires, they usually have an Ethernet port that enables the connection to the internet using a compatible Ethernet cable.

As for video outputs, HDMI ports are used for transferring audio and video signals between your laptop and other devices such as TV monitors, other laptops, digital cameras, etc, while older VGA ports are only able to transfer video.

In addition, other ports such as SD card slots, 3.5mm audio, and mic jacks can also be available.

14. Audio

If you already own a laptop or have at least used one before, you may not be stranger to their terrible sound output. The majority of laptops tend to have tiny speakers with little to no bass output, which makes it hard to produce good sound quality.

Some laptop manufacturers have tried to improve this by installing built-in speakers produced by third-party companies. These usually come from Altec Lansing and Dolby. However, if good audio quality is what you’re after, you may want to invest in a good external speaker or headset.

15. Warranty

All laptops must undergo a series of quality checks and testing before being released on the market. The purpose is to assure that each unit is durable and well functioning.

However, few laptops may have hidden defects that are hard to identify during quality controls. These are commonly known as factory defects, where a computer has performed well during testing but starts to fail shortly after being used.

Luckily, manufacturers offer long-term warranties for their products. These usually last from 3 up to 5 years. Before making your purchase, make sure to compare the warranties offered by the different manufacturers. In addition, you may also be protected by a retailer’s warranty.

16. Build Quality

With a broad range of materials used when manufacturing a laptop, it is important to spend some time understanding how each of them reacts to usage and stress.

Since Apple started to use metallic materials for building their MacBook’s chassis, most competitors followed their steps by deciding to implement full aluminum bodies for their machines.

While this material offers better durability and longevity it also comes at a higher cost. More expensive laptops also offer water-proof systems.

All these extra features add up to the final quality and cost of a build. On the other hand, laptop manufacturers have in their business model, the need to supply different customer bands by producing lower quality, budget-friendly options.

In other words, “You get what you pay for.”

17. Brands

Having already treated topics such as warranty and build quality, we now need to talk about brands. While the PC industry has mainly seen three big “sisters” including ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte prevail on other brands, there is a lot more competition when it comes to laptop manufacturers.

photo of people using different brands laptops

Alongside the well known Apple, ASUS, ACER, MSI, HP, Lenovo, and Dell, other companies such as Huawei and Microsoft have recently hit the market offering budget-friendly and quality systems.

You can check out our “How long do laptops last” article to guide you on how to select the best laptop brand. You can also tell how good a specific brand is by reading their warranty policies and after-sales services.

18. Discounts and Lots of Discounts

Product discounts will vary on a place-to-place basis. However, a number of great deals are constantly offered throughout the year, especially during Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday.

These represent great opportunities for a wide selection of products, including laptops.

For those of you who live in a country where Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not a thing, Christmas Sales and Back-To-School promos may be a good period to get your next laptop.

If you have set your eye on a specific product, you may want to wait until these deals hit the market.

The Verdict

As you can now see there are many things to consider when buying a laptop. Finding the best machine for your needs can be a daunting task for someone who doesn’t have the knowledge and experience.

Therefore I hope that this article will give you a better idea of what to look for and that you now know what kind of laptop you need.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are laptops an excellent alternative to desktop PCs?

Although, generally speaking, laptops tend to be less powerful and more expensive than desktop PCs, they offer several benefits such as portability, versatility, and ease of use.

Are tablets a good substitute for laptops?

No. While they both share a few features; laptops are still way ahead of tablets in terms of functionality. The only advantage that comes with using a tablet is its portability and cheaper cost.

Is it okay to buy a used laptop?

While buying a used laptop may save you a few bucks, it is worth considering the risks that come with it.

Always thoroughly check the second-hand system and make sure that it is in good working condition. Don’t forget to take into consideration the price you’re going to pay and compare it to a similar brand new machine.

For more helpful information and helpful how to guides click this link.

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