Laptop buying guide: things you need to know

Use this Laptop buying guide to get the right Laptop for your budget and expectation.

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Victor Smith
Victor loves talking about Tech and he reviews a lot of gadget. His Reviews are based on his use of this gadgets and his opinions about them.

This Laptop buying guide will walk you through everything you need to know before shopping for a new Laptop, from the differences between the available Operating Systems Windows, Mac OS, Chromebook, and their pros and cons, the processor you need for your tasks, RAM, screen size and resolution, battery life and many other features.

Laptops have become more essential for remote access to school, work, and web-based apps than ever. Laptops are portable enough to carry with you, yet adapt to many different functions enough to run demanding applications. It’s the best device for doing numerous works whether you are at home, at work, in the classroom, or on the road.

There is a wide range of Laptops with various functions and features that distinguish the best Laptops available, but it can be hard to keep up with the usefulness of the features, let alone determine what’s important. This laptop buying guide will help you decide.

Laptop buying guide quick tips

If you’re in a hurry, here are the most important things to consider before you buy a Laptop. We explain each of these points in greater detail later in the guide below;

  • One mistake most people do is that they choose the budget first before selecting specifications. However, it should be the opposite.
  • OS Windows and MacBook offer many functionalities, your choice is a matter of taste. Chromebook is good for kids and students.
  • 12 to 14-inch screens strike the perfect balance between functionality and portability.
  • If you plan on spending more than $500 (N 150, 000), get a Laptop with these minimum specs: Core I5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 1920 x 1080 screen SSD storage.

Pick an Operating System

Choosing best operating system for laptops

The first thing to think about is do you want a laptop that runs Windows, Mac OS, or Chrome OS? You probably already know the answer to this. Most of the time it’s whatever you’re used to using.

If you’ve always used Macs and maybe have an iPhone or iPad, then a MacBook will be best and easy to use, but they can be very expensive and you don’t have that many options. Windows 10 laptops are great as you have a much bigger range to choose from from budget laptops, workstations to gaming laptops.

Then the last option is chrome books which run on Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS. These are really popular with students as they are usually much cheaper and they act more as a terminal for accessing apps in the cloud-like Google Docs, Dropbox, and of course, the Web browser. All these three options are called the operating system.

An operating system is an interface between the computer user and computer hardware. An operating system performs all the basic tasks like process management, memory management, security, error detecting, handling input and output, and controlling peripheral devices.

Popular Operating systems are Windows, Mac, and Chromebook. Choosing the right depends on you, it is a personal choice, but here’s is a summary of what each offers, then you determine the one you prefer.

Windows

The most common operating system, windows, runs on more laptop models than Mac OS or Chromebook. At present, the latest windows version is windows 10.

pros

  • Easy to use
  • Availability of Apps
  • Compatibility with older versions
  • Support new hardware
  • Good for gaming
  • Support for plug and play

cons

  • Cons
  • Poor security
  • Susceptible to virus

Apple MacOS

Mac OS is the computer operating system for Apple Computer’s Macintosh line of personal computers and workstations. Laptops running Mac OS are MacBook. At present, the latest version of Mac OS is Mac OS Catalina. The operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but the user interface is a little different. Again, your choice of OS depends on personal preference, below are the pros and cons of the Mac OS

pros

  • Simple and cleaner user interface than windows
  • Compatibility with other Apple devices
  • Built-in iSight camera for easy video
  • Has dedicated features for multitasking
  • Optimized software and hardware
  • Less susceptibility to malware and security issues

Cons

  • Limited availability of Apps
  • Lack appeal for Hardcore gamers
  • It can be very expensive

There really is no right or wrong option when selecting an operating system. It depends on you. But if you’re a student on a tight budget or just want a basic laptop to access the web, then consider a Chromebook.

If you want a premium laptop and you have at least a thousand dollars to spend, then maybe consider a MacBook Air. But I think for most people, the safest bet is a Windows 10 laptop just because of the sheer range of devices on the market.

SIZE

Choosing the right laptop size

Before you purchase any laptop, you need to know how portable your laptop should be. The size you need to buy depends on whether you will carry your laptop with you around or It would always be on your desk at home or office.  

Although most laptops still use the traditional 11 to 17-inch clamshell design, the simple point is that the smaller the screen, the lighter and more portable the laptop, and the larger laptop 15 is more likely to be an option, Stronger, and a dedicated graphics cards. However, there are still some changes, such as the LG Gram 17 with a large screen and ultra-light body.

However, it is expensive and uses less power-processor technology, which is common on 13-inch laptops. Some laptops also have touch screens. I think mixed ringtones are best for this feature because they usually support a pen or stylus, which is great. Suitable for artists and designers. But for me, the touch screen is a good choice, but it is not necessary. Usually, I try to prevent dirty fingerprints from spreading on the screen.

13 to 14-inches provide the balance of usability and portability, especially when you get a laptop that weighs less than2kg. Size less than these are very good for portability but most of them come with less functionality. If you want a larger screen size and are not prepared to carry your laptop around, go for 15-16 inches. Purchase a larger screen size laptop if your laptop will always stay on your desk at home or office.

Resolution and Refresh rate

Speaking of the screen size, we also need to consider the resolution and in the case of gaming laptops, refresh rate.

The vast majority of laptops are 1080p (Full HD), and frankly speaking, for 95% of us, that perfect. But more and more high-performance laptops offer 4K options, which means that because of the high-quality panels, the screen is clearer and there are more pixels per inch.

Generally, their colors are also more accurate, which is very suitable for video and photo editing. However, I think most positive reviews will include Adobe RGB or P3 color gamut in their ratings. However, if you want accurate color reproduction, then this is a good time to check before buying a laptop.

Going back to 4K, the biggest disadvantage is that it is slightly more expensive, and it usually has a big impact on battery life. If you use a 1080p display, only half or two-thirds of the battery will make a big difference. Since the gaming laptop must load millions of pixels, it also greatly reduces the frame rate of the game.

For gaming laptops, I think the best combination currently is a 15-inch screen with a resolution of 1080, and if possible, a higher refresh rate of 120 or 144 Hz. This makes everything look and feel softer.

CPU

The CPU is hardware that carries out the instruction of a computer program. The CPU has a high influence on performance but depending on what you want to do with your laptop. The cheapest model could even perform the task you will use the laptop for. The best CPU for higher duties and performance are AMD Ryzen 7, intel core I9, AMD Ryzen 5 intel core I7, and intel core I3.

RAM

Random-access memory (RAM) is one of the most important components of a laptop. It is a fast component that temporarily stores data that needs to be processed by the CPU. Accessing information in RAM is very fast unlike a hard disk drive (HDD) or even a solid-state drive (SSD) that stores information for the long term.

RAM enables the CPU to get information extremely fast rather than digging into the device’s slower storage. The more RAM your computer has access to, the faster your computer operates which enables you to perform jobs with ease. If your laptop will be performing a lot of jobs and you would install a lot of apps in your Laptop, strike for RAM higher than 4GB. Though your Laptop with 2GB RAM can still perform a lot of work like typing and file management.

Graphics

The graphics chip is a specialized piece of hardware that produces the images you see on your monitor. It renders an image on your screen by converting data into a signal that your monitor can understand. In a computer, this can be upgraded because it is a card that can be removed and fixed back. But laptops graphics chip is always integrated into the motherboard and thus difficult to upgrade, so it is very important to purchase what you need at the start.

The primary vendors of graphics chips are AMD and NVIDIA. NVIDIA has the most powerful graphics and very powerful for gaming and business-class laptops. AMD as well provides powerful graphics; their latest and best graphics chip is Radeon RX 5700.

Storage

The amount of storage in a storage device is how much information it can hold in total. All your pictures, music, videos, programs, apps are stored on an internal drive. Unlike RAM, data in storage devices are used for the long term and do not necessarily need to be in use. Many laptops come with hard disk drives but recent laptops come with solid-state drives.

Solid-state drives have better performance than hard disk drives. SSDs have no moving part, enjoy faster access time, lower power consumption, and run more quietly than hard disk drives.

Convertible laptop

2 in 1 laptop or convertible laptops that can act like tablets and laptops. It comes in two styles; detachable with a screen that comes off the keyboard entirely and flexible laptops with hinges that bend back at 360 degrees to switch mode.

Notebooks such as Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and Lenovo Yoga C940 have detachable keyboards and 360-degree folding hinges to provide the best desktop experience. Compared with advanced users, they tend to be more expensive and more suitable for mobile devices.

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