Finding the right laptop has never been more difficult for most of us, there are so many makes and models on the market all promising to be the bargain of the century.
When you cut through all the sales hype such as a powerful Intel core processor, massive 2gb RAM, or my personal favorite CD quality graphics, it’s easy to see the good from the not so good.
Chances are if a laptops price seems too good to be true the chances are it is, it could have an older type of processor, poor graphics, or made by a totally unknown manufacturer.
When finding the right laptop you need to pay particular attention to the following in this order.
4. Hard drive size and speed
6. Operating System
Laptops can go wrong, and this can either be a painless or very painful experience, warranty in my opinion is the most important fact when buying a laptop, the warranty should be at least a year or more, in any case check to see what’s actually covered, manufacturers such as ASUS also include accidental damage as part of the price. If the laptop has a poor warranty walk away.
The very latest generation of processors such as Intel’s i7 is very good, but it’s expensive and totally unnecessary for most users, an Intel i5 is a good mid to high end processor which like its i7 big sister can speed up when the need arises, for a more budget option the Intel i3 is a good choice, it does not have the speed boot like the i7 and i5 processors, but its easily more than capable of general stuff such as Internet, Word processing, light gaming, music and videos.
This is where most people really go wrong when buying a laptop, unlike a desktop computer you cannot upgrade the graphics and whatever your laptop comes with that’s what you’re stuck with, I get at least 2 questions per week from people asking how to upgrade their laptops graphics, and I hate breaking the bad news to them.
When you’re finding the right laptop you need to think about how much graphics power you need, there are two main types of graphics cards on the market for laptops, the shared and dedicated memory types, the least powerful is the shared type, this uses some of your computers main RAM (memory) for its graphics memory, the downside to this is it reduces the amount of RAM your computer has, for example if you have 4GB of system RAM and you allocate 1GB to you graphics card you have now only got 3GB of system RAM available.
The most powerful type of laptop graphics card is the dedicated memory kind, this type of graphics card has its own RAM which is generally faster than the system RAM and makes a big difference when it comes to high end gaming or graphic work.
Laptops with dedicated memory graphics are more expensive than many laptops with shared memory types, but if you’re into gaming etc there can be no other choice in my opinion, but if you’re only into light gaming/general use then buying a laptop with a shared memory graphics card will be fine.
Hard drive size and speed
Please note I have added the hard drive size and the RAM pretty low down the list as both of these can be upgraded if needed.
The size of files applications and operating systems is always growing and today you really need a laptop with a hard drive size of 300GB or larger, in addition to this the drive should have a rotation speed of 7200rpm and not the slower 5400rpm type.
RAM and Operating system
With any RAM and Operating system they both work well together, today there is a big push from 32bit to 64bit operating systems, the one thing this means to most people is the ability of a laptop to run more than 3.5GB of RAM which is the limit of any 32bit operating system.
If you are buying a laptop with a 32bit version of Windows 7 ensure the laptop has 4gb of RAM this will mean Windows will be able to use its full 3.5gb.
If you are getting a laptop with a 64bit version of Windows 7 then the limit is usually down to the maximum of the laptops hardware, normally 8GB.
Tip – when finding the right laptop try to go for a 64bit version of Windows as it will run any 32 bit versions of application, but also the dedicated 64bit stuff which is becoming more common.
Windows 7 is a big operating system and once you have a few applications open it can become a real memory hog, whatever version of Windows you choose make sure you have the maximum amount of RAM installed to really get the most from it in terms of performance.