Which laptop should I buy is quite a baffling and confusing question for some people. Especially first time buyers with not so deep understanding of computers and the associated terminology. This confusion makes us choose a laptop based on other’s recommendations, rather than our requirements. Users might have different needs from their laptops. Some need high performance machine for multitasking, gaming or heavy usage. While others want good cinematic experience for their favourite movies, shows and other digital . Manufacturers do take these things into consideration while designing and producing laptops. But lack of proper guidelines, may make buyer purchase a machine that might not be best according to his needs.
So in this article, we give you some quick tips, suggestions and basic understanding of terminology used to help you in answering the question, which laptop should I buy.
Ques. 1: What is the main purpose to buy the Laptop?
First step in the selection process would be to decide the main purpose for the laptop. Who will be using it and for what. A student and office employee require light usage like web-browsing, checking mails, watching videos and basic office utilities. Second type of users need medium processing capabilities from laptops. Like basic photo editing, light gaming and some semi-intense programs needing better performance. Then comes the users demanding heavy usage capabilities; professional photo and video editing and rendering, heavy / professional gamers, animation and design works. The three types of users discussed above will need different laptops configurations to cater to their specific needs. Identify yourself as one of the types discussed above, so that you know which laptop to buy.
Ques. 2: Which Operating System to choose?
Next question in the process to buy the laptop is choosing which operating system to go for. You will find that there mainly four popular operating systems offered generally.
They are MacOS(only for MacBooks) from Apple, Chrome OS (for Chromebooks) from Google, Windows from Microsoft and the open-source OS from Linux. Each has its own pros and cons like most things. It actually, also depends on your needs. Most users will find the MacOS, Windows or Chrome OS perfect for them, while Linux based systems are primarily for advanced users and programmers.
One of the popular and flexible, Windows operating system form Microsoft is easy to use with user friendly graphical user interface (GUI). One big advantage that Windows has over MacOS and Chrome OS, is its wider market. It supports most devices unlike MacOS and Chrome OS which support limited devices. Windows OS machines are ideal for studies; research work, office or business works and is the only OS recommended for gamers. Windows 10, the latest version of the OS, offers wide variety of functionalities and features like touch screen support, fingerprint readers, dual graphic chips support, ability to switch between tablet and PC modes and comes with a powerful digital assistant, Cortana.
All MacBooks from Apple come with MacOS preinstalled. Latest version of this operating system from Apple is the MacOS 10.15 Catalina. Overall it has a similar functionality like Windows OS, but with a different approach to the interface. Unlike Microsoft’s Start menu and taskbar, MacOS has apps dock at the bottom of the screen with Siri as the digital assistant. Although not as flexible as Windows, it does provide better security and is less vulnerable to security lapses.
Chrome OS from Google is for inexpensive Chromebooks which offer basic functionality to the users. The OS is simple and secure, but more limited than Windows or MacOS. The interface looks similar to a windows but the main app you will use is the Chrome web browser. However almost all latest Chromebooks, including Google PixelBook, now support and run most android apps without any third party emulators which you would need on other operating systems. Chromebooks are portable and offer good battery life, useful to surf web, check e-mails or navigating social networks and chatting. Popular with schools and parents because these are less vulnerable to malwares and viruses than others.
An open source operating systems for users who wants more control on what they want the OS to do. Users are free to customize the OS according to their needs and likings. Recommended for advanced users only, it supports wide range of programming languages for coders, is reliable with no compromise on performance and is secure to various malicious programs.
Generally you should buy a laptop with one of first three operating systems, while Linux OS is recommended for high level advanced users or coders/programmers.
Step 3: Do I want to buy a conventional Laptop or a Hybrid?
Next you need to decide if you a want to buy a simple conventional laptop or a 2-in-1 hybrid machine.
A 2-in-1 hybrid machine can switch between a traditional laptop and tablet mode, according to need. They come mainly in two configurations, a detachable screen which can be separated completely from keyboard, and flexible laptops with special hinges which can bend 360 degrees to alternate modes between tablet and desktop.
Step 4: Which laptop display size should I buy?
Buy the laptop with a display size according to your needs. The thinnest and lightest machines have 11-12 inch display. Then there are 13-14 inch machines which perfectly balance portability and usability for not so heavy users and programs. 15-16 inch size is the most popular laptop screen size suitable for almost all type of users, whether light, medium or heavy usage. A 17-18-inch system is recommended only if your laptop is to stay on your desk all day; it can provide the processing power needed to play high-end games or heavy workstation-level productivity.
Step 5: Which Processor and how much RAM and Hard disk should I buy in laptop?
Processor are regarded as a heart of a laptop, because they are responsible for the performance of the machine. Most laptops are provided with Intel or AMD processor. Both manufacturers are continuously improving their processors, launching newer updated versions every year. But don’t get confused in selecting among multiple versions available, as one year older version is slower but not by very much. Select one suiting your budget; however, this is one expense which you will not regret even if you spend a little extra for a better processor.
Most computer experts advise to invest in latest and advanced processor, even for basic users so that it can support the future advancements in the simplest programs like web browsers etc. You don’t want to keep upgrading to newer laptops frequently, because unlike desktop systems, laptop processors can’t be upgraded. Always try to select one of the faster and advanced processor so it does not become obsolete in near future. One of the terms you will come across while selecting processors is the number of cores. Number of cores is directly related to the processing speed and allows software to run faster. High end processors offer multi-threading feature which allows the more efficient use of all cores.
Next choice you face while browsing for your laptop is selecting RAM. RAM provides the processing power to the laptop. Larger RAM helps in better multi-tasking capabilities and faster loading of programs. RAM should be selected according to the usage needs. 2-4 GB RAM is suited for light users like students and office work. For more advanced users whose work requires slightly higher processing power like for basic photo editing, light gamers and fairly intricate office and other programs, 4-8 GB RAM is more than enough. But if you plan on using laptop for professional image/video editing and rendering, animation or graphic designing projects or professional gaming, 8GB RAM is like the minimum requirement, while we will recommend at least 16 to 32GB of RAM, to provide highest level processing power. Decide the purpose of your laptop and select the RAM accordingly.
Now for the storage part of laptop, it is totally up to you how large capacity you want. But there is still some terminology which may create confusion, namely the type of storage device. Currently there are three types of storage devices available for laptops; Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), Solid State Drives (SDDs) and Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHDs). HDDs are commonly used and offer huge storage capacity at reasonable cost, where SSDs provide faster and smoother boot up and multi-tasking abilities, suitable for thin, portable and light weight laptops. SSHDs are almost like best of both world situations, i.e. offering maximum capacity for affordable pricing like HDDs, while having sound boot up and loading abilities of SSDs. It’s basically comes down to your own choice about how much storage capacity you want, without largely affecting the performance of your laptop.
In storage technology, you might also come across a relatively new term, Optane memory. But what is Optane memory and do you need it. It is a hyper-fast memory module, an Intel’s trademark technology. It is not your conventional memory or RAM. Its more like a bridge between two. Also called smart memory, it learns your most frequented documents, images, videos and applications or programs and keeps them handy for faster accessing in future. It also retains them in the memory even after you log out or shut down you computer. Its good for gamers for faster launching and smooth game play. Professional image and video editors or animation software are intensive programs; here Optane memory will help by pre loading frequently used files and also focus your laptop’s resources on the programs you need. Optane memory will shorten boot time, launches applications faster, provide exceptional gaming and faster browsing.