When it comes to buying a new laptop, things get pretty complicated before you realize that you’ve stuck yourself into a never-ending dilemma. Nowadays, laptop models are being revamped and redesigned every year to make them compatible with the latest technology and software updates. Consumers like us do not want performance issues, and compromise is not an option anymore given the extensive amount of professional and personal work a laptop can help you execute.
I have come up with a few tips to buy a laptop that can help you on how to pick a laptop perfect enough for your use and to bear the latest tech and software solutions without giving you hassles. In 2021, these tips for buying laptops have gone beyond internal configurations. A user needs to understand his/her use of the laptop before buying one as almost every model today comes with exceptional configurations. The point is how to choose a laptop for yourself which can fit your needs.
Here are a few common and some new tips for buying a laptop that you must keep in mind before you bring home an excellent portable system for yourself:
Before we delve into extensive read about the best configurations and learn how to choose a laptop that perfectly meets modern-day system requirements, let’s begin with a pro-tip.
If you don’t have time to read the qualities of the laptop, and are in a hurry, there is a collective tip that will encapsulate some of the best specs and configurations. When buying a laptop, you can look out for Project Athena. Project Athena is Intel’s initiative to create the best laptops of the highest quality-specs. Intel has decided to partner with the finest laptop manufacturers to design products under Project Athena that will also have great AI-capabilities.
Here are those standards that Athena meets, thus making your task of choosing a laptop easier:
- Laptops must have Intel Core 10th-Generation i5/i7 Processors.
- Must have embedded Intel Deep Learning Boost technology for better AI performance.
- A minimum of 8GB dual-channel RAM with more than 256GB of NVMe SSD storage.
- Support internet connection via Wi-Fi 6 technology. Optional Gigabit LTE technology and high-speed file transfer capability powered by Thunderbolt Type-C ports.
- Laptops must have touch-screen displays with precision touchpads. Bezels must be narrowed and thin, more lightweight, and 2-in-1 design is a must.
- Battery life should be at least 9+ hours in real-world usage circumstances supported by USB-C fast-charging ports.
Some of the first phase systems based on Athena are:
– Acer Swift 5
– Dell XPS 13” 2-in-1
– HP Envy 13” Wood Series
– Lenovo Yoga S940
So, these were some quick tips that you must keep in mind, before buying a laptop. In the next section, we will talk about all the features and factors that you must consider in detail while choosing a laptop.
1. The Operating System
- The first thing you need to figure out is whether you want a laptop that runs on a Windows OS, macOS, or Chrome OS. All these three operating systems are designed to give different levels of outputs, and hence, they are useful to understand how to choose a laptop:
- For those who’ve always used Apple products, it is hard to convince them to go otherwise. A macOS-based MacBook will always be their first choice. But, they are known to be pretty expensive, and it doesn’t mean you should buy a Mac if you were able to get your hand on those ridiculously expensive iPhones.
- Windows-based laptops are easier to pick from as they come in all different budget ranges and fulfill all system requirements from that of a work station to a hardcore gaming station.
- And then comes the budget ChromeOS laptops, mostly preferred by students who executes most of their work on cloud-based platforms from Google such as G-Suite applications. It is also easy to access the web here as most students spend time on the internet, either messing around on social media or studying online academic material.
Nevertheless, there isn’t a right or wrong here. But here are a few points about all these three operating systems you can check to choose a laptop.
|– Choosing a laptop among Windows-based models allows you to pick from a wider range of systems in different price ranges.
– There are thin ultrabooks, heavy workstations, and laptops with configurations to support hardcore gaming that target different choices of users.
– Though they come at all prices, the lower-range models cut off a lot of features and high-end configurations, which I feel is not suitable when choosing a laptop.
|– MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are the best laptops to determine if you’re an Apple lover.
– But you must have a thousand dollars at minimum to spare if you want the luxury to use macOS laptops.
– In case you’re into graphics designing and other content creation professions, MacBook is an excellent choice.
|– Running on Google’s cloud-based ChromeOS are useful for students.
– More of an online terminal to access cloud-based applications from Google and use them for work/academic purposes.
– Best for users who execute most of their tasks online on Google apps such as Drive, Dropbox, Docs, etc.
– Plus, it can fit the tight budget of yours if you aren’t willing to spend substantial money on a PC.
My Pick: A Windows-based laptop because of a sheer range of devices in the mid-range prices where you don’t have to spare money equivalent to that on a MacBook, but it’ll be higher than a Chromebook.
Read More: Best Chromebook Laptops You Should Buy
2. Screen Size and Form Factor
For those who think that’s irrelevant then I must tell them they’re wrong. The size of the screens nowadays determines the level of portability and convenience in use when you choose a laptop. Form Factor here refers to the fact of whether a laptop is a 2-in-1 tablet or has a clamshell design. Take notes and learn how to choose a laptop-based on size and form factor.
Based on design and form factor:
|Clamshell Design||2-in-1 Detachable Screen Design||Rotatable 360° Hinge-Touch Screen Design|
– This is the traditional design adopted in most low-to-mid priced laptops.
– The smaller the screen, the lighter and more portable the laptop. But newer models like LG Gram 13 are both lightweight and have larger screen-size.
– Best for those who do not have permanent use of a keyboard and trackpad while working on a laptop.
|– If you want to choose a laptop with higher portability than a 2-in-one detachable screen design is perfect for you.
– Laptops like Microsoft Surface and a few new Chromebooks have adopted this model.
– These are generally available in smaller sizes (11-12.5 inches) as they are to be used hands-on mostly.
– It’s better if you have a suitable stylus with such laptops for better hands-on experiences.
– Best for those who are into art and graphics creation or need a laptop for entertainment purposes.
|– Choosing a 360° touch-screen is the best choice if you need an overhaul of the experience of a laptop and a tablet.
– The screen isn’t detachable but is still useful.
– The clamshell design suits the professional purposes of the users.
– The touch screen adds up to convenience and ease-of-use.
– The dual compatibility makes it a perfect modern design to choose from as a laptop.
– But again, a stylus is necessary else the whole touch experience is rendered useless.
Based on Size:
- 13-inch.: For budding writers or novelists or working professionals who want a portable laptop design which is lightweight, and can be cased in the smallest of the backpacks.
- 15-inch: for those who wish to a pleasant viewing experience and are into video streaming, graphics editing, and multitasking on different screens.
- 17-inch: Mostly available in clamshell models and are the right fit for video editors who need a larger screen to work up all their tasks.
My Pick: Being a blogger, I’ll go with a 360° Rotatable Touch-Screen 13-inch design to help me take easy notes and also offer me a tremendous dual experience of a laptop and a tab without compromising with the keyboard which I can’t afford to leave behind.
Now, a resolution wasn’t a significant criterion earlier. Well, by earlier, I meant a decade ago. With the emergence of platforms for digital content creation being, the resolution of a screen has built up significance for itself when choosing a laptop.
Most laptops come with a 1080p resolution, which is symbolized with an FHD-screen or Full-HD screen when marketing a laptop model. However, the newer ones or as I say, the more expensive ones have gone beyond to support a 4K resolution. Now, when you’re learning how to choose a laptop in the year 2021, let me tell you that you should not ever go below 1080p resolution when picking a laptop for yourself.
There are a few reasons to support my emphasis:
- FHD screens give better viewing, image editing, and streaming experience.
- The FHD screens have got decent color accuracy to provide you with a better photo/video-editing experience; however, 4K monitors are preferable for such jobs.
- Better color accuracy on an FHD display also means better or say more accurate video streaming experience.
- And well, it looks better so it feels better when working on a screen with better resolution.
4K Creates a Big Difference but at a Price:
- A downside of choosing a 4K display is that they are more expensive and they drain out your battery quicker than the one with fewer resolutions.
- Choosing a laptop with 4K monitors is a triumph for gamers, graphics designers, and videographers.
- The more pixels and color accuracy is a requirement in the two professions and is just cooler and a lot smoother for gamers.
My Pick: I believe a 1080p resolution is perfect for most uses. Even for gamers, a 1080p screen offers a decent 120-144 Hz refresh rate if they choose a laptop model wisely after checking the refresh rate before paying. 4K, for now, is exclusively for designers and videographers and would be a terrible waste of money for those who aren’t into any of the two jobs.
Now let’s get into the tech stuff and understand how to choose a laptop with a decent tech configuration. Don’t worry; I’m going to try to make it as simple as possible without hassling you with the geeky stuff.
At number 4, let’s just keep it to the basic guidelines of choosing a laptop with decent configurations. For a laptop to work with the modern software solutions of different kinds, and to keep up with the OS updates and of course your app installations, here is the basic guide to configurations:
- Processor: Intel Core i5.i7 [AMD Ryzen 5/Ryzen 7]
- Memory: 8GB
- Storage: 256 GB [Solid State Drive] (SSD accounts for better speed, response time, and performance)
- GPU: MX250/GTX 1650/RTX 2060 [For Extensive Graphics Work or Gaming]
This is the almost perfect configuration one must look for when choosing a laptop. This configuration works for most consumers and is compatible with the requirements of modern-day software solutions and applications. Yes, it’s true that more the RAM and Storage, the better the performance, but then it impacts the budget too. So, you can always opt for more if you can afford it.
But now, let’s get deeper into these specifications & learn what significance these specs have when learning how to choose a laptop in 2021.
Read More: 7 Affordable Gaming Laptops 2020
Intel dominates the chip market in both design and manufacturing when it comes to laptops. Yes, AMD does have some decent and affordable options and are regularly used in high-end laptops. However, since we’re discussing how to choose a laptop for mostly the common-going or working professional laptop user, let’s stick to Intel as it will fulfill the needs perfectly.
How to Choose a Processor?
Mostly common suggestion out there is to choose a laptop with a Core-i5 processor as it is a budget-oriented option, but that information just doesn’t cut it. There are two things to keep in mind:
- What generation is the processor? Such as i5-8th Generation, i7-5th generation, etc.
- What letter is at the Suffix of the processor? For example, Core i7-10510U [“U” being the Suffix].
As of early 2020 releases, Intel has released its 10th-Gen U-series processors and 9th-Gen H-series and X-Series processors. There are sometimes letters “Y” and “HK” used in many models, and we’ll break it down for you.
Read More: Intel Keynote: Intel Launches New 10th-Gen Processors
|– This one is of no use when choosing a laptop, but for your knowledge, these are processors found in tablets.
– The power output is minimal, and these processors are embedded in fanless CPUs in mobile devices.
– Has 4-cores offering an -output of 7-9W.
|– These processors are meant to power the thin. Lightweight laptops used for regular professional work as well as streaming or other entertainment purposes.
– It is the most decent choice when choosing a laptop.
– Comes with 2/4/6-cores and offers an output of 15-25W
|– H-Series (or HK) is generally used in high-performance systems that are purchased as extensive high-powering workstations or gaming systems.
– The new i9 processors from Intel will have this letter in the Suffix.
– It comes with 4 to 8-cores and offers an output of upto 45W.
|– This is a new suffix mostly used in gaming laptops with 10th-Gen Intel Core processors.
– The higher the level, the greater is the graphics output.
– The suffix “G” determine the GPU capability alongside the CPU.
6. Graphics or GPU
Most laptops come with an integrated graphics card. These work perfectly fine if your use is limited to that of your office-related professional work and high-def video streaming. A light photo-editing software may also work with the same. But to do anything more, you need a dedicated GPU.
Many users who are into high-end graphics work or gaming and stuff need a dedicated graphics processing unit. Intel-powered systems are nowadays embedded with a new Iris Plus Integrated GPU, which is an upgrade to preceding integrated graphics cards by Intel; however, it’s still not enough for modern-day graphics editing and gaming.
NVIDIA is a major player in the market of dedicated GPUs. There are three series by NVIDIA that can be helpful to fulfill graphics requirements when choosing a laptop in 2021:
|NVIDIA MX150/250||NVIDIA GTX 10-Series||NVIDIA RTX 20-Series|
|Meant for light gaming and image editing. Games can be played at medium settings, but high-grade editing software may not function as smoothly as you wish for.||The most common and perfect pick among GPUs when choosing a laptop as it supports heavy gaming and editing purposes without lags and hassles.||Is a thing for hardcore gamers who want the most amazing immersive gaming experience and is the most expensive choice among all?|
Talking of GPUs, NVIDIA has launched a project called Max-Q. Max-Q design is the thinnest design for dedicated GPUs in laptops that have helped in making gaming laptops designs much lighter and compact without compromising the power. However, the battery drain remains a concern with this design. But, if you’re really into gaming, then Max-Q is for you.
Read More: NVIDIA Control Panel Settings for Windows
7. RAM and Storage
Many users confuse the significance of RAM and storage and end up choosing a laptop that never fits their requirements. In the case of both RAM and Storage, a simple formula works for everyone – the more, the merrier. But to get the joyous experience, you need to spend some bucks. You must choose the specs wisely in this case.
|– While choosing a laptop, one must look for at least 8GB of RAM. This is the basic requirement, and you’ll need it even if you’re choosing a laptop for exclusively work purposes.
– Of course, a 16Gb of Memory is better if you’re willing to pay for it as it’ll support extensive web browsing and multitasking without unwanted app crashes and unnecessary lags while working.
– The designers and gamers, of course, should look for 32GB RAM for best performance and power output.
|– In case of storage, make sure the type says SSD or Solid-State Drive.
– Solid State Drives are better in terms of performance and systems with SSD storage are found to have faster boot time and response to user commands.
– SSD drives’ storage space range from 128GB-1Tb with the difference in price ranges. The cheaper laptop models contain an HDD drive mostly.
– If you have no other option than at least see if the HDD is of Intel’s Optane range of storage devices which are comparatively faster than traditional HDD designs.
Battery life is something that comes down to the use of the laptop. You can’t know what battery life is the best when understanding how to choose a laptop as the manufacturers’ claims on battery life are not entirely true. For example, a laptop promising 10 hours of battery life usually comes down to 6-7 hours.
This is because, in many of the manufacturers’ claims, you can’t include parameters such as the use of Wi-Fi, type of tasks executed on a laptop, what quality video you’re streaming, how long you’ve been on the web, etc. All of this impacts battery life.
So, to be sure, choose a laptop where the manufacturer claims to offer a battery life of up to 12 hours. This will usually wear down to 7-8 hours with a minimum of 6 hours of high-end real-world use.
Ports are generally useful for those who need regular file transfers between their external devices and the laptop. It’s essential to know about ports when choosing a laptop, especially when you’re into photography, as those people have large files to transfer back and forth.
Most laptops come with 2 USB Typ-A ports, a USB Type-C port, SD-Card Reader, HDMI port, and barrel-shaped charging inputs. But the newer PCs with thin designs have shifted to only USB-Type C ports removing HDMI and USB Type-A for which you may need an external adapter. Even the charging input has been changed to Type-C inputs, and barrel inputs are old-school now. Most Windows laptops have a variety of ports except for the new designs in laptops like Microsoft Surface, HP Spectre, and Dell XPS. But the future of laptops is going to ditch the previous ports very soon.
The best out there is USB-C Thunderbolt port, which is the fastest of all. All MacBooks have a USB Type-C port and no other port with Thunderbolt-C being the one in high-end models. If you want a better file transfer connection, look out for these ports in the configuration.
These are the top criteria that one must keep in mind he/she wants to choose a laptop with all the complete specs and configurations. In 2020, the first phase of AI-powered laptops has arrived, and these criteria will change as the year passes on.
The use of laptops has reached beyond office work, and now users want a laptop that can be used as a portable workstation for them. To keep up with that and to pick the right laptop, these essentials help learn how to choose a laptop.
Of course, these essentials are not easy to quantify, and there are always budget constraints, so make your choice wisely keeping all the parameters in mind.
Read More: Best Tech Unveiled at CES 2019
Tell Us of Your Way of Choosing a Laptop:
Hit the comments section and tell us how you choose your laptop and what will you prefer your laptop has in 2021. And also tell us how far you think AI will dominate the other criterion when it comes to choosing a laptop.