My friends keep asking me for advice whenever they need to buy a laptop. So, I thought of writing an article about this matter. With better technology and newer models steadily coming into the market; it’s not possible to write a guide to be used even 2 years down the line. My aim for writing this article is to give some very basic information that could help readers making a better decision.
Although, I am writing specifically for buying a laptop, but the same points apply for the purchase of a desktop computer.
Assess Your Need
First of all, you should know why you need a laptop. If you want a computer for home that will be used by your kids and other family members as well –then you need a computer that can supports gaming and multimedia. If you’re a programmer, you might need a computer that can run computing intensive jobs. If you need a computer for personal and office use –you might use it primarily for Internet, typing and emails etc.
Before you think any further, be sure what is your need –because everything else will depend on that.
Know Your Budget
If you’ve a limited budget, then more expensive devices are already ruled out. Knowing your budget helps you zero down upon a smaller set of choices.
Processor or CPU is perhaps the most important aspect of a computer. Nowadays, the Duo Core is probably the least powerful processors available in market and best ones include i7 type of processors. In near future, i7 will be going out of trend and something else will grab the limelight.
If you need a computer for office purpose (surfing, typing, email etc.) only; you may easily go for the low end processor available in the market. You don’t need a super computer to do these tasks.
If you intend to play multimedia games, watch movies, play music on your computer –you should go for high end processors available in market.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the volatile memory of computer. Higher RAM means you can do more things simultaneously without compromising much on speed. You would need more RAM if you want to do gaming and multimedia stuff or if your work requires parallel processing of several tasks. Remember, opening a Word document, sending an email, opening 10 websites at the same time –all this does not count as memory intensive stuff.
Going by the present standards, 1GB RAM is good for office purpose… whereas 2GB or more is recommended for gaming and multimedia.
For a laptop, battery life is critical. You don’t want your laptop going belly up in the middle of a presentation. If you are a professional on the move who uses laptop mostly on battery –you obviously will look for higher battery backup. You may also consider buying a supplemental battery along with your laptop.
A battery life of 5 hours or more is good.
Most users buy Windows based computers. I am including this point in the article just to say that you should not get a Windows Vista based computer. Vista has been a patently bad operating system. Windows 7 or Windows 8 are good. Linux based computers are more suitable for techie folks.
Hard Disk (aka HDD)
A 160GB internal hard disk is good for most people. But if you have really huge amount of data (movies and music) to be kept ready for use –you may want to go for higher capacity. 500 GB is nowadays a norm. Personally, if budget permits, I think it is a good idea to buy a separate detachable hard disk as well for backing up your critical data. You can keep your backup in external hard disk and keep it at home in a safe place.
In a desperate attempt to get slimmer and lighter; most laptops and notebooks have abandoned CD/DVD drive. Availability of high capacity pen drives (aka flash drives, thumb drives) has also influenced disappearance of CD/DVD drives. Most laptops/notebooks nowadays don’t come with CD/DVD drive and if you really need one –you have to buy an external CD/DVD drive (which will connect to your machine via a USB port)
The laptop should have at least two (more the better) USB ports for attaching devices like external CD/DVD drive, external mouse, pen drive, hard disk etc. Wi-fi is highly recommended especially. Bluetooth is also recommended.
If you want to use your computer to watch movies or play games, bigger screens with higher resolution will provide you better experience. Smaller screens makes laptop lighter and easier to carry. Here you need to strike a right match between your need and screen size.
You need to see how much weight you can comfortably carry. If you have to carry laptop around a lot –it’s better to consider buying lighter machine.
See if the vendor is offering freebies. Vendors may offer carry bag, mouse, software, pen drive, movies etc.