Key Things to Consider Before Buying a Laptop

Tips for finding a computer setup that’s right for you.

Back in the day, desktop computers outperformed laptops by a wide margin—but not anymore. Today’s laptops are powerful and affordable, and nothing beats their portability, which allow you to work anywhere. Choosing a laptop can be intimidating, however. What kind of operating systems works best for your needs? How much storage should you look for? What’s the trade-off between screen size and weight? Is budget a consideration? To help you through the laptop-buying maze, here is a simple list of considerations that will help you find the laptop, whether you’re a die-hard gamer or hardworking road warrior who’s all business.

Comes With a Stylus

Work, stream and game on this baby, which has hours of life on a single charge.

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Deciding what the primary use for your laptop will be is the first step toward narrowing the field of choices. Ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Will this be your primary device for work where spreadsheet and presentation software may be needed or will you be using your laptop to simply browse the Internet and check your e-mail?
  • Are you a musician or artist who may be working with a lot of images, design programs or video?
  • Will your primary purpose be for gaming or are you a student in need of a solid platform for doing research and writing papers?

Less expensive models will allow you to do the basics, but buying up will provide you with a lot more memory and flexibility.

Easy to Tote

This featherweight option is ideal if you’re always on the go.

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Both MAC and Windows PC are excellent platforms, and while choosing one over the other is largely a matter of personal preference, there are some things to consider. If your work or school environment is PC- or MAC-driven, then you’ll probably want to choose an operating system that matches up. Apple laptops are typically more expensive than PC models of comparable power, so determine what your budget is then make comparisons. Windows PCs are generally better suited for gaming while Apple computers are preferred by artists and musicians as they tend to run design and content creation programs better than PCs.

Multiple Bundles Available

Loaded with ports to accommodate all sorts of accessories.

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Other important things to consider include:

Battery Life: Compare models carefully. How long will the laptop run on a charge and how fast will it recharge? Better models will offer nine to 12 hours.

Storage: The hard drive, measured in gigabytes (GB), will determine how much storage capacity your laptop will have for everything you’re working on. Overall, the more storage, the better.

RAM/Memory: This is what holds temporary information on your computer. Insufficient RAM will cause programs to run slowly (very frustrating) or crash. Higher amounts of RAM will allow your machine to run faster, but consider 4GB a minimum for doing basic functions.

CPU: This is the laptop’s processor, which makes everything run on your computer. You’ll pay a bit more for higher-end processors, but they will make your laptop work much faster while offering superior multi-tasking performance. Going with a brand name processor is always recommended.

Screen Size: If your primary purpose is word processing, then screen size shouldn’t be a big factor. However, if you’re doing a lot of graphics work, editing a lot of photos and videos, or doing a lot of gaming, a bigger screen is definitely what you want. Bear in mind that the larger the screen, the heavier (and bulkier) your laptop will be—something to consider if you need to carry your computer to work or school every day. If you watch a lot of movies or for gaming, go for a full-HD screen.