Congratulations on your decision to buy a new laptop. Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the choices there are for laptops. We help you breakdown the selection process to seven easy steps.
Step 1: Choose Your Screen Size
Laptops screen sizes generally fall into two main sizes: 15.6″ approximately or 17” and will use either LCDs, that use active matrix technology, or LEDs, that are brighter and have better contrast.
The larger screen will be more comfortable for daily use, but will make your laptop heavier and may drain the battery faster. Smaller, lighter laptops are great for frequent travel, or as a companion to your desktop model.
Weight will be crucial if you are toting your laptop around campus or through airports every day.
ComputerGeeks2Go recommends that you concentrate on size rather than worry about the type of display.
Step 2: Processors
With advances in processor power and power consumption, laptop processors are sometimes the same as their desktop cousins. It is not uncommon to find a quad-core laptops now-a-days. Mobile versions of some processors are still available on budget laptops and are cut-down versions of their desktop versions. These cut-down versions feature better battery life but it comes at the expense of some speed.
ComputerGeeks2Go recommends that you buy the best processor you can afford. The extra expense will pay for itself in your satisfaction with your new laptop and you’ll avoid having to replace the machine every couple of years.
Step 3: Battery
This feature is often overlooked. Look for a machine with a longer battery time. It’s not worth buying a budget laptop if you have to plug it in every hour!
Also, if you intend to be on the road or away from wall power, consider buying a second battery as backup.
Step 4: Wireless
Most of today’s laptops come with some sort of wireless capability built into them. The more budget laptops will have wireless b/g built in. This will be fine for reading email at home or at your local coffee shop.
However, if you want to stream music or movies, consider looking for a laptop with wireless b/g/n built in. If your laptop doesn’t come with built in Wi-Fi capability then don’t despair. You can buy a USB Wi-Fi connector or a Wi-Fi card which will slide into the side of your laptop.
ComputerGeeks2Go recommends that if you experience poor Wi-Fi connections with the built in wireless then purchase an external card or connector as these offer superior range.
Step 5: Memory
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the working memory in your laptop. Just like a desktop, RAM is second biggest factor in system speed. As your computer operates, it uses RAM to process programs and information. If you start to fill up available memory the computer will automatically move the less used parts of memory to your hard drive. This is called paging.
Paging is very slow so it’s better to have more memory to reduce or eliminate paging. The more memory you have, the faster you will be able to load, print, and download your files.
Modern operating systems can use nearly 2 Gigabytes (GB) of RAM before doing anything else. To play games or surf the Internet you’ll want to start with at least 4GB of RAM.
Many budget systems will only have 2GB RAM. You may be told this is all you need but in reality your machine will slow down with excessive paging.
ComputerGeeks2Go recommends upgrading to 6GB or even 8GB of RAM if you multi-task or work with large files.
Step 6: Graphics
You’ll see many systems advertise things like “512MB shared system memory.” While graphics cards that use shared memory are not bad, be aware that this is using your computer’s RAM and you’re losing that from your total system memory, which we discussed in Step 5.
Many modern video games are requiring more and more from graphics cards. As a result, 1GB of memory is becoming increasingly common. If you choose a machine that uses shared graphics memory, look for a video card yourself and upgrade as soon as possible.
Step 7: Hard Drives
The hard drive provides the permanent storage space for your laptop’s programs and frequently-used data. Most hard drives today are rated in gigabytes (GB). Programs, images, music files, and data take up a lot of space on your hard drive, so make sure you start with plenty of room.
If you do happen to fill it up, there are options such as external plug in hard drives (which are cheap and plentiful) as well as cloud storage.
Let us help
Still not sure what to get? Click on the box at the top of the page to see a good example of a powerful, yet affordable, quad-core laptop. If you have questions about how to select a laptop computer, call us at 1-888-863-3033 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help you pick out the right computer for you.
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