A laptop is an essential item for many entrepreneurs, entertainment or at-home admin. They can be an expensive piece of kit that you hope will last a number of years, therefore the decision on which laptop model to purchase should not be taken lightly.
The type of laptop you need has a lot to do with your main reasons for using the machine. If you are a gamer who enjoys games like those on 777, or running advanced design software, you will need a high powered device. Whereas, those simply browsing the web and writing documents can get away with a more economical choice.
If you are in the market for a laptop upgrade or are purchasing your own laptop for the first time, here are some of the top factors you need to consider:
Preferred operating system
Many laptop users have a preference for one operating system and changing to another operating system can feel like a big commitment. Operating systems are responsible for managing hardware responses, running applications and providing a user interface.
Microsoft Windows is the most widely used OS and has more than one billion users worldwide. Those wishing to use Microsoft Office and the Office suite of productivity tools should opt for a Windows laptop.
MacOS is also popular, this is the operating system you will have on an Apple MacBook. It is popular due to its user-friendly design and interface and is the favourite amongst creative professionals.
A lesser known OS is Linux. Linux is an open source operating system that is customisable. It is mostly used by tech savvy people, including developers and tech focussed businesses.
Size and weight
Another important consideration is how big the laptop is and how important it is to be portable. For example, if you are a student moving between lectures and the library, you will want a laptop that is light and fits in your bag easily, one that can also be used as a tablet could be useful as a note taking tool.
Chromebooks are an example of a highly portable device, however these are less ideal for running powerful software or for gaming.
If you will be keeping your laptop on your desk at home, the size and weight is less important. Although, in this case you may benefit from a bigger machine with a larger screen.
Now, lets drill down into some of the important technical specifications you need to consider:
You are likely to spend a lot of time looking at your screen, so the display is important. Put simply, the more pixels the display has, the more content that can fit on the screen.
It is recommended to go for Full HD, which is 1920 x 1080. This should give you a pleasant display and make graphics look sharp. On the budget end, you will find laptops with displays of 1366 x 768. This may be enough if you are using your device for simple tasks.
Alternatively, if you are an avid gamer or graphic designer you will want to opt for a high quality display. In this case it is recommended that you choose a laptop with 3200 x 1800 or perhaps even 3840 x 2160 (known as 4K).
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Next, you need to look at the laptop’s CPU. The CPU is an essential aspect of your machine, it is what has the biggest impact on its performance overall.
For Apple Macbooks, you will be looking at either an M1 or an M2 chip. These are considered revolutionary due to their processing power.
Intel’s Core-based CPUs are also the gold standard. If you are buying a budget model, you will likely find that it has a Core i3.
Many middle of the range laptops have a Core i5, whereas the best performing laptops have a Core i7 CPU.
RAM is also important, the more RAM you have the faster you will be able to access data. It is recommended that you choose a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM, although budget machines with 4GB are available in the marketplace.
16GB is useful, particularly if running software on your laptop. It is often recommended for users of programs like Adobe Creative Cloud. For high-power professional users and gamers, you may want to look at 32GB or 64GB of RAM.
It is a good idea to go for a laptop with a SSD rather than a hard drive, as these tend to be much faster. These do come at a higher cost but are generally worth the investment.
Lastly, check out the battery life as no one wants to be chained to the mains power supply for most of the day.