Shopping for a laptop, but unsure about the features you need? Here are the simplified steps of choosing a laptop specs to follow.
If you regularly want access to the contents of your computer whether at home, office or on the road, portability of a laptop is an important criterion. It should be light enough to be carried with you all-time, yet capable enough to run sophisticated applications, the laptop will be your best companion from sketching blueprint for your projects to advanced gaming. While the laptop is inferior to the always popular tablets and smartphones in both compactness and ease-of-use, there would be a point you would realize that everything from typing a simple email to Netflix and chill to gaming cannot be compared to what the laptop can do. So before barging into your local IT store, you must first understand what kind of laptop is best suited for your needs?
Choosing the right laptop could prove to be a challenge to many people. All laptops varies from sizes, features, prices and specifications. Things could be worse if you randomly stepped into a store without knowing what you need. Chances are you could end up buying the way the salesperson wants to sell, instead of the way you like to buy! You could get less than what you asked for with a far more expensive price tag or you would end up getting nothing like what you wanted. That is why it is important that you figure out your requirements and needs.
1 Choosing your OS (Operating System)
For those who aren’t familiar with both the Macs and PCs, this would be quite a feat to overcome. Most laptops are pre-installed with one of three prominent operating systems, which are the Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. It is all up to your personal preferences and keep in mind also that some laptops are capable of using multiple OS at a time. This means that you can switch OS within your laptop if you need to.
In most laptops today regardless of brands, Windows are commonly found pre-installed and appears on many more makes and models than the Chrome OS and Mac OS as they are limited to its own make of laptop, both Google and Apple respectively. Windows laptops vary in price ranging from under RM1,000 to several thousand ringgit and offers a variety of features and specifications depending on the price range as well as its build. Generally, people will opt for the Windows, not just because of its cheaper price tag compared to it counterparts, but also its versatility. You can pretty much do anything on a Windows machine.
Apple today is pretty much one of the most popular brands around the world if not the most. In all of its popular smartphones, Apple has also its very own operating system on its laptop production which is known as the MacBooks. Overall, there is not really much difference in functionality between the two IT giants, Windows and Apple. The only notable difference in the Mac OS is the interface that is much more interactive then any existing OS. With seamless interaction in mind, the Mac OS can connect seamlessly to any Apple device with the much acclaimed iTunes. However, you might want to stick with a Windows device if you are not quick to adapt to change as the User Interface of MacBooks very much differ from the Windows.
You might have heard of both Windows and Apple but have you ever heard of Linux? Linux is an open-source operating system that follows a very different philosophy to both tech giants, Windows and Apple. Unlike both Windows and Apple which has their source codes compiled to be read easily by machines, Linux is an open-source OS that has its source code understandable by humans. In order to create a software, developers write source codes with various programming or coding languages which shares the common trait: Easier for human understanding. To put it in simple terms, most Linux users are also the developers for the OS. You will have to understand programming languages to be able to make the full use of the Linux OS. Also worth mentioning is that, the interface of every Linux varies depending on the user/developer as the OS is developed by the developer itself. It will take on whatever form the developer intends too.
2 Traditional or Hybrid
From the traditional clamshell laptops to the laptops that are capable of detaching its monitor or switch to other positions such as tent or stand modes to be used as a tablet, laptops have evolved far more than you can imagine.
Many laptops today have more than just one capability compared to the traditional ones. Generally, these laptops can be known as 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 (e.g. the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga or the ASUS Transformer Book series), whereby the screens can be detached entirely from the keyboard and the screen itself is a touchscreen, just like your tablet. You can even find a laptop with flexible hinges that bend back a full 360 degrees and changes mode depending on the angle. Most of these devices are much better at bringing you the true mobile laptop and superior tablet experience. However, these kind of laptops would be sure to cost more than the traditional ones. So if you don’t see the need of those functionalities, it is best that you spend your money on the traditional laptop that guarantees more performance for your buck and better productivity as well.
3 Choose the right screen size
Before you look into the specs or pricing of the machine, it is important that you figure out how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are generally categorized by their display:
- 11 – 12 inches: Weighing at the average 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, these 11 to 12-inch screens are the possible the thinnest and lightest machines around.
- 13 to 14 inches: Coming in at just under 5 pounds, providing the best balance of both worlds, be it document processing or gaming, this is the ideal machine you would like to get your hands on.
- 15 inches: Arguably the most popular size in the recent years, 15-inch laptops usually weigh from 4.5 to 6.5 pounds. Just 1 inch wider, you get a larger screen and possibly a better color saturation as well.
- 17 to 18 inches: Either you are a gamer or if you planned on leaving it on your desks all the time, this huge size laptop could provide you with probably the best kind of processing power to run your high-end games or do workstation-level-productivity.
4 Comfort and Ergonomic
Nowadays, keyboard implementations have a travel distance, how far the key moves when pressed, of 2mm at a minimum, and up to 3.5 or 4mm in some cases.
You might have the latest and high-end specs on your device. But all this wouldn’t matter if you do not feel comfortable using it without good ergonomics and it just doesn’t feel right. If your work requires a lot of word processing, make sure that they keyboard on the device fits you perfect. Be sure to find a keyboard that offers solid feedback depending on your preference.
A good touchpad is essential as well for those who do not have a mouse with them all the time. You would wanna look for an accurate and sensitive multitouch touchpad that responds quickly and consistent to multitouch gestures. The one great example of a good touchpad is the one from the MacBooks. Make an example from the MacBooks and try to look for touchpads similar to it on your future laptop.
Just like the human body, we would be empty vessels without our heart, brain and soul. So what would a laptop be without its critical component such as the hard drive, RAM and graphics chip as well as the CPU:
- CPU: The most important part of your computer or as known as the processor has a huge influence on the overall performance of the computer.
- RAM: The RAM is basically the processing capability or the speed of how fast your computer can run your software. Some budget laptops offer only 2GB of RAM but ideally, you would be wanting at least 4GB of RAM and if you are willing, 8GB will benefit you more in the long run.
- Storage (Hard Drive): The only one thing that is more important the CPU is the performance and space of your storage drive. The storage drive does not only stores your documents and your files but it is also largely influential in determining your computer’s speed. Hard drive is categorized into two groups which are the HDD and the SSD. HDD is the traditional hard drive you see everywhere and SSD is the newer version of the HDD but with much faster processing speed as well as tinier in build.
- Display: Just like your televisions, the more pixel it have, the more sharper it will look as well fitting more content on your screen. Most mainstream laptops are built with 1366 x 768 displays. But if you can afford it, it is recommended that you pay a little extra for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, or as known as Full HD. There are many more panels out there just like a TV, it is all up to your personal demands but bear in mind that, the larger the panel, the more battery life it will consume.
- Playing games or simply just document processing and designing, both preference needs different graphics chip. So if you are more into games, you will need a graphic chip that is capable of running your high-end games such as the GTX 970 or if you are only using your laptop on designing and typing lengthy documents, an integrated graphics chip will be more than enough.
6 Battery Life
If you are always on-the-road and you will be using your laptop all the time, you will want a laptop that has the endurance of 6 hours or more on a single charge.
This is noteworthy mainly because, the larger the laptop is, the more power it will consume and thus the battery life of most large and bulky laptops are short. To actually determine the laptop’s battery life, do not always trust the manufacturers word for it. Instead, go on the Internet and read third party reviews from trusted source.
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Because of the ever competitive world of IT today, you can get a laptop for just a little more than RM1,000 or even under. However, if you are willing to fork out just a little more, you’ll be sure to get a device with better quality, performance as well as better design.
How much you would spend on your new laptop and depending on your price range, there will surely be a right laptop suited for you.
Lastly, you should determine which brand you would want to purchase your device from. Different brands yield different qualities yet similar specs. Also, with each different brand, they ought they have the pros and cons. Rather than just focusing on which brand, you should almost certainly, figure out the support behind your laptop. You also have to compare how the manufacturers stacks up in terms of design, value, and reviews not just on one source but multiple.
Also, before you go to your nearest IT store, keep in mind that there are even rules in buying a laptop – see below for the three rules for buying a laptop:
3 Golden Rules For Buying A Laptop
1. “Too Much” Laptop Isn’t The Answer
Not too many years ago, RM2,000 was considered a great deal for a boring, enough-to-get-you-through-all-day laptop. Today, some of the most advanced designs, from the Dell XPS 13 to the HP Spectre can be found for much lesser. Apple is the one computer maker that regularly gets away with charging significantly more (the mainstream MacBook Pro starts at RM5,499).
Fully functional Windows 10 laptops that handles most of your office documents can be found for as little as RM1,000, though they’re not really built for much beyond than basic web surfing and a single tab of YouTube. Chromebooks, which run a limited set of software in Google’s Chrome OS (instead of Windows), are easy to find for RM999 to RM1,299, and runs deceptively fast, even for budget-minded machines. Some new ones even have touch screens and supports Android apps, which gives you a lot more option and flexibility.
Even gamers can spend less than you might expect. Laptops with Nvidia’s very good GeForce 1050 GPU can be found for RM3,000, although if you’re interested in virtual reality and beyond, the cost of entry rises considerably. So you might ought to think twice, before you start spending.
2. Travelling Light
Before buying on a laptop, the very first question that comes into mind should be, “What kind of laptop should I buy?” is this: How many days per week will you be carrying your laptop around with you?
Daily or near-daily travels mean something with a 13-inch or smaller display, weighing under three pounds and is at most around 15mm thick is the thing to go for. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro just hits those specs, while systems like the HP Spectre and Acer Swift 7 both dip below 10mm thick.
However, do keep in mind that those super-slim systems usually trade a little power and battery life for portability; there’s only so much room a 10mm thick laptop can contain, a battery or cooling fans for a fast CPU, after all), but trust me, carrying a 15-inch midsize laptop through an airport even once a month is going to to be taxing, let alone being huge.
3. Design Is King
Ask yourself, do you want a U-series Intel Core i5 Processor or a Y-series one? Is a standard SSD hard drive really necessary or you would opt for a faster PCI-e version? A full HD resolution as your big-screen TV, or will you be watching your videos on a 4K display?
For most of what we do on our laptops today — googling, streaming video from Netflix, YouTube or Amazon, social media posting, sending emails or using office apps like Office or Google Docs — budget laptops will be more than enough to get you through. And with laptops that share similar processors, graphics cards or other components, our experience of testing data shows that they perform, well, similarly — really, it’s down to which brand would you prefer.
That means, what you’re actually investing in isn’t so much of the specs, but the design you like. That can include weight, thickness and screen size, but also includes the layout of the keyboard, how large the touchpad (mousepad) is, how thick the bezel around the screen (infinity screen maybe?) is, plastic versus metal, or even the color or pattern on the back of the lid.
And really, there’s nothing wrong with making design choices your ultimate deciding factor. A laptop is not only a hefty investment, but it’s also a visual expression of who you are. You may carry it around with you all day, or even all over the country. Of course you would want something that speaks yourself — both comfortable to use and pleasing to look at. Having a laptop is just as much a personal accessory as your hairstyle or a pair of glasses.
That’s what Apple has done really well throughout the years, making them the benchmark (or so to say) of laptop designs. The parts inside of a MacBook aren’t all that different from other laptops (although the operating system is another story), but the human interface tools are fantastic, and the design has become a standard for what a lot of people think a laptop should look like.