There are many laptops of different sizes, features and prices available on the market today and choosing the perfect laptop can be daunting. This guide will hopefully alleviate some of the stress that comes with trawling through endless options and terms that at times, can look like gibberish.
You could be looking for the ultimate entertainment laptop to play games and stream movies on or you may want to keep up with work while travelling. Whatever you’re looking for, here at PB Tech we have a wide range of laptops with the portability, power and performance that will satisfy your needs and budget. We’ve provided a few tips below, to look out for when looking at buying your next laptop.
Laptops vary in both internal and external specs to suit functionality purposes.
|Gaming Laptops||Work Laptops||Student Laptops||Home Laptops|
First of all, it’s a good idea to identify which operating system (commonly known as OS) you want to go with, you may already have a preference, however, if you’re unsure take a look below to see some advantages and disadvantages of each of the platforms available.
Google Chrome OS
When you’re thinking about screen display and resolution, generally the more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on the screen and the more detailed images will look.
The internal durability of a laptop tends to be the main priority on the average laptop-shoppers mind, but it’s also important to consider the durability of the external parts of a laptop – especially if you’ll frequently be on the go, using the laptop for long periods of time, or if the laptop will be used by a younger person (eg. a primary school student).
Choosing the right sized laptop is also important and ultimately comes down how portable you need your laptop to be. Generally, laptops are categorized by their display sizes, see below:
An 11-12 inch laptop is the lightest and thinnest system. This size typically weighs 1-1.5 kgs. As this is the smallest size, the screen and keyboard may be too confined for some users.
This size provides great portability and usability and usually weigh 2kgs. This size will fit comfortably on your lap and still gives generously sized keyboards and screens. A laptop under 2.5kgs would be ideal, however extremely lightweight systems are available with these screen sizes. This is an ideal sized screen for a student or business worker.
15” is the most popular laptop size, tending to weigh around 3kgs, and are great all-rounder laptops perfect for home use. Generally this size is inexpensive and is ideal for work purposes or if you don’t require to carry your laptop around with you, however is less portable than the smaller 11-13 inch. A lot of 15 inch models include DVD drives.
If you’re wanting to play high end games or do workstation level productivity you may want to consider a 17-18 inch model, as long as your needs include leaving your laptop on your desk all day every day as these tend to be quite heavy. Laptops this size can pack in high speed quad core CPUs, graphics chips and multiple storage drives.
When shopping for a laptop, it’s a good idea to – if allowed - physically handle the display models to get an idea of how heavy the laptop will be. Another idea is to bring a bag that you will be using to carry the laptop in with you to see if the screen size fits the bags measurements. Alternatively, measure your bag inside and out and bring these measurements with you. Keep in mind other items you may be carrying with you like chargers, headphones, personal items etc.
Recently a number of hybrid “2-in-1” laptops have come onto the market. These laptops bring the best of both worlds, doubling as both a laptop and a tablet by using bendable and rotatable screens. If you’re regularly going to use your laptop in slate mode or want flexibility to use your laptop as a standalone tablet you may want to consider these versatile designs. These models offer touch-screen capabilities.
Microsoft Surface range
Intel's Ultrabook™ standards have not been updated publicly for several years, but at the time of writing this, a laptop qualifies as an "Ultrabook" if it meets the following physical specifications.
Laptop ports allow for users to plug in, charge, and use multiple different devices on your laptop. It’s a good idea to consider what you’ll be using your laptop for and what type of connections the cables are on your other devices. Below is a list of ports, what cables/products these would use, and what context they’d be used for.
These little guys are super useful, connecting everything from USB pen drives to flight simulator joysticks. The question isn't really do you need a USB port, it's how many to you want. Think about what you'll have connected to your laptop all the time, a mouse for example, then any additional items such as external hard drives, charging devices (eg. phone charger) and work out how many it would likely need to connect all at once. Don't worry if the list gets long, or increases in size in the future, a hub or docking station can easily be added to increase the number of ports you'll have available to you.
Found on the latest laptops USB C is great because of the reversible input design - there is no right or wrong way to plug the cables in!
The newer version look like the USB Type C connections but they're super fast, able to connect 5K monitors & extremely fast external SSD drives. Ideal for business use especially if you work with large graphic files or ultra HD 5K displays.
The goto for connecting a laptop to a large display, be it a monitor or projector. Great for business use and presentations, equally suited to playing music videos on YouTube through your big screen TV at home.
This connects a laptop to a local area network. Commonly found on modems / routers / powerline adaptors it's great for business, home or anywhere you want to connect to the internet and WiFi isn't a viable option. A must-have for frequent travellers and hotel visitors.
Can be used for playing & copying music to/from CDs, watching DVDs and installing software via disc (eg. Microsoft Office 2003). It's older hardware and not commonly found in laptops anymore, and the external option available now as accessories are slim and convenient.
Useful for when you want to connect your new laptop to old projectors/monitors that don't have HDMI (if your business has a boardroom projector from the 2000s it's probably VGA). The signal type is a little different from what we've come to expect from HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI so you can't just get a cable with VGA on one end and HDMI on the other, making this (or an expensive adaptor) an essential if your working with businesses or hardware that's a not the most recent.
This is similar in many ways to the HDMI option above but is more commonly found on laptop docking stations, 4K monitors & ultra-fast monitors. It's extremely fast, even at high resolutions and generally has the bandwidth needed to update the image on screen more rapidly which is why we see it as a standard on 144Hz Gaming Monitors and above.
Reads memory cards, usually the SD size but watch out for extra information in the description for other card sizes too as many are multi-sized. Having a card reader is great, SD cards are a great slim storage option with a low cost and that makes them a solid option for storage and backups. A MicroSD card adaptor can also be used to easily insert the memory card from a phone, so you can copy all the photos to your PC easily. The versatile storage slot is perfect for home or student uses.
This can either be a single port for both the headset & microphone, or separate ones for each (sometimes coloured pink and green). This port can be used for a range of audio devices including speaker systems, headsets, earphones and amplifiers. Useful for home & business.
Whilst almost all laptops have an audio jack to plug in headphones or earphones, some users prefer to watch video, listen to music or work on their laptop without these. Regardless, if audio is important to you - consider the following:
It may be daunting at first looking at spec sheets, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the one that best fits your needs. As mentioned above, you need to know what you plan to do with your laptop as this will determine which components you need to look out for. For example, if you’re wanting to do intensive 3D gaming more components may need to be included. See below for common components you should be aware of when purchasing your new Laptop.
CPU is the abbreviation for Central Processing Unit. Sometimes referred to simply as the central processor, but more commonly called processor, the CPU is the brains of the PC where most calculations take place.
RAM (pronounced ramm) is an acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices.
Battery life is also something to be aware of. If you're buying a large, bulky notebook that will only be used near a power outlet with the charger readily available, you don't need to worry about battery life. However, if you’ll be using your laptop for long periods of time (eg: in a typical 8 hour school day) you’ll be wanting a laptop that is able to last this capacity. Battery life will vary between models and depend on screen brightness as well as the tasks you perform on your laptop, so it’s good to think about how you will be using your laptop when considering battery life.
We hope this guide helped you on the path to buying the best laptop for you, you can check out the wide variety of laptops/notebooks we have here at PB Tech, or visit one of our in-store locations to speak to our friendly and informative expert team who can help you pick out a computer to suit your needs - keep your eyes on PB Tech tips & news for the latest!