Laptop Buying Guide

All the best toys!

With Christmas just around the corner, the usual Black Friday and pre-Christmas sales will soon be in full swing. But please don’t be fooled by cheap prices – cheap really doesn’t always mean cheerful. Have a read through the following buying guide to help you choose the right laptop and to hopefully avoid disappointment.

Processor – CPU
As the “brains” of your computer, the processor does influence performance, although the choice will depend on what you need to do. If you’re looking for a standard laptop with the best combination of price and performance, buy a Core i3. Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, but are more expensive. Try to steer clear of computers with Celeron, AMD E1 or C1 processors as these are mainly found in cheap systems, which is great if you have a small budget but be warned that most of these PCs have VERY limited specifications.

Storage – Hard Drive
This is where all your data is stored. Most people struggle to fill a 250GB Hard Drive with photos, programmes and music since the average size of a photo or MP3 is about 4MB (you can store about 62,500 photos or MP3’s on a small 250GB Hard Drive). However, if you play around with video files 250GB will be hugely insufficient and you should look to 1,000 GB (1TB) drives which can store about 24 hours of HD video. Warning: Be very wary of buying a laptop/netbook with LESS than 64Gb of storage space. Manufacturers over the past few years have been selling “bargain” computers with 32Gb of storage space, which might be fine on a phone or tablet, but Windows 10 has regular sizeable updates that you may have difficulty installing if you installed ANY additional software or put more than a few pictures or MP3s on. If your budget runs to it, we advise getting a laptop with a Solid State Disk (SSD) – see our previous articles.

Memory – RAM
RAM is fast, temporary storage that Windows uses to load both itself and whatever it is you are doing at the time. So if you are surfing the internet, you are using some RAM for Windows, a little more for the web browser, a little more for your anti-virus program, etc. 4GB is the bare minimum amount of RAM you should have in a laptop, 8GB is ideal.

If you are planning on spending a lot of time in locations where plugging in a laptop is difficult, you’ll need at least 6 hours of battery life, with 8+ hours being ideal.

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Philip Brooks