Have you been thinking of buying a laptop? Then you are in the right place. Check out laptop buying guide 2020 and tips with detailed explanations.
So are you a student who needs a laptop for his/her projects or an office worker who requires something to efficiently finish up the assignments so that the long-awaited promotion comes earlier?
Or are you a gamer pushing up your rank to be at the top of the Worldwide leader board? Or rather, are you someone who needs all of these or a single laptop that can be used by all your family members for their respective purposes?
Stay tuned in this guide and soon all your queries regarding a laptop will be answered. We will tell you everything there is to know and all that must be considered when buying a laptop is under question. Check out best laptop brands.
1. What are the Laptop Types and Utilities of Those?
The way laptops were used has changed and so has the way of manufacturing them. This means that today, at this very moment, you have various kinds of laptops available for sale. This includes notebooks, ultrabooks, MacBooks, etc which you can choose depending on your needs and budget.
Let us see at a glance at the classification of modern laptops:
- Gaming Laptops: You have gaming ones that specifically suit the gamers or those who require a lot of power. These have discrete GPUs and are usually more expensive than the other kinds. Also, they are usually heavier.
- Notebooks: Then there are notebook laptops that were principally made for students but are now also used by people of various other professions. These are the usual and affordable laptops that have a balanced combination of features.
- Ultrabooks: Ultrabooks have been named so because they are the most lightweight and thin, thus easy to carry around everywhere. Because of this, they are priced a bit higher than the notebooks, but then the brand in question plays a key role in pricing.
- Netbook: Some people are only interested in buying a laptop because they need to access the internet and certain applications therein. Thus, comes about the netbook which is the most suited for this purpose. They have enough processing power for running the internet and the related applications and the users get to do the basic things that any conventional laptop can do. They are very small and are the cheapest forms of laptops. However, they are not very popular anymore and have been replaced by Chromebooks.
- Chromebook: Since Windows is no more the only useful OS currently, many laptop brands have been building Chromebooks. Their specialty? They use the Google Chrome operating interface that is as easy as using an android smartphone. They can be used to access the applications on the internet and such, but are slightly expensive and have less software support than Windows or Apple laptops. Also, they do not support gaming or editing and are almost non-functional offline so buy one only if you have access to a constant internet connection.
- MacBook: A Macbook as you already know of is a product from Apple, and is a favorite for content creators and professionals who are at ease with spending money for a robust machine that constantly reminds one of the premium looks and feels. There are very few laptops that can compete with them directly in terms of performance, but their high price is something that budget buyers frown upon.
- Business Laptops: These are the laptops that have been made to work in a commercial environment and this is why professionals or businessmen find these most useful. Such laptops are very long lasting and have better security features, which is why they are so useful. They don’t usually have a discrete GPU and hence graphics-related work is not possible.
- Convertibles: The convertible or 2-in-1 laptops are those that usually have a touch-screen so that you get the features of both a tablet and a laptop in a single device. The keyboard can be folded to the back of the display and so these are highly useful to work in when you are on the go or want to watch a movie while traveling on a train or a bus and even gaming. Now, this extra feature comes at a cost, and most base level convertibles have a price tag of an Intel i5 powered laptop. No matter, these are increasingly getting popular.
- Tablet used as laptops: Yes, you read that right. These are similar to convertibles, but the keyboard can be detached from the display and therefore you get the ease of a laptop without having to carry the keyboard all the time. These are usually of a smaller screen, and very few of the reputed brands produce these currently. These are makeshift alternatives and will never be able to provide all the utilities of a fully-equipped notebook.
2. Which OS is Best for You?
Let us talk about the first things first. The type of operating system does a lot to determine its price and what sort of work your laptop can do. The three main operating systems offering the most utility are mentioned below:
- Windows 10, 7(Home and Pro), or 8: The Windows operating system is the most known and quite user-friendly. This is a simple OS that you can install on almost a device and even on MacBooks, just in case you need to keep a secondary OS. The Pro version as suggested by the name is suited for professionals and might not be free, but the Home version doesn’t require any extra cost. The main advantage here is that Windows supports all sorts of software until and unless they are made exclusively for some other OS, it can be run on a windows laptop.
- Mac OS X: Apple’s very own operating system is one of the things that make the MacBooks somewhat unique. We are talking from a software perspective, and here the Mac OS surpasses Windows when it comes to editing and playing games. For example, a 1080p video rendering takes about 2-3 hours on a MacBook, and a Windows laptop with similar specs takes well above 5 to 6 hours to complete the same. So if you are a professional editor, then paying the higher price is very justified. But unlike Windows, they do not support so much software. Although, Mac-based counterparts of many applications have been launched and hence it is becoming increasingly convenient to buy one.
- Chrome OS: Google’s very own operating interface was launched recently and has been found very useful for those who use a lot of web-based applications. However, it does not support so many applications like the other two operating interfaces, and hence have very limited usage. Well, one often gets upgrades but many apps have no use without the internet at all. But the android-like interface is easy to use and if safety is what you crave, then this is perfect.
3. Brand Recommendation
Most of the well-known laptop making brands also produce desktops. It is necessary to go with such a brand that can provide the most utility and reliability in a justified price tag. Our suggestion is to go with Dell or HP. Their laptops are brilliant performers and last long, and you need not worry about hardware.
We are not being partial, but these are the leading brands, followed by Asus, Lenovo and Acer. These too offer good devices in a lower price range as well, but are left behind by the previous two in many cases.
Apple will not be compared with these brands. Macbooks have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, so it would not be justified to place them with these other brands that mainly offer Windows PCs.
Following are the other main factors to consider:
The primary element that defines a PC’s capability, and also one of the deciding factors for the price tag is the processor. It is upon you to decide whether you want to go with an Intel or AMD CPU since it is your personal preference.
Both the companies have been competing to be better than the other and each of them has an area of excellence of their own. We recommend AMD for those who are looking for something cheap without having to compromise on performance.
A variety of processors are found in Windows OS, but the options are limited in the case of MacBooks, and AMD CPUs are hard to find in those either. Below is their type and utility:
- Celeron and Pentium Processors: These are the most low-end processors that you will find today. Due to the low performance, laptops with Celeron and Pentium Gold (5th gen) processors are much cheaper. These can be used for the simplest tasks like web browsing and document editing purposes, and are not overclockable. Being cheap, do not expect smooth working either.
- I3 or Ryzen 3 Processors: The dual-core i3 or Ryzen 3 (some have 4 cores) powered laptops are widely used by students and those who are interested in everything below the level of video editing. These can handle photo editing and media playback without any lags, but to do anything more demanding you need to go for the next segment.
- I5 or Ryzen 5 Processors: The i5 processor is the most balanced among all the processors from Intel because of the affordable price tag, and features that range from media editing to light gaming.
Ryzen 5 works similarly and the laptops having these are slightly cheaper than i5 laptops, and you may seem some better power in certain instances as well.
- I7 or Ryzen 7 Processors: The processors in this segment are the best for professionals. Both CPUs from Intel and AMD are affordable and can perform satisfactorily enough. Hence, the large software, intense gaming, and complex graphics rendering are ever industrious.
Now the modern generations of Ryzen 7 are better than i7s and although with lower maximum clock speed, can function as good as the higher tier of Intel Processors.
- I9 Processors or Ryzen 9: This is the most expensive series of laptops that are reigning in the mid-range segment. Both these CPUs are very capable and can do a lot more, but as usual, the new Ryzen 9 4900H and 4900HS processors have more value to offer in the price you have to pay. There are a few options for these processors available now, but newer models will be launched so keep an eye on the internet if you are interested in buying one such.
- If your demand is even more performance, then you need to go for the Intel Xeon processor-powered notebooks. Despite having lower clock rates, they are far better than i9s and comparable CPUs and are suitable for complex algorithms, machine learning, AI development, and everything of that kind, but not gaming. These are also very expensive.
- There is a recent series of processors from Intel named Ice lake featuring 10th gen processors that can offer better reliability and speed.
Such is also promised by AMD and they too have already launched the Ryzen 4000 series that is rumored to usher the users into an entirely new era of laptop gaming.
The RAM used by an application on a laptop is the same as it requires on a desktop. So while 4 GB of RAM is the minimum, different people of different professions will have separate RAM requirements.
The basic computing at a smooth rate requires at least 4GB of RAM, but now it is necessary to have more. Laptops with 8GB of memory can handle a heavy workload, but it will be useless unless you have a better processor.
On the bright side, due to fewer provisions of upgradability, laptops come with features that are on par with the rest of the components. Thus usually, laptops with an i5 processor have well above 4 GB of RAM so you need not be concerned about it separately.
Adding a GPU on a laptop is next to impossible. Therefore, if you need your laptop for graphics-related work then it is better to go for one with a discrete video card rather than one with basic graphics.
The main matter to consider is that you don’t get to choose the GPU and have to make do with whatever the brand provides.
Most of the laptops have integrated Intel 630 or 610 and such graphics, or the AMD equivalent RX Vega 3 which means they have restricted graphical ability. These can only run the simplest applications and are not designed for anything above them.
A matter to consider here is that if you want a decent graphics memory on your notebook, you will have to spend a lot more than that of integrated graphics.
Now laptops with GPUs like the MX 250, GTX 1050 Max Q, AMD RX Vega 7, etc which are good entry level video chips are available at an affordable price range.
In the mid-segment, there is the GTX 1660 Ti, Quadro RTX 3000, etc are the leading ones that are decently priced and the performance is good enough for most. You may expect a price range above $ 700 for these.
There is a higher segment of GPUs that have a laptop-compatible version as well, like the RTX 2080, RTX 2070 Max Q, etc that can provide premium performance.
You can expect them to be quite costly. Gaming or streaming will be highly enjoyable on this, and other 3D modeling and deep learning would be similarly comfortable.
Then comes storage and you will find only some laptops that have both SSD and HDD storage in them. It depends on you whether you need a cheaper PC but more storage capacity or a faster PC with less storage space.
Keep in mind that since the CPU and other components in both would be the same if you are looking at two different storage variants of a particular device, all the difference in speed is the time taken to access the storage.
So the choice is simple here as a 256 GB SSD laptop will cost higher than a 1 TB HDD type. Although, you can buy either an SSD or HDD to act as an external storage drive post-purchase, so go for what is supported by your budget presently.
Now connectivity is another prime factor that you need to make sure is available on your laptop. This includes USB ports, video ports, a headphone jack, card reader, and so on.
Special attention must be given to Thunderbolt and Type-C ports since those are of utmost importance in daily usage because of the better speed. Laptops, in general, have lesser ports than desktops.
Then come the Wireless and Internet connectivity. Every laptop has an Ethernet slot so what you need to check for is the latest version of Bluetooth and WIFI.
9. Other Necessary parts
These include a quality keyboard, smooth trackpad, a good HD webcam, a clear microphone and speakers that are loud enough so that you can at least hear whatever is being played even from the other end of your bed.
Do not expect a very loud sound unless the laptop is especially having such arrangements.
10. Screen Size and Quality
The usual screen size found in a laptop is 15 inches and these are the most sold. Now as you go higher or lower, there is a difference in the price as the companies tend to charge more for a further compact or larger screen size.
Both Windows and Mac laptops are available in different sizes and so it is something at your discretion. To simplify your decision, consider going for 13 or 14-inch notebooks if the screen size is not something that concerns you and you need the smaller frame.
For those who are tight on the budget or require a larger display for gaming, movie streaming, or whatever the purpose may be, you can go for 15 and 17 inch laptops as per your budget range.
An IPS display panel is a must. We don’t want to bore you with the technicalities, but make sure that the brightness of the screen is good (250-300 nits is the best range) and if possible choose an anti-reflective, anti-glare screen so that you don’t have a problem working.
11. Battery Life
No matter what your budget is, make it certain that the laptop you are choosing has good battery life.
This means that in no case you should go below 5 hours of screen time, and even though it costs more initially, a good battery could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
There are decent laptops that can run up to 7 hours on a single charge, and this will come handy when you are travelling or attending a lengthy seminar.
12. Should You Consider a Touchscreen or a 2-in-1 Laptop?
The touchscreen display on a laptop does add convenience, but it will also add some price. Having said that, you should also know there are very few reputable touch screen options that you will find below $ 600.
If you need extra convenience, we suggest going for a branded device since a cheaper one may save you some money at first, but it won’t last long.
The convertibles already have a touch screen, so going for it would be preferred if you think the touch should be advantageous while you are working and gaming. Many good 2-in-1 laptops are bearing a pocket-friendly price tag so it is affordable in the current time.
13. What Should be Your Budget?
Anyone must be clear of how much they are comfortable with spending so that they can choose the laptop and the specs therein correctly.
For usual users, a budget of about $250 should be enough. Now there are even cheaper notebooks available, but this is the utmost you should be spending if you have limited needs.
For an Ultrabook, add about two hundred dollars more and you get a thin, light laptop just like you wanted. There are a variety of ultrabooks available so make sure you have some options ready rather than choosing one right away.
For those who need more performance, you should be prepared with spending above $600. Yes, laptops that have a discrete GPU aren’t cheap and only a good CPU would not be able to fulfill your needs.
We have already discussed what specs a performance-oriented laptop should have, so you already know what you are looking for.
For Macbook buyers, we suggest keeping a budget of at least 1200 bucks, and that too if you want the cheaper variants. Keep in mind the display size plays a role here and compact ones are usually pricey.
For gamers as well, it will be wise to expect an expense of about $1,000. There are different brands in the scenario currently that have different prices for the almost similar components inside. Make sure to go with something that you feel is the most worth paying for.
14. So What Type Should You Go for?
This is probably the main question that you might be having in mind. With so many varieties, it must be clear that laptops have a wide range of uses. While each of these functions in the same way, what matters is how you intend to use them.
No matter what your use is, our view for any average user is to have an i5 or at least an i3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, SSD storage, and a discrete GPU (even though base-level).
The budget plays a key role here so plan the time of purchase wisely since online retailers provide a discount at certain months of the year. A summary of this entire discussion could be as follows:
- For students, notebooks or ultrabooks are the clear choices. They have the right set of features while also being cheap.
- For professionals or those who work a lot on the internet-based software, netbooks or Chromebooks would be ideal. These are quite small and are cheaper, which means that employing many is convenient. Certain laptops specifically suit the needs of businessmen, so make sure you check those out as well.
- Gamers have no choice but to go for gaming ones, and this is evident. Since laptops are not very upgradable, there is no other option than to go for a better set of specs at the very time of the purchase.
- Now MacBooks are for those who are involved in some creative work or have a wider budget. This is because any other laptop brand offers the same configuration at a much cheaper price range, while Macbooks can cost almost double than those, and even more. So if you can afford it, they are brilliant machines. But with a restricted budget, it will be better to forego the premium feeling and rather go with Windows.
- For editors and media creators, or those who do not want to carry a separate tablet, the convertible laptops are the best. The touchscreen display and the foldable keyboard are highly convenient and boost the ease to use laptops to a whole new level. But keep in mind that they aren’t the most value-for-money devices.
We hope that all these points should be helpful and by now things must have been much simplified. Do share the post if it was indeed helpful.