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Laptop buying guide: all you need to know when looking for a laptop

BY Joshua Joda

26th Jun 2023 Technology

6 min read

Laptop buying guide: all you need to know when looking for a laptop
If you're in the market for a laptop, these are a few things that you need to consider when deciding on what to buy
When it comes to buying the latest technology, with constant updates and so much choice, it can easily become overwhelming. This is why it can prove invaluable to have understanding of the devices you’re after before you decide to make a purchase.
We put together a useful guide on all things related to laptops, to ensure you go into the market confident on your choice before you part with your money.

Brand

When it comes to buying laptops, brand influence is an unavoidable factor—not for absolutely everyone but you will always have people that have unswaying loyalty to one brand or two over the others. The quality of laptops over the years has generally been increasing, with faster machines, often using SSDs (solid-state drives) and with better battery lives.
But this doesn’t mean every laptop is a safe bet and the usual best advice is go  is to go with known quantities and top brands – Apple, Microsoft, Asus and HP to name a few. These are brands that are known for quality, reliability, and strong customer service. You can also scour the internet for laptop brand ranking lists, and you’ll start to see similar names in similar places to give you a good idea.
Laptops stacked on each other

Storage Size

Storage space is often one of the top deciding factors in buying a laptop, though it’s less of an issue now with cloud storage and streaming services, meaning people don’t have to physically store TV shows or movies on devices. But if you’re a student, office worker or creative and find yourself using a lot of large size files, you’ll find that storage can run out fairly quickly.
Size capacity will vary a lot depending on what laptop you go for. Chromebook’s, save for a few instances will always have very low storage space (64GB), compared to a standard laptop. Meanwhile a standard laptop running on an SSD will most likely have between 256GB and 512GB storage space—a quite significant difference.
512GB, generally speaking is usually enough space for most people, even if you’re using a laptop everyday for work. Though if you’re a professional working with 4K video for instance, you may be inclined to go for 1TB storage or more, as you find the size of high-resolution video takes up your space quickly.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is one of the most important features of a computer, as it’s the place where the operating system, important data, files and programs are stored—it also contributes to how quickly the laptop itself can load up. As a customer you’ll generally be faced with two choices, between HDD and SSD (solid state drive). And to breakdown the choices, HDD is an older format and generally is less expensive but will usually give you more storage space.
Meanwhile SSDs are newer technology, have no moving parts and outperform HDDs for laptop and program load-up time and they’ve become a popular choice for a lot of modern laptops. You’ll need to weigh up your options when it comes to making a choice, from overall laptop price to storage but SSDs are a generally good route to go down. However, if you find their size a bit too limited, you can always make use of either cloud storage or an external hard drive, like this Toshiba 1TB hard drive.
Alienware laptop

Aesthetics

The appearance Versus functionality debate is a never-ending discussion in the computer space, with which side you fall on entirely depending on what you prioritise in a device and how you use it. High-end laptops often combine the best of both worlds, with sleek, cutting-edge designs and high-performing specifics, powerful processors and plenty of RAM.
And staying on the high-end front, if you’re after a light, gorgeous looking laptop, your best choice will either be an Ultrabook or a MacBook. But if you’re in the market for something more in the mid-range field or less, you can still get decent-performing laptops that look just fine. However, you may want to stick to 14 inches or 15 inches as the larger laptops of 16 inches or more can look quite bulky, which may be both unappealing and inconvenient to carry around.

Functionality

A sizable part of the final decision in choosing a laptop will boil down to two things: what can it do? And can it do what I need it for? Thankfully, you’ll be able to get a good overview of a laptop from its specifications and descriptions, you may need to look a bit deeper for more intricate needs.
If you’re a dedicated gamer, you’ll already know you’ll need a high-performing graphics card and a good amount of RAM and storage space, which is much the same if you’re a video editor and/or videographer. You always need to match what you need from a laptop with what it’s capable of and meeting your requirements will often leave you satisfied with your choice.
Recommendations:
Best premium laptop: 2022 MacBook Pro
Best mid-range laptop: ASUS Vivobook 15 X1500EA
Best budget Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 314
Best laptop for students: HP 15s-fq2039na
 
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