Laptops: How to Prepare for Your Purchase? The checklist

We live in a fabulous time, where machines that fit in our pockets can perform tasks that would have made us accused of witchcraft in the past.

But these pocket miracles don’t always go far. Sometimes even switching to a tablet or Chromebook won’t be enough to accomplish a particularly demanding task. And in these cases, only a decent PC will do. That’s why laptop makers, including Apple, continue to sell more than 100 million devices each year.

If you’ve bought a laptop recently, you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options available from OEMs, large and small. Such a choice can be crippling, which is why it is worth considering the technical characteristics carefully.

When I am asked for advice before buying a laptop computer, I never comment until I have detailed the following list in the review. So I share it with you so that you can do the same.

1. The choice of the ecosystem

Don’t believe those who tell you that Macs and PCs are interchangeable. “macOS or Windows” is the fundamental question. To answer this, a combination of factors comes into play, from the level of convenience you want to the software you own and (most importantly) compatibility with what your colleagues are using.

Apple’s advantage: it is possible to run Windows on a Mac, via BootCamp or through a virtual machine. On the other hand, running macOS on a Windows machine (an operation called Hackintosh) requires talents that I would describe as a modern wizard.

On the other hand, if you are a fan of Windows, and most of your work will be done on this platform, do not choose Apple’s hardware. That would mean paying more for hardware that wasn’t designed for Windows. Additionally, forcing Windows to work with Apple keyboard layouts will eventually drive you crazy.

2. Screen quality

Do you want a touchscreen, or can you do without it (if you’ve chosen MacOS, of course, touch isn’t an option)? Do you accept full HD resolution, or would you rather pay more for a 4K display sharpness? Do you prefer the standard 16: 9 aspect ratio or a 3: 2 aspect ratio better?

And finally, what about the screen size? The most common choices are 13 and 15 inches, and your choice will directly impact the machine’s weight and shape.

3. The shape and weight

By definition, a laptop is. Portable. But how bad does it have to be? If it sits on your desk most of the time, with only an occasional trip to a conference room or cafe, the weight probably isn’t that important. On the other hand, if you walk thousands of miles a month, an extra kilogram or two can become torture.

The form factor will be closely related to weight. Do you prefer a traditional shell, or will you make good use of a 2-in-1 like the Surface Pro (with or without a stylus) or the Lenovo Yoga line?

In general, the engineering that goes into a lighter than average laptop or has an exotic form factor tends to drive up its price. And let’s not forget that the heaviest component in the machine is usually the battery … which is the next item to consider.

4. Battery life

Modern laptops are finally starting to deliver on their battery life promises. Even so, there are still many models that, if they work reliably for a while, will require you to run around looking for a power outlet after just 4-5 hours. Is this autonomy sufficient? It all depends on your work habits. More We Have Selected Laptops on Theaaronstrong You can read guides there.

Be careful, though; PC makers consistently overestimate actual battery performance in their published estimates. So take these numbers with a fair amount of hindsight. Even if you find independent benchmarks, be careful, as measurements may be performed in an environment very different from your usual workload.

In theory, you can get 12 hours of battery life, or more, with a well-designed laptop battery. Ironically, laptops with a larger screen have a built-in edge because their larger footprint can accommodate a correspondingly sized battery. While PCs built with Arm-based processors have some of the best batteries, they are not recommended, due to compatibility issues associated with Windows on Arm, for general business use.

5.CPU and GPU

Which processor to choose from? Do you need a dedicated graphics card, or will the one integrated into the motherboard be enough?

The importance of the processor is greatly overestimated for everyday tasks. Generally, an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor offers performance in line with good productivity. Forget the i3, reserved for low-end consumer computers. As for the graphics card, you will, of course, need a dedicated one for serious gaming or video processing. But otherwise, for most PC users, Intel’s integrated graphics processors are more than enough.

The last thing, make sure your processor isn’t more than a generation or two behind the current lineup. For example, Intel Core, then 9th generation or higher. These cards are indeed more likely to have the latest improvements in security and energy management.

6. Random-access memory (RAM)

How much RAM do you need? There are budget laptops configured with 4 GB of RAM. But, in my experience, this is just enough to ensure that you will regularly experience poor performance due to memory pressure.

According to my calculations, for the usual daily tasks, 8 GB is sufficient. Configure the system with 16 GB if you regularly perform demanding tasks such as photo or video editing or if you plan to run one or more virtual machines regularly. Developers and engineering professionals will see the difference with 32 GB.

Most laptops do not allow additional RAM to be added later. It is therefore very important to take this characteristic into account from the start. If you are in doubt, choose the higher value.

7. Storage

For storage capacity, like RAM, the more, the better. And the difficult possibility of modifying this parameter a posteriori encourages it to be taken into consideration at the time of purchase. While we are well advanced in the XXI century, I see no good reason to choose something other than NVMe SSD or the HDD.

As for storage capacity, 128 GB is the bare minimum for basic business use. This capability will suit those who keep most of their data (including their emails) in the cloud and don’t need to store large amounts of media files. Going for a capacity of 256 GB usually gives peace of mind and takes away data anxiety. Choosing larger capacities (1 or 2TB) comes at a high cost, but it is worth it for professionals who work a lot with digital media files or virtual machines.

Remember that there are external options. Support for SD cards can be useful for backups and non-critical auxiliary storage. For high-performance external drives, insist on Thunderbolt 3 support.

8. The keyboard and touchpad

There are different styles of laptop keyboards. The problem? You can’t tell which one is right for you until you’ve tried it, for at least a few normal working days. Personally, this is the reason I don’t buy a laptop without being sure there is a free return policy. And, if you plan to use your device in a dark or dark place regularly, consider the backlit keyboard.

As for the touchpad, its size is a matter of personal preference. My only rule of thumb for Windows PCs is to insist on a Precision Touchpad, which offers a full range of configuration options in Windows 10. Invariably, when I hear a complaint about unsafe touchpad behaviour, it is on a system that uses hardware that does not meet this standard. You won’t be able to say that you haven’t been warned.

9. Connections and Bluetooth

Wi-Fi standards are currently in a transition state, with hardware supporting Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) starting to roll out. Do you need the latest network technology? Probably not, although that does add a little bit of durability to your hardware. Most people will do very well with 802.11ac technology shortly.

Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) and Bluetooth 5 support, on the other hand, are both on my must-have list, with benefits in power consumption, range, and reliability evident with the devices. Current.

The only network technology that remains an expensive option – and probably too expensive for ordinary people – is mobile broadband. It’s convenient, but it’s also relatively difficult to find. If you think you’ll be using it enough to make it worth it, this choice will narrow the hardware options for your laptop to a very shortlist.

10. Biometric authentication

I saved this category for last, as most PC users are doing perfectly fine without biometric authentication. But when you are used to using it … Whenever I find myself in front of a PC or a MacBook without TouchID or Windows Hello, I remember the number of hours spent typing and retyping my passwords. Biometric readers have become very powerful, and there is something magical about sitting at your computer and being able to log in with the sheer force of a glance.

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