What Performance Do You Need
Hopefully by now you have an idea of what the outside of your laptop should look like, so now its time to worry about the innards. First up is RAM. Unless youre buying a seriously cheap laptop, opt for at least 4GB, so you dont have to worry about how many browser tabs you have open at once. If youre going to be editing video, youll ideally need at least 8GB, although this amount of RAM is now common even in inexpensive laptops. You dont need a beefy gaming laptop to get things done, but it helps
Processor choice is trickier. You should aim for at least an Intel Core i3 processor, which will comfortably cope with web browsing and office work, and consider a Core i5 chip for more intensive tasks such as dealing with large images and editing and encoding video. Laptops with Core i7 chips are expensive but super-quick, so are worth considering if you want the best possible performance.
Video: Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors explained
Be aware that not all Core chips are created equal special low-voltage versions can muddy the waters. See our Core i3, i5 and i7 Explained article for more detail.
There are, of course, AMD-powered laptops on the market, but these are still much less common. Look for an AMD A8 or A10 processor to make sure youre not getting an underpowered laptop.
Clock Speed: The Cpu Stopwatch
Measured in megahertz or more often gigahertz , a processor’s clock speed is its operating frequencya driver of how many instructions the processor can crunch through per second. Higher clock speed is generally better, though things get muddy when comparing clock speeds between different brands or even between chips within the same brand. That’s because some CPUs are more efficient than others, able to process just as many instructions in a given slice of time despite operating at a lower clock speed. Still, clock speed can be telling when comparing chips within a single vendor’s family line.
To complicate things further, today’s processors typically have two advertised clock speeds: a base clock and boost clock, sometimes dubbed turbo speed since Intel refers to the duality as Turbo Boost technology. When handling light workloads, the CPU runs at its base clock, typically between 1GHz and 2GHz for laptop chips though sometimes higher depending on the processor’s rated wattage. When more speed is needed, the CPU temporarily acceleratesoften to 3.5GHz to 5GHz or sountil the task is done. Processors don’t run at their boost clock all the time because they might overheat.
An Intel CPU manufacturing wafer
Where To Buy A Laptop
Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Laptops Direct are some of the most searched-for laptop retailers at the time of writing. Weve included links to these retailers because of their stock availability, best value price, or warranty options.
As well as stocking a variety of laptops costing between £200-£3,000, Argos offers free, same-day, in-store collection at selected Sainsbury’s stores, where you can bump up your Nectar points, too. Or, if you’d rather have your product delivered, prices start at £3.95.
Argos also offers free returns to any Argos store within 30 days of purchase. Most laptops come with a manufacturer guarantee of at least one year.
Currys stocks over 300 laptop brands including HP, Dell, Apple and Lenovo. Prices start at under £200.
The Currys Price Promise ensures that if you find a product cheaper elsewhere, Currys will match the price or beat it, as well as match discount codes.
Most laptops come with a manufacturer guarantee of at least one year.
If you buy from John Lewis, you will receive a free two-year warranty on a range of over 200 laptops from a huge selection of brands, including gaming, 2-in-1, and home office models. John Lewis also provides a technical support service to answer your queries seven days a week.
Plus, if you find a product cheaper at a different high street store, you can make a price match request online, in store, or over the phone.
There’s free delivery to most of the UK.
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What Is A Usb Port
USB ports let you connect your laptop to a number of different accessories and devices including your external mouse, printer, camera and mobile phone.
USB-C is a new type of USB port. It is smaller and has no right way up, so cables and devices can be plugged in first time, every time. USB-C is backwards compatible with older USB ports too, although youll need an adapter to connect devices with USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
USB 3.1 is a variety of USB-C, which features the fastest data-transfer speeds ever from a USB port. Although currently not that common, USB 3.1 is worth looking for if you regularly transfer large files between your laptop and other devices, such as uncompressed images or external storage.
Best Mac Laptop For Students
Students need laptops in classes, lectures and libraries – even when researching online, libraries – many equipped for modern laptops and tablets – are ideal places to work. Students need something portable and cheap – although many can stretch a budget a little further with the Apple education discount – making the MacBook an ideal option.
Although for a little more computing power and something that takes up slightly less space in a bag, the Air is always worth looking at for students. Unless you are taking a computing, games or video course in which case, neither the Air nor MacBook is an ideal option.
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Which Type Of Laptop Should You Buy
You want your laptop to accomplish the things you need it to do. Some laptops are suited for business or professional use, some are geared more toward gaming and entertainment, and others are ideal for day-to-day tasks. Choose wisely, and youll be satisfied with your purchase.
Types of laptops to consider include:
Discrete Versus Integrated Graphics
With the introduction of Intel HD Graphics on Core i3 processors and above, the bar has now been raised enough for integrated graphics to suit most peoples’ needs, whether that’s video watching, image manipulation, web browsing or even light gaming.
If you want to play 3D standalone games, though, you’ll need a dedicated GPU â try to grab something with at least 512MB to 1GB of video RAM. Ignore the salesperson who insists that video memory is an indication of performance while larger video memory does tend to be paired with higher performing cards, it’s not the thing that’s primarily responsible for the performance increase.
For our money, at this point in time, gaming starts with the GeForce GT 640M, although hardcore gamers will want something from the GTX family. We find notebookcheck.net to be an excellent resource to help decode the crazy number of video card variants out there.
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Youre Squinting At The Display
One of the giveaways to a laptops vintage is its display. Low resolution, bad viewing angles, poor colour reproduction and dim backlighting are signs thats its time to get something better. When you find yourself sitting in front of your laptop squinting at the screen, you may need reading glasses. But theres a good chance you also need a new laptop.
Set Your Technology Budget And Optimize Your Shopping Strategy
The best way to optimize your tech spending is to set a clear budget before shopping. As you set your budget, consider not only the overall amount you’re willing to spend but how that will amortize over the number of laptops you’ll buy. When entrepreneurs don’t set a budget before shopping, especially for technology, they often end up overspending or underspending. Not every business needs a fleet of top-of-the-line machines, and it’s a waste of time to consider high-cost options if they don’t suit your bottom line. On the other hand, underspending can end up costing you more in the long run if you don’t get what your employees need the first time around.
One popular approach to tech budgeting is to adopt different tiers of devices based on user needs. For example, it may be worth springing for luxury Dell machines for your C-suite execs and dev team, midrange Dell laptops for your professional staff, and entry-level Dells for support staff. It’s advisable to stick to one or two manufacturers to simplify maintenance and mobile device management in the future. For this reason, it’s best to keep tech purchasing decisions in the hands of a small number of high-level employees and not open the conversation to your entire staff.
If you’re not sure how to strike a balance between cost and quality, check out our breakdown of laptop budget ranges and determine your range based on the types of employees you have:
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I Want To Watch Movies
Sometimes your laptop serves as the center of your digital entertainment life
Sometimes a laptop is more than just a laptop. It can also serve as the center of your digital entertainment life, melding your TV, stereo, and media players into one machine. Here, a high-resolution widescreen display is a must but not all 1080p screens are created equal. Bright and vivid are good, but take a moment to view the screen from multiple angles check for image distortion or inverted colors.
Make sure it gets bright enough to avoid the glare from your lamps, dim enough to not destroy your eyes in the dark, and that blacks and whites dont look a little more like yellow and gray. Choosing a glossy or a matte screen is largely personal preference glossy tends to look brighter and more vibrant, matte works outdoors but having a laptop you can see? Thats pretty universal.
Movie and music collections arent getting any smaller, so look for a laptop that will support a few more years of downloads and purchases. A 1TB drive should be plenty of room to get started, but anything smaller may start to feel cramped as your collection grows 500GB is barely enough space for 10 Blu-ray rips.
Weve talked about a lot of things so far, but the basic internal requirements havent really changed. When you want to switch from watching and listening to creating and editing, though, they do change. Quickly.
One Last Note About Cpus
When it comes to CPUs, just about every modern CPU is fast enough to handle general computing tasks without any trouble. That said, unless you are looking at a very basic Chromebook for checking email and maybe some Netflix streaming, you’re going to want to buy a laptop with either an Intel Core and an AMD Ryzen processor, preferably the latest generation Core i5 or Ryzen 5 or greater, specifically the 11000-series for Intel and the 5000-series for AMD.
If you are looking at a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, you can still get Intel-based versions online, but Apple has moved on to the Apple M1 chip, which is perfect for all but the most intensive computing tasks and for now is the only processor option for new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop or a creative workstation, a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 is your best option, with Core i9 and Ryzen 9 processors being standard in high-end builds.
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Which Is Best For Work
This largely depends on the type of work you do. For intensive tasks, then you should opt for the most powerful version you can afford. Combined with generous screen real estate, and that could mean the 15-inch MacBook Pro .
But not everyone needs that much screen, or that much processing power and RAM. Others simply connect a laptop to a larger screen, giving them useful portability. If that is the case and you don’t need a Mac laptop that could open a hole in the space time continuum, then you could opt for something less powerful and more versatile, such as the MacBook Air. More cost effective too.
Weve left this option out of the table below, since it largely comes down to personal preference, the type of work involved, whether a device needs to be portable – or not – and budget.
Do I Need A Rugged Laptop
Rugged laptops are essential for some businesses, especially those that employ workers in rugged or remote conditions. The Panasonic Toughbook is the highest-profile rugged laptop line, and it’s very popular with public service professionals as well as private companies that require ultra-resilient laptops .
Rugged laptops and tablets often offer accessories that are not available for mainstream laptops, such as vehicle mounts and vehicle battery packs . Rugged laptops are also typically waterproof, drop-proof, and able to be used with gloves on . However, they’re also usually larger and clunkier than consumer or business laptops, and they can be expensive once you factor in accessories.
Most businesses do not need rugged laptops, but if yours does, don’t even bother looking at standard consumer or business machines. Instead, start by checking out the Toughbook by Panasonic, Dell Rugged Extreme and Getac lines.
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What Capacity Do You Need
If youre a desktop user, or you have a gaming laptop with multiple drives and you want lots of capacity, youre better off opting for a pair of smaller SSDs, which will often save you hundreds of dollars while still offering up roughly the same storage space and speed. Until pricing drops and we see more competition, 4TB and larger drives will be relegated to professionals and enthusiasts with very deep pockets.
Select The Processor And Ram
Laptops run on Intel and AMD processors. Choosing the right one is a bit difficult. If you are going to use your laptop mainly for college assignments, basic game titles and software, an Intel Core i3 or AMD A-series A6 or AMD A8 processor will suffice. For students who run heavy programming or graphic-intensive software, it may be worth spending more for laptops running Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7 or AMD A10 processors.
Most laptops today ship with 4GB of RAM, which is great if you want to perform daily tasks like using Microsoft Office, browsing the web and watching movies. If you are ready to spend just a little more, you might find options with 8GB of RAM. More RAM means multitasking between heavy software becomes simpler.
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Recommended By Our Editors
Until lately, most Intel mobile CPUs included what the company called UHD integrated graphics, sometimes accompanied by a performance rating such as UHD Graphics 600 or UHD Graphics 620. This silicon provided sufficient performance for desktop display connectivity, smooth onscreen animations, video streaming, and browser-based gaming, but fell far short of the oomph required for serious games, even for relatively undemanding titles such as Fortnite.
Intel’s Iris Xe silicon outperforms the company’s earlier integrated graphics.
But graphics solutions aren’t just about gaming. They can also improve performance for photo and video editing and live streaming. AMD’s and Intel’s latest, better-performing integrated graphics are capable of all of that and even some gaming at low resolution. Intel’s current IGPs are called Iris Xe and Iris Xe Max, the latter technically a discrete GPU AMD uses the moniker AMD Radeon Graphics for its current integrated silicon.
The AMD Radeon Graphics in today’s Ryzen 4000 and 5000 series chips perform much better than Intel UHD integrated graphics. Intel’s answer to that challenge is Iris Xe, found in 11th Generation Core processors with a G7 suffix. Our Lenovo Yoga 9i review shows the G7 solution matching or outperforming AMD integrated silicon.
A few notebooks boast Intel’s dedicated Iris Xe Max graphics.
How To Choose The Best Laptop Processor In 2021
Core i3 or a Ryzen 9? Need maps to navigate “Tiger Lake” and “Ice Lake”? Only a vague impression of “Cezanne”? Here’s how to decode today’s mobile CPUs and get the most powerful laptop for your money.
At the heart of every laptop computer is a central processing unit , commonly called a processor or just a chip, that’s responsible for nearly everything that goes on inside. The CPUs you’ll find in current laptops are made by AMD, Intel, Apple, and Qualcomm. The options may seem endless and their names byzantine. But choosing one is easier than you think, once you know a few CPU ground rules.
This guide will help you decrypt the technical jargon that haunts every laptop specification sheetfrom core count to gigahertz and from TDP to cache amountsto help you pick the one that suits you best. With almost no exceptions, a laptop processor can’t be changed or upgraded later as some desktops’ can, so it’s essential to make the right choice from the start.
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How To Find The Right Laptop For Your Needs
While it might seem straightforward, knowing how to buy a laptop that fits your needs isn’t as cut and dry as it might seem at first. Not all laptops are created equal, and as the consumer PC market has matured over the decades, there has been a lot of differentiation between different kinds of laptops with specific hardware that is better suited for some tasks over others.
While there is still a lot of overlap when it comes to a given user needs, knowing specifically what you need is the first step in buying the right laptop for you. This might sound easier said than done when confronted with rows of laptops at a major retailer or while sorting through the hundreds of options at online stores like Amazon, Newegg, Box, or other major online retailers.
If you don’t know exactly the kind of hardware you should look for, don’t worry, we’re here to help show you how to buy a laptop that will give you the best performance for your money, whether you need a laptop for work or home, for gaming or for business.