How To Chose A Perfect Laptop In 2021
If youve made it to the end of our buying guide, you should finally be able to answer the question what laptop is best for me? with a clear and definitive answer.
No matter your budget or how you intend to use your device, the steps above should clearly break down every option you need to pick at each stage of the buying process.
Still, need more help or arent sure which specific model to pick? Leave us a comment below with a general idea of your needs and we can respond with a couple of the best models for you!
How To Choose The Right Pc: Everything You Need To Know About Picking The Right Computer For Work
Computers come in many shapes and sizes, with varying levels of processing muscle, and may even live in the cloud. Here are some pointers on how to match products to small-business needs.
The key characteristic of small and medium-sized businesses is a general lack of funds and human resources compared to those available to enterprises. So when it comes to considering what computers SMBs should choose, issues surrounding budget and IT support will usually figure highly.
How To Buy A Budget Laptop Without Getting Screwed
PC brands love to tout expensive, high-end laptops, but history has shown most people buy a budget laptop. And why not? A $500 laptop can be a capable machine that will serve you well for years.
Theres just one problem: the brands are on to you. Theyve flooded the market with hundreds of slightly tweaked configurations designed to maximum profit. Choosing the right budget laptop is difficult if you dont know what to look for. It can get especially tricky with sale models, as youll often find retailers trying to offload less desirable older or poorly configured models amongst all the deals.
We can help. Our roundup of the best laptops under $500 includes concrete, up-to-date recommendations on the greatest low-cost laptops to cross our labs. But since most cheap laptops never get reviewed, this guide can help you buy a budget laptop without getting screwed by its specifications. For more concrete buying recommendations across a mix of budgets, our regularly updated roundup of the best laptop deals also shines a light on killer laptops going for a lot less than usual.
This breakdown is a companion to our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.
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What Is Ram On A Laptop
RAM is how fast your laptop will feel, along with the CPU and storage capacity. Essentially it determines how much you can multitask before your computer starts to get slow and sluggish. The higher your RAM, the quicker your laptop will be and the more programs it can run simultaneously, including more advanced processes like high-quality games or video editing software.
Australia’s Best Laptop Brand
As well as testing more than 106 laptops since 2019, we surveyed our members about the laptops they own. We use this data to determine which brands are the most reliable, and which have the best customer satisfaction. This feedback, and our test results, are combined to determine the best laptop brand of 2021.
Best laptop brand for 2021: Apple
Apple is the best laptop brand for the past 12 months. The tech giant beat out the likes of Microsoft, ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, HP and Dell for the top spot, with strong scores in our test results in addition to being a reliable brand with highly satisfied customers.
To find out which specific laptop models we recommend based on our test results, and to make sure you buy the best, click on the ‘Recommended’ box in the filters section of our laptop reviews.
Best laptop brand 2021 scores
1. Apple 84%
5. Dell and HP 71%
5. Lenovo 70%
It’s important to note that the performance of specific product models may vary quite significantly, so don’t assume that one brand’s products are the best across the many different features, functions and price points.
For comprehensive details on every laptop we’ve tested, see our laptop reviews.
Total computing portability is enticing enough, but what other benefits can a laptop offer?
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Looking For Portable Storage
Wi-Fi speed is important because fewer laptops come with a built-in ethernet port for plugging into your local wired network.
If this is the case, you may be able to purchase a USB-to-ethernet adapter of the same brand or a third-party alternative.
In either case, look for a laptop that supports the current Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, now rebranded as Wi-Fi 5. This is backwards-compatible with previous standards including the previously most popular 802.11n, but is much faster.
The emerging standard for newer laptops is Wi-Fi 6 which is faster and designed to support more devices than Wi-Fi 5.
Connectivity on laptops these days is all about USB-C, the new low-profile standard that’s becoming common on more models. A USB-C plug is slimline and easy to use , but its appearance can be deceptive, as the same-shaped plug is used for several different standards USB 3.1 Gen-1 and Gen-2 and Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.
Most USB-C ports will be either USB 3.1 Gen-1 which is rated at 5Gbps , the same speed as USB 3.0. The faster version of this is USB 3.1 Gen-2 . There’s also USB 3.2 Gen-2×2 . Then there’s the blazingly fast Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.
Avoid cheap third-party cables and chargers or you may risk damaging your computer or worse
Read more: How we test laptops and tablets
Summing It Up: Which Processor Should You Get
The good news for consumers is that today, even despite well-publicized silicon shortages, is an excellent time to buy a laptop of any kind. Though an ultra-low-cost laptop might use a sluggish entry-level CPU, nearly all $500-and-up models will feature a responsive processor more than suited for everyday usage. There’s no shortage of power on the gaming, content creator, and workstation side of things, either Apple, AMD, and Intel all have competitive offerings.
If you’re an Apple-laptop shopper, your choice is already made since the company started the switch to its in-house ARM chips in late 2020, unless you must stick with a legacy Intel MacBook for specific software reasons. At a minimum, M1 MacBooks are competitive with AMD- and Intel-based Windows laptops, and for specialized applications they can be even faster. The M1 Max-equipped 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro is the most amped-up laptop it offers.
Windows and Chrome OS laptop buyers face a much greater choice with CPUs from AMD and Intel and even a few ARM chips thrown into the mix. Chromebooks generally deliver a smooth computing experience with any processor, though we’ve found ARM chips a bit more sluggish than x86. If you go for an AMD Chromebook, opt for one of the recent Ryzen C Chromebook-specific chips rather than one of the aged A-series. Similarly, an Intel Core CPU will serve Chromebook users better than a Pentium or Celeron if you tend to keep many tabs open at once.
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Should I Consider A Refurbished Laptop
Every manufacturer and reseller has different standards for refurbishing previously used laptops. A slight discount on a rigorously tested MacBook Pro that Apple sells with the same warranty as a new one might be worth the cost savings, while a laptop refurbished by a third party youve never heard could be chancy. Its best to buy any refurbished machine directly from the manufacturers online store as opposed to from a reseller, especially a reseller that may be hawking refurbs from marketplace” sellers or third parties on its platform.
Some of these resellers or their third parties will rate their refurbished stock with a grade. Weve seen refurbished laptops being sold and rated with grades of A, B+, B, C, and so on, to reflect the relative amount of wear and tear on the machine. There is no universal grading system for refurbished PCs, however. Its generally up to the reseller what the grade means, and thus it can vary from seller to seller. Were wary of machines graded this way and strongly recommend insisting on an ironclad return policy in the case of purchases like these, if you decide to roll the dice. You could end up pleasantly surprised, but usually, a refurbished-laptop deal that looks too good to be true…is.
Do I Need A Touchscreen Or Stylus Support
Touchscreens are a nice feature if you use them a lot. Laptops with touchscreens and/or stylus support are nearly always more expensive than similar models without touchscreens.
Computers with touchscreens also use a lot more battery power than those without, even if you don’t actively use the touchscreen feature. To top it off, touchscreens are heavier than regular screens. If you need a touchscreen or stylus support, you should absolutely look for that feature in a laptop, but don’t spring for it just because you think it seems like a cool add-on.
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Upgrading An Old Desktop Pc
If your current desktop computer is over three years old, it may be more work than it’s worth to try to source the parts needed to upgrade. Regardless, the key things to upgrade are always going to be the memory, CPU, hard drive, and graphics card. If you upgrade the processor, you’ll need to also upgrade the other parts so they’ll be able to keep up.
Display: 1080p Or Bust
Every budget laptop has an edge-lit LCD screen. It wont look as nice as the screens on an iPhone or most Android phones, but budget laptop displays look fine. Theres one specification to be wary of, however, and thats the resolution.
Most laptops have a 1080p display . However, some budget laptops shave costs with a display resolution of 1366 x 768. If theyre tricky, theyll advertise this as an HD resolution without specifying the pixel count.
The best sub-$500 Chromebook has a 1080p ips touchscreen
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Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Although it’s not the Surface Laptop, the Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. Microsoft recently overhauled it for the Surface Pro 8, which has a larger 13-inch display, 11th-gen Intel Core processors and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. The Surface Pro 7 is still around for the time being at a discount, and an updated version called the Surface Pro 7 Plus will stay in the lineup, so you’ll still be able to get the classic Pro design but with new processors.
How Is Life Digital Laptop
Life Digital laptops are among the numerous laptop options buyers can choose from when shopping for a personal computer . They are products of a privately-held Florida-based company named I-Life Digital which was established in 2012 and is backed by a few affluent multinational investors.
Laptops of the I-Life Digital brand are part of the ZED series the popular appellation with which the manufacturer promotes its products among laptop buyers. And these laptops come in different models, including sleek, ultra-slim laptops and appealing detachable ones, invariably leaving every buyer with a huge decision to make when in the market for a life digital laptop.
Suppose you are battling indecision concerning buying a life digital laptop. In that case, this is your complete guide to gaining insights into the pros and cons of laptop computers manufactured by I-Life Digital and, after that, go on to make an informed decision regarding your purchase.
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What’s An Ideal Size And Weight
Most people searching for a general-purpose laptop should choose one that measures about half an inch thick and weighs 3 pounds or less. In general, these are the maximum dimensions and heft a laptop can have for us to consider it an ultraportable, and for most users, portability is the key to maximizing use and enjoyment.
Aiming for that weight and thickness, in most cases, will limit the laptops screen size to 13 or 14 inches, although a few models with 15-inch or larger screens now fit into the ultraportable category. At most of these screen sizes, you can find models in either the conventional clamshell laptop shape or a 2-in-1 convertible design. The latter has a hinge that rotates the screen 360 degrees so you can use it as a makeshift tablet or prop it up like a tent for watching movies.
Some Windows and Chrome OS laptops do have smaller displays, such as 10 or 11 inches. Some of these are not technically laptops in the pure sense, but rather tablets with detachable keyboards. Unless youre specifically looking for a part-time tablet or the lightest possible laptop, avoid these designs. Theyre lighter than most 13-inch ultraportables, often less than 2 pounds, but theyre not as good at being tablets as the Apple iPad is, and their detachable keyboards mean theyre not much good at being laptops, eithertyping on most of them tends to be subpar.
How Much Storage And Memory Do I Need
Most laptops above entry-level come with solid-state drives , which use memory cells instead of a spinning platter to store data. Since information stored in cells is much faster to access, SSDs are the best and most common drive configuration. Theyre also immune to jolts and bumps that might crash a spinning platters heads.
Some laptops especially larger-chassis ones designed for gaming, come with both kinds of drive: a small SSD to hold the operating system, essential apps, and a few games, and a larger spinning one to store the bulk of your game files or other space-consuming media. Thats a perfectly fine option if youre looking to save some money or simply need the maximum possible local storage amount, but you should stick with an SSD-only setup whenever possible.
Note that not all laptop SSDs are created equal. SSDs that use the more modern, generally faster PCI Express NVMe standard, as opposed to the older, slightly slower SATA interface, are preferable. Either of these, however, are far better than a third type, which is a not-quite-SSD: the much slower eMMC, a kind of flash storage drive found in budget machines. All of them are better than a traditional spinning hard drive unless you simply need sheer capacity for the least money.
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How To Choose The Best Laptop For Graphic Design
Trying to decide on the best laptop for graphic design can be a challenge, and different than purchasing a laptop for general use or gaming. Laptops for graphic design need to be light, portable, and powerful enough to do complicated work.
The main question is, what laptop is good for graphic design? Before researching and getting too far in the decision-making process consider the kind of work you do and your budget. If you do complex 3D work, you will need to be on the upper end of all the specifications. If your work is mostly 2D, you can be at the mid to low end of the range.
Amd Ryzen In A Nutshell
This initial three-tiered approach also made it pretty easy to compare AMDs Ryzen chips against the competition. The Ryzen 3 was an entry-level alternative to the Intel i3, the Ryzen 5 was a mainstream counterpart to the Intel i5, and the Ryzen 7 was pitched in opposition to the performance offered by an Intel i7.
Then, in 2018, AMD introduced their second wave of Ryzen CPUs. Relying on a new 12nm manufacturing process and Zen+ architecture, this second series of Ryzen CPUs was broken out into four families. The Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 all returned. This reincarnated Ryzen family offered higher boosted clock speeds, reduced power consumption
AMD also topped out the range with a set of ultra-high-end CPUs called the Threadripper.
Where the mainline Ryzen range offers an impressive 8 cores and 16 threads, the Threadripper series starts at 12 cores and 24 threads and goes all the way up to 64 cores and 128 threads. Its wild.
In late 2019, AMD updated their Ryzen portfolio. However, they didn’t just upgrade the Ryzen 3, 5 and 7. They also introduced a new option to the range: the Ryzen 9.
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How About Battery Life
The short answer is not to count on your gaming notebook being super portable.
If youre using your laptop to play games, you need to keep your laptop plugged in to get the full performance out of your GPU. And if you dont, youll be lucky if your laptop lasts an hour gaming. In our testing experience, most gaming laptops last only a few hours on a charge when performing other tasks, but never as long as ultraportables without discrete GPUs. If you need something to last 8 hours while you work, it wont be a gaming notebook.
Some do last long, but thats often at the expense of the display, and you dont want to play all your games on a dark, dim or inaccurate screen.