How To Choose A Laptop This Winter
Users should choose a laptop carefully because the performance of the device directly depends on its technical characteristics. The price is not always decisive, although it is worth paying attention to, as well as to the brand of the laptop. The range of models in todays market is so huge that selecting the right one will be extremely difficult.
To narrow your search, you need to understand for what purposes the device will be used: if you decide to play at platforms like this new online casino, use your laptop for work, study, or watching movies. A few tips on technical specifications will help you choose the right laptop.
What Are The Best Lenovo Laptops Right Now
Currently, we recommend the Lenovo Yoga 9i as the best all-around Lenovo laptop for most people for it’s a slim, lightweight 2-in-1 that delivers good performance for an affordable price. The vibrant 1080p display and included stylus are nice to have. And the cool rotating speaker delivers surprisingly good sound quality in both laptop and tablet mode.
If you’re less worried about price than you are about being able to play the latest and greatest games, we recommend the Lenovo Legion Pro 5. It offers all the power of the latest Nvidia laptop GPUs in a well-built chassis, and the nice big 16-inch display offers a 165Hz refresh rate for silky-smooth framerates. While its big, bulky design and mushy keyboard are disappointing, they’re par for the course in the gaming laptop market, and easy to ignore if you’re okay leaving this laptop plugged in on a desk with an external keyboard plugged in.
If all you need is an inexpensive laptop to browse the web and handle some light work, consider the AMD-powered Lenovo ThinkPad X13. It’s a small, speedy notebook that’s light on frills, but it’s affordable and easy to tuck in a bag or under an external monitor when setting it up at the office . If you really want to keep costs low, check out the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. It’s a ChromeOS tablet that comes with an external keyboard, so it doubles as a surprisingly decent laptop if you can work within the limitations of Chrome. And at less than $300, it’s an incredible value.
How To Pick The Right Ports On Your Docking Station
Port selectionin both number and varietyis a key reason to choose one docking station over another. You probably know which ports you use regularly, so when looking at different models, you want to be sure you can plug in everything you need at one time to your dock, avoiding excessive cable-swapping.
Connections for desktop monitors are the most fraught of the ports to figure out. If you intend to connect multiple monitors, verify that not only do the video outputs on a given dock support your monitors’ maximum resolution, but that they support as many displays as you want to connect. Support for one monitor is common, two less so, and three is the most you’ll find.
Corsair’s TBT100 dock connects over Thunderbolt 3 and offers plenty of ports.
If you’re planning to connect a Thunderbolt peripheral to a Thunderbolt dock, verify that the latter has a Thunderbolt port of its own, which isn’t a given. Also, be sure to distinguish between USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports for peripherals otherwise, you may need to employ adapters or get different cables if yours don’t match up with what the dock has.
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Choose The Right Size
Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes:
- 11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens and typically weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
- 13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under 4 pounds.
- 15 to 16 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4 to 5.5 pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often. Laptops with 16-inch displays are rare but Apple might get the trend started with its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
- 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.
Pick A Platform: Windows 10 Vs Mac Vs Chrome Os
This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you’re not familiar with both Macs and PCs. But this quick overview of each platforms strengths and weaknesses should help.
Most laptops come with one of three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS or MacOS . Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here’s a quick summary of what each offers.
The most flexible operating system, Windows 10, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or MacOS. Windows notebooks range in price from under $150 to several thousand dollars and offer a wide array of features from touch screens to fingerprint readers to dual graphics chips. Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles and the Cortana digital assistant.
Since its launch in July 2015, Windows 10 has also added a host of improvements, including the ability to use follow-up questions with Cortana, search your email using natural language and use your stylus to scribble almost anywhere. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers and business users, and they’re the only machines gamers should consider.
MORE: MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: What Should You Buy?
MORE: Best Chromebooks Available Now
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The Short List For Picking A Docking Station
Let’s look at docking stations from the top level first. Getting right down to it, these are the four key factors you need to consider when selecting one:
Port selection. Ports are mostly the point. It goes without saying that the dock you choose should have all the portsin type and numberthat you need.
Connectivity between the dock and your laptop. Docking stations are available for USB Type-C and Thunderbolt connections to your computer. But you can also find models that connect over the older USB Type-A standard if your laptop lacks one of the newer ports.
Portable versus stationary use. Stationary docks are best for a home-office setup, but portable docks are ideal for adding a few extra ports when you are on the go. You’ll tend to see fewer ports on portable docks, due to the simple fact that they are smaller.
Apple compatibility. Rest assured, most universal docks are Mac-friendly. Still, you’ll want to check for this if you’re docking a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
Now we’ll discuss each of these factors in greater detail.
Look For A Laptop That Has The Features You Want
After you know what you plan to do with a laptop when you buy it, you should be able to pick out the type of laptop that you want. From there, you should create a list of the features that you want to find in a laptop so that you can narrow down the options available to you.
You might want a laptop that has a large screen, a fast processor, and a big hard drive. Or you might want one that has a small screen, a thin design, and a tiny hard drive to keep it on the cheaper side.
The good news is that you can purchase a laptop with pretty much any features that you want. But the key will be coming up with a list of features in advance so that you can rule out any laptops that dont have what you want in them.
Go right here to learn more about the Intel Evo platform, which is something that you should try to look for in a new laptop when buying it.
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What Should You Look For When Buying A New Laptop
There are certain things you can look out for when buying a new laptop in 2021 that can ensure you get the best laptop for your money.
Make sure you take a look at the specifications of a laptop before buying. This is a good way of quickly seeing how powerful a laptop is, and what it is capable of as long as you know what youre looking for.
First of all is the processor. This is essentially the brain of the laptop, and a laptop will usually have a processor made by either Intel or AMD. Intel is by far the most popular CPU maker for laptops, though were seeing an increasing number of AMD-powered laptops as well.
As a general rule of thumb, Intel processors offer better performance, but AMD processors are better value.
To make things more simple, both Intel and AMD have numbered their processors to give you a rough idea of what sort of tasks a laptop with that processor can perform.
If youre after a budget laptop for simple tasks like browsing the web or watching Netflix, then a laptop with an Intel Pentium, Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3, processor will do that job without making the laptop too expensive.
If youre after something with a bit more oomph perhaps to do more complex task like editing your home videos or playing games then go for a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor as a minimum.
A newer processor performs better and is more power efficient so battery life will last longer. They are more expensive, though.
Search For The Right Store To Buy A Laptop From
If you would like to buy a laptop directly from the company that manufactured it, youre welcome to do it. This might actually be the most economical way to purchase a laptop online in certain cases.
But you shouldnt feel like you have to buy a laptop in this way. You should also feel free to shop around for a laptop at other stores. This should include both brick-and-mortar stores and online stores.
You might be able to save yourself quite a bit of money simply by purchasing a laptop from one store as opposed to another one. Its crazy to see the kinds of deals that some stores will run on their laptops in an effort to outwit their competition. You should take full advantage of this to ensure you get a great deal.
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Do You Want A Touchpad
The same is true of a laptops touchpad. This is one of the foremost ways in which you interact with your laptop, so it needs to work well. Unfortunately, many laptop touchpads are awful. Theres a trend for making the buttons part of the main touchpad, which, when implemented poorly, can mean your cursor jumps all over the place when you perform a click. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has an excellent Precision Touchpad
Plenty of touchpads dont respond accurately to finger movement, or have squishy buttons that make it difficult to determine whether youve registered a click. Most modern touchpads support gestures, where you can use two fingers to scroll or to pinch-to-zoom but, again, how easy these gestures are to use varies widely between laptops.
Nowadays, many laptops come with Microsoft-approved Precision Touchpads, putting an end to years of mediocre Windows laptop touchpads that were massively outclassed by those found on Apples MacBooks. If you do pick up a laptop with a poor touchpad, theres always the option of carrying a USB travel mouse in your bag, which brings us to
Driving External Monitors From A Docking Station
As with power delivery, it’s important to match your laptop’s video-output capabilities to those of the dock. The first thing to take into account are the monitor or monitors you have, or that you may intend to add. Note the maximum resolution and refresh rate of the monitor you intend to connect. Ensuring that your dock and laptop support both specs is essential.
The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock supports two 4K external monitors.
When it comes to your laptop, external-monitor support is simple if it has Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports: Both of these Thunderbolt specifications support DisplayPort video output over those interfaces. You can connect the dock to your laptop over the Thunderbolt cable, then the dock to the monitor or monitors depending on the physical video outputs on the dock.
Things get more complicated with USB and video-out. USB-C supports video output only if the port on the laptop specifically supports the “DisplayPort over USB-C” spec. Your laptop’s user manual will indicate if it does be sure to note its maximum supported resolution and refresh rate, which will apply to the dock as well. A dock that supports higher resolutions and refresh rates than your laptop’s USB-C port will not magically extend those capabilities to the laptop.
This StarTech docking station supports up to three external monitors over USB 3.
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Powering Your Notebook Through A Docking Station
Stationary USB Type-C and Thunderbolt docks have the potential to power and/or recharge your laptop, though this isn’t guaranteed even though, by definition, a stationary dock plugs into wall power. The three factors that determine if it’s possible are your laptop, the dock itself, and the cable connecting them.
Let’s start with your laptop. The laptop must have either a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port or a USB Type-C port that explicitly supports Power Delivery over the port you want to use for the connection to the dock.
The lightning-bolt icon next to these USB Type-C connectors indicates that they’re also Thunderbolt ports.
Following from that, you must also know how much power your laptop requires, which you can determine by looking at the ratings on its power adapter. Most everyday and ultraportable laptops draw less than 100 watts, though large desktop replacements and gaming notebooks usually demand more. In that case, they can’t be powered exclusively by Thunderbolt or USB-C, though it is possible they can be charged by them.
Decide If You Want A 2
Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops, hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode and other positions in between such as tent or stand modes. 2-in-1s generally come in two different styles: detachables with screens that come off the keyboard entirely and flexible laptops with hinges that bend back 360 degrees to change modes.
Most of these systems are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachables offering a superior tablet experience. However, if you don’t see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you’ll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.
MORE: Windows Detachables Have Big Battery Life Problem
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Ram Memory And Storage
The more memory in the configuration, the less chance of crashes while running games. Most current games recommend that the device have 16 GB of RAM, however, there are few models that come with it from the factory. The solution is to choose an 8GB model, coupled with other powerful laptops configurations.
It is also important to confirm the possibility of an easy upgrade, to increase the memory to 16 GB.
The option for laptops that have an SSD drive installed is the most interesting, due to the higher data recording and reading rates compared to traditional HDDs.
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What To Look For In A Laptop
This is the brain of your computer. The number of cores, processing power and price range is a good indicator of the overall level of CPU power on offer.
Laptops generally use low-power-consumption CPUs for better battery life.
Be careful in comparing the Intel family of CPUs with those from AMD their main competitor as quoted speed figures aren’t directly comparable.
The same goes for the sub-families of each brand for example, Intel Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 are increasingly high performance, even at the same quoted frequency figure in GHz likewise with the M series processors designed for highly mobile computers. The same goes for AMD’s Ryzen series of processors.
Each new generation of processors is usually faster than the previous generation, even at the same chip frequency. Thus, you can expect a 2.4GHz 10th-generation CPU to be faster than a 2.4GHz 9th-generation CPU, or earlier generation.
A lack of RAM will slow your computer when running multiple programs, using a lot of web browser tabs or performing labour-intensive tasks, such as image processing.
Expect a minimum of 4GB even in a budget Windows system, but ideally aim for at least 8GB for most general-use laptops and 16GB or more for high-end models. Don’t skimp on RAM at purchase time as it’s likely you may not be able to upgrade/increase it later.
CHOICE tip: Choose a larger screen if you’re planning on regularly watching TV or movies on your laptop.